Before we have children, we have all sorts of ideas of what being a mother is going to be like:
Dirty nappies and sleepless night?
Blissful breastfeeding, gazing lovingly at your baby?
Long walks, pushing the pram, meeting friends and sitting in parks watching a toddler toddle about?
School plays, school gate friendships?
Picking out miniature outfits, washing them and hanging them out in the sunshine?
Family holidays by the sea, children making sandcastles and playing in the waves?
Love, love, love…
And much much more!
Whatever our ideas were before we gave birth, will no doubt have been far from the reality of ACTUALLY being a mother: Day-in, day-out. 24 hours a day. Night after night. Ground-hog day after ground-hog day. Losing track of time because every day merges into one big blur. Giving ourselves up totally to this tiny little helpless thing, that takes and takes and takes, and grows and grows, and gradually becomes less helpless but more and more and demanding. Until one day, somebody points out (we rarely realise ourselves), that we have become the all-giving mother, who has not a single moment to ourselves, who can’t even pee or shower alone, who’s friends cut our food up at the cafe so we can eat single-handedly whilst bouncing our adorable little bundle on our knees, because should we stop bouncing, their whole world may fall apart! Everything we do has to be considered in a totally new way, to ensure that the smallest member of the family won’t be upset. We stop visiting friends because our darling baby will find that 35 minute journey far too long and distressing, we stop going to the shops (“Hallelujah”, say the dads) because it makes the little one too miserable. We walk in circles around the house for hours on end, bouncing our baby, because it is the only way to keep her from screaming. We dive from one shelf to the next, and then to the cupboard, because there’s a small person pointing and screaming, but we don’t know what they want, and when we finally find what they want, it is cast aside after 4 seconds and the game of charades starts again. We make meals that are thrown across the room, so we make something different, which is then throw on the floor, so we make toast! Our living room becomes a toy-box. The remote controls become weapons. Our phones are covered in drool and sticky gunk. And we are constantly on edge, because we don’t know when the next demand is going to arise, and how it will be communicated!!!
No, we never imagined being a mum would be like this. And I’m sure NOBODY EVER WARNED US! But here we are, acting like slaves to these tiny little dictators.
However, IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY!
We don’t have to be slaves, we can be mothers! We don’t have to respond to our babies’/toddlers’/children’s/teenagers’ every whim. We can put ourselves first on occasions (to pee or shower!). As long as we are bringing up our offspring with care and affection, surely it is okay to say, “No, I’m not doing that. Again.” You can still love your child, even when they’re wailing because you’re not doing what they want you to do. We don’t have to keep cooking meals until we find something they want. We don’t have to only do things that will make our children happy. We can put them in the car, even if they don’t like it, because eventually they will get used to it. We can go to the shops, (sorry dads), because it’s actually good for them to experience those new sights, sounds and smells.
If we never do the things that make us happy, we could end up being miserable slaves! So surely it’s better to spend time with our little ones, doing things that make us happy too, because if we’re happy, we will be better mothers and our little ones will still love us, and probably appreciate us and respect us more.