Am I the only woman on the planet who feels as though an alien parasite hijacked me during pregnancy (and beyond)? Don’t get me wrong – I loved being pregnant. I had no morning sickness at all and only late-stage and minimal reflux. I was privileged – I was very relaxed and unstressed, work-wise, throughout the experience. So what, then?
Well, I’m a person who likes my personal space. Ok, hang on – that’s a mega understatement. I can’t cope without personal space! I get pissed off; I freak out and start throwing heavy objects around (chairs, tables – even my pitbull when she happens to be nearby).
Knowing this about myself I smugly thought I could handle the added pressures a child would bring. I went into pregnancy calmly and idealistically. All will be fine – ohmmmnnn. Bliss descended upon the earth while my newborn went through her initial “honeymoon” sleeping-all-day-and-night period. Then, the alien parasite awoke and the shit hit the fan. I can’t complain about sleep in the long run (by three months she was sleeping through from 6.00pm-7.00am with one feed in between). But in the short run my personal space went into orbit. Every moment of my day became dedicated to this bundle of “joy”. I’m not a pretty sight on a lack of sleep, but deprive me of my personal space, my “me” time, and I become Godzilla with PMS.
I was lucky to have an awesome partner who was a total second mommy. He took shifts when he found me looking for my mind in various unlikely places (the fridge, the toilet cistern, the dog’s bowl etc.). Without him, I would NOT have coped, for sure.
My freckle-faced, pigtailed beast (I assure you, it’s a fond nickname) is ten now. Somehow she’s still alive (as am I, and my tip-toeing pit). She is a delight to spend time with, and truly is the centre of my universe. But I can’t help looking back and realising that her “invading” of my world has changed EVERYTHING.
Personal space was just the beginning
Mostly, I’m enriched by the experience of being a mom. However, I’ve also suffered a loss. A loss of my personal time and space. A loss of the dynamic between me and my then partner (having a child changes that dynamic subtly yet massively). Loss of my perceived wantonness (there’s nothing like being a mom to detract from your sexuality, even if it is only a personal perception). And a loss of freedom. I thank the many deities out there that my child can feed, bath and dress herself because I swear – if I had to do another dinner/bath/teeth/story-time “put down” EVER again, you’d find my story on #rabidwomanbitesownarmoff.
I’m guessing a lot of woman feel similarly but not without a truck load of guilt. It’s true that our kids are our most precious gifts. But there are other things in life that add to enrichment, fulfilment and self-actualisation and which don’t include cleaning up poo.
On reading this blog, a good friend of mine said: “What’s your point?” This, after wiping the tears from his eyes, which – being a man and all this being new to him – could just as easily have been tears of laughter, horror or pity.
The point is…
Well look – like others out there – I’m a very conscientious parent so take being a mom pretty seriously. It’s a given (as the moon orbits the earth), that my child will end up in therapy one day with the notion that I screwed up her life. But hey – I can put my hand on my heart and say that I truly did everything to give her the emotional love and support and the face-to-face time she needed from me.
I think my point was just to say that being a mom and being an individual are often opposite ends of the universe. They have enough conflicting interests between them to keep Darth and the Resistance in perpetual battle. I struggled a lot through her early years: I still do and still will, I suspect. I love her to death and I’d give my life for her, but I miss my “old” existence. Most of all, I miss my personal space and the freedom to do what I want to, when I want to.
Do you hear me sista? Or am I really the only rabid mother on the planet with a guilt truck parked on her front lawn?