Ever since I was about 20, I've been excited to be a mother. Surely, it must be the most fulfilling thing you can possibly do? Surely, it would complete me?
I've always adored kids. I re-trained as a primary school teacher, a career which – trust me – you cannot love, if you don't like children.
I was thrilled to be pregnant. I loved every single second of it. I talked and sang to my ever-growing bump, took weekly photos of my swelling stomach and, if I'm honest, loved the fact that I could go out for a big meal and then luxuriate in the glorious stretchiness of H&M maternity jeans. (Best. Jeans. Ever.)
People told me I'd be a great mom. And you know what? I secretly thought so too. I was good with kids! Kids liked me back! I thought, "How could I ever get bored or irritated with my own baby? Surely you just look at them and melt with love every single time."
I KNOW, I KNOW.
For a start, the birth threw me off. Oh, I had big plans for a peaceful hypnobirth. I’d seen the videos on YouTube, I knew it was possible. I laugh about it now, but being pushed in a wheelchair from the "natural" birthing wing to a delivery suite with only a thin sheet precariously draped over my naked body, while having contractions – well, it's not something I care to repeat. The birth genuinely gave me nightmares for a few weeks following. People experience far worse, but it took me a while to get over it.
And then I had this small creature needing me – all the time. I’ve always been rather partial to my own space. Ha! That luxury flew right out the window. I struggled to breastfeed, so we switched to formula (cue the guilt-ridden tears of a mother already feeling like a failure for a multitude of reasons). Why wasn’t it all coming naturally to me? Surely bringing life into the world is the most natural thing of all?
I read lots of books before the baby came. Advice from the “experts.” I covered the strict routines of Gina Ford to the attachment parenting of BabyCalm. I’ve often wondered what kind of mother I’d have been if I'd not taken one piece of advice – solicited or otherwise. But, of course, in this day and age, it’s virtually impossible not to be overwhelmed with advice when when everyone has an opinion on how to raise a child.
Three years into motherhood, I feel like I’m finally settling in and finding my own stride. Do I get bored, irritated, and frustrated with my children? Yes! Do I sometimes find it unbearably hard to have almost no time to myself? Yes! Do I love my children more than life itself? Yes! Surely, this is all that matters.
Being a mother has been more challenging that I could ever have imagined it would be – and that’s okay.
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