The Day I Wanted to Quit Being a Mum: One Mother Confesses
There are days we all want some time out... for ourselves. Read this mum's story and her message to other mothers.
Late at night one day, an exhausted mother of two gently placed her sleeping six-month-old baby down in the cot in the room where his almost three-year-old brother was also sound asleep.
She gazed at them, thinking how they both looked like angels, and tip-toed off to take a much-needed shower.
She was tired. She had been up from 4am that day and every other day of the week actually. She was woken up at regular intervals, each night of each day of the week, by her hungry little baby boy.
She was hungry. Looking after two children under the age of three meant she often sacrificed her own meals to make sure they were fed first.
She wondered briefly if she should grab a snack before heading to the bathroom, but in a re-defined version of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, the need to wash the smell of spit-up out of her hair overshadowed the need to eat.
It was at this point that it happened.
Her older child woke up. In a shouty-sobby voice, he asked for water. Her younger child woke up and started crying. Something snapped in her and the next thing she knew, she was sobbing and shouting too.
She had to walk away from this madness, the cries of her little ones wanting her and only her -- all the time.
She had to call for her husband to handle things, because at that moment, she just couldn't bear to give another atom of herself to anyone, even to her own flesh and blood.
That mum was me.
That was the day I wanted out from parenting, from being a mother -- even if it were just for a short time. I wanted the freedom to shower in peace, to eat when I wanted to, to sleep for as long as I wanted to without being jolted awake 20 times through the night.
I wanted to quit being a mum, for a moment.
For that short time I wanted my old lifestyle back, my old body back -- I wanted to own myself again. And I felt like a horrible, horrible mother for even letting these thoughts cross my mind, even for a brief moment.
But now, older for sure and hopefully wiser, as I replayed that episode in my head while writing this article -- I know those feelings I had of being a bad mother were totally wrong. I know it certainly didn't mean I loved my children any less, then or now.
Because we don't realise the amount of energy and effort we put in to being mothers and the impact this can have on us... until we are at breaking point.
The levels of patience we need to have and maintain -- not for a day or two, but for years -- are stupendous, especially if we are not patient by nature.
The amount of giving that we expect from ourselves, loving we wholeheartedly do, worrying we engage in almost continuously, over every single matter related to parenting -- it's exhausting and it's draining and sometimes we want out because we are only human too.
Mums, I want to tell you -- don't feel bad if there are days when you feel like hiding in a dark room, away from the chaos, just to have a moment to yourself.
Don't feel bad if you feel like running away from it all. Don't blame yourself and think you are a bad mother if you lose it when your toddler is tantrumming while your infant has simultaneously had a poo explosion.
Don't blame yourself, ever.
But at times like this, don't be afraid to admit to your husband, your mother, your sister, your friend -- whoever it is that you depend on the most for support -- that you need help, that you need some space to yourself to collect and re-piece your momentarily fragmented self into a whole person.
You love your child with all you heart and soul, like no one else ever can, and nothing, not even break-down moments like this will change this love.
But will you learn to care for yourself again, just a little bit even, after you become a mother? You should.
So the next time you are feeling stressed and tired, take a break.
You're not less of a mother for asking your husband or another trusted individual to mind the kids while you do whatever it is you need to do to get rid of the stress. This, my friends, will make you feel whole again.
You are super-woman with a very human heart and soul.
So love yourself just a little bit and more... please do. For your sake and your child's sake.