Big up to the mum gang (in half term especially)
I've been saved today...
Today has turned out to be one of those brilliant but un-plannable spontaneous days. It started out a bit crap if I’m honest, with some plans cancelled and the long expanse of a day with lots of hours to fill. Factor in that it’s been half term and I’ve been trying to juggle Xav and a pretty important work week with nothing but a few hours of childcare and it’s not been an easy week.
I’ve never found it easy to be a mum 24/7. I don’t mean I don’t love it – I do. Xav is amazing and I love him so much that sometimes I feel like there’s a strong possibility I will explode. But I’m not built to be a full-time mum and I worked out quite quickly that I’m happier (and therefore, so is he) when I have days during the week when he’s in childcare and I’m working.
So whenever I’ve found myself with him day in, day out, I always have a meltdown in the end. That’s not an easy thing to admit as it feels counterintuitive that I wouldn’t want to be with him every minute of every day and just sit and stroke him; wondering how on earth I could have created such a miracle.
Reality isn’t like that though, is it? Negotiating with a toddler is not for the feint-hearted. I find being a mum exhausting. Emotionally and physically it saps me of energy like nothing else. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy it – I want to be very clear about that. I’ve just worked out that I enjoy it more (and don’t regularly feel as though I’m actually losing it) if we’re not together all day every day.
I don’t make a habit of publicising my perceived parental shortcomings. I’ve spent enough time mentally passing judgment on my own incompetence (even though I try to reason with myself and tell my inner critic to go and do one) and am never quite sure how a dose of this kind of honesty is going to go down with other mamas.
But today has ended up feeling different. What started with a big going-into-battle sigh has transformed into a really fantastic end to half-term.
So what changed?
I ended up spending all day with some amazing mum friends who have completely altered my state of mind.
We talked (intermittently, obvs as we dealt with the standard irrational needs and kids shooting in all directions) about the kinds of parents we feel we are vs the kinds of parents we wish we could be. We talked about the factors that influence our parenting and the power our pasts hold over the present and potentially the future. We admitted things to each other, made excuses for ourselves and there was a lot of “God, you must think I’m such a terrible mother” as we bared our souls. It was deep. It was therapy.
It wasn’t planned and there was no booze, so the honesty was just something that happened naturally and we all said how much better we all felt for having spent those hours together.
I haven’t known these brilliant women long, but we discovered lots of common ground today. What a beautiful thing. They have no idea how incredible they are or what a bloody awesome job they’re doing raising their gorgeous children, and they – as we all do – give themselves such a hard time. If only they could see how great they are.
Today wasn’t ground-breaking, in the traditional sense. And my mum gang and I spend plenty of time bending each other’s ears about all of this stuff.
But I just felt the need to write this because having the confidence to open up like that completely changed the course of my day.
In half term especially, big up to the mum gang.