Google the phrase 'I hate being a Mum' and you'll realise you're not alone. In less than one second Google will unearth over 13,000,000 associated pages. THIRTEEN MILLION pages referencing women worldwide who sometimes feel that they hate being mothers. That's actually kind of scary, no?
Well, no, actually. I think it's distinctly reassuring.
One dark day back when my children were littler and much less civilised than they are now, I typed the fateful words 'I sometimes hate being a Mum' into Google. I'm not sure what I was looking for. I only know that I was at my wit's end - not with my children but with my limited capacity to be an adequate mum. I wanted to know if other mothers ever felt like I did - exasperated, useless, exhausted, beyond repair. Was I alone? Normal?
I'd shout from the minute my children burst into my bedroom in the morning to the moments when they finally stopped whining 'Mu-um' and went to sleep - albeit for too few precious hours before they'd elbow their way into my bed in the middle of the night and steal my favourite pillow from underneath my head.
I should clarify that I would take a bullet for my children and never for a second did I doubt my love for them. It's just that for a while I felt swept away by the utterly overwhelming experience of being a new parent. I wanted to love being a parent as much as I loved my children, but I hated feeling like I was doing such a rubbish job, and letting all of us down.
Looking back, I recognise that having two children under the age of three was a big deal. It was a relentless, all-consuming experience, and moving hundreds of miles away from our extended families definitely added to the strain I sometimes felt I was under.
But gradually, as so many people had promised, things got easier. I mellowed into motherhood. My children blossomed. I started freelancing; they started nursery school. Life settled into a more manageable routine and in place of the wild chaos of our early family life, there was stability, predictability and - crucially for all of us - much more fun.
Eventually I stopped having those moments of feeling like I hated motherhood. These days I'm more likely to count my blessings and thank my lucky stars than google heart-breaking phrases about parenthood. But I've never forgotten the fact that so many thousands of other women feel like that sometimes.
My husband has a postcard pinned to the wall above his desk at work that reads 'So you hate your job? There's a support group for that. It's called 'Everyone' and they meet at the bar.' Sometimes I think mums need that kind of solidarity. Maybe we should start an online forum? They exist for everything from mums in business to mums who blog, but where's the one for mums who feel like resigning, hmm?
Joking aside, even the most Mary Poppins of mothers has days when she feels like everything's going to hell in a handbasket. Whatever your guilty secrets are, be it that you scream like a banshee at your children or rely a little too heavily on a nightly glass of wine or vat of ice cream to keep you going, most mothers have been there - and lower - at one time or another. And much as you tell yourself that everyone else copes better, the truth is that even the mum you envy most probably has her own fair share of what I call Ugly Mum moments.
I've heard countless mums admit to harbouring desperate fantasies about running screaming from the house and disappearing into the sunset. Most mothers have had a moment, however fleeting, when they've contemplated, even for a nano-second, swapping the domestic drudgery and monotony of motherhood for a new life somewhere sunny and entirely child-free, where cocktails are available on tap and no-one needs their bottom wiped, ever.
One mother I know has invented an entire running-away fantasy scenario that she mentally indulges in during days when it all feels too much. All I know is that it features Brad Pitt, her pre-baby body and a one-way ticket to Honolulu.
When my first born was tiny and I was in the grip of horrific sleep-deprivation, I remember listening in shock as a fellow mum confessed that she had contemplated throwing her baby out of the window in the early days (or specifically nights) of new motherhood. By then her son was five, and she nonchalantly ruffled his hair and manhandled him into a bear hug as she told me that a clinical psychologist had once told her that the mothers the professionals worry about most are the ones who don't ever have thoughts like that. That's how normal those thoughts are.
In other words; if you've ever felt something similar, or been tempted to search Google for mothering-related phrases that make your heart sink - you are not alone. You might feel alone, but that's an important distinction. You might need medication, a mojito, or just a moment away from your child with a book and a hot cup of tea. The key is to work out what you need and prioritise it above all else, without feeling guilty.
Feeling out of love with motherhood isn't something to be guiltily typed into a search engine in the dead of night; it's something to be shared, unashamedly. That sense that you just don't love being a mum is off the Richter scale when it comes to measuring maternal guilt - and yet overcoming that feeling is almost impossible if you're wracked with guilt.
It's interesting how helpful that Google search can be - but please, if you ever find yourself playing with that combination of words at the end of a bad day, seek out help in the form of a real person, and don't forget that thirteen million pages of search results means that someone pretty close to where you sit has probably been exactly where you are. You're not alone. And it really does get easier.
Does this ring bells for you? Are there times when you want to cast off your mum role?
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