For me, becoming a mum has meant dealing with such extremes in emotions – yoyo-ing from constantly whispering “for f#cks sake” after the 100th time you hear them scream ‘Mum!’ in the middle of the night just because their sock fell off, or their pillow ‘stopped working’, to feeling completely overwhelmed with affection and pride for these little beings, who so innocently depend on you for their every survival need and whim.
Motherhood is hard. Really hard. I’ve never heard another Mum say otherwise. First of all pregnancy – nausea, exhaustion, stretch marks, varicose veins, huge weight gain, vagueness, aches, pains, aching back, sleepless nights and uncomfortable days. Constantly dropping and forgetting things, having to wake up to roll over in bed, making 1000’s of trips to the toilet a night, crying in pain at the thought of a food shop or cleaning the floors.. and then there’s the inexplicable, mind blowing pain of labour and birth, need I say more.
To make matters worse, apparently to some people being pregnant or having a child means that you become ‘public property’ – strangers feel the need to touch your belly, people you barely know want to tell you all about their birthing horror stories, middle aged women are quite happy to take your newborn baby from your arms without asking, just so they can show you ‘the best way’ to comfort/burp/cuddle; almost everyone seems like they’re tripping over themselves to give you unwanted and often unneeded advice, and there’s even a few who offer the patronising “it can be so tough being a new mum, not having any idea what you’re doing.” Because - YES - what a helpful and encouraging thing to say.
From there it’s hours stuck on the couch feeding, cracked nipples, healing birthing wounds, multiple wake ups a night, endless dirty nappies, constantly drenched in breast milk, crying, screaming and vomit. Then years of eating your dinner with one hand, cold cups of coffee, having an audience while you use the toilet, endless nights of interrupted sleep, wrinkles and puffy eyes, cereal on the floor, dirty nappies, vomit (did I mention vomit?), being stalked beyond existence and constant contact with someone who needs you and often needs to be ON you – far from glamorous and some days horrifically relentless.
Then you add multiple children to the mix and all of a sudden you’re watching your house fall down around you while these little demons behave as though they’ve taken a million trips – screaming around, pouring cereal and milk on the floor, attempting to swallow foreign objects or drink household cleaners, having a melt down because they wanted the pink plate instead of the blue. Day after day of mundane tasks, week after week of whinging and tantrums and year after year of putting someone else’s needs before your own. If you’re lucky - and I most certainly am - you have a supportive and loving partner who comes home after work and saves the day by helping clean the house, round up the kids and cook dinner - seriously, I am THAT lucky. If you’re unlucky, when your husband arrives home you get to have yourself an extra child to attend to, feed and listen to complain.
I can tell I’m really selling motherhood to those of you who haven’t had any little ones yet. Yup, it’s is allllllllll roses and I haven’t even started on the physcological responsibilities of being a Mum – after all, we only get one chance to empower our children to live a healthy, happy and successful life in which they feel constantly loved, supported and confident in who they are and everything they do. Oh THE PRESSURE.
The point I’m getting to is that it wouldn’t be right saying all of this without also talking about these little personalities who are addictive and infectious, capturing your boundless love from the moment they’re born, to the point where you feel completely lost and unfulfilled without them. How can someone so demanding and disruptive capture your limitless love so instantly and unconditionally just with a blink, a movement, a smile, a glance, a cuddle, or the words “I love you Mummy”.. and in that moment of utter chaos, when every last rice bubble is on the floor, they’ve played hair dressers with real scissors, drawn all over the couch and painted themselves completely in nappy cream, you actually have to stop yourself from laughing at the wonder of their incredible little personalities. Well in this house, that part usually comes after I scream my head off and throw them in the shower, while I clean up the mess (yes, I’m sure my neighbour thinks I’m a psycho).
The wonder of the universe never seems as profound as when your babe takes its first breath and is laid on your chest. I will never forget that first moment of looking into Lotte's big beautiful eyes calmly blinking back at me - a head full of hair and the most familiar face. Meeting her for the very first time but feeling so overwhelmingly like I'd known her forever and a day - completely connected beyond any other life force. A lifelong adventure together ahead of us.
Yes, it's true - they push you to your absolute limits, yet you can’t help but be completely and utterly obsessed with them and fiercely and unconditionally love them far beyond measure. It’s a constant battle between wanting them to grow up quickly, so you don’t need to deal with this exhausting and demanding little kid phase routine; to wanting to spend every waking (and sleeping) moment with them and being completely desperate to make time stand still, so you can bottle their squishy little cheeks, their voices, their fearless natures and their incredible innocence.
And so, this is motherhood for me. Raw, incredibly hard and often ugly but the most rewarding and satisfying job I’ve ever had. Sounds like a cheesy cliché but for me, it really couldn’t hold more truth - bring on baby Beagley #3.