That’s how I have felt at various stages of my mum-life. I have loved it more than I have loved anything ever. And I have loathed it, been overwhelmed by it, and felt like a complete failure at it.
The love side is easy. It’s what you see in all the movies – those beautiful heartfelt moments where you child holds your face inside their tiny hands and plants slobbering kisses all over your face while saying I love you mummy.
But nobody talks about the other stuff, the stuff that makes you wonder why on earth you ever decided that become a mum was a good idea. And it’s not for the reasons you might be thinking. It’s not the interrupted sleep, the nursing bouts of gastro, chicken pox and every other ailment dragged into the house. It’s not the hectic school and sports schedules or the emotional support for broken friendships or bullying. It’s none of those things (although those things are super tough).
It’s the loving another human so fucking much that you feel like your heart could split right open. It’s the fear that something unthinkable could happen to them and you’ll lose them. It’s the fear that you might die and leave them without a mother because of course there is nobody on this plant who is going to be able to be there for them and love them as deeply and unconditionally as you do. It’s knowing that these feeling are going to be with you forever.
I’ve had to do a lot of work, and I mean a shitload, to create a world in which those fears don’t send me permanently into some deep dark hole. It’s one of the reasons I learned to meditate. So as much as possible I could stay here, in this present moment, away from the ‘what ifs’ of the future. To just remain right here, enjoying the beautiful (and crappy) moments that were playing out in front of me.
Being a mum is learning about strengths you didn't know you had and dealing with fears you didn't know existed. - Linda Wooten
So now, when those unbearable thoughts comes into my head, I stop and I remind myself those thoughts are not real, and I take 6 long deep breathes. Breathe in for the count of four, hold for four and then breathe out for four. By the time I am finished that final breath, I can feel my anxiety soften as I settle back into my body.
There are days when I may have to do this multiple times and sometimes it’s weeks or months between those thoughts that threaten to take my legs out from beneath me.
But I guess that’s what it means to love another human being with your whole entire heart. And the love I get in return, the hugs, the moments of irrepressible laughter and joy are totally worth battling all the demons in my head that seem intent of reminding me that it could all be taken away at any moment.
I can’t control what any of our futures look like but I can choose, as best I can, to be here and to soak up all these wonderful experience that come with being a mum.
And by the way, it is more than okay to not love every moment of being a mum. It’s a tough gig, the toughest of all gigs, and it probably not the one we thought we were signing up for on that hot steamy night of passion (or the quickie in the back seat of the Datsun) that got us here.