When people were flinging advice at me when I was pregnant with my first child no-one thought to tell me about the guilt. There were a lot of well-meaning tips about breast feeding, birthing, wrapping, sleeping and everything baby-related, but not one person warned me about the guilt. You know it, the guilt you feel from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep. Actually, who am I kidding? The guilt doesn’t stop when you’re sleeping. Even when you’re dreaming you feel guilt.
Everything you do as a mother triggers an immediate feeling of inadequacy. Even when you’re excelling as a parent, you feel guilty that you can’t sustain it. Guilt washes over you, it ebbs and flows. It floods your thoughts. Why does no-one forewarn you? Why doesn’t anyone tell you about the guilt?
Why doesn’t anyone tell you about the anger and the feelings of being trapped? Why don’t they tell you about being stuck in a never-ending cycle of Groundhog Day? Why don’t they tell you about the boring daily tasks which chip slowly away at your inner psyche? The changing of nappies, the finding of dummies wedged under couches, the filling of milk bottles, the chasing of nude children around each night to put on their pajamas, the inability to get a good night’s sleep without a small child climbing into the covers beside you, the endless scraping of dinner plates with untouched food, the tantrums, the screaming, the locking yourself in the bathroom to breathe, the getting in and out of car seats, the washing? Why does no-one tell you about the mountains of fucking washing?
Why doesn’t anyone tell you about the loneliness and the judgement? The feelings of being sidelined at a mother’s group, smiling at strangers willing them to include you? The endless days running after your children and not engaging in a real conversation with anyone. Why doesn’t anyone tell you about those moments you just want to crawl into a ball and scream for fucks sake be quiet? Why doesn’t anyone tell you about the constant questions? Why doesn’t anyone tell you about the feeling that you left some of yourself behind in the birthing suite (and I’m not talking about your placenta)?
Why doesn’t anyone tell you of the worry? The way your heart aches thinking about all that could hurt them. How you sometimes sit up at night and cry. How you would stop at nothing to protect them. How you feel such all-encompassing responsibility for their safety, wellbeing and happiness. The way your soul is crushed each time you hear of a child that has suffered at the hands of another. How you wish you could wrap them all up and keep them safe. All of them, every child in the world, not just your own. Why does no-one tell you of the worry?
Why doesn’t anyone tell you about the love? The aching, heart filling, bone strengthening, finger tingling, mind blowing love. The love that fills you from your hair on your toes to the tips of your eyelashes. The feeling of amazement when you look into the eyes of the little person you grew inside of you. The way you watch them when they’re sleeping. How you reach to hold their hand and gently touch their face. The overwhelming desire to kiss them hundreds of times over, to nibble on their pudgy fingers and stroke their hair. Why doesn’t anyone tell you it is possible to love with such ferocity you weep when they smile at you in a certain way or they achieve a dream. How you wish for them the entire world and all the stars in the universe. How you’re forever changed because of them. Why doesn’t anyone tell you about the love? Why doesn’t anyone tell you these things.