It’s good to talk

I was reading the Metro on the train yesterday, and saw an article with Adele saying how tough she’d found parenthood.

I shared it on Instagram and there was such gratitude to her for speaking out. Yes! That’s how we feel! She’s breaking the taboo and admitting it’s not all roses! The floodgates opened.

It struck me that I take for granted the honesty that I share with my friends. The confidence to be honest that comes with being a few years in isn’t something you have at the beginning.

Those first tentative steps with new mum friends, when everyone feels like they’re desperately trying to show they’ve got it together but inwardly thinking ‘I have no fucking idea what I’m doing, I’m leaking from more orifices than I thought possible and I’m not sure my marriage is going to survive’ are bloody hard. Comments intended as observations are interpreted as judgements. I felt so sure that other people were looking at me like I was getting it all wrong. In hindsight, most people are more concerned with their own cock ups to take much notice of someone else’s.

But here’s the thing, and it’s a very important thing. When you share with someone how you’re really feeling about motherhood and they respond with ‘oh my god, me too’ it not only takes a layer of the anxiety away, it’s exhilarating. When someone says ‘we had a row because he put the saucepan lid in the wrong drawer’ or ‘I can’t stand the way my husband breathes either’ it becomes funny rather than marital doom. Saying you’re struggling with feeding or that you’re just not really enjoying every minute is liberating when others admit they’re in the same boat. You are not on your own. And those early days of motherhood can feel so very lonely.

One of the things that got mentioned in response to that article was that it was great that a celebrity is breaking the ‘taboo’. Why is it we feel like we can’t say that, when sleep deprived and doing something we’ve never done before, while recovering from a major body trauma and with an assault of hormones thrown in, we aren’t really having a ball?

Motherhood is, frankly, a headfuck. It makes you feel such a vast array of contradicting emotions.

How could I feel high just looking at another human, while feeling exhausted and like life will never get any easier? How can it be that you can feel like your whole world is cradled in your arms, but like you have no idea who you are anymore? Brim with love for your partner all day but want to scream in his face when he strolls in the door ten minutes late? Feel completely certain that in giving birth you’ve found the meaning of life and everything else is just noise, but at the same time find yourself feeling so very uncertain about…well, everything?

I think in time most parents would readily agree that having kids is the best thing that ever happened to them. But it’s also the thing that causes the most anxiety, self-doubt, anger and exhaustion, especially at the beginning.

And maybe that’s one of the reason’s we struggle to express how we’re feeling. We know having a baby is a blessing. We feel like we should be cherishing every moment because that’s what older people say and we presume them to be wiser. I put it to you that most of them have forgotten what those first months feel like. That reflective sentimentality is dangerous because it suggests expressing anything other than joy is wrong. A new mum does not need another thing to feel guilty about.

You can love your baby and feel exhausted by them. You can want to do things other than be a mother, and still be an awesome mother. You can want to put all your energy in to being a mum, and you’re still more than just a mum. You can feel overcome with guilt as your child hangs off your leg shrieking ‘Muuuuummeeeeeee’ as you leave the house, and still want some time away to be a grown up. You can spend the day at the end of your tether, exasperated and shouty, and then watch them when they sleep and want to hold them in your arms and breathe in their sleepy scent.

For every woman that you feel is critiquing your mothering, there are so many more waiting to help build you back up. They’ll be there with a nod of solidarity at Monkey Music when your kid loses it over tidy up time. They’re the person you went to school with 25 years ago that posts on your baby pictures and asks how you are. You can find them in the nights (or afternoons) sat around a table with all the wine cackling at your collective motherhood misdemeanours. That shared feeling can get you through when it feels like not only have the wheels fallen off, but you’ve lost a shoe and stood in dog shit.

I’ve met an army of these women since starting the blog and Don’t Buy Her Flowers. Women who understand that the sisterhood is not about agreeing with everyone’s choices, but supporting the fact that we have those choices and we’re all doing our best with what we’ve got. Sometimes it’s just bloody hard.

You are definitely, definitely not alone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

18 thoughts on “It’s good to talk

  1. Sam says:

    I just wanted to say thank you for being so brave as to write this! My three month old has only just gone to sleep so, whilst my sleep deprived, mushy brain can’t properly express with any sort of eloquence how relieved I am to be reading this, I just wanted to say a quick thank you for making me feel much less crappy about my crappy day – and less guilty for feeling nearly all of the things that you have mentioned. For that, I am enormously grateful.

    • Steph says:

      Thanks Sam – I’m a massive believer in honesty and I do recognise that it’s easier to say these things in words now I’m out the other side. Go easy on yourself and it will all get easier. Masses of love xx

  2. Lynn says:

    This has just made me laugh so loud and cry at the same time I’m a mum to triplet girls now aged 15 and I still feel like whatbthebfuck am I doing please God help me out – so thank you for letting me know I’m not alone xxx

    • Steph says:

      Definitely not alone! And triplet 15 year olds must be pretty demanding so go easy on yourself – I bet you most women that meet you think you’re a damn hero x

  3. Topfivemum says:

    I love this. Another thing I’ve found is when you’ve so desperately wanted a baby and tried for ages for them to come along… you feel even more guilty when things are going tits up and you sometimes wish for a moment on your own.

    On the sisterhood thing I had an amazing experience the other day. I read someone’s blog post and left a comment as it really touched me and got me thinking about whether I’d had PND after my second baby. That lady sent me a personal DM asking if I was ok. Like genuinely checking if I was ok. The world of blogging is amazing and it’s posts like this that help women the world over. Thank you so much xx

  4. Lucila says:

    Oh my. Oh my. Needed this a whole year back. Adele is so honest in her songs that she can hurt BUT Was so so honest in that interview that i m sure she saved lots of us new mums. AND THESE WISE WORDS i ve just read… Made me want to ry and hug someone i didn t even know anything from until today. Massive THANK YOU. It s hard to go through those feelings and harder to find someone to comfort you about them.
    Excuse my english; not my language

    • Steph says:

      Thanks Lucila, I’m always up for a hug! I hope you find some people to share with for that comfort you mention – I think lots of women wait for someone else to behest first (and BTW your English is pretty bloomin’ good!) x

  5. Kirsten says:

    This. Oh my days, this. I now have a 15 month old and I’m finally starting to emerge from the haze of being a new mum. The wonderful, terrifying, exhausting, frustrating,best ever haze. I wish I had had someone talk to me this way to help ease that guilt of feeling like a crappy mum/wife! Thank you. X ps I love your business, but I LOVED getting 5 beautiful bouquets of flowers when baba was born. 5 is too many, but it made me feel utterly spoilt and totally remembered.

    • Steph says:

      Ah, I’m glad you felt loved – that’s the most important thing!! Well done on getting through those first 15 months – you’re about to hit what I think is a very delicious phase (and hopefully you’re getting a bit more sleep, which helps!) x

  6. Thais Delcanton says:

    Another great post, Steph. It reminded me of all the middle of the night emails I used to share with the NCT crew, too tired and too emotional to edit/filter what was ok or not ok too say… details about saggy boobs, leaky bits and all the mess and craziness in between. Women are sharers… and it never really occurred to me how, until you have a baby, you need a bunch of other beings like you around, like some sort of primeval clan; helping, listening, laughing, crying and sharing life together. Never before do we feel the need to talk so much about our bodies, hearts and brains, mostly to make sure, that we haven’t gone completely insane and that it’s ok to feel whatever it is, we’re feeling.
    Being a mother is wild and wonderful. It shows you sides of yourself you’d never faced (or thought you had), makes you meet other women and realize that the more we talk, share and help each other, the better the world around us becomes.
    Thanks for writing the post, for giving us something interesting to read while an overtired small (finally) sleeps in the car and mostly for reminding us that, whether mothers are strangers or friends, we’re living through the madness together!

  7. Di says:

    Firstly, I am from Stroud too and now live in South East London! Ah, the rolling hills…
    Secondly, really related to this post.. the whole world in your arms but no idea who you are anymore.. rung true.. inspires me to start a blog.

    • Steph says:

      Do it! It’s very therapeutic! And always especially lovely to hear from anyone from the ‘Shire – I think it’s a pretty special place (and therefore creates special people, obvs…) x

  8. Alison says:

    Love that post…. everything about it rings true!!! It made me chuckle (the other half breathing) but also made me feel a little relieved (it’s not just me)!!!