Confession time. I’ve heard mother’s guilt is a thing. From what I can tell it seems to be of the ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ variety, but it is a thing nevertheless. Except, and here’s the confession part, I don’t think I’ve ever felt it.
My little ones are still only 2 years old and 6 months old, so maybe the guilt will hit me at some undefined moment in the future, a guilt-maggedon. Maybe there will be a montage of guilt-trip moments which fling me over into an abyss of guilt. Maybe. So far so good though.
That doesn’t mean I think I’m doing it all right. FAR from it. Just in case you think I’m a smug mama here are some of my favourite mama fails (so far).
- I have, on numerous occasions, misjudged my own width and ploughed through a doorway, Little Man on my hip, and smashed his head into the doorframe.
- Once I was so hungover, with incredible munchies and no food in the house for lunch, but completely incapable of going to the shops, that I ordered a Chinese takeaway for me and the Little Man. Ella’s Kitchen it was not.
- The Little Miss was on my lap the other day while I was working and she managed to tip my hot coffee all over me, her and the laptop. I checked the laptop first… (everyone was ok, including electrical appliances).
- When the Little Man was first trying to talk he used to say ‘Atar, atar’ all the time, with much conviction and persistence. We couldn’t work out what he was saying for about 2 months, when we realised – ‘water, water’. Poor little guy had been parched for weeks!
So actually maybe now you’re going to think I’m a shit parent who doesn’t feel any guilt, which is slightly worse. Oh well. SEND GIN.
A thousand years ago as a singleton I read some chick-lit about a working mother with husband & kids who had to bake cakes for her child’s school event even though she had no time, so she was up at 1am bashing shop-bought cakes with a rolling pin so they looked homemade. And I thought, YES, this is the kind of mother I can identify with. I don’t understand why everyone else isn’t trying to wing it like this? We’ve all skipped lectures, been hungover at work, lied about availability to avoid dull social engagements (friends if you’re reading this I don’t mean yours, obviously).
Surely that isn’t just me? I don’t know why anyone expects that when you have children you will suddenly develop a knack for perfection. You will be shit at some or all of it at some point in time, true story. Get over it. Give yourself a break. Love them, do your best to keep them alive, try not to let fuck be their first word, is there anything else?
When the nursery rules on naming stuff came through I realised very quickly that I wasn’t going to be a mama who lovingly sewed pretty labels into everything as I’d imagined. I was going to be a mama that hastily scribbled names onto the washing labels of clothes with a biro (if they’re lucky). And just the surname to ease hand-me-downing. I don’t even use a special labelling pen. So shoot me.
And apparently you’re supposed to sterilise bath toys?! WTF. I’ve been bathing my kids with slightly mouldy sea creatures for forever now.
The thing is, if love can blind you enough to make you want to shag Colin the tortured poet from school then why do we think our love for our children will be any less flawed?
Sometimes I scream at the Little Man like a crazy person because he’s sat down in the street and won’t walk any more and I’ve had 4 hours of broken sleep and the Little Miss is crying and hungry and it’s miserable. And sometimes I laugh and take photos for what I’ve decided will be my ‘Tantrums’ series. Good days and bad days.
There are times when I feel I might be broken by motherhood. The lack of sleep, the tantrums, the aching back from nightfeeding in awkward positions, the crippling cost of childcare. All this while running a business and being a wife and trying to think up new delicious ways to use up that head of celery in the fridge because money is tight and we can’t afford to waste any food (braising is unexpectedly good).
I’m not saying I don’t wake up at night with THE FEAR. The fear of them being bullied, being hit by a lorry, being a serial killer (is that one normal?!). As soon as they’re born it’s like your heart isn’t in your body anymore, it’s beating louder, harder, faster, and on the outside of your body, surrounded by danger. Fragile to the world, to EVERYTHING.
But the guilt thing not so much. Maybe I could have had children later. Had more money to pay for them, been further in my career, already travelled more. I could have given up work and gone to Sing, Song, Suicide everyday. And maybe I would have enjoyed it.
Maybe. But I didn’t. These little people are still what I live for now. Am I doing it all right? Of course not. Am I doing my best? I think so. What else is there? No time for guilt here, I’m too busy fucking it up.
*I never shagged anyone called Colin at school.