So, I'm about to be really vulnerable for a minute and I'm going to be brutally honest. I find motherhood hard. Really hard. Really fucking hard. Sometimes I feel like I have more days that I dislike it than days that I like it. I struggle to give so much of myself, hour after hour. Day after day. Year after year. I'm grumpy. I can be horribly angry, for no reason. Some days I want to walk away and not return. I have days where I feel so flat I can barely get out of bed. Sometimes I cry. A lot. And yes, before you ask, I have been diagnosed with depression.
Last week for example - I don't know why, but I was just sad. My kids were tired because they seem to have forgotten how to sleep (which probably explains my current exhausted state), so they were whinging. And whining. And fighting. About E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. I'm not proud, but by the time it got to bedtime, of course then they wouldn't go to sleep. So I lost it. I yelled. I screamed. I said things I wish I hadn't. Which is probably the worst way to get you kids to go to sleep... and just between you and me, it doesn't work!
They eventually fell asleep. Then the guilt kicks in. How can I find it so hard? How can I be so angry at these gorgeous little girls, who are always so incredibly happy and vibrant. The last thing I want to do is stop them being those amazing little people that they are. So I climbed in bed with my sleeping child and I cuddled her and I cried. I kissed her sweet cheeks and told her I was sorry.
I find it so incredibly hard that my kids need me. I sometimes feel that I almost have contempt for the impact that they have on me. Not my girls themselves - I love them dearly, but at what I have to sacrifice to be a mum. Which feels about as selfish as you can get. And then I'm struck with incredible guilt that I can even think that about these 2 lives that I brought into this world. Who need me. And always will. Because that's what mothers are for. They need to be there for their kids. Even when they've become a mum themselves.
Don't get me wrong. I love them. And I would do anything for them (but push them on a swing... that's another blog for another day). I also have this very strong desire to raise these girls as independent, strong willed women, able to fight their own battles, able to stand up for themselves, able to forge their own way in the world. But this vision seems to come to odds with my ability to give them all of me. I want for myself that vision of what I want for them - and for that I don't want anything or anyone to have to rely on or depend on me all the time. It's a constant battle going on in my head. It's one I try to work on every day. I'm pretty sure my girls are going to be independent, strong willed women... at least they're well on their way already. Which also comes to odds with me and my parenting style. I love that they are so strong willed and independent. But just not when I'm trying to parent them!! Please!
I've struggled with this battle the whole time I've been a mum. Since my eldest was born, I was adamant that I was going to teach my kids how to sleep. As much for me as for them. Yep, I've rated sleep as one of the most important things I could instill in my kids. For mental health, for brain development, for all those things. But it was also a selfish decision - I needed them them sleep so I could have 'time off' from being a mum. Damn it if it was going to kill me, but my kids were never going to sleep in my bed. And I think it almost did kill me. That first year was a battle. Pretty sure though, that kid was not going to sleep anywhere. Still doesn't... She refused to fall asleep in my arms, or in the pram, or in the car, or feeding, or anywhere. I often wonder if my eldest was one of those miraculous babies who slept, whether I would have started motherhood a little less stressed and enjoyed it a little more? Which came first? The non-sleeping baby or the tightly wound mum? I used to have people tell me all the time 'oh just enjoy them while they're young' or 'the days are long, but the years are short' which never helped me nor my mental state at the time. I wanted to throw my daughter in their arms and say 'you do it then - and hand it back when the days are a bit shorter'. I struggled every minute of every day while taking on this role of motherhood, where I was required to give myself over wholeheartedly to it.
I struggled then.
And I still struggle now.
And do you want to know why I'm telling this story? Because I know how hard parenting is. And I know how vulnerable having your photos taken can be. You can be assured of one thing. I won't judge you for not being perfect or not having your life together. I won't criticize. I won't romanticise your life for the camera. I want you to you to show up and be you. And I'll show up and be me. And together we'll take some photos.
(First 2 photos are from my family session with Andrea Sissons last year - the rest are taken by me of my muses. My girls. My constant source of love, noise and frustration)