The other night I experienced something that has only happened maybe twice since I became a mother, 3.5 years ago. I believe it was the culmination of 10 or so days of broken sleep. A sick husband. A clingy babe who can really only be comforted by me. A demanding preschooler. All the everything basically. I’d switched out the light and began to drift off to sleep after multiple trips back and forth before bed to both kids rooms to feed/settle/re-settle/fill up water bottles/chase away imaginary monsters (the usual) when I heard the familiar shuffling and almost immediately after, the piercing cry that meant that one young lady was awake again. And I really didn’t want to go into her room. I mean I really, really didn’t want to. I didn’t want to lift up my top and latch her on. I didn’t want to rock quietly in the chair, dozing as she fed. I didn’t want any of it. I wanted to stay in bed. I wanted someone else to do it. As the cries got louder, I stumbled down the hall and groped around in the dark to find my daughters tiny body in her cot. Hands gently grasping her sleeping bag clad bottom and shoulders I lifted her out of the cot. She thrashed around. Screaming louder. ‘Where have you been?’ was pretty evident without any words needed. I lifted up my top. She latched on and relaxed momentarily only to spit the nipple right back out again and wail with an eye watering pitch. The milk wasn’t coming fast enough. She latched again, using her fists to alternately beat at my chest and pinch the skin just above my nipple, trying to trigger the letdown she was desperately seeking. As she clawed and wriggled and roared I suddenly and vividly thought to myself how easy it would be to shake her. To hit her. To grab her forcefully and will her to just stop. In that split second, I saw what could be and how easy losing control could be. If Adam hadn’t been in settling Ollie who’d no doubt been woken by the crying from his sisters room I would have handed Evie to him and removed myself from the situation for a little while, till I could regain my composure. As it was, I was on my own and it took a hell of a lot of strength to take a deep breath, fill my lungs with oxygen and exhale. I could feel my calm, rational self trying to wrestle back control of the situation. It was a tussle and a half though.
Through my experience of anxiety, PND and OCD I’ve developed a bit of a ‘tool kit’ of sorts for dealing with stressful situations. For pulling myself outwards and upwards when things go spectacularly pear shaped. One of those strategies is accepting the reality of a situation without needing to attribute blame or self recrimination. When I was in the throes of OCD, having the thoughts that I had would most likely have triggered a spiral of self hate heavily populated with ‘what if’ statements. ‘What if I had hit her?’ ‘What if I had shook her?’ ‘What if it happens again?’ ‘What if this means I’m mentally unstable and an unfit mother?’ What If statements can become amazingly irrational and insanely powerful very quickly, sucking you into a vortex where the line between simply thinking something and actually doing that thing becomes very blurry.
As it stands, I was able to step back and apply a filter of perspective, telling myself without the need for guilt or fear that sometimes motherhood is just a little bit shit. It’s exhausting. Relentless even. It forces you to draw from reserves deep within yourself that you didn’t realise existed. The good absolutely outweighs the bad, even on the worst days but honestly? Sometimes it’s just a little bit shit but that’s ok. And being ok with that realisation and knowing it doesn’t mean anything about who you are as a mother or your capabilities at parenting is what’s important.
I’d love to hear from you.. How do YOU scope when the going gets tough? Ever had moments when it really is ‘just a little bit shit?’