When you first have a baby it’s an incredibly daunting experience, you are exhausted beyond belief, the demands on you are many and you likely feel as if you haven’t a clue what you are doing… not to mention what your body and hormones have gone through and are still going through!
All that said most new Mamas do receive some sort of help and support.. people drop over gifts and food, visit often and your partner is expected to “look after you” to a certain extent. Experts advise you to “nap while the baby is napping” and to “make sure you get time to yourself” etc… you aren’t expected to hit the ground running and it’s OK to stumble and ask for help.
Once a baby is no longer considered an infant though you are on your own! … and if you happen to have more than one offspring then people generally give you a wide berth and figure “you got this”.. especially once you are past the infant stages.
As a mother to three.. the youngest being four-years-old, I can safely say that NO… I have not “got this”.
And I will take any and every offer of help going. While the nappies, teething, breastfeeding, night-feeds, reflux are a distant nightmare there are new challenges to contend with.. homework, head-lice, ring-worm, thread-worm, attitudes, never-ending bills, never ending meals to cook, lunches, school trips, play-dates, childcare.. while the first year of their lives I worried about accidentally killing my child about 100 times a day I now worry about their emotional well-being to the same extent (as well as them accidentally killing themselves!).
Am I not giving them enough attention? Am I giving them too much attention? Am I too strict? Not strict enough? Are they happy? Will they survive the real world?
The second guessing never ends.. and sometimes I feel like I’m really not cut out for this.. they deserve so much better than an exhausted basket case that’s just trying to make it to bedtime. To have to be “on form” to three different personalities who are all dying to tell me about their day, provide constant conflict resolution services (the three of them have a very love/hate relationship) and keep up physically with the constant buzz of energy that a whirlwind of getting three kids to and from school, crèche, activities and home again require is all consuming.
I actually find it more difficult to step away from it all for a break now that they are older.. for example when meeting my sister for lunch recently my phone was buzzing with emails from the school, phone-calls about dentist appointments, a text to say that art wasn’t on that day so my child needed to be collected an hour earlier than usual….
Throw a full-time job, a long commute, a pet and a couple of health issues into the mix and you have a woman who questions her sanity several times a day
I don’t think it matters what stage of this parenting rollercoaster you are on, it’s tough going all the way through but I actually love rollercoasters.. and while there are many moments where you think to yourself.. oh dear God why did I get on this ride in the first place? Those are quickly replaced by the sweet rush of joy and exhilaration as you speed down the slope, as you watch your kids playing and laughing, as you see their little achievements day by day, as they grow into decent human beings (hopefully!) … there is always fear, and in my case the biggest fear is of failure, failing as a parent, a wife, an employee, a person, a woman, a friend, a sister, a daughter….. and all I see around me are people that in my opinion are doing a much better job than I am at pretty much everything that I find it very hard to accept that I am doing a “good enough” job.
All I can do is try.