While Martin was away with work, I sent a text to a friend, “Doing this gig alone has given me time to reflect on just how much I don’t enjoy motherhood.”
I sent it with an intended element of mirth but I sat with my statement for a little while, tossing it around in my head, to figure out just how truly it resonated. Nearly two years of solo parenting was skewing the results but on some level, I had to admit that there is so much of motherhood I don’t enjoy.
It’s the petty stuff that breaks me down. The squabbling and arguments shred my nerves. The constant trail of toys and kid paraphernalia irritates me. A uniform worn once and returned home far too grubby to wear again makes me insane.
The kids are young and presumably they’re going to be annoying for a good while longer yet. That’s a long time for me to moan about it. The future seems bleak.
To get it out of my system, I made a Top 5 list of things I don’t enjoy about motherhood.
1. Dealing with sibling arguments
Nothing makes me crazier than hearing the kids whinge. It’s the pitch of their voices, the intermittent moaning and the inevitable crying. I find it almost impossible to block it out. J is a whirlwind and all it takes if for him to knock E’s lego over or for her to take something from him. Ok they dont argue yet. However I think based on behaviour when J grasps this talking business, I will know about it.
2. Listening to kids whine
It’s the age old parenting problem. Saying no and sticking to your guns unleashes a torrent of whining. Is there any wonder my kids get ‘treats’ most days?
3. Constant food requirements
School lunches. Dinners that everyone will eat. Multiple course breakfasts when I’ve barely had a chance to stuff down two spoonfuls of yoghurt myself. And then the snacks. All the little snacks. I used to quite enjoy cooking. USED TO.
4. Going places with kids
Taking one kid somewhere? Great. Enjoyable even. Two alone can be tough. Trying to keep an eye on each of them, getting them into the car, getting them out again, taking them on the bus without any hassle– I find all of it stressful. Even the simple act of walking somewhere together is fraught with difficulty because no-one can walk at the same pace. E likes to rush ahead and J must dawdle along looking at every street light, drain, tree, bush. You get the idea..
5. Bathtime / Bedtime
Wet kids, hairwashing, splashing galore and my own flagging energy make the night-time routine tricky. Then there are arguments about which books to read, or about who is doing what. Freedom is so close, I can taste it, but though I can barely keep my own eyes open. E goes to bed with no problem, J however is a different matter. Some nights he settles, other nights he constantly stands up and throws everything out of his bed. I am bored of all that now.
The other week I got E dressed after her swimming lesson. Whilst we was in the change room getting dressed, I watched one of the other mums drying her daughters hair under the hand-dryer. She sat quietly as she slowly ran her fingers through her long hair, gently tossing it dry. I was mesmerised by this tender moment. I wondered when was the last time I had a moment with one of the kids that wasn’t marred by stress or rush.
What’s this mum’s secret? Maybe she’s just a less uptight human being in general. Maybe I am more tightly wound than many but I don’t want it to dictate my life. I certainly don’t want it to dictate the kind of mother I am. I don’t want to be the mother I’ve become.
So it made sense to sit and really think about the things I do love about motherhood. Because I do love it. So I started writing down moments and they’re so nice to reflect on.
Lately, loving motherhood:
- E and I sitting side by side in bed reading a story.
- On the rare occasions I make a dinner that everyone eats and ENJOYS, it gives me such a buzz. And it’s not the same as watching them hoover over junk food. Knowing I have cooked wholesome food that is now in their little bellies feels like winning something.
- Giving J a bath during the day. An evening bath can be rushed. Watching him enjoy himself splashing around made me realise that bath time should be fun time and not rushed.
- I love watching how caring and loving E is to J. She plays with him so nicely it makes me proud of her.
- J gives the greatest cuddles and always climbs up onto the sofa to climb on me for a cuddle.
- Those moments of quietly observing your kids and marvelling at the way their personalities are unfolding. Who will you become, child of mine? What does the future have in store for you and will you keep me along for the ride?
- I truly love talking J for a walk on an afternoon whilst E is at school. Its our time. He walks, runs, picks up things and looks at everything. He amazes me.
- The hugs. No matter what, I always love the hugs.
I am trying so hard to lean in at the moment and sometimes this means working against an incredible urge to lean way, way out instead.
When all else fails, looking at photos of my kids helps. I am biologically compelled to be madly in love with their sweet faces – especially when they’re smiling back at me from a screen. Silently