A few days ago I posted Guilty New Mum Bingo!, a fun list of difficult moments in early motherhood, on which I can bingo myself several times over. The feedback I have got from other mums is that it's reassuring cause it's all too true, and that's something they don't hear enough.
Here is a sample of the kind of response I have been getting:
It's so lovely to read a mothers honesty after all this time. It makes me so cranky when all those mums out there make out like its all roses. Yes there are plenty of rosy moments with babies but there are more than your fair share of poopy, insane teary moments.
Why is it like this? Why are so many mothers not willing to talk about the lows as well as the highs of motherhood?
I found one answer to this question a couple of days ago when a concerned friend rang me to see if I was ok. She had been reading the Bingo post and had been startled to find that one of the moments to tick off was 'wished had never had baby'. What was going on in my head that I could write such a thing, she wondered? I said that I was ok and was doing fine, but I don't think she really believed me.
It made me wonder whether I should have included that box in the Bingo game at all. My blog is public - was this something I wanted anyone and everyone to know I had written? How open was it to misinterpretation?
My first thought was, yes. I think writing these kind of honest posts does more good than harm. Is it really so outrageous or unusual to have a moment where you wished you never had the baby? Really? I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I reckon most mums have at least one moment in those first few months where she thinks: Oh god, what have I done? I'm not cut out for this. I made the wrong choice. After all, if one in seven women have these kind of negative thoughts so regularly that they are diagnosed with post-natal depression, it seems logical to suppose that many more women have negative thoughts occasionally.
But then I had another thought: One day my baby daughter is going to be old enough to find and read this blog for herself. Maybe she will think I don't really love her.
This was much harder. These posts might do mothers some good, but what if they do my daughter harm?
After much thought, I have decided I was right to publish my Bingo post, but that I owe my little girl an explanation. So there are no misunderstandings when the day comes that she reads this blog, here is the explanation she will find:
If you're old enough to read this you're old enough to know that parents are not perfect.
I get grumpy, I say and do stupid things, and I don't have all the answers. But one thing I know for certain is that I am madly in love with you.
I loved you before I met you, before I could even feel you kicking inside me. When I was pregnant, nothing scared me more than the thought I might lose you. When you were born and they put you on my chest, you looked up at me with wide, curious eyes and I thought you were the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. There have been times where you have kept me awake so often that my head aches and the room spins with nausea, but then you smile at me and I feel ok.
I still love you when you are difficult. When you cry, I try to help you. And when I can't make the pain go away, I will stay with you so you feel strong enough to face it until the day you tell me you are strong enough to face it on your own.
I want you to figure out the kind of person you want to be, and whoever that is, I want you to be happy. I hope you will be kind. Yes, your Dad and I will have rules, and no, you won't always like them. You won't always like us. Perhaps sometimes you will even hate us. But even in those darkest moments, deep down there will be a part of you that loves us. Imagine that part times a hundred, and that is much I love you.
I have never wished you harm. The very thought of you coming to harm makes me sick. But there have been moments when I wished I didn't have a baby - or where I could pass off the baby phase to someone else and have you back when you were a little older. I'm not afraid to be honest and own up to the fact I have had these thoughts, because I know what they mean.
Babies are hard work. It's not you in particular - all babies are like this. And when you first arrived in my life I was overwhelmed by just how much work it was, and I was scared I would not be able to handle it. In those moments, I thought I had done the wrong thing by becoming a mother.
But what I have realised is that it's not the fact that I have these thoughts that matters. It's the fact that I love you so much that I will do everything I can to keep caring for you even when things get so tough that I question my choice to have a baby at all.
I am glad that the dark moments for me are few and far between, but even if they weren't, that wouldn't mean I don't love you. It would mean you would know just how much I love you, because you would see that I will be there in the darkness as well as the light.
One day when you have a baby, maybe you'll have thoughts like these of your own, and if you do, you'll know that they do not mean that you love your baby any less. They're just one of the guilty secrets of normal mothers.
All my love,