This story begins about eighteen months ago as I was sitting eating an evening meal with my family. It had been a productive day; the house was clean, I had made a vegetable lasagne (and everyone was actually eating it), Josh was cracking jokes and the girls were laughing happily.
“This is it” I thought. This is the life I have dreamt of. I’m a stay-at-home mum, my husband has a great job, we have a lovely home and two beautiful children. I had everything I said I wanted and yet I was crushed by guilt because I still wasn’t happy. Instead of joy I felt exhausted, irritable and…empty.
In hindsight I was depressed and I just didn’t realise it. I was deep in grief after the death of my sister and my youngest daughter was waking up throughout the night, sometimes every hour. It wasn’t until I came out of it that I realised it wasn’t normal to feel so low. I had presumed that I just wasn’t cut out for motherhood, that I couldn’t cope even though I’d said it’s what I’d always wanted; which only added to my guilt.
This post isn’t about depression though. It’s more about the fact that barely anyone knew how I truly felt. On the surface everything was still running as normal, and even though people knew how exhausted we were I never wanted to voice the words that I was actually thinking; “this is hard, and I’m not enjoying it”.
Some days I scroll through Facebook and I long to see past the holiday photos and happy statuses. I want to see someone who also feels like the housework is never ending, only had four hours sleep and lost it with their children this morning because then I wouldn’t feel like the only one. It wouldn’t make me feel so overwhelmed because it would be normal. Of course, social media is the highlights reel of our life, and it’s not helpful to be constantly bemoaning our circumstances but I think we sometimes feel too guilty to say how we really feel because surely we should be more together than this?…and remember “you’ll miss these days when they’re all grown up!”.
This isn’t me with any startling words of wisdom. This is me being honest saying that although I have the life I’ve always wanted I don’t always enjoy it. Ironically, as I type this life is feeling pretty great but there are definitely other times I just want to stop the ride and get off. I get tired, I get bored, I shout at my kids, I get resentful cleaning up yet another mess or staying in to look after the children. I just want to be left alone and not have to be responsible…and yet I get up and carry on one day at a time because that’s what we do, right?
I was recently asked how I ‘do it all’ with three kids. Well…I don’t. I don’t want my pretty photographs or curated Instagram feed to make us out to be something we’re not and if writing these words can make one other mum like me feel better then I’ll be glad.
I love my life and I wouldn’t want to change it but it doesn’t always make me feel happy. I’m pretty sure that makes me normal.