I have two children and I am done making babies. I know this with no shadow of a doubt. Give me a newborn and I will coo and cluck and savour those cuddles, but I won't hand them back and feel a hole that another baby needs to fill. My two kids are enough for me. Some days my children are too much for me!
Some days the noise, the constant questions, the biting my tongue and counting to ten so I don't lose my patience, it is all too much.
There are some people (Daily Mail readers) who would have you believe that this makes me a bad mother. That I don't deserve my children. That I am not cherishing every goddamn moment. They are wrong in the most part. I'll give them the last one, I am not cherishing every goddamn moment. The sickness bugs, the potty training, the whinging and whining, it's all part and parcel of having children, but I don't need to cherish those moments.
I'll cherish the cuddles, the giggles, the funny things they say, the times they sleep through the night and finish their dinner, but tantrums are not to be cherished.
I love my boys more than I ever thought possible. From the moment they were placed in my arms. Ok so maybe the 'holy crap what just happened' moment came first, but after that. I know my boys inside out, I'd walk to the ends off the earth for them (in comfy shoes) and I'll go mama bear on anyone's arse if they hurt them.
But kids are full on. They are exhausting. And there are days when, for want of a better word, I feel 'mothered out'. When everyone needs a piece of me and I have given everything. When it feels like I have nothing left to give. When the constant demands are overwhelming and I just want space to breathe and think, time to myself. When I was a kid my mum used to say "I'm going to change my name". I get it now.
I am an introvert at heart.
Before the kids came along the husband and I had an active social life. But for me, I loved the evenings I got to myself. PJs, a good soppy movie, and chocolate is my ideal night. I like being by myself. I'm pretty awesome to hang out with.
As much as I love my kids and being a mother was the only thing I have ever been sure I wanted to be for as long as I can remember, it doesn't really give you much time for yourself. Not even to pee.
I used to listen to the Daily Mail readers, and when those feelings of wanting five minutes peace crept in I would feel guilty. When I lost my patience and shouted at the kids I would cry about being a terrible mother. And when I felt like I needed a break I felt undeserving of being a mother.
But now I listen to me. And when it gets overwhelming, when I have had enough and feel 'mothered out' I swallow the feelings of guilt, throw the kids at my dearly supportive husband and bugger off out for the day. Of course the reality isn't that simple, with the kids' hectic social lives, planning a day to myself is more military operation than spontaneous abandon. But I plan it, and I look forward to it.
I get to listen to my songs in the car, turn it up loud and sing. Traffic jams are welcome. I get to walk around shops and browse without having to bribe anyone. I get to finish a thought in my head without telling a toddler to stop bouncing on the sofa. I get to be me minus my double act for a while and it feels good.
I'm done with society making me feel like I should apologise for that. That because I had kids, I don't get to be me anymore. That because every now and then I rejoice at having a few child free hours it somehow diminishes the love I have for my children.
The truth is that in my time away that I craved so much I miss them like crazy. I wonder what they are up to. I smile at other kids I see and compare them to my own, and after some down time I can't wait to get back and see their faces and give them a squeeze. And I come back a better mother. More relaxed, less shouty. My bucket of patience full to the brim and looking forward to hearing the word "mummy."
Sometimes I can't get enough of my children. Sometimes my children are too much for me. Both are my truth. And I am alright with that.
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This post was first published on Life, Love and Dirty Dishes.