**Please note that this was written a long time before the emergence of COVID-19 and government procedures were put in place in the UK. It was something that I experienced and still continue to experience but appreciate it is not wholly relevant given the current situation in the UK today, however I still want to honour these feelings and not dismiss them as we all know how drastically life can change in a few short weeks and days.
What is in a moment? A thought, a memory, a suspended pause in time, a breath, a word, it is everything and nothing. Is a moment measured by time, is it measured by feelings or what you do? How many moments a day are there that you remember, how many moments in a day did you remember before you became a parent, how many moments do you remember now that you are a parent? A moment can make or break a situation, a day and as much as I hate to acknowledge this and come to terms with it but as a new mummy all we have is moments. Sounds very bold and profound and possibly a little bit negative, its not meant to, but I feel slightly more realistic!
For the last week or so I have felt increasingly angry with everything and nothing all at once. I couldn’t work out why I felt this way or what is was that was bothering me so much, but all I knew was that I was bothered and becoming increasing frustrated with everything even the good stuff and it was only after speaking to a friend about how I felt that she was able to offer some advice. Her children are slightly older and the power of hindsight and experience is a beautiful thing.
Perfectionism, perfectionist, a need to be perfect; it is a dangerous thing and I know that I possess this trait. This has been harboured through many things in my life as well as the huge pressure that young women through their teens and into their early twenties feel, whether that is weight or appearance related to being seen to always do the right thing. Society doesn’t help either, women through history have needed to be everything and nothing all at once.
Maybe I didn’t spend enough time thinking about it prior to baby arriving or spending time around people with babies but the main narrative that seems to float around about motherhood is that it is glorious and warm and cosy and you’ll feel wonderful and it will be amazing and happy and just blissful. Maybe this is because they don’t want to scare us, maybe it’s because people forget or maybe it’s because we can’t be seen to be doing anything that isn’t wonderful.
Add in the fact that I am also a dreamer, someone who doesn’t like to live in the real world and I’ve found myself all in a twist. It all felt wrong, hard, restricting, overwhelmingly so, but it wasn’t, because even though that was my overwhelming feeling there was some really good stuff happening in my days too. The stuff that does feel wonderful and blissful and overwhelmingly full of joy. My little lady has now learnt to sit up, she giggles and smiles when her daddy walks through the door, she rolls over and inspects new food, she looks more deeply at things and sees the little details more. All of these things bring with them extraodinary senses of pride and love and were continuing to happen and yet I still felt red hot anger when she cried for too long or refused to nap or continued to wake through the night, I wanted to scream. I felt I was failing because it wasn't perfect and joyful ALL THE TIME.
The funny thing is, if another mummy came up to me and explained how she felt I would have said to stop being so hard on herself, nothing and no one is perfect all the time but we/I are our harshest critic and my inner voice would feel utterly enraged if a particular 'moment' wasn't good enough.
They are all moments. Moments however long or short but moments nonetheless and it is in these moments that you feel the highest of highs and the lowest of lows which leave you questioning how you got there, but the highest of highs provide you with the joy and the hope to just try one more time. The rollercoaster of parenting that is made up of moments that make and break your heart, sometimes within hours but sometimes within seconds or each other and that is the reality. The reality that many of us live, the reality that maybe isn’t sold to expectant parents to be, the reality that isn’t really written anywhere until you find yourself in the club with a screaming baby at 2AM and you try and figure out how you got here, but then they smile or giggle and you feel like your heart is suddenly on the outside of your body; so vulnerable and amazed by this gorgeous creature that is part you, part your partner.
So instead of thinking that every single moment of every single day has to be amazing and wonderful which is what was making me so angry when my own crazy expectations weren’t being lived up to, I am coming to terms daily with the fact that when it’s really rubbish, it’s really rubbish. But, this will not last and should not dominate the rest of my day or week as I found this was then leading to spiralling thoughts of everything being awful. However I will work on accepting the bad when it is bad and leave it there and so be more open to accepting and enjoying the wonderful when it turns up rather than pressuring myself into thinking everything has to be wonderful or something is wrong.
Before baby I would very often view days as good or bad and obviously try and make as many of those as good as I had the power to, but welcoming baby number one has made me significantly more grounded, life is slower and quieter for the majority so time seems more powerful. I also have far less control on situations. Of course I have some control but humans (and babies are no exception) are complicated and complex beings and so for now all I can do in the words of my mother is 'do my best' and if that means going hour by hour, minute by minute then I will but letting go of the bad moments is crucial.
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