Parenting is amazing, but you don't have to love it every moment of every day. Right?

Do you love being a mother? Do you love it?

As a new mother I get asked this all the time. Usually I answer, 'Yes,' with the appropriate aw-shucks grin. But sometimes I tell the truth, which is rather more complicated.

I write this with an adorable four-month-old reclining in my lap like a tiny Roman hedonist, pushing his fist into my face every now and then for me to kiss. It is mid-afternoon and I am yet to shower. My hair is lank and the cut I asked the stylist to rush through a few weeks ago (as baby sat in the corner) is not really doing the business. My nails are bitten to the quick, my skin is scaly, and I'm wearing a robe that smells of sour milk. If the meter man or Plunket nurse turned up I would be mortified.

I haven't slept properly since the third month of pregnancy, which means I haven't been fully rested for nearly a year and, yes, my brain is suffering as a result. Some days I feel like a crazy person and I'm pretty sure, given my interactions with innocent bystanders at the supermarket and dairy, that I come off as a nut-job too.  No, folks, today I'm not loving it.

That doesn't mean I don't love the little hedonist. He is fabulous, the best. But he also is the most intensive project I have ever undertaken. He makes my master's degree programme look like a cake walk, a joke. Losing 20 pounds of puppy fat through consistent, boring gym training and boring sensible eating? Pah! Rehabilitating my knee following three operations, no problem.

As a goal-oriented person who takes great pleasure in a job well-done it is a real challenge to wake up every morning and start afresh. There is no finish line for this one, no grades or centimetres lost by which to measure progress. Just me and the kid, hour after hour, day after day.

And that's cool. Nothing that comes easy is ever really that satisfying, etcetera, etcetera. I just wish people would stop pretending that baby-wrangling in any way resembles a soft-focus ad for toilet paper. Babies are cuter than anything in the world. Actually, let me rephrase that: your own baby is cuter than anything in the world. But they are not magical—the cuteness and cleverness and amazingness of your wee child is not enough to take away the fatigue, self-doubt, anxiety, and confusion of your day-to-day existence as a new parent.

So let's be honest about it, and stop beating ourselves up for not absolutely loving it every moment of every day.

Comments (3)

by Kaila Pettigrove on July 18, 2009
Kaila Pettigrove

Oh Eleanor, as I respond I can hear my husband putting our three children to bed.  They think I'm still out returning our rented video.  Yes, it is the last weekend of the school holidays and I am hiding from my own children.   I have had many opportunities to confirm that mothering is my calling.  It brings greater satisfaction than anything else I've ever done.  And it also brings greater exhaustion.  This is all to say, "I hear you...Amen, Sistah!"  One of the great things about being a mother is that we've joined an amazingly far flung sorority of sorts.  While we may be lonely, we are never alone. 

Both of my freshly washed and pajama'd daughters have come down to discover me in front of the computer.  Rather than looking offended or surprised, they simply are happy to see me.  I'm afraid I missed saying goodnight to the Little Guy, but I will sneak in tonight and kiss his fuzzy little head ever-so-carefully while he sleeps that angelic sleep they have. 

6:30am will come soon enough!!

by Eleanor Black on July 23, 2009
Eleanor Black

Thanks, Kaila. Nicely said!!

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