Here it is – the post which has been two years in the making. The post which is the follow-up to this controversial post. Would I now change anything written in that post? Not a thing. That was my Mothering truth during that time, no apologies.
But these past seven weeks, I have found Mothering hard.
Really, bloody hard.
The early days of parenting a busy demanding toddler and a newborn who screams a lot has sent me to the wall. It has had me digging far deeper than I thought I even could or had within me, but somehow I did. I have cried big, ugly, heaving tears and said multiple times to my husband: “I can’t do this.”
Sleep deprivation of the torturous type, it really is something else. Next level sleep deprivation sends anyone into an emotional train wreck, let alone a hormonal post partum Mother who has this tiny person screaming all the time. Wooo….
Harriet’s entrance into the world heralded her temperament: a little bit dramatic! She is the baby that Eleanor wasn’t. She needs to be held, she needs to be rocked for hours and hours to sleep, she doesn’t feed as efficiently as her much bigger and stronger big sister, she cries and cries for apparently no reason. She is, of course, a newborn. Where Eleanor was placid and content from the day she arrived into our arms, Harriet seems wired (overtired!) and clingy. She needs me more than I ever thought another human could need me. Her little self has screamed to be held, to be fed, to be I don’t even know what…I said to Matt the other day that the kind of cry that Harriet does I think Eleanor came out with maybe two or three times, and I was beside myself with what on Earth could be the matter…with Harriet, it’s a daily occurance. I am now a bit immune to the oh-so-different temperament of this second daughter of ours.
And amongst the rocking and feeding and shouty business that is Harriet, there is Eleanor, under my feet pleading “Play with me, Mummy? Mummy? Draw, Mummy? Play, Mummy? Peeees Mummy!” I have been broken in half the past seven weeks, and my little blossom has had to grow up. Simply getting Eleanor in and out of her highchair or timing a nappy change for Eleanor with when I could possibly put Harriet down for a few minutes has required military like planning. Eleanor’s also never watched so much Peppa Pig or eaten so many Sakata’s in her life. These early days of Harriet’s life have been filled with pyjamas, bleary eyes, re-heated coffee, a short fused Mummy, ABC kids and Eleanor being told to eat whatever she could forage from the lower pantry shelves for lunch. I know that Eleanor is fine, Matt tells me daily she is just fine. After all, her ideal day is watching Peppa Pig and eating biscuits with gay abandon! But the mama guilt has hit hard.
I can almost hear all the looks of ‘told you so’ shooting my way – the second child knocking me down a few pegs from my parenting highs of the past two years. Yes, yes, I had a good run, but that doesn’t make these long days and even longer nights any easier. That’s not very helpful right now, to me or to little Harriet. Lots of people have commented that it is perhaps not the best to have the ‘difficult’ baby second, I’ve done it back to front! I was lulled into a false sense of security with contented Eleanor. But…I did know she was a bit of an anomaly. I knew she was one out of the box. And Harriet is, by all standards, a completely normal newborn baby. I’ve just been thrown a curve ball with this second girl of ours! I said to my mama tribe mum’s group girls yesterday that if Harriet was my first child I’d think I was doing something wrong. That something was wrong with her, or me, something was wrong and that I was failing. But coming after Eleanor, and treating them exactly the same as each other, has me realise that they are just different beasts entirely. I know I’m not doing anything wrong, or failing, I’ve raised a little human before and I’ll do it again. The one thing for sure that I’ve learnt over the seven short but loooong weeks of her little life: Harriet is not Eleanor.
And thank goodness for that, you know?! Matt especially is often saying things like “Eleanor didn’t do that” or the even more dreaded “why can’t she be more like Eleanor?” (Let’s not go down that path shall we? Good.) But no. She is Harriet. And wouldn’t it be a dull old world if she were like Eleanor? Of course I’ve had many, many moments of wishing she’d self settle like Eleanor did, or be happy to not be held just literally for 30 seconds, but I know I’ll be happy that I’ve got these great contrasts of daughters. Chalk and cheese from the get go, their very own little personalities, each defined and strong in their own unique ways. I know they’ll make life interesting and full to the brim with their contrasts.
Harriet has taught me more about being a Mother in seven weeks than Eleanor has in two whole years of parenting I think. Actually, I’m sure. I am a different Mother because of these early hard newborn and toddler days. A better Mother…eventually. Not today. And maybe not tomorrow. But this digging deep business has been confronting and scary and hard. Bloody hard.
So there. Mothering = hard. Harder than I ever thought. The newborn/toddler combination has brought me to my knees in my Mothering…but at seven weeks I think I am beginning to stand up again, dust myself off and soldier on to brighter, dare I say it, easier days of Mothering like I’ve experienced with Eleanor. But tomorrow I might be on my knees again. Ebs and flows and all that.
It’s ever changing and evolving and every day is obviously different. But that’s half the fun, right? Right?! To be honest, currently I’m just hanging on for dear life, shifting gears into pure survival mode and trying to enjoy the ride…