This post has been rattling around inside my head the past few days and I’ve finally found a moment to sit and write.
I was talking to a friend in the park this week while our kids were playing. We were talking about how important it is for mothers to thrive and how ironic it is that we always come bottom of the pile. The thing is, I’ve no idea how to help myself thrive anymore because there is so little left of me for me by the end of my day.
It’s now 9pm and I’ve just finished my evening of sorting and restoring order. I still have one feed to do before I can go to bed and my third baby, my little business is now calling me. I’m exhausted.
To most people who don’t have children it’s probably hard to comprehend just how all consuming motherhood can be. I am sure it is irritating how we often talk of the tiredness, the lack of time and the effort that goes into every little outing. But I’m just gonna put it out there, I feel drained at the moment. 6 months into mothering two children and my mind is a blur, my body aches. I know this exhaustion is impacting on my ability to be a good mother too but I can’t seem to claw my way out of it. I’m not depressed or down, I’m just bloody shattered.
I go through the same motions day in, day out, and it is this repetition, as well as the tasks themselves, that have led to my sense of weariness. The day begins with one or both of my children calling out to me. As soon as they’re out of their cots, the demands begin - milk mummy, porridge mummy, downstairs mummy, why mummy, stir it mummy, help mummy, poop mummy. And that’s just my toddler! All the while I have this little bird, 6 months old, totally and utterly dependent on me for her survival. Every nappy change, every morsel that enters her mouth, every drop of milk and every cry is my duty to attend to. Mothers to young children will know just how much work goes into each day caring for little ones. At 2.5 my son still can’t dress himself, wash himself, use a potty or help himself to things. I have to do pretty much everything for my kids.
Our house seems to go through a cycle each day too - one of order to chaos to order again. A trail of destruction left in the wake of my children. Toys strewn here, there and everywhere, food on the floor, sticky finger prints all over every surface, crumbs down the sofa, cushions thrown off the sofa, nappy bags piling up. By about 5.30pm I feel sick at the thought of restoring order to our home, but somehow I manage it because it is important to me that there is a little distinction between the day and the evening.
Then there’s the cooking, feeding and clearing away. It’s a real kick in the teeth when the food gets left but it’s all part of the day. I often wonder how many times I do the washing up, how many times I wipe the surface, how many times I clean the bottles, how many muslins I wash in a week. Which brings me to the laundry - how on earth four people can produce so much washing I don’t know, but there are piles of it lurking behind every door in our house, tormenting me.
The constant demands are limitless. The bath is too hot, the bath is too cold, I want bubbles, too many bubbles, where is my man, my car, my duck? Someone needs feeding again. Another poop to be changed, another bottle to be washed, and another load of laundry successfully piled up.
Some days I go to bed and wonder what life used to be like when every day was different. When I could choose when to have breakfast. When I was able to enjoy a hot cup of tea before someone screamed in my face. Its not that I don’t love my life or my children, I do, so very much, and that is why I do this. But I feel drained some days, and week in week out of the same can feel like hitting the wall in a marathon - you’ve got to keep going but you’re just . so . tired…*
To conclude on this cheery post, the life of a mother to young children is an utterly selfless one. No one looks after you, feeds you or puts you down for a nap, not even yourself and there’s something wrong with that isn’t there? If we are to be the best we can be for our kids, we do need to ensure we also thrive too. Maybe it’s asking for a little help from friends or family sometimes, maybe it’s taking 5 minutes out of the day to sit and be still while the chaos continues around you. I don’t have the answer yet (and if I find it I’ll certainly share), but whatever it takes, it’s vital to carve out a little bit of your life for you, and you alone. I do believe there is more to my life than being a mother, and I don’t believe that the ‘more’ makes me any less a good mother.
*I never have, and I never will run a marathon