One of the things I was keen to do with MUM FACE was to own up to finding it hard. It took some personal pep-talking though – the first thing you’re expected to be as a mum is grateful and joyous.
I am incredibly lucky to have got pregnant. Hell, I’m lucky to live in the house we live in, in a country I feel relatively safe in. I’m lucky I have a job I love. I’m lucky in so many ways. I’m lucky to have my health, my partner, my parents, and yes, definitely lucky to have my kid.
But this has become a caveat, almost a way to temper any negative feelings, make them feel shameful. “I had a really bad night last night and I feel a bit lost, BUT I SHOULDN’T SAY IT BECAUSE I’M SO LUCKY TO HAVE GOT PREGNANT.”
Because if you’re lucky enough to have a baby, you should ‘think yourself lucky’ and moaning should be kept to a minimum. I get it – if there’s nothing you want more than to have a baby and you can’t, the complaints of someone who got there easily are hard to swallow. BUT no matter how you came to be a mum, some of it will be bloody hard. And since we’re thankfully part of a generation that’s encouraged to talk about our struggles and seek help with them – even if that’s just a cup of tea and a chat – it seems only fair that we can bring our discomforts as mothers to that table, too. Finding some parts of motherhood hard does not negate your love. It does not mean you don’t thank your lucky stars everyday that your child is alive and well. It’s as though we’re not allowed to own our discomfort or pain, or the fact that sometimes being a mum is truly gut-wrenchingly awful. I don’t think women need this pre-emptive apology; I’m not sure it really helps. I know I’m lucky to have a kid and appreciate more than others perhaps that she’s healthy, but I still despair, I still think, well this has got fucking horrible, hasn’t it? I still want to complain about what happens to me, what happens to my relationships, that I have far fewer friends now, that I’m a bitch to my mum and don’t even know why most of the time.
It’s a fairly democratic difficulty – so far all the mums I’ve ever met have found one or more parts of the experience hard.
And when well-meaning people say things like, OH YOU’LL MISS THIS PHASE THOUGH, WHEN THEY’RE GROWN UP AND WANT NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU. Well, this isn’t helpful either. This garners a combination of dread for the future and shame/guilt at not embracing and enjoying every moment. But personally, there are things I won’t miss. I won’t miss the sleep deprivation because that was pretty hard. I will miss my baby lying in my arms, but not the bit where I was rocking til my back ached, desperate for a moment of sleep, desperate for her to sleep peacefully, desperate for the room to stop spinning. Take away the pressure to enjoy it all and FEEL LUCKY all the goddamn time, and you can move on. Yes, this bit is a bit shit actually, but it’ll pass and we’ll enjoy something else together when we’ve caught up on some sleep.