I enjoyed high school (well latterly!) I had a good group of friends who accepted me for me. I didn’t need to try and be someone else or hide behind a mask, they loved me just the way I was, including my crazy tendancies. As much as I enjoyed high school I was glad to see the back of it. It can be, at times, a rather hostile place full of peer pressure. My best friend and I often joke about how glad we are that we went to high school in the early noughties and not now a days with social media to have to worry about too. The extent of our social media back in the day was MSN Messenger and even then you couldn’t be in contact with your friends when you wanted, as you had to wait for the internet to “dial up!”
Sometimes as a mum I feel I have gone back in time and am reliving certain aspects of high school, only this time it’s worse as people aren’t picking apart you or commenting on your clothes they are picking apart your children and your parenting techniques. Being a mother is such a personal experience in fact it’s more than an experience it’s a journey. You enter into this amazing journey the moment the stick turns positive. Before baby is here you have expectations and ideas about what they will be like and what you will be like as the “World’s Best Parent”. Then once baby comes a lot of that goes out the window as you try to come to terms with what just happened to you and your body.
In high school I’m sure there was that one girl that you wanted to get to know more, maybe be her best friend or even wish you had more of her qualities. So too in mothering there is that one perfect mother we all idolise. She seems to have it all together and always looks flawless. And to make matters worse she probably has ten kids (ok slight exaggeration!) and still manages to balance all aspects of her life perfectly. But I’m sure she too struggles with feelings of inadequacy and guilt over not doing a good enough job. We all do don’t we? We are only human after all. Problem is like in high school, we mothers very rarely want to share our insecurities. We don’t want to let others know that we may struggle or don’t know what to do. So in an effort to break down the similarities between high school and motherhood I thought I would share some of my own mothering struggles.
1. Motherhood is exhausting
It’s physically tiring, especially when your bed is over run by children when all you want to do is starfish! Everyday seems to follow the same pattern of feeding, doing chores, fighting sleep deprived babies and toddlers and trying to squeeze in time with your husband. Sometimes all I want to do is curl up on the couch, forget about it all and sleep, even if it is for half an hour.
2. It’s an emotional rollercoaster
I was fortunate enough not to have suffered from Post Natal Depression but I still question myself every day as a mum. Am I doing the right thing? Is my child socialable enough? Is twin 2 putting on enough weight? Is it ok that he hasn’t rolled over yet when his sister has? And so on and so on. You get the idea. Being a second (and third!) time mum has meant I am more relaxed and I do listen to my gut more. But it still hasn’t silenced those pesky voices in my head. I have a feeling they will be around for a long time!
3. Sometimes I want to scream
When my 3 year old keeps pushing the boundraies and doesn’t seem to care or when the twins won’t stop crying and I’ve tried it all I just want to scream. I want to let it all out at the top of my lungs. There have been a few (very few) occasions when I have just screamed and felt better after it despite knowing it wasn’t the right thing to do.
4. I compare myself to others.
I think we all do that. No matter how “perfect” an imagine we try to portray we are all guilty of thinking that someone else is prettier, has it easier or is a better mother. Honestly, of course there is someone prettier, who has it easier but they won’t be a better mother to your children than you are. I look around on social media and see the mums whose children are playing so sweetly or the mum who had enough time to bake a cake and I think to myself “I haven’t even had breakfast and it’s nearly midday!” I have learned not to take on board the sense of inadequacy that social media can make me feel.
5. 5pm is my favourite time
In our house 5pm is Daddy o’clock, when daddy comes home and takes over twin duties. Daddy does the dinner time and bedtime feed with the twins while I do the morning and lunchtime feeds. 5pm is a little window of peace for myself. Ok it’s not peace, I have dinner to make and Finlay to feed and bath but I can close the kitchen door, play my music really loud and know that my babies are in the most capable hands of all. I love 5pm!
6. I have regrets
When Finlay was a baby I wished away each stage of development longing for the next. I wanted him to crawl when all he could do was roll and I wanted him to walk when he could only crawl. I looked forward to the day we were able to use the group 1 car seat and was eager for him to start on solids. I look back and regret how desperate I was for him to move onto the next stage. I don’t think I savoured it all and sadly that is time I won’t get back. I find myself taking it all in with the twins. I am working on my mistakes of the past and am trying to enjoy every moment.
7. It can be lonely
I grew up in a large family (I have two brothers and one sister). I enjoy company, noise and busyness. No one tells you how lonely being a mum can be. After I had Finlay I struggled with how much time I spent on my own. Some days I would go from 9-5pm without having a conversation with another adult. I missed grown up company so much I looked forward to the day I went back to work. This time round I am pushing myself more to go to groups, to fill my week with activities and to spend more time outside getting fresh air. And if it gets really bad at least I have Finlay to make conversation with even if it is about Paw Patrols or Peppa Pig!
I’m sure if I thought about it long enough I would have many more struggles or hang ups to share with you. The gist of it though: being a mum is hard work on its own without adding peer pressure to the mix. Motherhood is often thankless and as I’m beginning to find out as my maternity pay comes to an end, an underpaid job. But oh my it is rewarding! The same as achieving that A in a subject you worked so hard for … to go back to the high school metaphor!