This morning, my friend who has an eight-week-old baby sent me a message saying “I don’t know how you function with kids, I’m feeling so run down.”
My first thought was just to send love to my friend because I knew exactly how she was feeling, my second thought was wow, I must be hiding things quite well because I would explain myself as far from functioning. It’s more like a daily struggle of survival—if the kids and I survived, that was a good day!
Thirdly I thought, I wish she didn’t have to feel like that, I wish she didn’t have to think that every other mum was doing a great job while she was doing it hard—because let’s be real, every new mum feels like she’s going a little bit insane. Some of us just hide it better than others. Even the good days as a mum are still challenging; the responsibility of raising these tiny humans is not a walk in the park.
There’s no denying that our kids are the absolute joy of our lives and so terribly worth it, there are so many good moments that we want to share with the world but what that means is that we only see both sides in our own homes. We start to think, why am I over here losing my mind while all these other mums are snapping photos of their perfect day, perfect kids and perfect lives.
It’s because we’re only sharing one side of the coin and that needs to change.
So, I began to wonder what would make my friend and I, and the other mums, feel better about the struggles of motherhood, and it all came back to honesty. I wanted to get honest with myself, honest with other mums and I wanted other mums to get honest with me.
That’s what led me to write this article and this is me getting honest!
This parenthood thing is hard work. Some days I’ve already lost my mind by 8:00 a.m. in the morning and I’m carrying on like a crazy woman because my daughter won’t eat her breakfast. When I had an eight-week-old, I wasn’t just feeling run down, I was completely drained and running on empty. The thought of getting time to take a shower was beyond my reach but occasionally I would change my pajama pants to tracksuit pants so that people might not recognise that I had no idea what I was doing and that I wasn’t coping at all.
Sometimes I felt bad when my husband walked in and I’d be staring into space—tea had not even crossed my mind and the house looked like a cyclone has just blown through. And most of those things still occur now on a regular basis with a three-year-old and one-year-old.
When I tried to get to the bottom of why I perceived these things as “not coping” and why these things were making me (and other mums) feel like crap, I came up with a breakthrough! It was because I wasn’t hearing or seeing that any other mum was feeling like this too, so I thought I was failing.
We think that all the other mums have clean houses, clean kids, happy husbands who get fed and that they are up and dressed every morning to partake in fun activities with their kids because those are the only things we share with each other. Then I thought, my friends probably think that about me, because when they ask how I’m doing I say “really good, the kids are great and I love being a mum.”
What I really should have said was “Holy sh*t, I feel like my brain has left my head, I can’t hold a conversation together and I feel like my kids don’t listen to a word I say. Last week I managed to get out of my pajamas once and there is so much dust in my house, that they are using it to draw pictures in…..”
Yes! that’s what I would love to hear when I asked my friends how they are doing—then I would know that it’s not just me, we are all in this together.
So here’s the call to you, all the other mums out there: let’s get honest!
Let’s start sharing the other side of that coin and tell each other that yes, this is hard. We already know it’s amazing but we need to share what else goes on too! We need to show each other that sometimes our house is messy, we need to fill each other in on some of the crazy things we do to keep our sanity, whether it be locking ourselves in a cupboard to eat some chocolate or turning the music up to a full bass, thumping ball to drown out the yelling.
There is so much power in this because it gives us the ability to set ourselves free. If we no longer have to feel like we are the only one who’s not doing a perfect job of this mum/wife/life thing, we no longer have this expectation to get it together and be better than we are. Let’s just share our real, imperfect, authentic, mum selves. The mum that our kids probably love the most.
You are enough!
Wherever you are, whatever stage of motherhood you’re at, I want you to know that you are enough. And I want me to know that I am enough.
So now the real challenge begins. I’m taking the pressure off myself and I’m taking the pressure off you too if that’s what you need. Let’s release all this stuff so we can start to enjoy our kids and our lives. We’re the only burden here and we are only burdening each other—it’s got nothing to do with our kids. We need to take responsibility for this situation. We need start lifting each other up instead of tearing each other down. No longer will we perceive a good mum as one who has a clean house, clean kids, meals prepared and looks like a million bucks.
Let’s instead start a tribe of the next generation mums who live in the moment with their kids. Who sing and dance and get dirty and have picnics in the middle of their lounge room floors with their families no matter how much mess it’s likely to make. Soul sisters, doing it for their kids!
So here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to get up in the morning and take a shower, I’m going to leave the housework and take the kids out of the house, I’m going to buy takeaway or make eggs on toast if I don’t have the time or energy to cook a meal, and if my kids, my husband, and I are still alive at the end of it then I’m going to do it again the next day. Not only that, but I’m also going to share the good, the bad and the ugly with my closest friends, and with whoever asks.
I’m going to start doing things my way and start to make this journey about my kids and my family, not about what other people think, not about my clean house or my dust free surfaces—because who gives a hoot about those things? I’m just going to be real, because that’s what I want my kids to see in me and because in the end, that’s all that really matters.
No more expectations, no more bullsh*t. Let’s get honest, let’s give ourselves a break and set ourselves free. Who’s with me?
Author: Danni Kelly
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photos: Author’s Own