When I was in my twenties, I wasn’t sure if I even wanted kids. Once I met my husband though, all I wanted was to have a family with him. I could see this whole cosy life ahead of me with this man — yes, yes, I had to be a mum one day.
“One day” took a little longer than I had hoped, but after trying for awhile, we ended up with two beautiful, healthy twin boys that I love more than this little heart of mine can handle. I am so grateful for them and thankful for them and feel so blessed to have them.
At the same time though, it can be really, really hard sometimes.
At three-and-a-half, my kids are at a challenging age…and there are two of them. So, between the defiance and the destruction and dare-deviling, it’s just a lot. They’ve also stopped napping, they’re potty-training, and they’ve had colds. I’m totally wiped-out.
A couple of weekends ago, we were having one of those spells where they just refused to listen. Everything was a battle, a test of wills, the simplest request DENIED. They had eaten a messy dinner, where more of the food ended up on their clothes than in their mouths. As I was cleaning my boys up, one of them was squirming away from me, screaming about how the water was too hot (it wasn’t), that it hurt (it didn’t). Finally, I just threw the wet cloth on the floor, ran out of the kitchen, and retreated to my bedroom in tears. Yes, kind of like — well, exactly like — a sulky teenager. Or a three year old.
As I laid there on my bed, the tears just started to come — heaving, full-body sobs that, clearly, just needed to come out. I’d been so exhausted with all the no’s and the battles and the negotiations. Worn-thin, frazzled, I think maybe I just needed to finally let it all go. I admit, I was feeling sorry for myself, which was ridiculous but also, in that moment, very real. And I thought to myself, “Maybe I don’t really like being a mum.”
Once the thought came out, I immediately felt guilty. Isn’t this what I wanted, more than anything in the world? These boys are my whole life, my greatest joy and accomplishment. They’re everything to me, and I would do anything for them. I give them every single last ounce of me. How could I not love this? How could I not love being a mum?
The truth is, for the most part, yes, I love being a mum. I love being their mum. And still, sometimes, it effing sucks. Can’t I say that? I wouldn’t change it for the world, but it’s not like the most super-fun job in the world. Sometimes, it’s like the greatest ride of your life, and then a lot of other times, it’s the exact opposite of a good time. Like, a really bad, trying, exhausting time.
Yes, yes, I know I should just be grateful to have healthy children, and I absolutely am. I know it’s unfair and small to complain about my kids when I know parents who struggle with much greater challenges. But I also know that a lot of mothers have these bad days and hard times. I know that, sometimes, we need to hear that we’re not the only ones who feel this way. That maybe we’re not bad mums — just normal ones.
I think that, when you have bad days, it’s okay to say, “Well, this sucks.” There’s a reason that seasoned parents talk about the terrible twos and threenager year and the f*cking fours. There’s a reason we reach for the wine once the kids have gone to bed. There’s a reason our kids watch so much TV. It’s because, sometimes, it really does suck to be a mum.
But it’s because we’re so good at it.
Yep. We are loving, devoted, 100 percent committed parents. And that’s why it’s so hard. Remember that thing I said about how we give every single last ounce of ourselves to our little ones? We are all in, all the time. We’re up at all hours of the night, cradling our feverish babies, cleaning up vom, taking them into steamy bathrooms to help them breathe. We’re kissing ouchies and wiping tears and making it all better. When they’re with us, it’s snacks and stories and play. It’s snuggles and songs and silly voices. When they’re away from us, our hearts feel on-pause, half-there, even while we may be relishing the alone time.
When you’re a mum, a good one, you never stop being a mum. There’s no clocking out. And even with a partner to tag in, you’re still circling the ring. Your children are your first thought, your last thought, they take up your whole brain and your whole body. They are everything. Being a mum is everything. And that’s exactly why it sometimes feels like just too much.
So, okay, maybe there are times that you don’t like being a mum but, at the end of the day, in your heart, you know that you’re really good at. And you wouldn’t — actually, you couldn’t — change a thing.