This was not an easy thing for me to write and admit, sometimes I really struggle. But if this post can just help one other mum understand that others have been there too, then it’s worth it.
Sometimes days are just hard. Sometimes I’ve been up an hour and I am already in silent tears by the sink while trying to clean up from breakfast. She is pulling at my pyjama bottoms asking for ‘up up,’ a perfectly reasonable request, surely? But it isn’t to me. I am sick of being pulled out of and constantly being asked for more time, more attention, more energy being taken away from me and given to someone else. Can’t I just clean a goddamn pot without being bothered?
No. I can’t, because my daughter is a toddler and she wants to be around her Mumma. She doesn’t understand why Mumma is snapping at her to go and play with her toys. Mumma is only standing at a sink, why wouldn’t she want to play with her lego? Isn’t it more fun?
Then D will get up for work and leave too quickly. The sound of the door shutting is an echoing voice reminding me I’m alone. Again. All day. Cups of tea will go cold, and I will want to cry with frustration. The television only entertains her for so long before she wants a book read to her over and over and over again. Lunch time will roll around and I will make something for her, another new recipe with the optimism that this one might not get thrown to the floor.
It’s put on her special divider plate because she doesn’t like her food touching. I let it cool down for ten minutes so she doesn’t burn her mouth, anything above cold is deemed ‘hot’. I put her in the highchair, the bib is fastened, she lifts the fork, barely puts it to her lips and the verdict: yuck. With one swoop of her arm the plate is thrown across the room. I take a breath, I grit my teeth. My patience is wearing thin. I don’t have much of it on days like these. A tightening clasps around my chest and I just want to leave the room. But I tell her off for throwing food across the floor and twenty minutes later she’s eaten a yoghurt and some cheese. Because I can’t think of anything else.
It’s naptime and she cries because she doesn’t want to go to sleep. My head is pounding, my care levels have dissipated and I am done. Fine, don’t sleep. See if I care. But I do care, I care too much, stop crying, you’re tired, just GO TO SLEEP.
I end up stroking her back to coax her to sleep and finally she drifts off.
I go to the bathroom and the tears just fall. They’re hot and angry and sad and fed up. Why? Why is it so hard? Why can’t it be easier? Why is every day a battle and testing? Why can’t I have more patience? Why doesn’t she eat? Why does she always fight sleep? Why? Defeated. I am defeated.
Later as she plays I sit and I stare. I have no intention of joining her, I just want to sit here and be on my own. I don’t want to be touched. I’m cold. I’m lonely. I haven’t spoken to another adult since my husband left earlier. Five minutes pass by and she notices I’m not playing. She starts to whine at me, she wants food, she wants a drink, she doesn’t want that drink, she wants a snack, not that snack, she doesn’t want to play with that toy or that toy or that toy.
Finally D comes home and I am tired. My head is thumping, my eyes are pulsing with tiredness, I want to cry. He comes in the door and he’s had a stressful day at work. I’ve not done the washing up or the laundry or even tidied up. He doesn’t mention it, because he knows I’m struggling. He makes dinner, even though he’s had a bad day too.
He helps get her ready for bed, and after another battle she’s asleep.
It feels like I’ve been up for days. My body is tired. I don’t want to talk to anyone. I want to cry and be alone. I don’t want to do this anymore, it’s too isolating, it’s too much, how do people do this? Working is easier, this is twenty four seven with no breaks. I’m always on call. This wasn’t even a ‘bad’ day for her. She’s not teething or unwell.
Wouldn’t it be easier if we had family nearby to take her for a day? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to have some time to myself? To feel like me again.
“Perhaps we should put her into nursery for just a day a week?” He suggests again.
“No,” I reply, because why shouldn’t I be able to cope? Generations have done before me, right? “I am her mother. I should be enough.”