THREE YEARS OF MOTHERHOOD

As my daughter turned one I wrote a post about my first year of motherhood and what I learned. And as I blinked she turned two and I wrote another post about my second year as a mother and what I learned and what my hopes and dreams were.

As she is so close to turning three I decided to keep the tradition and write about all that happened in the past year and what it taught me as a woman and as a mother as well.

Firstly, I managed to rediscover myself as a woman before being a mother and as my daughter became more and more independent I realised just how important it is to be me again, to take care of myself physically and mentally. I am a mother living with anxiety and my days are not always “normal” but I am making huge efforts to come out of that dark place and not let it control me.

As a mother I learned how important patience is when raising a child, just how challenging it can be if you let stress take over you.

A toddler is learning, copying your actions, your language and your behaviour. They learn what you teach them and more than this, they learn what they see. They begin to realise that actions have consequences and it is our job to show them the good and how to avoid bad behaviour.

It is such a hard job and sometimes frustrating and annoying for an adult no matter how calm and patient. I am one of those mums who goes down on the floor playing Buzz LightYear and Lego with my child, I am playing along with her pretend actions feeding baby chicks, being a kitty cat, changing unicorn nappies or being a doctor and I laugh and cry with her. I try and teach her manners, good actions and positive thinking as well as opening her eyes towards books and outdoor playing rather than screen time.

She is a proper book nerd and she can “read” you The Gruffalo and We’re going on a Bear Hunt any time of the day. She loves to colour and sing and play with stickers but she also enjoys some screen time so mummy can write her blog or just breath for few minutes. How do you think she learned about Toy Story and Nemo, and Moana and Pokemon? We always have the TV on on the background and she watches it only when she considers it’s something interesting for her. Otherwise she’ll happily play with her toys.

Three years of motherhood gave me so much love I can’t describe in words. I grew along my daughter and although I sometimes lose it and get frustrated, I feel like I did learn a lot when it comes to prioritizing and living.

I look at my daughter now how she takes care of her baby doll getting her dressed and changing it and giving kisses and cuddles, I look at her the way she shows love to my friend baby and fills my heart with joy, I see her being so happy when she meets her little friend and they cuddle and it’s absolutely amazing. Apart from being the normal toddler with tantrums, attitude and frustrations, she is one loving, kind and happy child and this makes me think that I did a pretty good job so far although I doubt my parenting skills on daily basis.

I learned to appreciate the small things like a cuddle in the middle of the night, my daughter’s hand in mine when I feel ill, the way she asks me if I am ok when I am so close to losing it. I learned to appreciate those days when she happily plays by herself for ten minutes, when she curls up to me and asks me to read to her and those days when I smell her hair and fills my heart with joy.

I learned how to treasure my me time and just how important it is for my sanity and my daily parenting. I never before felt so happy to be able to drink a coffee while reading a book for thirty uninterrupted minutes like I do since I became a mother.

I learned hot to deal with failure as a person and as a mother. It’s ok to not strive every day. It’s ok to fail in motherhood on daily basis and not kill yourself for it. I always avoided failure in my life as I never knew how to deal with it but now it’s a part of my life and I accept it as it is.

I learned unconditional love and it’s just heaven. Ruby taught me that I can love with all my heart and never run out of love. I learned that I can love this little naughty, bossy and sometimes annoying little person just as much on a bad day as on a good day.

I learned strength – motherhood takes sacrifices and undivided attention. I realised just how strong I am protecting my child, hiding my pain so she can be happy, picking myself up again and again and starting it all over not for me but for her. This past year motherhood showed me just how I can find strength to carry on and give my daughter attention and love although I felt like I was slowly dying inside. I learned how to be compassionate and kind but also I learned to let go of those people who no longer brought joy into my life.

I learned that I learn every day. There is no magic formula for motherhood and we are all in it up to our eyeballs. It’s hard, it annoying, challenging, it’s sometimes lonely and painful but it’s also rewarding, joyful and filled with magic and unicorns and it’s all worth it.

What being a mother with anxiety looks like

I have contemplated a lot before deciding on writing this post. I am still not sure if it will help me or make things worse but I guess there is only one way to find out.

Once becoming a mother all worries in the world come upon you and few hours of continuous sleep may turn into a nightmare. The “what ifs” are pouring down as soon as you open your eyes in panic.

“How long did I sleep for?”

“Did she cry, cough, sneeze… and I didn’t hear her?”

“What if someone got into my house and stole her while I was sleeping soundless?”

“What if the blanket covered her face and she can’t breath?”

“What if she is so cold she can’t stop shivering and she gets ill because I fell asleep instead of checking on her?”

You see, there are so many questions attacking me in just seconds from the moment I open my eyes. My heart is racing, my head is pounding and I feel like I can’t breath. I am shaking before I get out of bed. My knees are weak and they make efforts on carrying me to her bedroom while I imagine the worst scenarios a normal person would not even consider.

I rest my hand on her tummy and feel her breathing. She is so peaceful, sleeping in her baby bed. I smile and try to get back to my normal self. I want to leave her bedroom but my mind plays tricks on me. I start thinking again: “What if she’s not breathing and it just seemed like it?” So I check again. I do it about three to four times so I can be sure everything is ok. I go back to bed and it takes me ages to fall asleep again. That is if I actually sleep. Most times I just make a coffee and sit by myself trying to slow my mind.

I am in pain until she wakes up. When I hear her I just rush in and pick her up. I kiss her like there is no tomorrow and hold her so tight to me, breathing in her smell and letting tears run down my face, happy and relieved that she is perfectly fine.

This is just how my day starts. We make plans, we try and go out as much as possible so my brain can leave me alone for a while. I stress about her food, thinking maybe she hasn’t eaten enough, I stress about the fact that maybe she doesn’t have enough friends to socialise. Maybe I am not good enough and I should get better.

There are so many thoughts stressing me out and taking over my life. They overwhelm me and at times I find myself feeling powerless. I question every move I make and doubt myself more than you can imagine. I stress out over such trivial things sometimes I wonder if I am actually insane. I get anxiety over hypothetical things, things that might happen and things that most probably won’t.

You see, I always post the beautiful, the positive, the empowering and the motivational but at times I am everything but that. All my pictures are filled with smiles and unless you know me well, you won’t realise what hides behind those pretty glasses and matching outfits.

My knee-jerk reaction to almost every situation is to stress, worry, and imagine the worst-case scenario possible. It’s automatic and out of my control. I don’t really want to think of someone kidnapping my daughter but I do. I don’t want to imagine myself in a car and having an accident. I don’t really want to think of people judging me for who I am but I actually do and it hurts like hell.

If one day I go out the house feeling self conscious about the way my hair looks, trust me I will check every person I walk past to see if they look at my hair. If someone actually does, I will imagine them feeling disgusted by my horrible hair and convince myself that I shouldn’t have left the house.

Sudden noises in my house will get me on army mode, ready to fight burglars who broke into my flat and want to murder myself and my child.

My kitchen sink is dripping. It doesn’t annoy me but it does make me think of my flat being flooded in a matter of seconds, me emptying my bank account having to repaint my neighbours house and pay further unimaginable damages.

Someone just refused to pick up their crying baby. You know what that does to me? Makes me imagine shouting at that person, lecturing her on how important it is to hold your newborn, on what being a mother actually means. I will stress thinking about how abandoned that poor baby feels and even cry at times.

Does that sound ridiculous? I know it does. It actually is but these things are uncontrollable. They are stronger than I am at times and I have no strength to chase it away.

I work out, I read, I write, I walk for miles every day, I am a very active person. I love life, I love beauty and I dream of a perfect world but see, sometimes I am different and I can’t do anything about it. Hate me or love me. This is who I am.

A mother living with anxiety.

PS: If you are struggling or know someone who struggles like me, please share this post and raise awareness. Let them know they are not alone.

IT’S OK NOT TO BE A PERFECT MOTHER

In our modern days society puts an immense pressure on mums driving them towards depression and low self esteem. We are shown the perfect pregnancy bodies and even more perfect ones immediately after giving birth. We are pushed into making impossible efforts to balance a perfect life between work and parenting, driving to office with a smile on our faces after a sleepless night and a crying baby. We are shown the perfect make up and amazingly beautiful and ironed outfits when we damn well know that if you want to go out after having a child you probably need to buy something to wear as all your shirts and tops are full of milk stains, snot or vomit. I think the first time I put makeup on after birth I was well into the fifth month of motherhood and I only done it because I was feeling so down and fat, swollen and most definitely unattractive.

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While pregnant I worked full time, standing up eight hours every day and walking miles. I ate healthy and I exercised, I managed to cope with sciatica pain and I stayed positive all throughout the nine months I carried my daughter inside me. But you see, all this changes after the baby comes. The belly is going down but the baby is getting bigger. As  a first time mother with zero help I found myself overwhelmed by emotions. I was completely in love with my daughter but I was never sure what was going on. The crying was insane sometimes and the seven times a night wake ups soon drove me mad. I struggled with depression trying to break through and still be the perfect mother I dreamed of.

Now, I have a full on toddler on my hands and I see motherhood so completely different. I know reality and I know illusion. I know that there is no “Perfect Susan” out there, the one who has it all figured out living in an immaculate house with two well behaved children, wearing clean outfits and a husband who gives her all she wants and on and on. That Susan is crying herself to sleep because she is struggling with anxiety and depression; the other Susan who has it all on Instagram is making efforts to keep a failed marriage for the sake of her kids; another perfect Susan is shouting at her children and hitting them because she lost the plot and she actually can’t cope with the high standards she shown everyone.  There is the perfect Susan who is so desperate to lose weight although she shows her stretch marks on social media with the #proudofmyimperfections; there is that one who doesn’t trust herself enough to do anything and also the one who is desperately trying to have another baby but nothing happens so she deepens herself in a dangerous depression forgetting about what is right there in front of her.

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All these women show us perfection on Instagram and Facebook. Their blogs are full of love towards their life, the food they make for their children is always organic, homemade and looking so attractive; their outfits are so beautiful, they post millions of pictures with smiles and sunshine and I swear they look like they have all the time in the world for pampering themselves as well.

Now, let me tell you something. There is no PERFECT MOTHER. We all fail. We all struggle and we all cut corners when we can because we desperately want to drink that coffee before it gets cold, we all give our children the dummy from time to time because we are losing the plot with so much crying; we all feed them sugary treats and snacks when they refuse proper food because let’s face it we all wonder how on Earth are these kids surviving on such little food; we all clean their snot with our sleeves because sometimes we just can’t be bothered fishing for the wipes in a bottomless bag. We take out kids to the park so we can just swing them and be able to catch up on emails and texts.

We don’t have it all figured out and we never will. We will drive to work with puffy eyes and a ton of coffee in our system praying to get through the day. We will put some makeup on and take thousands of selfies until we can chose a decent one and post it with the #ilovemylife while setting the alarm for 6pm to actually remember to buy milk and wine so we can survive.

We all have insecurities and we all mask them under a smile because we are mothers and we don’t know what not being tired means anymore. Let it all out and show those Perfect Susans out there that IT’S OK NOT TO BE A PERFECT MOTHER

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Naked motherhood

Water is dripping off me and I start to feel cold. I can’t get dressed though. I can’t move. I can only rock from side to side, the “please go back to sleep” type of rocking. I’m praying to hear that little snore. It’s the sound of freedom. It tells me it’s safe to put her back in bed. I can finally get to put some underwear and a top on.

There is no celebration. Only crying and winging

I got no idea what’s wrong with her. She’s been like this for couple of days now and I start feeling helpless. There is no Easter, there is no celebration. Only crying, winging, pulling my top or trousers, grabbing on to my leg desperately so she can be picked up. I give in to her request cause I can’t resist the Bambi eyes. They beg me to hold her. So I do. I take her in my arms and almost immediately I feel her head resting on my shoulder and those tiny palms tapping on my bare skin. It’s a thing she always does when she wants to sleep. She is looking for uncovered skin to tap on be it my arm, shoulder or neck. She needs to feel me as close as possible and I always deliver.
I feel my lower back is killing me. Slowly but surely. With every move I feel the pain. Is going down on my leg and coming back up like a knife stabbing and stabbing. I can’t stop now. I need to keep moving. If I stop rocking she’ll open her eyes and start talking. I have to bare the pain. Few more minutes if I’m lucky.
I got my eyes closed just in case she’ll lift her head to look at me. If she’ll see me “sleeping” maybe she’ll think it’s “night night” and she will copy me. Problem is she is too cute and irresistible and she knows it. I already know what she’s going to do if she decides she doesn’t want to sleep. She’ll take a long look at me smiling, spit out her dummy, and stick her forehead as close to my lips as possible so I kiss her and then she’ll give me the final blow: rest her lips on my cheek making her sweet I love you sound. It’s something meant to be: aaawwwww 😍 only cuter and sweeter than you always heard it.
I won’t resist to that. Never.

Overwhelmed exhausted tired of cleaning

I am such a bad mum disappointing my daughter like this

She’ll then wriggle out of my arms showing me the door and leading me into the living room shouting “Maaui” so I can take the hint and put on Moana. The amount of times I lied to her is beyond belief. Every time is nap time or night night  I have to say Maui went to sleep and Peppa Pig ran away from TV because she has been naughty. I am such a bad mum disappointing my daughter like this.
In my defence I have to say Moana is playing twice a day in our house and I know all lines by heart and the songs as well. We even dance to the music all the time.  And Peppa is just annoying for me so I try to avoid her. You know why I hate her? Because Ruby calls me Peppa instead of mummy. And she does it in such a proud manner that makes me think I done something to piss her off.
I kept my eyes closed and I swear I dozed off for a second there while rocking my child in a desperate effort to get her to sleep. I am cold already and I start to shiver. I hate being cold. I’ll just risk it and try put her in bed. The second I moved my arm she grabbed me desperately and the crying started. F… . Big mistake.

I got no idea how long I’ll be able to keep it together for

I am rocking again, shushing a lullaby to assure her I am not going anywhere. In situations like this I get desperate. It’s when I want to go pee, I am cold, my back hurts, I need a drink, my tummy starts making noises and my thoughts go way too far for a normal person.
Did I mention she has been like this for two days already? It’s the third day of madness and I got no idea how long I’ll be able to keep it together for. I have been a trooper. I kept my cool in front of her and I didn’t scream or shout. I complied with her wishes swearing in my mind: for f… sake please eat something”  “Stop this winning and go bed”
“What on earth is wrong with you?” and telling myself I need to breath in and out and not despair. I have been good but I can tell I am going to lose it any minute now.
She’s been going bed at 11 in the evening with massive efforts and kept waking numerous times crying for who knows what reason and being super stressful during the day. No amount of coffee or alcohol will do now. I need sleep and I need some peace and quiet. As a matter of fact I also need to calm my brain down and stop it from chasing wild thoughts.

I am exhausted and I feel tears welling my eyes

Three nights in a row I had to switch off lights and TV in the living room, keep her in my arms on the sofa and wait for her to sleep so I can finally dream of my bed. I want her old routine back. Give her kisses and cuddles and let her fall asleep in her own bed like a good girl she normally is.
I am rocking her thirty minutes now and my arms are almost dead. I put her down risking a storm. Whatever will be, will be. I can’t hold her anymore. I covered her with her favourite blanket and put Boo boo the dog right next to her for comfort in case she’ll open her eyes in a dreamy effort to wake up. I take a look at her. She’s perfect. Even when she is behaving like a spoiled brat she’s sweet and perfect.

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I am exhausted and I feel tears welling my eyes. “God, please make her sleep tonight. At least three hours. Please! Pretty please” – it’s all I can say. All I need. I set the temperature in the house on 22 Celsius for a bit so I can warm up. I put some clothes on and covered myself with a Duvet. I am still shivering  uncontrollably while trying to get comfortable and stretch for a second. Even my teeth are clenched and I can’t stop myself. I just think “ sun, heat, sun, warm me up”.
Don’t know when but I fell asleep. Such a deep sleep I couldn’t hear anything. That sleep that lasts for a little while but makes you think it lasted for ages. I opened my eyes in despair feeling guilty. I jumped off the bed and went to check on her. I was so sure I slept for hours and somehow Ruby woke up and was crying and crying and me, like a bad mum that I am, I couldn’t even hear her.
It was all my brain playing tricks on me. I only slept 45 minutes and she was actually snoring.
Do I need to say my heart was pounding and my arms were shaking. It took me ages to fall asleep again cursing my tiredness and anxiety.
I only slept for few hours and the second I heard her babbling away I knew I have to wait another at least twelve hours until I’ll get to sleep again.

Thank you for there is #coffee in the world.