Parenting is hard. It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I don’t have all the answers and some days I feel like I don’t have any answers. It’s that hard – I swear. One moment you feel like you’ve got everything figured out and the next something happens that leaves you asking yourself “what the hell do I do now?”.
I roll my eyes when people give me fool proof parenting advice. I chuckle every time I read a blog post from a mum who claims to have all the answers. I roll my eyes and chuckle when mums tell me they’ve never doubted their parenting because I don’t buy that hogwash for a second.
The thing about parenting (for me anyway) is that it’s all about trial and error. I try something – it works – I do it again. I try something- it fails – I revaluate and then try something else. Kids are tough. Parenting is even tougher. It’s not easy and I’ll never lie to you and tell you I’ve got it all figured out because I don’t and I doubt I ever will.
While sorting through a few of Margs’ boxes that were left unpacked from the move I came across this.
A handwritten note from a dear friend congratulating us on the birth of our daughter. At the time, I read it and didn’t give much thought to the “don’t forget to take time for yourself”. I had a newborn, I was getting zero sleep and I was just so overwhelmed with life that taking time for myself seemed absolutely impossible.
The thing is, this is probably the best piece of advice I’ve been given. Actually, it is the best piece of advice I’ve ever been given. Within weeks of Margs’ birth I started to feel trapped. I felt feelings of resentment and frustration at the neediness of this child that I fought so hard to bring into the world. I felt isolated and alone and most importantly I felt like I didn’t love my child enough. It was rough – really rough and I’ll admit that I cried a ton. One day, I even asked Mer “what have we done?”. He understood and admitted that he had similar feelings.
Bringing home a baby was rough on us. I’ll speak for myself (although Mer had similar feelings because we discussed it at length) when I say that I loved Margs the moment she was born but I wasn’t in love with her. I wasn’t smitten the way most new mommas appear to be. It took time to get to know her and fall in love with her- and I’m okay with that.
At around the 3 month mark I was really at my breaking point. I spent my days cooped up indoors (it was the dead of winter) with little to no interaction with the outside world (I should have started a blog hunh?) and my feelings of isolation and entrapment intensified – then, I remembered my good friends suggestion to take time for yourself.
I’m not going to lie and tell you that I do this every day. I try to but some days when Margsy is extra fussy or other obligations get in the way I just can’t. That’s what being a momma is all about I guess. But, most days I find a 20 minute reprieve from my role as mom and do something I enjoy. Some days that looks like a hot bath, others it’s listening to music with ear buds so I can tune out what’s going on around me, reading, coloring mandalas, walking, meditating, baking or running a few errands. You get the point.
That 20 minutes of “me” time restores my mental energy and it also makes me a better mum to Margs. It helps me refocus and be more present – it helps me step out of my identity as a mum and just be Jenny for 20 or so minutes which allows me the time to channel and attend to my own emotional needs.
What’s the best and worst parenting advice you’ve ever received?