Let me start by saying I love being a mum, it is the most amazing thing to be able to hold your entire world in your arms. It is also terrifying, exhausting, relentless; the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, a wild roller coaster day after day. But beyond every other word or description I could think of to sum up motherhood, I would have to settle on "beautiful". It is without a doubt the best thing I have ever done.
Here are my confessions about my life as a mum, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful...
1. My son sometimes goes a week without a bath. Please don't judge me. Have you ever run a bath for a kid, poured in some bubbles and imagined some peaceful scene from a Huggies ad? It ain't like that. It is a flood which hangs around for days. It is a bath filled with things that do not belong in a bath. It is kicking and splashing. It is screaming when soap gets in eyes. It is chaos. I don't have time for that kind of crisis management - plus I count the ocean and pool as sufficient cleaning and maintenance for most of the week, we live in the water so I figure he is pretty damn clean. What of it? Updated side note, he has recently finally agreed to have showers rather than baths and it has changed my life. Bath time be gone.
2. I kiss my son on the lips and I refuse to be ashamed of it, it is NORMAL! There will come a day he does not want to be anywhere near my cuddles or kisses and I am making the most of the affection while I can. Why does society shame this innocent show of love from a parent to a child when it is the most natural thing in the world?
3. I stopped trying to dress my son in cute clothes when he was about 4 days old. Among the baby spew, the nappies, the food on the shirts, the choking phobia, the don't let them fall off the bed phobia, blah, blah, blah, cute clothes don't matter one little bit. My son likes to dance to the beat of his own drum (literally, the kid has a drum and dances to it, rockstar that he is) but also sartorially, the kid dresses to the beat of his own quirks and I never want to get in the way of that. "Freaky stylee" for the win to quote an epic song by my all time favourites the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Yep, my son proudly wore a pair of Winnie The Pooh crocs everywhere for a good year. Those shoes still make me nauseous but damn did he love them. I tried to re-brand and called them his "pool shoes" aka shoes only to be worn to the pool. It didn't work. He just figured that pool shoes meant everyday shoes and wore them 24/7 regardless, looking even sillier when he would walk around talking about his pool shoes and everyone thought he was loco. Totally nailed that one, didn't I?!
4. I LOVE being a mum
5. I HATE being a mum.
6. I know I shouldn't have said point 5 but there I said it. The moments I feel like I hate it are when I have just sat down from doing 100 things and I hear "muuuummmmm" from the next room, I am overcome with anxiety. I cannot switch off. I feel like I am on call at all times, day and night, work, home, no matter where I am, the anxiety is crippling. I don't remember the last time I read a book or watched a tv show or got stuck into a task without being interrupted. I can't recall the last time I spontaneously went out for brunch or slept in past 5:30am. It is grueling. I have hardly anything left at the end of the day. Hats off to parents with more than one, I find it so incredibly difficult to switch off from the constant needs. I have anxiety just writing that. Arh.
I also hate it when I know I need to say no but saying yes is 100 times, no 1000 times easier. Damn it, why I gotta be the bad guy to teach him how to be a good guy? Figure that one out. Teaching kids not be spoiled deserves a medal.
7. I know I should have said point 4 and I will say it again. I love being a mum. I have never known such joy or perspective. I don't think I was a full version of myself until I became a mum. I don't believe my heart was fully grown until I became a mum. Days spent with my son, kicking a footy, playing at the park, teaching him to surf, showing him the ways of the world, teaching him kindness, acceptance and how to always find the fun and comedy in every situation - it lights up my world. Being a mum is by far the best gift life has given me, I can't wait to do it all again. I feel as though I was born to be a mother, to protect a little growing person, to harness joy and light and safety and pass that on, that is what I was meant to do with my life. Kids are pure magic, I adore everything that childhood is and being around that light is something I never understood until I was basking in it. It is something else.
8. I struggle with school drop off and pick up. I don't feel comfortable in this scenario. I could chat with the teacher all day long but I don't feel as though I fit into any of the mum or dad clicks. It is crazy and silly but I often tone myself done, in one way or another, to fit into this situation, to appear more "mumsy" and that irks me. I wish I didn't even think about that but I do.
For so long I also felt as though I carried around some yukky secret - a dark past, living in hiding and torment. Domestic abuse followed me across state boarders and no matter how hard I fought, I couldn't shake the fact that my life was for many years shrouded in fear and panic. I felt like a half person. I felt like I was struggling to keep my head above water but I couldn't divulge this to a new parent at the school gates. I have reconciled this now. It stays with me but I don't identify with it as much anymore. I feel a little lighter as the years have passed and the abuse has subsided but the emotional scars do remain, the panic still grips tight on me sometimes, I will never be entirely free from that.
I sometimes wonder how many others have experienced similar things to me. I used to feel that it was just me. I can see now how wrong and silly that is. I am sure dozens of the parents picking up their children from school everyday have been through or are going through insurmountable challenges. I don't like the fact this is all hidden but I suppose we can't share the truth in this situation - truths are kept for different moments than these. We have to smile, wave, show an impenetrable wall of togetherness, be open arms, positive, bubbly. That is a tough gig when your world is falling apart behind the scenes. I am getting there. My world has most definitely been rebuilt to everything I hoped it would be for me and my son but I still sometimes feel like a fraud at drop off and pick up. I'm working on it. Watch this space!
9. I throw out my sons toys on the sly. When he asks what happened to "the car that goes broom broom and makes a siren noise" I tell him I have no idea, maybe its at grandmas house. If I didn't do this I would be living in a colourful, plastic hoarders paradise aka my worst nightmare. I keep the good toys. I keep the games. I keep the books and puzzles. But yes I get rid of the junk. Sorry kid. Love you. Mean it. Always.
10. I promised that my kid would never eat maccas then I broke the promise miserably. He eats chicken nuggets at least once a week and he totally knows everything there is to know about Happy Meals. I tried, I failed. So sue me.
11. I always choose the shortest story to read at bed time. Less than 5 pages? Just pictures? SOLD! Bedtime means I finally get to be myself, whoever the hell that is...I forget, I've been so busy the past 5 years and 1.5 months I don't even know anymore. I probably get 1-2 hours a night where I try to remotely connect to that person I once was. I don't want to lose 30 minutes of that reading the longest book in the history of the world. I choose short. Before you judge me, we read in the afternoon and I am teaching him the absolute joy and wonder of books because they are so important to me but at bed time. Kid, you get 2 minutes tops. Love you. Mean it. Always.
12. I love lame kids songs and get down to those jams in the car like an absolute weirdo. I think I enjoy kids songs more than my kid does. These are moments no one shall ever see, except my kid, this will be out wacky secret for eternity - he will always know that mum loves to jam to the Storybots dinosaur song and knows the entire rap verse. What happens on the way to school stays on the way to school, right son?
13. I love being a mum. I am saying it for the third time because there are no five words that are more true. Actually, scrap that, there are five words more true than those, "precious Bailey, I Love you"