The ugly truth of being a mom

In 2016, I became a mom to a prem baby with severe reflux and colic. I suffered from postpartum depression for the first six months of my daughter's life but my story is not all bad.

“Your baby is in distress, she is not getting enough oxygen, we need to get her out right now.”

Almost three years ago, at about 11:30 on a wintery Wednesday morning, I heard these words. The words no woman who is thirty-four and a half weeks pregnant wants to hear. The words that not only set me off on my journey of motherhood but foreshadowed how this journey would almost always play out – never according to my plan.

But regardless, of my plan. One hour and forty-five minutes, or one hundred and five minutes or six thousand three hundred seconds, of sobbing, bargaining, disposable razor genital shaving, emergency family phoning, more sobbing, catheterising, spinal blocking, silent unacknowledged tears coursing, abdomen slicing, organ rearranging, detached body sensations, first sighting and blood with vernix covered baby holding later – I was a mom.

I suffered from severe postnatal depression and had to fight my way back from the darkness and accept the reality of motherhood and not the myth I had bought into.

In 2016, I became a mom to a premature baby who began life in the NICU ward and later developed severe gastroesophageal reflux, I suffered from severe postnatal depression and had to fight my way back from the darkness and accept the reality of motherhood and not the myth I had bought into.

Today, I juggle a hooligan toddler, a marriage that is a work in progress, a chaotic job in advertising, a love-hate relationship with Facebook, a dream of being a writer, an inner Grinch that poo-poos everything she does and an inability to remember to do everything on her to do list.

As someone who wears her heart and her sleeve believe the truth will set you free and that laughter is the best medicine for pain. I hope to share my experiences of motherhood, no sugar coating, no gloss, no delusion.

When my daughter, Izzy, turned 11 weeks old, I published my first blog post to my newly minted blog site, The Ugly Truth of Being a Mom. My journey in motherhood to this point had been, to be polite, a shit show and the blog was a place for me vent my feelings and to reveal the underbelly of motherhood as a counterfoil to the veneer that much of the parenting content shows you.

It is safe to say that bringing a child into this world and raising it to be a decent human being is not always unicorns and pixie dust.

While I am sure everyone has varying experiences, it is safe to say that bringing a child into this world and raising it to be a decent human being is not always unicorns and pixie dust. You almost never come up smelling of roses, more often than not the smell you are smelling that you can’t quite put your finger on or locate on your person is a little blob of human faeces hiding behind your left elbow.

No-one can prepare you for how hard it is. It is the hardest thing you will ever do because there is no training for it, there’s no manual to learn, no guru to rely on, no Wikihow, no right or wrong answer.

New parents are tormented by a constant state of trial and error, the ceaseless state of flux, that is draining at best. Who in their right mind thrives when they are being tested every minute of every day without the opportunity to study the course material and be confident they know at least 50% of the answers?

What I have learnt over the past 2 years and 9 months was that no-one has all the answers, most don’t even have 20% of the answers. Everyone (even the mom in your baby group who looks like she has her shit together) is doing this parenting thing through trial and error, experimentation, gut instinct and a whole lot of contradictory advice from multiple sources.

Why you ask? Because there is no definitive answer for anything. Every single one of our journeys and experiences is unique, every baby or child is different, so what worked for one won’t necessarily work for another. And to make it even harder what worked for you on Monday, might not work again on Tuesday.

Some days are horrific, especially in the beginning, and on those days any parent who says they do not think at least one of these thoughts: “I wish I could run away.”; “This suxs!”; “Why on earth did I do this to myself.” – or my personal favourite – “FML”; is lying to you and themselves.

If any of this sounds familiar, take comfort in knowing you are not the only one out there who feels this way. There are more of us out there that are willing to let on, but not having all the answers doesn’t make you a bad mom. Because a good, no scratch that, a great, mom is the one that, despite not knowing the answers, never gives up trying to ace the tests.

You can also take comfort in the knowledge that being a mom is never all sugar or all spice – it is enough of each to balance the scales. Enough of a bright side to keep you going but enough darkness to keep you humble too. So, when you are feeling the dark clouds rolling in, look for the bright side, it will always be there, even if it’s just a faint shimmer.

As for me, I am trying to take my own advice and trying not to overthink this whole motherhood thing, to see the funny even when it seems hopeless because trying to predict, plan or solve it will drive you insane or to drink or both.

So for now, I am trying to be happy being just a mom who’s not perfect (and would never presume to think she is). A mom who enjoys the odd gin and tonic. A mom who has no qualms escaping the house and her children to indulge in me-time – when she can get her hands on said mythical time. A mom who knows the only way to survive is to laugh at herself, her kid, her situation, her eff-ups. If you can’t laugh, then you will have to cry.

A mom who is not afraid to say out loud that she doesn’t always like her kid, won’t lie to herself and others about feeling #blessed every damn minute of every damn day. A mom who is not necessarily confident in herself or her decisions, but could not care less what anyone thinks of her or her choices (most of the time). A mom who always tries her best and never gives up.

And my hope for Parenty is to help other mothers and fathers, particularly new ones, see that they are not alone, that there are many of us out there trying, and failing, to achieve perfection. To provide a safe space, where parents can come and laugh, rage, share, listen and discover. A platform that will help parents to realise that parenting is not something that can ever be perfected. It is messy and bittersweet. That practice cannot make perfect, it can only make perfectish.

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