The first line of Saturday’s blog read ‘Being a mum can be hard sometimes. Really hard.’ It was at the end of a day where I didn’t feel like I’d been a very good mum. Not as good as I thought I should be.
I put a huge amount of pressure on myself to be a perfect mother. It’s ridiculous I know. I’m the kind of person who likes to be in control. I put pressure on myself to cope with anything and everything. I must cope, at all odds. I cannot say that things are too hard, I cannot crumble and I cannot fail.
Why am I like this?
I think part of it is in my nature and my personality. I’m sure anyone who knows me well, in particular those who have worked with me, would agree. But also it is in part down to what I can only and best describe as my burden of guilt, a bereaved mother’s guilt.
I feel so incredibly grateful that I have not one but two beautiful and healthy, living boys. They are good boys. Dylan was an absolutely perfect baby. He slept through from 3 months old, weaned like a dream and cut his baby teeth with barely a murmur. Jude has been a bit more challenging, in all aspects. But still he is much less troublesome than many other babies I know. They are both very sweet tempered and absolutely adore one another. We have been so so lucky.
Of course not every day pans out perfectly (does anyone’s?). Dylan had the terrible two’s at times and could tantrum with the best of them. He suffered from the usual toddler OCD (and still does) whereby food served with the wrong colour spoon or cereal with a splash too much milk would cause a meltdown. Jude having started out as a great sleeper, regressed at about 7 months old. At times an uninterrupted night sleep was very much the exception rather than the norm. Last winter it felt as though he was constantly ill, either bothered by teeth, a cold, sickness, diarrhoea and general whingeyness. It doesn’t feel as though summer has quite gone yet and already the never ending snot-stream has reappeared! Oh and Jude will be about to embark on the terrible two’s in the next few months.
But I think losing Ewan has affected my experiences of motherhood with his two younger brothers. Not in a practical sense, but more psychologically. It’s as though I don’t allow myself to have a bad day, or admit that sometimes it’s too hard. Because by saying that it’s like I’m smacking the face of every person out there who can’t be a parent. That I’m not appreciating what I have. Any mother who has lost a baby would much rather be delirious with sleep deprivation than with grief. They would give their right arm to deal with post-immunisation fever or walk up and down for hours to settle a colicky tummy.
There probably are people out there (especially in Social Media Land), who want to present to the world that parent-hood is fine and dandy, all roses and buttercups. Their parenting world is text-book and there are no negatives (well not that they talk about). Behind closed doors, we all wonder if life really is that perfect. I kind of do the same thing, ok not so much by presenting a perfect life, but trying as much as possible not to moan, or talk about the times when parenting feels sometimes just too hard. The guilt I carry stops me from doing that.
I think (and hope) that over time this will change and get better. As the boys get older, the challenges they present will change. Less about potty training and tantrums, and more about homework and social lives. Maybe as these are less baby related, they might make me think less about the baby we lost. Who knows? Maybe my cathartic method of getting the thoughts out of my head and onto a screen will help! And hopefully you won’t all think I’m crazy for publicising my personality flaws (remember, no-one is perfect!)
Writing as part of Baby Loss Awareness Week.
Breaking the Silence #babyloss