Today I wanted to quit motherhood.
It was always going to be bad today. I was up so many times in the night on Saturday I was just glad that morning came – simply because it meant the night was over. One of THOSE nights – and you know the day is going to be hell, surviving like a walking zombie. Somehow knowing that just makes it worse. In the same breath, I still wanted to be there 110% for my children and so we stumbled through.
It was about 4pm. I had almost made it through the weekend…. but not quite…I was just totally mentally and physically exhausted. I was out of reserves. I had already dug deep and deeper again. It was not a terrible day, we have certainly had worse (vomiting bugs take the trophy here). It was just a day of constant giving to my children, on very little sleep and right then I just wanted to quit…motherhood that is.
Do not get me wrong, I love our children more than words can describe but I just wanted a day, hell a night and a day…no that would be like a vacation to the Maldives. Make it an hour. Just one bloody hour where I was not a mum, did not have two other little human beings to be responsible for, answer their every needs, demands, expectations, be the be-all-and-end-all. Just one hour where I was not constantly thinking about feeding, expressing, sleep routines, crying, day care and working, working and daycare (yes this is a vicious thought cycle), washing, dinner, dishes, ahhhh the never-ending list of house-holds to do.
This feeling was all encompassing, with no end in sight. Bedtime is not a break, bedtime does not signal the end of the day, the possibility of a new beginning – not with a 6 week old going through a growth spurt. Bedtime signals the start of the ‘grave-yard shift’. The start of hungry screams dragging me from the depths of sleep that my exhausted body desperately tries to hold on to but the crying is like a trigger to my adrenal system forcing my body to get up and stumble to the nursery against its will. And then guilt smacking me across my face, when I see my helpless little new born, who is reliant on me for EVERYTHING, trying to tell me in the only way he can that he needs my milk.
But still I just wanted to quit, just wanted to pretend that for one hour this was not going to be the end of my day.
Physical exhaustion aside, my emotional state had been shattered during the week. It was one of those working weeks where nothing went right and I felt like a total failure at the end of it. Work is usually my saviour, gives me my sense of accomplishment. I felt like every area from PhD, to teaching and even with my business I had not done what I had set out to do and had not a made a single bit of difference to others.
I know I can hear some of you judging me for taking all this on but do you know what, I know you mean well but it is not helping, I know I am capable of this and much more. Failure is not a feeling that I enjoy regardless of the circumstances. And please, judgement is truly the last thing I need right now – I feel it every single day and today it would be nice to have a break from that too.
At the end of a week like this I really I wanted to curl into bed and stay there – when you are a mum this is just not option.
Rather than scream for everyone to just go away like I really wanted to – I took the excuse to have a shower while at least one child was asleep, first shower in about 3 days. I just rested my head against the wall of the shower and let water leak from my eyes, wanting a way out and yet knowing that there was not one, wrapped in guilt that life was not that bad, my life with my children was also EVERYTHING I wanted.
Still hiding in the bathroom, trying to steal just a few moments of sanity, I opened my phone to text a fellow mummy friend and a great blog post flicked up (Read it here). Reading it, in the locked bathroom while the equivalent of an orc war from Lord of the Rings raged outside, it made me feel sooo much better…that somewhere out there I am not the only mother who feels like I did, right there in that moment.
It is not that I am not grateful for my wonderful children, my life, my work, I am, I truly am, but dam it, I just wanted a break for an hour, just maybe even wanted to allow myself to dream of a full nights sleep without feeling guilty, or to just sit in the sun and not move for an hour, not use WWE wrestling moves to apply sunscreen, or push a truck around and around and around in circles, or pretend to be interested in what-ever stick or rock my two year found, not have my boobs out breastfeeding my newborn or be sitting on a breast pump for hours on end.
I would like to say to you it gets better (and it does…) but really in motherhood the challenges just get different. I would like to say to you, tomorrow will be a new day, but really it could actually be worse and tomorrow implies a sleep between now and tomorrow which may not actually be the case, I would like to say to you just take some pressure off, take some time to yourself but again that is not always possible.
What I can say to you – is that you are not ALONE. That it does not make you a bad mother for feeling like you want to quit. That it also does not make you crazy – just exhausted. Motherhood is an unrelenting 247 gig. And if you need to lock yourself in the bathroom to read this blog post or to sit and breathe for that matter just so you get through the next hour – go on and do it.
xxxx Dr Julie Bhosale