When I’m yanked from my bed at 5 a.m., for the millionth day in a row, my mind quickly gives me the abridged version of things I should remember to do: change nappies, coffee, attempt breakfast, coffee, squeeze unwilling octopus into clothes x 2, coffee… I rub remnants of yesterday’s makeup from my eyes, and wonder how permanent the bags under them will be, and if it was possible to die from prolonged periods of sudden, forcible 5 a.m. wakeage… When I look in the mirror, I’m sometimes hit with the fact that I don’t know who I am anymore.
To my husband, I’m the woman he once proposed to on a freezing day in Clonmacnoise, overlooking the river Shannon, surprising her while she messed around on the chair where the Pope gives his address. Now does he see me as the woman with the sagging tummy, and the nipples that gather dirt from the floor, unless an industrial bra acts as a sheepdog, rounding them up, and pointing them in the right direction?
To my parents, I’m the daughter who once danced her way through life, who now seems a little reclusive. I can see it in my mum’s eyes, and hear it in her unspoken words when she telephones me for the tenth time in a week. Does she see me as sometimes sad, often afraid?
To my old friends, I was once someone who would always want to be at the party, and who was always at the end of the phone when life went topsy-turvey, or when everything was belly up. Now, do I not hear from them because: I’m to be cast aside, because having had a family reclassifies my status as friend, and I’ve been refiled under ‘B’ for Boring?
To my children I am everything. Head chef, sous chef, waitress, entertainment officer in chief, health and safety enforcer, giver of attention, love and cuddles bearer, changer of the TV channels, keeper of the snacks, toy fight referee, protector from other children/other children’s hormonal nutty mums. I’m on demand 24/7 for their every wish… They don’t know me as anyone else.
Not only do I bear the physical scars from being a mum, it has changed my entire soul. I’m struggling to get used to the person who looks back at me in the mirror, who doesn’t only look physically different, but whose entire being is so different. I constantly question who I am.
Do I not like going out anymore because I’m really too tired, and because I’m making a natural progression into ‘staying in more,’ or because if I do go out, I know I’ll spend the whole evening fiddling with my outfit, trying to hide the weight I’ve spent 2 years trying to lose unsuccessfully, which I’m so embarrassed about?
Do I want to stay in because drinking too much wine in the comfort of my own home will take the edge off a terrible day, and because watching television to escape from the daily monotony is more exciting? Because watching the complicated and exciting love lives of teenage vampires, and following the exploits of a blind vigilante assassin, are way more exciting than having to think about the next few months worth of scheduled soft play visits, isn’t it?
Does it make me a bad person, and awful mother, for sometimes waking up and not wanting to parent, when it is solely my job to do so, and the role I have chosen in life? Sometimes all I want is a holiday from being a parent, or at least a day in a dark room, all by myself, with no noise (and preferably hot vampires for company.)
I have so many questions, and some days I feel so lost. So yes, when I look in the mirror, I don’t always recognize the person looking back. It’s okay, because being a mum does change absolutely everything you thought you knew about yourself.
I’m taking baby steps towards accepting the physical changes – probably a wardrobe overhaul, and less mooning over size 10 clothes I wore 5 years ago would help. Yes, sometimes I wake up at 5 a.m. and mutter expletives under my breath because I’d rather stay in bed. A lot of the time I’m really antisocial, and for that I apologize – I’m working on it.
A lot of the time I don’t know what I’m doing, which in turn makes me worried that I’m messing my children up, or will inadvertently do something to scar them for life. I worry and panic more than I ever thought possible and question everything I do. That’s okay because I’m sure it’s an unspoken rule of motherhood that most people feel the same way. I’m still working out how my new self fits into my new role.
I’m still working out how the people I love, around me, see me. While I’m working it out, I’ll keep telling the strange reflection in the mirror that she may not get all the answers, but when two smiling little faces come and look into it beside her, she’s not doing too bad of a job really…!
This article was previously published on thismumslife.com