Motherhood is messy.
I’m not talking about messy play messy – paint smeared on everything, crayon drawings on the floor and walls, glue, flour, lentils etc. everywhere, sand in every crevice… or even the mess of eating – the weaning stage, the throwing food around stage… or other messes such as those relating to illness and/or toilet training (or both at once. Ew. But it happens).
While all of these messes deserve a mention and some of them even a blog post of their own, what I’m talking about today is the mess on the inside. Our mess. The stuff we never thought would come up before we had our kids.
The past few weeks Mushroom has been a monster. A MONSTER. Especially at bedtime. Several times I have wanted to scream at him ‘WHY CAN’T YOU JUST GO TO SLEEP!’ I’m ashamed to say that once (not this week), I did. Needless to say, it didn’t exactly help matters. That was a long night with a lot of apologising. Before I had him, I told myself, ‘I’ll never shout at my kid/s, it doesn’t do any good anyway.’ I was good with kids, they never played me up (other people’s kids still don’t!) so although I knew it wouldn’t be easy, I never really understood just how much patience I would need to keep my word. Here are some other things that I might not have believed I would think before I had Mushroom.
Get off me!
I am quite a tactile person. I like to hug, and be hugged. When with close friends, I frequently touch them while we speak and when Mushroom first arrived, I loved holding him close, feeling his skin on mine and breathing in his scent. I looked forward to the day he would be able to hug me back. I never thought I could tire of his touch.
Oh believe me, I can. When I have been asked ‘carry me please’ half the day and used as a human climbing frame for the rest of it. When he says ‘I want hug! for the 10th time after he’s ‘gone to bed,’ when he pulls up my t-shirt so he can rest his head on my belly (with his hand still on my face), and has been doing this for weeks, I sometimes want to shout ‘Get off me!’ and run for cover.
Leave me alone!
Ok, so it did occur to me that I would miss having a little time to myself. But I didn’t realise just how much it would get to me during the clingy/separation anxiety phase. I work part-time so as to spend time with Mushroom and enjoy doing things with him – we especially like painting, baking and running around outside – but never getting to go to the loo on my own is more tiresome than I ever imagined. The other day Mushroom followed me in and, as I walked in, he ‘helpfully’ handed me his snotty tissue and asked whether I had finished yet. I had only gone in there to wash my hands.
Just. Go. To Sleep!
As I mentioned earlier, Mushrooom is currently fighting bedtime (naptime is less of a problem). He’s never been a great sleeper but it’s getting ridiculous. I’ve tried the ‘back to bed’ routine. I did it for about a week and it just exhausted me. So I’ve just gone back to staying with him while he goes to sleep. Some nights I can sit by the door but most nights he wants to fall asleep attached to me in some way so I sit contorted by the bed as he drifts off to sleep. At least, I always think he’s drifting off and that’s when he starts. ‘I thirsty.’ or ‘My hungry Mummy.’ or even ‘I want Daddy!’ (I got Daddy once, thinking it would give me a break. He wanted to play with him. When he realised that wasn’t happening he was not happy). His current favourite is ‘ need a poo!’ While I can say ‘no.’ to all his other requests, he knows I can’t refuse this one. I know he’s playing me when I hear him singing on the loo and playing with his bath toys (he likes privacy when he goes, shame he doesn’t afford me the same courtesy). ‘Back to bed!’ I tell him, as firmly and calmly as I can manage (through my teeth, if it’s been a long evening). Then, eventually, he will actually fall asleep.
And here’s something I expected to say, but perhaps not quite so often:
I often whisper to him I untangle myself and look at him, lying sprawled across his little bed, which still has the cot side up at the back. I gaze at his chubby little cheeks, red with the effort of trying to convince me he’s not tired, and remember he’s still just a baby, really, with a whole lot of growing to do. ‘I’m sorry. I love you.’ I say this to him a lot when he’s awake too but it’s when he’s sleeping that I apologise for those unsaid thoughts, the ones that I wish I didn’t think. The ones that make me wonder whether I’m cut out for this motherhood thing. The messy ones.
Motherhood is hard. It’s also incredibly rewarding, yes, but it is hard. It feels even harder when it looks like you’re the only one having these messy thoughts while everyone else is enjoying every second they spend with their children.
Do you have messy bits? What thoughts do you have about your children that you wouldn’t usually share? Please comment below, let’s get it all out there and remind ourselves that even though we love our kids, sometimes it’s ok to have bad thoughts about them. They’re only thoughts… and we’re only human.
(pretty please? I can’t be the only one…. Can I?)