Sunday, March 3, 2024

The Motherhood Diaries: ‘The Five Things I Find Most Maddening About Being a Mum”

Welcome to our new series, The Motherhood Diaries!

We’ve loved connecting with so many of you over the last three months through The Divorce Diaries (and don’t worry, that series isn’t going anywhere!), and we’re pleased to announce that over the coming weeks and months we’ll be branching out into more ‘Diaries’ series, covering a range of different subjects. We thank you so much for sharing your stories and being part of this community!

This week we’re introducing The Motherhood Diaries – a safe space for you to share your experiences, advice, hopes and heartbreaks. We’ll be hearing from industry experts giving practical advice alongside Capsule readers (You!) sharing your firsthand experiences. We’re looking at everything from fertility, trying to conceive, pregnancy, the fourth trimester, newborns, toddlers, raising children and teenagers and everything in between!

If you have a topic you’d like to discuss, share your thoughts, experience or advice about, drop a line to [email protected].

To start the series, we’re talking to Michelle* who has two children (an 18-month and 5-year-old). Here she shares her honest feelings about some of the tougher parts of motherhood (that she wishes she could talk about more honestly in public!).

First: A disclaimer, because I absolutely love my kids and I’m so, so lucky to have them. I really am. I desperately wanted them and went through two miscarriages and IUI to get them here. They are so loved and cherished.

Which might be part of why I find it so hard to ever admit that sometimes being a mother is the pits. It can be lonely, infuriating and maddening. Sometimes I just want to scream, but then that also makes me feel so guilty. What about everything I went through to get here? What about my friends who are struggling to conceive? What about all those single mothers who do this alone?!

I wanted to put my real name on this, but, I’d be too ashamed to say how I honestly feel (and I don’t want to give those Lululemon mums another reason to be smug towards me!).

Yes, I love being a mother, but here are the five things I find the most maddening:

Number one: WHO AM I

Does anyone know? Because I don’t!! Once upon a time I felt like a full, rounded human being with my own identity and personality, now, I’m just ‘Muuuuuuuuuuuum’ (a name that is yelled at me at least seven billion times). For a couple of days a week I work part-time and I feel like I’m a whole separate person, like I’m playing a role of a human who doesn’t have children. Sometimes I catch myself at the photocopier and think to myself “OMG I have CHILDREN”. Sometimes that makes me want to laugh out loud, sometimes it makes me feel so guilty I almost quit on the spot.

I can’t remember who I was before I had kids. I mean, know I don’t necessarily want to still be that person, but I don’t feel like myself either. WHO AM I? I feel like I have some sort of amnesia.

The other week during some sort of meltdown, my very kind husband suggested I start taking a couple of hours out each week to do a hobby. This was a very nice suggestion but ended up throwing me down another hole of confusion. In a panic, I thought, ‘Do I have any hobbies?!? Does wandering out malls staring at things blankly count? Having a wine with a friend then feeling drunk after one glass and needing to go to bed? Should I start a new hobby and become a new person?’ What is an appropriate hobby for someone who has no attention span, will likely not stick it out for long, is always running late and often puts her car keys through the wash?

Number two: I’m jealous of my husband

As previously mentioned, I have a very kind husband who does lots of kind things, like cooking, cleaning and general all-round parenting. He does a great job and is a great man and this is not a criticism of him, it’s a criticism of society. Because my husband and I are treated completely differently.

When he does school pick-up or whips up items for the bake sale or takes our eldest to birthday parties on the weekend he gets smiles fussed over and people make comments about what a great dad he is. But for me, that’s just what is expected from me. I’m more likely to get an, “Ooooh, I hope you didn’t bake something with nuts/gluten/dairy/eggs in it!” or shamed for not volunteering to be a parent helper on the school trip, or just generally looked up and down at the school gates.

I love that he gets credit for being a great dad, but it sucks that we don’t do the same for mums. There feels like there’s so much competition between mums. AND whenever I say I feel intimidated by the other mums (or downright scared of them) my husband can’t understand it because everyone is SO NICE to him.

Which brings me to…

Number three: Hell is school drop-off/pick up

I was not a popular kid, so maybe this is why I struggle at school because it feels like being back at high school. I’m immediately awkward. I don’t know where to stand, what to wear, what to say, who to hang out with and I always forget dates and am too tired to do all the supermum stuff.

There are some AWESOME mothers at my kids’ school who I love and thank god for, but there are so many competitive mums. Why is there so much competition? It starts off at coffee group. There are all these women who only talk about the good stuff and brag about how their kid is already in the top percentile and how they’ve already started teaching them three languages. Groups of mothers give me anxiety.

Number four: I’d like all “Influencers” to be stranded on a desert island with no wi-fi.

If I want to be masochistic, I do a little trawl of Instagram of the mummy influencers. Sometimes I don’t need to because my phone obviously knows everything about me and just offers these women up in my feed.

It grates me that these women scoff about the annoyance of having to hide the word ‘ad’ somewhere on their post, because, honestly the world they create can be so overwhelming for new mums. It makes me feel guilty and confused every time I see it. With my firstborn I was beside myself – I kept freaking out that I didn’t have a sock that measured his temperature, a separate change table, a bath thermometer, a complete nursery decked out with the latest mod-coms and designer drawers with little compartments where everything was beautifully displayed.

I lost my mind and bought some of the things I saw hawked by influencers and I used none of them. I didn’t even use the nursery I had many meltdowns over for a full year because he just slept in our room.

It must be nice that they get all that stuff for free or are paid to show it, but honestly, it made me feel like such a bad mum for not knowing what half of the products were actually for, let alone actually having any of them for my children. Most of the time I know I don’t actually need a lot of that stuff, but every now and then in a low moment I’ll see it on Instagram and feel terrible. Also, how are they all so awake and have such perfect makeup when they have a screaming kid to look after? Or do their kids not scream because they were gifted the right product…. Arrrrrgh I hate it!

Number five: I’m a hypocrite

Sometimes I feel trapped that I can’t do anything because I have my kids to look after – particularly my youngest who is still in the very clingy stage. I complain about this (really only to my husband or very close friends who I hope will understand) and am offered very nice, very good solutions. My best friends will offer to babysit. My husband will offer up his lovely mother-in-law to look after them so I can have a break.

BUT I hardly ever take up any of these offers. What if my kid cries and is so upset that I’ve left them alone to cry? What do I do with that fear and guilt? I also have a tendency to be a bit of a martyr I’ve discovered. I had this baby, I wanted this baby, so I alone must be the one to deal with it! WHY do I do this? If I have a break, I’ll be a better mum the rest of the time? But I can’t stand to leave my baby with someone else. I make no sense.

THANK YOU FOR LISTENING.

The Motherhood Diaries
Over the coming weeks and months we’ll be covering many different aspects of the journey of motherhood. If you’d like to share your stories, thoughts, ideas or advice, drop an email to [email protected]

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