I am not the sort of mother I thought I would be. I can hear the Mexican Wave cry of “Haha! Nobody is!,” careering at me in, a tidal mass of “I Told You So”. Yes, it’s an absolute motherhood rite of passage to laugh at yourself, and denounce all of the things you were 100% never going to do as a mother, as you tutted at those eating a quiet lunch while their children watched random people opening Kinder Eggs on Youtube, and felt sorry for the children of the mum who was begging them in a deranged hiss, to “please just stop bloody fighting” and offered them a lifetime’s supply of Haribo if they did so. Yes, I’ve been there and done that with the rest of you-nothing new there.
What I’m talking about, runs a lot deeper than that. I had gotten to the point where the only days I enjoyed, were the days my children were at nursery. On those days, I’d feel a prickle of dread about having to go and collect them at the end of the day. I’d scramble around on the other days in between, desperately trying to get my mum, my brother, my dad, anyone, to come over, so that I didn’t have to be alone with them. I’d feel a white hot fury, if my mum took them to the park for a couple of hours, and came back after one hour. I wondered how I had got to the point where I woke up dreading each day, and wasn’t sure how I would get through it.
Questioning how I had so fantastically failed in the one job in life I was sure I would succeed at – did my children start every day moaning, screaming, and being difficult (and manage to keep this up for an entire day relentlessly) because I had done something so very badly wrong? I even started to wonder if I was actually innately evil, and this had somehow been missed throughout the rest of my life, manifesting now in motherhood- because absolutely nobody should feel like that about their children, should they…?
A lot of my questions were answered when both of the children had health scares. After a series of doctor visits, the littlest was eventually referred to the children’s hospital- nobody was really sure what was wrong with him. On the days leading up to the appointment, I couldn’t sleep, of course, going through every worse case scenario in my head. I felt sick, as he skipped down the hospital corridors, no care in the world, with no clue as to why he was there. It turns out the consultant put her finger on what was wrong with him immediately, and it was nothing that a short course of medication wouldn’t fix. I cried with relief. No sooner did we have that out of the way, when we were at a friend’s birthday party, and my husband thrust the eldest in my face, telling me to ‘do something.’ He was grey, and waxy, and his lips a strange shade of cyanosed. The horrified gasps of the people around us was audible, and as the ex nurse, everyone was looking right at me. I just stood there. At that point all I could think of was that I wasn’t sure if I remembered how to do paediatric life support. I wasn’t really aware that the fact I was thinking that, meant that my child, right there in front of me, might actually need it.
Again, a simple explanation was offered to us, as to why this had happened- nothing to do with the cardiac dysfunction I had talked myself into believing we would be told he had. In the days afterwards, I checked him hourly overnight, sleeping fitfully in between, wondering if five minutes after I had checked him, he might have another episode, and how would I contemplate existing, if anything happened to him.
It was in that moment, that I realised that I wasn’t the terrible, evil person I had convinced myself I was. I’m not the mother I thought I’d be, but raising children is also nothing like I thought it would be. Sometimes (99% of the time at the moment for us) children will be assholes. And sometimes, no amount of expert advice, raiding the internet and your local ‘what’s on for kids’ directory for new ideas, will change that. Sometimes, you will wish that your children could go to boarding school, and you could have an extended break from them, and when they’re in bed, you might announce “those f***ers hate me,” to your husband (by you, I mean me, but it might be you too.) But I am the mother who barely slept, for checking my children, and although sometimes I wake up wondering how I will get through the day, I still go out of my way to make the day fun and entertaining, through the screaming.
I am the mother who gets a prickle of dread at going to collect the children from nursery, knowing that the coming bedtime debacle might give me a nervous breakdown, and might have nicknamed the days they aren’t at nursery Twatface Tuesdays, Wank Wednesdays, and Thank F**k It’s Nursery Again Tomorrow Thursdays, but will still hug and squeeze their faces when I collect them, like I’ve missed them with every inch of my being, in some sort of juxtaposed mind f**k. The fact that I care so much about why the children’s behaviour is so bad at the moment, and the pain that I sometimes don’t want to spend time with them, defines the whole situation. Because if I didn’t care, I’d just stick my feet up, wack on The Walking Dead, tell my children Negan is coming to get them, and let them fight to the death. I care about changing things, and I realise that sometimes, everything being bollocks, doesn’t mean I wouldn’t die for them- they don’t need the mother I thought I’d be – I’m sure they’re more than happy with what they’ve got.
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