What I wanted was a family, children, babies! I wanted the weekend walks in the park, pushing my gurgling, bouncing, bonny baby, holding the hand of my husband! I wanted pub lunches where the baby would sit quietly whilst hubby and I reminisced about how big said baby was getting, how life was passing us by so quickly, we must cherish it!
I did not ask for sleep deprivation to the point of exhaustion.
I did not ask for hormones to be raging so violently ,that I could quite happily stab my sleeping partner, whilst I sit up with a feeding and unsettled baby.
I did not ask to read blogs, articles and books that make me feel so incredibly inadequate as a woman and mother that I feel I will never match up.
I did not ask for the constant feeling of guilt, am I doing a good enough job? Will my children grow up and need counselling for the things I did? If I have to go to work will my child resent me for sending them to nursery? If I don't work will then resent me as we can't afford the things we had before, and surely they need to grow up with a role model of a mother who works? Or do they?? Should the role model be of a mum at home??
I did not ask to feel like I don't cut it as a mum, to compare myself to so many others, to never quite fit at baby group, toddler group, the school playground. To never quite feel like the job I am doing is enough.
I did not ask to feel like every other human in my house was sapping, draining, and pulling every last ounce of life out of me. Whether it be my tiny baby permanently attached to me, who won't sleep without me, who won't be put down. Or my toddler who will notice if I am not present in the room for more than 10 seconds (please let me poo in peace!). Or my older children, who will holler from the opposite end of the house for me to do something, get something, or find something when their father is sat RIGHT NEXT TO THEM!
I did not ask to feel guilt that I could quite happily just walk away from it all, because it is just so hard. But then, in the very next breath, feel so horrendous for even thinking those thoughts, because my children are my world.
I did not ask to hear "mum" 160,000 times a day. EVERY sentence starts off with "Mum". But there are women out there, women who have lost babies and children, they would give their right arm to hear "mum" one more time! What kind of woman am I? Begrudge my children calling me Mum!
It is hard, and I didn't expect it to be this hard! Yes I wanted to be a Mum, but I didn't want all of the above.
I think we have a pretty distorted view of what parenthood is right now, I think this is largely due to the media, being a commercial world and every advert you see advertising a necessary (see totally unnecessary) baby product features the perfect family with smiling baby. And partly due to our expectations and need to be able to do it all as women.
As women we have so many different priorities to our parents and grandparents, most of us worked pre children, and many plan to return after maternity leave, this is one of the greatest shocks to a parenting system, the constant juggle to keep all the plates spinning! I frequently find myself trying to do 5 different things, and find myself at the end of the day, having done none of them well.
How can we make it better? I am not sure, it would take such a seismic shift in our culture. We must be gentle on ourselves, we must have realistic expectations as to what parenthood is about. It can be wonderful, but it can be hard, overwhelming, suffocating and difficult. We need to understand that, accept the lows with the highs and most of all relax. Our babies and children just need us to be happy, if we can make ourselves happy, we will be doing our very best by our children.