There is no doubt that motherhood is hard, but some moments are really hard.
Social media is a wash with beautiful family photos of days out and the fun tasks we do with our children. Of course those moments happen, they are real, but motherhood is way more than that.
There will be times you are awake all night just feeding and changing your baby, times when you spend hours trying to raise their beds just enough that it will stop the awful coughing, and nights you spend shut in the bathroom with the hot shower on, trying to create enough steam that it will control the awful croup they’ve developed.
You may well end up in hospital with them at some point, and if you travel in an ambulance it will be the longest journey of your life.
You’ll spend many a night trying to cool down little hot bodies. Wishing it was you fighting the fever that’s taking over their tiny frames. Watching them shake and shiver with the colour drained from their little faces, whilst you cradle their limp bodies.
These raw moments of motherhood are the ones that no one can prepare you for. It doesn’t matter how many books you read, magazines you look at, experts you listen to. It doesn’t even matter how many friends and family tell you about their experiences. You just won’t know until you are in the moment. Those desperate moments we all have as mothers when something is wrong, someone hurts themselves or you think you’ve lost a child in a crowd.
The days after the birth of your little one, when you fear your body may never return to ‘normal’, when you feel as if half of your insides are actually hanging out of you, and you struggle to move too far without causing a red flood. No book, magazine or conversation with a friend or relative prepares you for that.
The long, lonely nights you are awake with a crying baby, whilst everyone else is sleeping. The nights when nothing seems to work, the nights you can’t get your baby to latch onto your nipple, the nights you feel that everything you are doing is wrong. The nights you feel like a total failure. No one can prepare you for that.
The days that you can’t even get in the shower. You hear other mums say this, but you don’t really believe them until it happens to you. How can one tiny person stop you getting in the shower? It happens. It happens all the time and before you know it you’ve used dry shampoo every day for a week! The more little people you add to your brood, the less time you have for these things. The more potential problems there can be, the more things that can go wrong on a daily basis. The more times you will be up in the night. Those nights you spend the entire time crossing the landing from one room to another – no one can prepare you for that.
Those moments when you are so fed up of not being able to get in the shower you decide to risk it, only for all hell to break loose in the 15 seconds you’ve been in there. You jump out, still covered in soap to your baby’s cries which causes your boobs to start spraying milk everywhere. NO ONE, I REPEAT, NO ONE TELLS YOU ABOUT THAT!
The mornings you wake up from a total of three blocks of 20 minutes sleep and for a split second curse yourself for drinking too much the night before. That is until you remember that you didn’t drink a drop, you are just a parent!
The nights all is quiet until your head hits the pillow and then the house turns into something out of a horror movie – is there a full moon?
The days when you never go to the toilet alone. Someone needs feeding, cuddling, or just misses you. No one, no book prepares you for these relentless parts of motherhood.
The times you find yourself, expressing, feeding, reading a story and wiping a bottom all at the same time – oh and wait, was that the doorbell? They will have to wait, you’re busy mothering.
The pain, the exhaustion, the cracked nipples, the heartache, the worry, the physical changes, the emotional changes, the mess and the sheer amount of “stuff”. No one prepares you for that.
The days that start at 4 am and finish at 2 am – not even MI5 training could prepare you for that!
The hours you spend picking up toys or food from the floor, wiping noses, cleaning cut knees and dealing with bumps to the head. There’s no mention of that.
For the most part it isn’t glamorous in any way shape or form. For a while your signature scent might well be, sick, wee, poo, milk or a lushious blend of all four.
The days are long, very long, but the years are most certainly short.
These four little ones steal the air from my lungs.
They have my head, my heart, my body, they are the priority. There are so many aspects of real, raw motherhood that you can’t prepare for, but when you’ve been through them, lived them for days on end and reach that magical place somewhere in the future where you can reflect, you will realise just what a warrior you were.
No one may ever recognise the sacrifices you have made, the things you have put yourself through but it shouldn’t matter because your children are the daily illustration that ALL of it mattered. That ALL of it was worth it, and that you would do it ALL again.
There are endless challenges, endless demands, endless sacrifices BUT there is also endless love, pride and and an overwhelming sense that you have not only enriched your own life beyond belief but also the lives of others.