Here’s some groundbreaking news: bringing up two babies is tiring. It’s time-consuming, energy-sapping, sleep-depriving, nerve-jangling, and creativity-testing. But most of all it’s just plain tiring. This is the first (non-obligated) blog post I have had chance to write for weeks, and it’s down to the fact that The Boyfriend has had a day off, I had a lie-in this morning, we had dinner out so there’s no washing up to do, The Princess is in bed, The Pea is having boy time with The Boyfriend, and I’m not ready to crawl into bed already (it’s just gone 7pm).
Bringing up two babies is also amazing. Yes, it’s tiring and time-consuming and all those other things I just said, and yes it means I don’t get much time for myself to write blog posts, or read blogs or books, or anything at all actually, but it’s rewarding and wonderful and my family makes me incredibly proud and incredibly happy.
I have been wanting to write a blog post about a particular day for two weeks. I’ve never found the time or the energy to do it, and now I feel the moment has passed somewhat. However, the jist of it was that I had dropped The Princess off at nursery at 7.15am, and after my six-week check at the doctor’s at 10am, Little Pea and I went clothes shopping, then food shopping, then home for lunch. After that, I managed to get a tonne of chores done, and to spend time with my baby boy. That day made me feel proud for finally being a ‘normal’ mum; I never had a day like that when The Princess was a baby. Anxiety and depression left me almost house-bound; unless I was going to the house of someone I knew, I wouldn’t go out. The thought of shopping by myself with a baby made me panic until I couldn’t breathe properly. I believed that someone, anyone, maybe everyone, was trying to kill me, to leave my baby girl with no mummy, or trying to kidnap my baby, leaving me devastated and childless. It was a risk I literally couldn’t take.
Depression and sleep-deprivation meant that housework was definitely not anywhere near my priority list, not to mention the flying-ant infestation that meant that the kitchen was a no-go zone. And besides everything else, The Princess refused to sleep or settle anywhere other than in the arms of me or The Boyfriend, and even then only for around fifteen minutes at a time. Putting her in her cot for an hour to get on with some hoovering or ironing was impossible. I couldn’t even cook an evening meal that took longer than five minutes because I didn’t want her in the anty kitchen, and she wouldn’t be alone. Ever. I felt like a useless, hopeless mum, I thought everyone else who had ever had a baby, ever, was a perfect, super-earth-mother, never losing their patience, never getting tired, never grumbling about chores, never worrying about leaving the house, never waking up crying, never arguing with their partner, always keeping a perfect home, keeping a perfect smile on their perfectly made-up face, raising perfect children who slept perfectly for twelve perfect hours a night, all the while looking like a supermodel.
My perception was perhaps a little skewed. I know this now, after several counselling sessions and medication. But the day I spent with Little Pea doing ‘normal’ things not only made me proud, but made me sad that it was never this way with The Princess. I’ll never get that time back, and I feel as if it was wasted somehow. I wish I had sought better help at the time, and I wish we had sorted The Princess’s reluctance to sleep sooner, because if the depression and anxiety and sleep-deprivation had been addressed then maybe I would have been a better mum and a better girlfriend and daughter and sister and friend.
Or maybe I wouldn’t. Who knows. We can all say “What if?” about many things in life, but the thing is we just don’t know what might have happened if one or two or a million things had been different. What we do know is that we can always learn from experience. And I know I am incredibly lucky to have two very beautiful children, who I adore, who are my whole world, and who I love to spend time with. I am lucky to have finally found a good counsellor and to be dealing with my depression. And most of all I know that there is no such thing as a perfect mum or the perfect life, it’s just about doing your best and making the most of what you have got at that moment.
Still, it’d be nice to look like a supermodel and be a super-earth-mother while doing my best in less-than-perfect circumstances…