When I was little I dreamt of being a mum. Whilst everyone else was planning their wedding day or what they wanted to be when they grew up, I was deciding whether I wanted a girl or a boy. By the time all my friends were deciding on their careers or off finding themselves by living in a campervan in Thailand, I was writing a list of baby names I liked.
When I found out I was pregnant, as you can imagine, I believed I would take on this new stage of my life with ease. My pregnancy was by no means the breeze I anticipated it would be, horrendous SPD meant doing basic day to day things like the food shop were near impossible and I struggled to leave the house without a walking crutch. Housebound in the middle of a heatwave, 12 days overdue and a house move imminent I was eager for the baby to make an appearance. 6 hours later she was did.
Finally, she was here, tiny and perfect. The weeks that followed, no amount of preparation could have prepared me for. The transition into Motherhood was scary and confusing. In the midst of the night feeds my mind began to wander into the dark corners of 3am when even the birds were asleep. I started to wonder what on earth I had done. Fear and panic set in. How could I possibly be a mum? How could I be left in charge of another human being? The girl who had barely scraped a C in child development GCSE. Surely there was some sort of test you had to pass before becoming a parent? All the ‘motherly instincts’ were there but I was struggling. Every time I thought I’d cracked this parenting lark a new hurdle arose and I was catapulted back to square one, left feeling useless and an inadequate mother.
Life before becoming a parent seemed like a different world, a dream, although I could remember it vividly (mainly the nights spent in bars) it seemed like a million years ago. I felt my identity had been stolen, snatched away by Tesco value nappies and maternity leggings. I was lonely, I missed my friends, I missed my work and I missed being me. I wondered if it was meant to feel like this. It was a question I didn’t know the answer to and unlike school, there was no textbook to refer back to. I felt completely lost and there were some days I really didn’t enjoy. ‘But how dare I feel like this!’ I thought. How could I? Being a mother was the one thing I had counted on being good at, the only job I wanted. I felt ungrateful and unworthy, having been blessed with a beautiful, healthy baby but not enjoying 100% of the time I was with her.
I found myself verbally giving myself a hard time inside my own head for not finding the mum role ‘easy’. For not being able to swaddle properly, for being rubbish at winding, for feeling frazzled and longing for a nap. I saw other mums taking it in their stride, managing to run businesses, have nights out with friends, take their babies to mum and tot groups when I had to plan a supermarket trip 12 hours in advance and that was me done for the day. I did not dare utter a single word of what I was feeling for fear that people would think I was incapable or give me the pitiful look of ‘well that is what you signed up for’. I felt that because I had indeed signed up for parenting that I had no right to feel that way, I had no right to complain.
Then one night I found them. In the middle of a midsummers night with only the whir of the fan to keep me company, I found them. Whilst waiting for the white noise to work its magic and get my daughter into a deep sleep I was trawling the internet (more than likely googling how to get a baby to sleep in its cot for more than an hour) then I stumbled across other mums that seemed to be feeling the same way as I was! Other mums speaking about the hard parts of parenting, the taboo, the parts no one wants to talk about because pretending that they’re managing just fine is easier than going into the ins and outs of why they only got 35 minutes sleep the night before. Other mums voicing the thoughts that had been going round in my head voiceless for months. I thought I was the only one, I thought I was broken and needed fixing but what I realised in that moment that what I had been feeling was to be expected.
Tiredness, teething and tears will leave you feeling broken in need of repair but all is forgotten when you baby laughs for the first time or you get in a full 5 hour stretch of sleep. I began being honest if I was asked about how I was finding it, I no longer felt shame when saying it was hard. I spoke to other mums and we shared our struggles and then I started writing about it. I would write about the dark days, the amazing days, the days when I’d just had enough, and the days where I felt like Supermum. Parenting is a mixture of wins and losses, peaks and troughs. Some days are hard, and some days you feel like you’ve got the parenting thing on lockdown. But one thing remains a constant, the importance of talking about how you’re feeling. If you’re struggling, talk. If you’re not struggling, still talk. Because no matter how alone you feel, there’s nothing more isolating than letting those thoughts loose in your own head without some way to release them. Its okay not to love every single millisecond of the parental journey, as long as you’re loving yourself and your baby then the nitty gritty in between can be worked on over a period of time.
Hazel Jacques is a 24 year old blogger and mother of one. You can see more of Hazel at