In my lifetime, I’ve taken on many different job roles – some were fun, some were boring, some were challenging whilst others where just hard. Not one, however, comes close to how hard being a Mother is (I say Mother, but I really mean parent – I know Dads feel the full stretch of the hardship as well).
It’s one of those things – no one ever expects it to be easy…it’s not something I think people look at and picture to be breezy either. Before we embark on the wonderful, turbulent journey of parenthood, we envisage some struggles. I mean, we’ve all been in situations where we’ve been driven crazy by someone else’s child before, haven’t we?
Whether it be the high pitched scream of a newborn whilst you surf the medicine aisle in Sainsbury’s (in search of paracetamol to cure to drastic migraine which has been bugging you all day); the annoying body-shirk as your aeroplane chair is kicked from behind for the twentieth time; the overly-friendly glares of a curious toddler as you try to eat peacefully or the witnessing of brattish behaviour…we’ve all thought ‘I hope my child doesn’t act like that’.
Reality check – they will! If you intend on becoming a Parent, you’ll undoubtedly find yourself in ALL of these scenarios, you’ll undoubtedly find yourself causing the unnecessary suffering of some poor child-free victim just trying to survive their own day.
Some women transition into Motherhood seamlessly – as though they’ve spent their entire childhood prepping for the moment they make ‘Mother’. Me? It wasn’t so smooth. Before having children, I wasn’t what you would call maternal. I shied away from children, made excuses not to visit friends who had already transitioned into Mother. I told myself that our friendships were dwindling because they didn’t have time for me, because they’d changed now that they had kids. I passed up their invitations to soft play areas, strolls along the seaside in exchange for more mature offers – whilst still telling myself that they were the ones now not making the effort. I forgot to buy Birthday presents, spent my money on less interesting purchases.
I’m sorry for the ignorance, for the lack of understanding of just how much you needed me.
One of the hardest parts of becoming a parent was feeling as though I’d lost a part of me. I mean, undoubtedly, I gained so much simultaneously but there were still parts of me I noticed retracting. It became hard to be as fun, as care-free, as spontaneous and as relaxed as the former child-free me had once been. My days became cluttered with nappy changes, feeds, rocking and sterilising. As the Mother in me grew, the glamour in me diminished. I can, with full certainty, tell you that I felt lows I never expected.
In the early days, I craved moments where I could feel like my old self again…And, although I cherished the rekindled bonds between those friends who had already transitioned, I missed the irresponsible conversations I once shared with my non-mummy friends. I knew, of course, that being my friend was becoming harder for them. I remembered being the one bored by stories of miniature milestones, trying to look interested in tales of milky poo and sore nipples. I recalled feeling uncomfortable handling the new born babes of my friends, almost desperate to hand them back over without seeming uncaring or insensitive. I understood what my friends were now feeling, how I had become less interesting.
It made me sad.
Sad in the realisation that once beforehand, my Parent friends had needed my distraction. They needed that silly, random talk as much as before. They wanted a fresh, less anxious perspective, a moment for themselves. They wanted a rest – a rest from baby talk, from feeds and from rocking. They wanted to remember who they once were, who they still were beneath the baby sick and shepherd’s pie crustations.
So this is for my Mummy friends – I truly apologise for being so rubbish at a time you needed me the most. I was selfish and unable to see what gift I’d been given. Had I known how maternal you now felt, I would have tried harder to understand how amazingly turbulent the journey you faced felt. I wouldn’t make excuses or shy away from what could have been some brilliant memories together. If I could do it all over again, I would appreciate more that being your friend now meant being an Auntie, I’d give your arms a break with gratitude of still being able to be a part of your life (now that your priorities had rightfully changed), for being a part of your child’s life and for trusting me with your most precious possession.
To my child-free friends – although I can’t be sorry that my priorities changed, I’m sorry for not involving you more. I could have made more effort to respond to texts or avoid turning conversations back round to being baby related. I could have told you more that I needed you to remind me of who I once was, that I needed the distractions from Motherhood and parenting. I should have listened to your stories of drunken debacles with the same interest I once showed – those moments felt important to you (rightfully so) and what is important to you – will always be important to me.
Life isn’t always easy and all we can do is try our best at making things less painful, more enjoyable. Now that the rollercoaster is settling, I’m trying to regain the parts of me I once felt were being replaced. I couldn’t have done any of this without the strength and compassion of all of my friends!
so, to all of you – thank you for bearing with me!
Love you xxx