Dear Mum…

I saw a quote on Facebook the other day, which I felt compelled to share because it hit home so hard that I cried (regardless of the fact that I am now so incredibly pregnant that on a hormonal day I can cry over a toilet roll advert whilst eating chocolate spread off of a spoon). The quote was as follows:

 

“The problem when you are a strong, capable, self-confident person, is that more often than not, people think that you don’t really need things like comfort, reassurance, loyalty and guidance. People are more likely to look at you and say, “She doesn’t need this”, “She doesn’t need that”, “She’s already all of this and all of that”. But then the truth is that most probably, you are a strong, capable, self-confident person because you built yourself brick-by-brick into that person; because you HAD to BECOME that person; because you had determination enough to make yourself into the image that you knew you needed to become. At the heart of many strong, confident people, is a heart most longing of the things that most others simply take for granted.” C. Joybell.

Like so many people, I have found this pandemic/lockdown incredibly difficult and not only from having to endure Mr SoggyFaceStupidHair Boris’s vague and contradictory press conferences. I have been powerless in watching it take away my business, income, support network, freedom, escapism, sanity, emotional stability, and on many days my willingness & strength to continue. But it is very rare that I actually express how I really feel. This may be partially because I constantly feel I must have my “professional / business owner” hat on, especially on social media, or it may be a form of self preservation, in not wanting to show weakness or failure. When I go to a midwife appointment and she asks me how I’m doing, a lot of the time I want to break down in tears because it’s all just a bit sh*t and all I want to do some days is cry. But instead I smile politely, nod and say “I’m fine!” …when deep down I’m so many unicorn farts away from fine. The danger with gamefacing it like Mr Tumble on Crack is that people don’t see that you’re struggling, and consequently don’t/can’t offer any help/support. Then, if you’re anything like me, you’re constantly trying to keep other people happy, and end up taking on other people’s sh*t whilst they are still utterly oblivious to yours. This, my friends, is a scarily accurate description of 90% of mums out there. I bet you my last Rolo that you will fall into one of two categories: you will either be one of these, or you will know one, whether you realise it or not. You see, mumma bears are like reverse Dime Bars, or Armadillos if you will – hard on the outside, soft and vulnerable on the inside – but we hold our defences up so high that often people are completely unaware of everything we are trying to juggle at any one time. 

Carrying shit

Last month I considered giving up writing. I was in a bad place and I had inadvertently upset a few people who had misconstrued things that I had written in previous blog posts. I’d like to point out now that this is never my intention. Ever. I never set out to be mean or passive aggressive (unless it’s about Boris, who really does look like a cross between South Park’s Eric Cartman and an alpaca), and it really upset me that my writing had come across that way. It got me thinking as to why I started these blogs in the first place. Firstly, it’s an outlet in a safe space for emotional struggles that I otherwise have to keep under-wraps in the professional world, and especially during a global lockdown, it’s a form of escapism from an otherwise very isolated existence. But more importantly, it’s a relatable voice for those out there going through similar struggles and can’t/won’t’/don’t speak out for themselves, to show them that they are not alone, and that it’s OK not to be OK all of the time. So, on reflection, I decided that the benefits to writing outweighed the risk of possible misinterpretation of said writing, and that I may just have to be a little more careful with my sarcastic tone at times (so much harder than it looks – that’s what she said! …see what I mean?!). Basically, in anything you do in life, you are never going to please everyone – you are not a plate of Ikea meatballs – so you might as well do what makes you happy. So, I have chosen to dedicate the rest of this blog to the (often secretly struggling) super mummies out there, and in particular one of the strongest women I know; my mum. Here are 5 things I wish I’d understood before having kids:

I wish I’d let you rest when you were overwhelmed

Trying to run 2 businesses and look after a 3-year-old on lockdown whilst being heavily pregnant has been a challenge. And it’s not about to get any easier once the baby is born. The constant stream of “mummy mummy mummy” and incessant “but why?!” responses, mixed soon with a newborn cry and 2-hourly breastfeeds will definitely test my limits as a mum. I hope that my heart will never be more full than when both my children are laughing at the same time …though I’m sure I will never question my entire existence more than when both my children are crying at the same time. The good news is that maybe they will be best friends one day. Although if they are anything like me and my brother, this won’t happen until long after they have moved out. It still amazes me, mum, how you brought up 2 kids and were a childminder to several others, and also re-qualified to climb the career ladder. I can imagine that some days you just wanted to collapse on the sofa, turn out the lights and turn off the kids. You are not alone.

I wish I’d helped you clean the house more

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – trying to clean up with kids around is like trying to file paperwork into an industrial fan whilst a midget gets under your feet and throws sh*t around (usually metaphorically, although sometimes literally). There are not enough upturned plugs in the world to prepare yourself for how painful stepping on Lego at 3am is. I can’t remember how messy I was as a child, but I’m sure I was no angel. I remember you coming upstairs one time with a black bin bag and threatening to throw all my toys away if I didn’t clear them up… still to this day I don’t know if that was an empty threat. If it’s anything like me sometimes, I’d happily roll up the carpet and everything on it, toddler included, and bin it rather than have to deal with what looks like the aftermath of World War 3.

I wish I understood why you felt so lonely even though I was attached to you hip

Books and movies portray an image of an instant bond with your baby from that first time that you hold them at birth. This isn’t always the case… but nobody tells you that bit. So when you have been through 36 hours of contractions, there have been complications requiring aftercare, you’re sitting in a pool that looks like a scene from Psycho, and you’re utterly knackered, then the midwife hands you your human and you don’t have that instant bond, you feel like a complete failure. In the days and weeks later, when the visitors have been and gone and your significant other has returned to work, it can feel very lonely. As a baby I was oblivious to how you were feeling, mum, but from experience now I know it’s bloody hard work! As I grew up, I wish I’d said I love you more and shown you how much you are appreciated.

I wish I’d believed you when you said “when you’re a mother, you’ll understand”

From the tightened hand grip close to a main road, to a telling off through gritted teeth so as not to make a scene in public. These are things that many mums can relate to. There are so many things that I have taken from my childhood to my motherhood, but one of the most memorable is that mums always know best. And this is something I still tell Joshua today, adding on to the end: “…nanny Lesley taught me that”. And some days when I ask him to do something (or not to do something, depending on whether it’s cleaning his teeth or not poking a “sleeping” mouse that the cat has brought in), and he replies with an inquisitive 3-year-old “but why?”, I simply say “why do you think?”. To which he replies with a heart-warming smile: “because mummies know best”. Yes, yes they do. Nanny Lesley taught me that.

I wish I’d appreciated how unbelievably strong you are

Having suffered with postnatal depression with Joshua, gone though the emotional upheaval of years of fertility treatment with my current pregnancy, and worked through bouts of prenatal depression in my second pregnancy whilst simultaneously home-schooling a toddler, a lot of the time all I want to do is cry. I have no idea how you remained so strong when I was growing up. I don’t remember ever once seeing you cry, break down or give up. You were always my rock and my superhero, and I hope that I can be as strong for Joshua and the baby as you were for me. Thank you, mum.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Chris Humphrey says:

    Thanks Kate…….pleased to say I cried.
    Not of sorrow but tears of pride and love x

    Like

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