I’ve always been apprehensive to tell my story of motherhood. I mean my REAL story. It’s not all hearts and teddy bears. My story is difficult. A lot of first-time mums like myself worry about the backlash you could receive if you tell the whole truth about your experiences, so I almost never show my vulnerable ‘not so put together’ side to the world. I’m usually ‘happy smiley Janice’ and I try to act as though nothing phases me. However, this isn’t true. Therefore, I am so grateful to Ju-Ju-Be for giving me a platform to tell my story, and for providing me with an environment where I can speak the truth without worrying about being ‘mummy shamed’. Through my blog, I want to reach out to other mums who have, or who are going through what I went through. I want to let them know that they are not alone. OK so here it goes...
My pregnancy was not planned. I told myself that by the time I was 28, I was going to be a corporate businesswoman, have a mortgage, live in a posh house in Essex and have a significant amount of money in the bank. Once I had achieved all my goals, then and ONLY then would I have children. But life doesn’t always go to plan does it? I fell pregnant when I was 24, still living at my mum’s house, working a job that I hated and had only £500 to my name. When I found out I was pregnant, it was not instant love. I just kept on thinking about my bucket list and all of the things I hadn’t ticked off yet. More importantly, I was preoccupied with how having a baby would impact me financially. I constantly wondered how was I going to cope.
During my pregnancy, I put immense pressure on myself to prepare everything for my son’s arrival. ‘Nesting’ is real! I thought, this pregnancy was not what I planned, but if I’m going to have this baby I’m going to do it right. All of my wages were put towards buying baby things. I had almost bankrupted myself trying to buy the best toys, the best accessories, the best designer baby clothes, and a stockpile of nappies and wipes. The worst thing of all I was doing it all on my own as if I didn’t have family all who were dying to help. But I just would not let them in. I have always been independent, so I wanted to prove to them I had everything under control. Most importantly, I wanted to show my unborn son that I was going to be the best mum ever. But I’m only human, I am bound to make mistakes. It was the fear of this, the fear of failing my son, which was my downfall. I overestimated how much I could do.
When my son was 1 month old, I moved out of my family home into my own flat. Why did I think that looking after a baby day in and day out would be easy? It was the same routine every day. Wake up, breastfeed, do housework ALL DAY, do some more breastfeeding and then sleep. I rarely saw friends or had any time to myself. I thought sacrificing my own social life was what I had to do to be a good mum. Dedicate 150% of my time and energy to my son. WRONG! I got to a point where I was so burnt out, so tired, I just broke down in tears. I looked around me, and no one was there. I had pushed everyone away. I was so focused on making this ‘perfect world’ for my son that I had forgotten about me. I was miserable.
After 1 year, I had to move back in with my mum due to financial difficulties. Imagine what that did my self-esteem! I returned to work full time and the routine just went on. Wake up, do the nursery run, go to work, come home, feed my son, bathe him and then put him to bed. I barely had any time to myself. I was so busy that I was forgetting to eat. My clothes were falling off of my body, I did not look or feel healthy. I started getting headaches, my bones ached and I was tired all the time. Then the inevitable happened. My home life started to affect my work life. I was falling asleep at my desk, messing up emails and doing a whole bunch of other silly things that ‘organised Janice’ would never do. I almost lost my job. How could I keep on living like this? Something had to give.
The saying ‘God doesn’t give you more than you can handle’ are the truest words I have ever heard. It was the key to helping me get through my situation and here’s why. A few months later I was at my work Christmas party and a colleague approached me as he noticed that I wasn’t really socializing with anyone. He asked me if I was ok. Truth be told, I wasn’t. I was so tired. My son had a rough night sleeping and I had to breastfeed him the majority of the night. He smiled at me and said, I know you are tired, but you're doing an amazing job. Every morning, you wake up, take your son to school and then come to work. Only a strong woman could do that. Your son is going to grow up one day and he will admire you and be so grateful for all of the sacrifices that you have made. You are a lot tougher than you think.
That night, I went home and watched my son fall asleep. I was staring at him in awe, replaying in my head what my colleague had said to me earlier on. I then began to cry. Have you ever felt so emotional that you have no control over your emotions whatsoever? Yeah, that! I just couldn't stop crying and it was because I realized all of this pressure I was putting myself under was unnecessary.These low feelings that I was experiencing are all temporary. Looking after my son will get easier as he gets older. But for now, my son is clothed, he is fed and most importantly he is happy. He doesn’t care if I make mistakes. He will love me regardless.
It was so easy for me to get hung up on my failures, isolate myself with worry and fixate on the present. When really what I should be doing is treating every situation as a learning curve. I am first time mother, being a mother is not going to come naturally to me. But it is something that I am going to learn how to be with time. My son will appreciate everything that I have done for him. He will most likely be my best friend! Imagine that! Ezra growing up, telling me about his girl problems and his first day at work! I honestly can’t wait to share those moments with him.
I now know, that there is no such thing as the ‘perfect mum’. We are all just women, muddling through, learning as we go along. So I just want to remind all of the mothers out there who have been going through similar issues that YOU ARE HUMAN, YOU ARE STRONG, and most importantly YOU ARE LOVED. You may be struggling now, but you will reap the benefits later.
Have a blessed Monday guys, and remember we are #millionmomsstrong!