My Mum used to say to my sister and I that the greatest thing she’d ever done in her life was have us – and that used to shock me. Be a Mum? That’s it? But what about travel, your career, great moments with friends, Dad!? Now, after being blessed with two children, I feel exactly the same. This is the best thing I will ever do.
There will be others who make a greater contribution to the world than me. Other writers will reach more Mums, other businesswomen will have more success. And there will be other friends that will be there for my friends. But there will only ever be one mother to my children. They may explore the world and live thousands of miles away from me, but I will always be ‘home’ to them. Me. Just me. They will walk into my home, or hear my voice on the phone, and I will mean ‘home’ to them. And that is the greatest role in the world.
So why, when it all gets tiring and confusing and overwhelming, do we not remember that? Why don’t we hold on to that connection with the true wonder of becoming a Mum throughout the coming weeks, months and years? Why can’t I connect with that more often? One of the greatest challenges of being a Mum is we are so busy all the time that we forget how great it is to be a Mum!
I forget it sometimes. Often. I get frustrated with repeating myself over and over again, asking my daughters to stop yelling at each other, to put their shoes on, or finish their dinner. I forget it when it’s past their bedtime and they are still talking in their room, and I am about to fall over with exhaustion. And I forget it when I wish that I could have just one more hour to myself.
But the thing I’ve learnt is that while that hour to myself is absolutely important, so is the things I tell myself about being a Mum.
It’s pretty easy to get stuck in the negativity of parenthood. The tough parts are often more discussed than the best bits. Why is that? Are we ashamed to gush about how great our families are to our friends, in case we come across as bragging? Why is it so much easier to share the war stories with other parents than the great bits? Is it fear of the Parenting Tall-Poppy Syndrome?
Don’t get me wrong. There is a long list of things that drive me crazy about being a Mum that I am more than comfortable to share too. And I have certainly had my far share of bitch sessions about sleep, teething and tantrums with other Mums and Dads over a glass of wine.
But what I’ve learnt through all this is that while it can sometimes be helpful to realise you are not alone in this parenting journey, focusing on the negative often makes the day to day challenges even worse.
When you speak to older parents and grandparents, they generally speak fondly of these early years. Sure, they may remember there were tough times, but they usually refer to them with a smile. “Oh yes, little Sarah didn’t sleep a wink for the first six months!” they say with a grin. And do you know why? Because this is one of the most unique times in a little family’s life. This is when you are all pitch in to help raise these little people, learning the hard way how tough you really are. You make mistakes, but it’s OK. You don’t sleep for years, but you survive. You yell, cry, and fall asleep with your eyes open, but you have never felt more alive.
That’s what I’m trying to tell myself now. That’s what I’m repeating to myself as I repeat myself to get out of the bath. This is hard, but it’s so rewarding.
After all, like my Mum, this is the best thing I will ever do.