Parenting through the good days and the bad

I recently read a post by Honest Mum on the tougher side of parenting, and it left me compelled to write my own version. I am all for the representation of every aspect of parenthood in the media, in order to allow both Men and Women to realise they are not alone if they are having a particularly shitty time of it.

That said, I am not anti the bloggers and writers who represent all that is wonderful about parenting – because that is there too..absolutely, it is. The magical bits that move you to tears, the precious moments you never want to forget…but in reality, lets face it they are sandwiched by the moments you are in tears, and wanting to forget. I don’t like to dwell on the doom and gloom, but my life, my blog, are a bit like my instagram feed; the fun, the beautiful, the heartfelt Is mixed up with a small sprinkling of reality.

For the record, I have been lucky to never have post natal depression, I am a stay at home Mum by choice, and I worship the ground my kids walk on. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t experienced the rough with the smooth, and weathered some stormy times as a new parent.

I’d hate my blog to ever fall into an ‘I love parenting’ or an ‘I hate parenting’ niche, because I believe we as parents go through all these emotions and everywhere in between – hopefully the former heavily outweighing the latter, but both sides totally need to be showcased, because it’s the latter that can break us after all. Sure, people have been having kids for centuries without all this whingeing…but this is the era in which we parents have found a platform and a voice – one of honesty, realism and camaraderie.

There are so many times being a mother has tested me to my limits – be it a phase of prolonged crying, a feeling of isolation, a period of  particularly bad sleep deprivation or just in yearning for the old me, my old life and my old carefree brain. All these things are TOTALLY NORMAL and do not make me (or you) a bad parent.

I have bored my friends and myself to tears with my obsessive worries over the most mundane yet seemingly  life altering phases..Breast or Bottle? Colic or Teething? BLW or puree? Nursery or Childminder? Career or SAHM? Calpol or Nurofen? Controlled Crying or just crying (me, that is). Schools. Asthma. Swimming lessons. It’s almost as though with access to more opinions, information and theories than ever it’s just too much to digest. Mentally, physically and emotionally, loving something so much is really quite exhausting. The rollercoaster can throw you around from one day to the next, or even from one hour to the next – if you dare think you’re winning today you might just come a cropper. Equally, the lowest of moments can seem a distant memory with a short nap and a walk to the bakery for some fresh air.

Only last week, I actually cried because I couldn’t find a parking space outside a toddler group. And then, that same morning I bit off the heads of some good friends because I convinced myself that they had blanked me. That’s what two years of broken sleep and a night of 2 hours kip does to you. Thank God for the kind stranger who let me vent, told me she also felt like crap, and opened her Novelty Terrys Chocolate Orange she had bought for a teacher gift in a show of solidarity.

That single random act of kindness turned my entire morning around. Knowing that we are all going through our own struggles and that we are in it together.

The shock of your first baby and the abrupt detachment to your former life has to be the toughest doesn’t it? That baby that you had waited and yearned for came with a whole lot of small print you weren’t quite prepared for. Most of us would, and have done it all again, absolutely…but who can blame the ones that stop at that first baby. Yet there are no prizes for ‘worst stage’ here. Squishy new ones, crazed toddlers, multiples, teenagers, pregnant Mums, new parents, working parents, PND parents, surprised parents, worried parents…every scenario comes with it’s own challenges and don’t ever be fooled into thinking you have it worse than the next family. Beneath the smiles and “we’re all fine’s” we’re all going through something.

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Towards the end of my first maternity leave, I think I actually lost the plot a bit. Regressing to a schoolgirl mentality, where I was convinced there was some kind of conspiracy against me. If anyone delayed in replying to a message, or I heard anyone had done anything without me I would dive into a spiral of self loathing and worthlessness. Looking back, I was struggling massively and feeling a bit isolated. My mind was idle and needed something else to think about once the baby had become less intensely dependent on me. I was soon back at work and that short phase behind me.

Thankfully, I haven’t felt that way with the two kids – maybe the eldest has been my (usually) most excellent company, maybe I just haven’t had time, or maybe  I’ve learnt how to keep the monsters at bay. They do pop up from time to time, but I’ve learnt a little bit over the last five years about what makes me happy, and what to let go. Although, retaining sanity when you are having a bad day, week or minute (for whatever reason) is easier said than done.

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As I confessed to a friend who is returning back to work this week, that I felt a bit jealous, she in return declared her own feelings of envy that I am at home with my children. As I imagined her days of freedom in the office and lunch with the girls, she told of her sadness at saying goodbye to her little routine and the days she had come to love. Grass. Green. You know what I’m saying.

The fact is, it’s bloody hard, whatever way you work it.

I’m not for a moment saying I would change a thing – but, we all need to cut ourselves some slack; the working Mums, the ones at home, the ones juggling both, the Dads feeling the pressure of providing for the family, and the fellas at home doing a fine job with the kids too.

It’s tiring. It’s repetitive. It’s stressful.

It’s both ridiculous and amazing what can break you – a tantrum, a flat tyre, a long admin phone call, a cancelled play date. It’s hardly the end of the world stuff, but in that moment, it’s difficult to see the wood for the trees. I’m not ashamed to say I have made my excuses and left a crummy toddler group early to sit on a bench and cry – feeling alone and exhausted and needing to let it all overflow.

Looking back to the long and complex days in the office, it’s almost laughable that these trivial things can evoke such emotion and distress. But, stress is relative isn’t it? Back then a deadline, or a presentation may have tested us…but hell hath no fury like a toddler refusing to nap. I guess the point is, it doesn’t really matter what’s worse…at that moment it’s not going to make you feel better or worse knowing person A, B or C has it harder. It just doesn’t work like that.

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You may look in the mirror and barely recognise the bedraggled, pale face staring back at you. Let alone the body that’s been stretched beyond the point of return and has some badges of honor you could have quite frankly done without. Who wouldn’t feel slightly sad about that?

It’s unity that has got me out of some dark times – times of worry, times of grief, times of tiredness and times of shocking behaviour. No one is going to ride in on a white horse and relieve you of your hellish day – and actually, you wouldn’t always want that anyway. My best advice is to get a change of scene, and find solace in a brew and a chat with someone who will understand. If you’re feeling like a social leper, be the initiator in some stuff – make things happen for yourself. Failing that, embrace your time with the kiddo – go on a play date date, just the two of you – no Mummy friends to distract and chat to, just quality you time. It’s surprising how much fun you can have focusing solely on each other.

Or,

If you don’t have that luxury today, know that I understand. We understand. It won’t always be like this. Tomorrow might be a better day, and things will get easier. You aren’t alone – you don’t hate your kids and you aren’t an awful parent.

And know that Terry’s Chocolate Oranges are currently a quid in Tesco.

x MMT

If you are really struggling to cope, please talk to someone who will listen – a friend, your family, or a healthcare professional who can help you. Don’t soldier on in silence xx

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43 thoughts on “Parenting through the good days and the bad

  1. thismumslife Reply

    This is lovely, and sums it up perfectly. I think you’ve covered what parenthood is to everyone, and there’s nothing left to add. I had a similar ‘chocolate orange’ experience yesterday. My husband has been ill on and off for many weeks now, and the bulk of the childcare has come to me. He was in desperate need of time in bed sleeping yesterday, so I planned things for me and the children to keep us out of the house. In Costa, just as we were about to eat, the littlest had a meltdown of monumental proportions-because a tiny whisker had come off the felt cat he’d made at nursery. I even crawled all around the floor and retrieved it, but that seemed to make him more savage. I didn’t want to leave, because I was hungry, knackered, and just hoped he would stop. He didn’t. A lovely lady from the next table came over and helped with my other child, and regaled me with hilarious stories about how awful her own children had been, and when she said ‘remember, you’re never alone,’ it was too much and I cried way too much. I think after my post about old friends, Ive made peace with that decision too-because they’d done some awful things before as well as after kids (remind me to one day tell you about the ‘surprise party incident,’ it made me cry thinking about it for a year afterwards,) although part of me has wondered whether I hallucinated it through too much time alone. It’s the toughest gig ever this one, isn’t it. Xx

  2. justsayingmum (@justsayingmum) Reply

    Oh I felt so many emotions reading this. It is brought back so many similar feelings that I experienced when mine were small. You are not alone in this. Being a SAHM creates so much space in your mind to overthink – please don’t take that the wrong way but combined with lack of sleep, feeling lonely and the monotony of smalls some days it’s enough to change your mental state. I remember having time to fester on things and it was only once I returned to work that I was able to put things back into perspective – I do not mean to sound condescending here! I’ve been there lovely. We need to meet over a glass of wine or a coffee and chat this through!! I just feel that now mine are older I can see where these thoughts came from and why you feel the way you do lovely xx #BigPinkLink

    1. MMT Reply

      Thanks Helen – it’s not at all condescending and I know when I returned to work after my first daughter I felt totally different. I’m pleased to say the good days generally outweigh the bad, and as we leave the baby stage behind it’s definitely getting easier xxx

  3. Honest Mum Reply

    A beautifully honest and vital post. You are spot on that parenthood is a heady mix of joy meets challenges. I love that blogging and social media has meant we don’t feel so alone, that together we can share and relate to the journey, the universal themes of love, despair and sleep deprivation (!) we all face. It’s so complex being a parent huh. Thanks for this and for mentioning me x

  4. min1980 Reply

    Love it. And am now totally wanting a Terry’s chocolate orange. I agree with you about parenting being the rough with the smooth. I started off thinking I was going to just be one of those bloggers who has a laugh about the tougher times and how rubbish I am at everything, but actually I have found I am happier doing a mix of “isn’t it great” along with “isn’t it hard.” It’s never just one of those. #MarvMondays

  5. Katherine Benfante Reply

    Loved reading this! Really hit me that social media and blogging make us feel less alone because we can all commiserate … but it is at times just too much information, too many opinions, and too much to read. As a mommy blogger who is also enjoying reading this blog … I do see the irony in this!

  6. mackenzieglanville Reply

    Oh I LOVE this! What a well written post. So true everything you say here, it is such a mix of ups and downs and in betweens and boredom and exhaustion and laughing so hard! I love being a mum, but gosh those early days were isolating, just brilliant xx We are all in this together!

  7. alifeinpracticeblog.com Reply

    This is a wonderful post, thank you so much for sharing this xx #bigpinklink

  8. Mrs Mummy Harris Reply

    This is such a lovely post. When times are hard it’s nice to know we’re not alone and I’m totally getting hubby to pick up some Terry’s chocolate oranges on his way home haha
    #bigpinklinm

  9. Double the Monkey Business Reply

    Absolutely spot on, parenting has its highs and lows – it can be the best and hardest thing to do. thanks for sharing, very honest and true post #MarvMondays

  10. tinmccarthy Reply

    You are right. Working mom…at home mom…one kid…twelve kids…married….divorced…it is all hard and we should support one another. Plain and simple.

    #coolmumsclub

  11. Kirsten Toyne Reply

    Your post made me smile. We all experience both ups and downs, love and despair. I really don’t believe in the past people didn’t complain about it. I think they might not have felt guilty complaining about it because they didn’t have some false idea of a supermum in their minds. Great post. I will be sharing. Thanks #ablogginggoodtime

  12. thefrenchiemummy Reply

    Love this post! I reckon a lot of us will find themselves in this. I cried once while I was walking Baba just because it was a shit week and I didn’t see it coming. But eveytime it’s so tough, I just look at him happy and forget about all the crap. Back to work in a month and I am like your friend, envying you! I don’t want to change my little routines that took me so lng to have… Yep, as you said in the post what a shock when the baby is there! And yet I was lucky not to have PND but sometimes I was so tired and hormonal, I reckon Grumpy Boyfriend probabaly thought I was! TO finish: parenting is the hardest job ever! and god knows that I had some shitty summer jobs when I was young… xxx #coolmumclub

  13. beautybabyandme Reply

    I cannot express how much I love this post – I’ve book marked it so any time I have one of those tough days, when I feel alone, I can remind myself I’m not xxx #coolmumclub

  14. Chilli Regina Reply

    You’ve captured probably the deepest thoughts that as mothers we might have sometime. It’s funny, the more you think aboutit, the harder it seems – for a woman. The feelings of isolation, lonelyness, depression. It can be dangerous, not to acknowledge them or talk about them. Being a mom really isn’t easy and we all need help and we all need time to re-set. Always saying “we’re fine or I’m fine” really isn’t an option. Thank you for this post! x #coolmumclub

  15. alisonlonghurst Reply

    This is an incredibly refreshing post: its truth, its honesty. I love your message about small acts of kindness and how they can change someone’s day. I too have left a toddler group in tears. This prompted me to set up my own, which I ran for years. We had volunteers in the car park to help the mums, because I knew that just getting through the door to one can be a huge struggle, for many reasons. I love your final comment about the chocolate orange, because this sums it all up. It’s all about sharing our problems. I will certainly share this post. Alison x #coolmumclub

  16. Talya Reply

    Another lovely read babe – parenting is such a rollercoaster and I’ve always said – you gotta ride the rainbows while they are there and hold on tight for the s***storms! It’s all part of the story. Sending lots of #coolmumclub lovely xx

  17. Mum in Brum Reply

    I’m actually sat here having a little sob after reading this. Not usual for me, but I’ve had a crappy day, a pretty crappy week actually, and you really hit a chord with this post. As always, your words have summed up what parenthood means to all of us. It’s true that sometimes I feel a bit pathetic for letting such ‘trivial’ things get on top of me, but it is true what you say – it’s all relative. And as selfish as it may be, it is comforting to know that every other parent goes through the same troubles. Fantastic post lovely xxx #coolmumclub

    1. MMT Reply

      Ah Nat, I’m with you – I had a proper killer day today! Christmas with two kids, a school run twice daily chucked in and an endless list of stuff to do is really hitting me hard this week. I’m just going to go and have a little drop of Baileys to remind me it’s not all bad this time of year. Keep going – tomorrows a new day xxx

  18. Angela Watling Reply

    Great post and I can really relate. I’ve felt really ‘on top’ of things lately but then the girl and I both have been struck down by a cold. So we’re going to hit the inevitable slump of bad sleep, stroppiness because mummy isn’t quick enough and stroppiness because the toddler won’t let me finish a cup of tea. You really just have to roll with the punches and there is definitely nothing wrong with sharing the honest truth. It doesn’t mean we don’t love life, it just means we want to share our real selves! #CoolMumClub

  19. rockandrosesmama Reply

    So much love for this. I also struggled massively with feeling isolated after my man went back to work and I was left alone with my little man and a feeling that my friends weren’t interested in me any more as in their eyes I was now busy, constantly, so they wouldn’t think to ever invite me anywhere or offer to come round to hang out. It was heartbreaking. I soon realised this was all in my head and that they were simply giving me space and going by my steps and playing it safe with me knowing I had just given birth!
    Talking helps massively… this community has helped me so much <3
    Also I am so on board with your bit about finding time for yourself… as you know from my blog, this is what I'm ALL about! Super important to keep your identity as a person not just a mother, and to find time to devote to your relationship.
    LOVE this post <3
    #coolmumclub

  20. Rainbowsaretoobeautiful Reply

    I try, but I can’t live the fact that my stomach looks like a weather map. £1 is good news! #coolmumclub

  21. Manny Reply

    This had made me feel a lil better about myself today. Some days I just feel like I might as well bang my head against a brick wall then other days I feel so happy and filled with joy. It’s so hard being a parent! I’m still on mat leave and in two minds about going back to work but it’s only part time so I think it’ll probably do me some good to get away from being a mum and feeling like myself again for two days 🙂 #coolmumclub

  22. My Petit Canard Reply

    Such a great post. Completely and totally relateable. I came to realise this too a little while ago, that none of us has it easier. Being a stay at home parent is just as difficult as being a working parent. Being a parent is difficult. Amazing, rewarding and wonderful, but oh so difficult and there are so many moments like the ones that you describe when you first become one. Its a total rollercoaster and it takes a while and some experience for you to be able to recognise and reflect on that journey. Such a great post, thanks for sharing it on #MarvMondays. Im sure its what many parents needed to read right now 🙂 Emily

  23. Rhyming with Wine Reply

    This is such a stunning post and I feel like it speaks to every bit of my baby-wiped self. I can totally relate to the part about the “inner monsters” and how an idle mind can easily be filled with paranoia and anxiety. It’s hard and it’s isolating at times, but yet the heart if it is truly magical – and there is a world of people out there all feeling the same – and willing to share their chocolate orange. Bless that woman. I love her without having even met her. This is so moving MMT. Thank you for sharing xx

    1. MMT Reply

      Thank you Dawn – maybe I should open up a soup kitchen for isolated parents. Only there won’t be soup, just chocolate oranges. And wine. Xxx

      1. Rhyming with Wine Reply

        Sign me up for a place right there please! xx

  24. imatwinmama Reply

    Pieces like this are SO IMPORTANT!!! I have never been through such a daily plethora of emotions as these difficult times with the Terrible Twos (plus recent chickenpox). And yet my love for them is so fierce, it’s often overwhelming. Bloody everything about parenting is overwhelming! And I NEED blogs like this in my life. It might be sad, but the sisterhood (and sometimes brotherhood!) keeps me going when I have those bad days!!

  25. beautybabyandme Reply

    Dropping by again from #DreamTeam – adore this, adore you, such an important post I wish all Mums could read. I needed this again after yesterday!xx

    1. MMT Reply

      Oh no, these days are sent to try us Fi! Keep smiling, hope today’s a better day x

  26. ourrachblogs Reply

    Spot on. There is no doubt about it, parenting is the hardest thing in the world. The most amazing but also the hardest. Personally, I don’t want to read all the lovely, positive blog posts about how amazing it is etc. I want to read the rawness, the reality and the honesty. #dreamteam

    1. MMT Reply

      Ditto Rach. Thanks for your comment xx

  27. Island Living 365 Reply

    I love this! Parenting has felt like a right old slog recently, with never ending illness etc! I am also with you about unity. That is why I started blogging, because whilst I am very lucky to be a stay-at-home mum, it can be so lonely at times. Blogging has allowed me to find that sense of unity.

    1. MMT Reply

      Thanks Emma. I feel in a way this post is the most important and honest one I’ve published yet. It’s the summary of everything I’ve felt and struggled with as a new mum, a working mum, and a stay at home mum. And yet, I wouldn’t change it for a second. Parenting is bizarre! X

  28. Cheryl @ Tea or Wine Reply

    Brilliantly and eloquently summing up practically every single parent out there. Great advice and thanks for the tip about chocolate orange! #coolmumclub x

  29. barriebismark Reply

    Wonderful post. So very true! Good times and bad times.
    #dreamteam

  30. Wendy Reply

    This post is so honest and has got me feeling all emotional. My eldest is not the easiest of children to look after, sometimes his behaviour has been so awful it’s left me on the verge of tears. There have been lots of times I’ve felt so alone at toddler groups and felt that no one else was struggling, I could have done with reading this post then and having a chocolate orange bearing stranger come to my rescue too. You are right that parenting is full of joy and challenges and I think every new parent needs to read this post and see that we all have bad days sometimes xx #coolmumclub

  31. Kat Reply

    I don’t think you can ever really love or hate parenting to be honest. Like anything it has its ups and downs, great times and bad days…we’re all human after all! #BestandWorse

  32. jeremy@thirstydaddy Reply

    Great post. They certainly have a way of making us nuts, don’t they? Even on the good days there always seems to be something that shouldn’t be stressful, but for some reason is #bestandworst

  33. crummymummy1 Reply

    To be fair there isn’t much a Terry’s chocolate orange can’t fix!! #coolmumclub

  34. Mrs Lighty Reply

    Love this! I feel like you’ve put every single one of my thoughts about motherhood, mummy friends, the way we mourn-yet-laugh-at our pre-baby life into one blog post! I also love the overriding message that we are not alone. I think that’s so true. Thank you so much for linking this up to #DreamTeam xxx

  35. applytofaceblog Reply

    Great post,I remember it all so well,I felt terribly isolated at times too.But it does get much easier emotionally as they get older.Hang in there,you’re not alone and it is completely worth it.x#bestandworst

  36. Helen Gandy Reply

    I am totally with you on this, never take an ‘I’m ok’ for face value, yes all may be fine but really we just never know and when it comes to parenting you just never know! Thanks for linking up to the #bestandworst

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