I’ve always been really grateful that I’m from a family that isn’t predisposed to depression or other anxiety related conditions. Sure, some things get me down – the death of a friend, the loss of a friendship – and there are times that I mourn for things past, but I don’t dwell on things. I deal with them pragmatically and remind myself of what is important.
Becoming a parent changes you in a lot of ways that you never imagine. Sure, you lose some sleep and you notice dangers that you didn’t notice before, but no one warns you about how emotional you’ll become. I get all teary eyed when I read books now. I feel profoundly sad for the cow that was killed when it was hit by a car this morning. And I feel anxious about the job that I am doing bringing up my children.
I know I’m a great provider. My kids have boxes and boxes of toys. They have amazing clothes and I work really hard to supply them with a variety of healthy food. They are well socialised and they aren’t clingy. If those things made me a perfect mother, then I am one. But they don’t. There is more to it than that.
I pick them up from a day at my mother’s house and I see that they have been doing ‘cleaning’. She tells me that Hunter has figured out how to feed herself and that Israel can drink from an adult cup. I find myself wondering why I haven’t shown them how to do that. She notices them take an interest in doing up the domes on their jeans so she grabs another pair so that they can practice. How come I didn’t think to do that?
My sister’s son can say heaps of words. The twins say ‘ta’ and ‘hiya’. Is that because I’m not extending them enough? Is it because I’m trying to fit part time work into my full time parenting? Is it because I leave them to play alone for ages? Is it because I don’t read enough about parenting or because sometimes the thought of cleaning up after them again is just too much for me so I don’t let them go outside and explore?
Anyone that tells you that working mothers have a hard job because they have to juggle going to the office and picking up and dropping off and being a parent is wrong. Being a full time parent is the hard job. You don’t get any time out and your kids don’t go to day care and learn from professional teachers. You’re the parent AND the teacher.
My kids are clever but am I dumbing them down because I don’t know how to extend them?
It’s crazy. I’ve never experienced self doubt before. I have always known that no matter what happened, I’d land on my feet. But this isn’t about me. It’s about two people who rely on me 100% for their development. Now is the time when I should be nurturing them and shaping them into adults that have the world in their hands.
Luckily the pragmatic side of me knows that every single new mother in the world feels like this at some stage.