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3.11.16

HELP!! Just bloody take it!


Motherhood is said to be the most selfless job in life. However, I can’t help but think that there is a certain arrogance about it. We want to leave a legacy. We create something in our own image to love. And quite often, we want to have someone to wipe our arses when we are old and infirm, in the way we have wiped theirs when they were new and needy. This rather narcissistic act of having kids has its pitfalls. Our children mirror ourselves, both physically and in personality, and sometimes these are images of ourselves that we would rather not see. My eldest son is a mirror image of his dad as a toddler. Yet he is not shy like his father. Instead he is loud and gregarious like me. He does, however, have his father’s bad temper (red haired rage) and is horribly stubborn. Unfortunately, he gets the whole ‘stubborn’ vibe from me.

My messy kids in my messy house
I cringe when he refuses to back down. Partly because he makes a fuss in public and I want to die of embarrassment at being THAT mum but mainly because I hate that I bequeathed him with such a ‘gift’. He is fiercely independent. Despite the fact he is putting his shoes on the wrong feet he refuses help, which is usually why I am a good half hour late for bloody everything these days. (Along with a few ill times poos. The kids, not me) Tragically though, I am just like him.

When I had James back in 2014, people regularly offered me help. If I wanted shopping, or to go for a nap or to have the house cleaned. I repeatedly politely declined. I was appreciative. It is lovely that people were kind but I didn’t think it was right to accept that help. Other people didn’t need help. For some reason, I was adamant that I would struggle. The thought of someone, even my own mum, helping made me feel massively uncomfortable but deep down, I wasn’t coping to maintain a baby, a house, and later, work. I can’t say it’s changed much. Hell, I can barely manage my own hair. (Scraped back, greasy chic. On. Fleek!)

My mum is from a generation of homemakers and she did make a beautiful home. My mum’s house is immaculate. She has a great eye for d├ęcor. She polishes, hoovers, mops and cleans the bathroom daily. Each week, she changes her bedding. She irons everything – including boxer shorts and tea towels. When we were at school, our uniforms were washed and ironed daily. As a teenager, I would dump a top by the washing machine and it would miraculously appear, washed and ironed, in my wardrobe, quite often less than 12 hours later. Hell, Val is washing whizz and woe betide any washing machine or iron that fails her. Each evening, we had our dinner on the table. Sure, it wasn’t organic, fresh from the field, home baked kind of stuff. It was Findus Crispy Pancakes and Waffles, but this was the 80s. That shit was cutting edge! We had a roast every Sunday and there were never pots or pans lying around afterwards. She also wore and still wears full face make up every day and has hair done immaculately. My mum looks better going to Aldi than I do going to a club (Bahahahahahahaha! Like I ever do THAT anyway!) So why I am here on maternity leave, not working, with a living room like an explosion in Toys R Us, a washing pile that never goes down and a garden that looks like a scene from Jungle Book? My mum comes from a time before Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machines and Pampers. She had two kids under two, both in Terry Towelling nappies that needed disinfecting and washing each day. How did she do it?

Even by today’s standards, where women work and you don’t scrub your doorstep each day, I feel like I am going dramatically wrong. I have a cousin with a profoundly disabled little boy of 8, another son of 6 and a boy of 2. She works part time and she has the key to whiter than white washing and she MOPS HER FRONT DOOR!! I don’t think I have ever cleaned a front door in my life. She’s amazing. I die a little bit when I see pictures on Facebook or Instagram of other people’s super trendy kids in their beautifully presented houses. I post pictures of my kids hidden amongst a mass of toys with maidens full of clothes hanging about. CRINGE! I feel anxious just thinking about it. I am mortified. I hate having people over because the place is pokey and chaotic and I feel I have no control over any of it. There is a girl at my Baby Sensory class who is always looks perfect. She and her daughter both look like Pocahontas. She has beautiful, impossibly shiny jet black her that is never out of place. Her make up is flawless. Both of their outfits are like something out of Vogue. Her pram is beautiful and immaculate (Do you ever get over pram porn? I’m not having another baby EVER again but I still drool over prams). I look like something out of Night of the Living Dead. How do these people do it? Where the bloody hell am I going wrong?!

In all honesty, I have no clue. Maybe it’s priorities? Maybe I pander to my kids too much? Joe has hit 6 months and discovered separation anxiety. He whinges if I don’t give him constant attention and given that the neighbours already think I abuse my children in some way, due to James’ monumental meltdowns, I don’t like letting Joe cry for too long. James seems in capable of playing independently. “Play trains with me, Mummy. Play dinosaurs with me, mummy” I feel terrible when I don't. He also needs walking at least once a day, so I need to get him out. (I gave birth to a cocker spaniel, not a boy) When they go to bed I usually sleep, go the gym or dick about doing stupid stuff like writing a blog! Maybe I go to too many baby groups or go for coffee too much? Maybe I am simply a lazy cow? Probably a bit of everything. My husband is hands on but he works six days a week which means it can be a challenge to get anything done. Spending every Sunday juggling chores and children just feels depressing. Where is family time? Where is fun?

My house 24 hrs AFTER I tidied
Yesterday, exactly 24 hours after the house was cleaned from top to bottom, including bed sheets changed, my house was once again an absolute midden. As a result, I ensured I was out of the house ALL DAY so I didn’t have to deal with it. I decided to do the grandparents rounds and make their houses look like they had been broken into and ransacked for a little while. I am good like that. My mum and I began talking about me going back to work.

“I’m going to come and clean and do some washing for you once a week when you go back to work,” she said. It was more of a command than an offer but this time I didn’t hesitate.

“That’s great. Thank you!”

I think my mum was taken aback. She is so used to my martyrdom; I think she half expected me to say no. But now, with a toddler who turns 3 in February, a 6-month-old, a husband who works six days a week and the thought of going back to work full time over four days, I have had a harsh awakening. Going from one baby to two is like going from one to 200! I now realise that I was a total dick for refusing help before. Right now, we need all the help we can get and, as everyone keeps telling me, this won’t last forever. It won’t always be this hard and we won’t always lean on others so much.

I do feel horribly guilty accepting the help. I feel like I should be able to do this, like my mum did, and look as amazing as Baby Sensory Pocahontas and her daughter, and mop front doors like my super cousin. I also feel like my mum shouldn’t be giving up her time to clean up after my mess when I am rapidly approaching 34. She has also kindly offered to have Joe one day a week when I go back, to ease the pain of nursery fees. (She did have James one day a week for six months but he was challenging beyond expectation and we all agreed that it was better for everyone if James went to nursery that extra day. Not least because it eased my guilt, if I wanted a babysitter for any other reason than work.) I feel awful about this as I didn’t have kids for my mum to be lumbered with them. Her child rearing should be done. Through ill health, Rob’s family are unable to assist with any childcare, especially now we have two. I know they would love to and help in any other way they can but they simply aren’t well enough and my dad lives abroad, so we rely solely on my mum for any form of childcare. We are very lucky that she doesn’t work and can step in. I don’t take that for granted and I am tremendously appreciative. She continuous to selflessly look after me, even though I am an adult and really should have my Shit Together.™ I feel embarrassed about that fact. I do feel guilty that I have a trampy house and I am horrified that I look like a bag lady (As I type this, my friend has just told me to check out ‘Abagofmumstyle’ on Instagram and I could cry at how amazing she looks, especially when she has three kids. Her tag line is “Proving being a mum doesn’t have to affect style!” SHOOT ME NOW. I didn’t look that good before kids)

Needing help, however, doesn’t make me a bad person. Even my mum admits that, despite not working, she couldn’t have managed without my nan being at our house every day when we were growing up. I feel a huge amount of relief for accepting it. Why punish myself with stress when I don’t have to? I got crushingly depressed after I had James because I felt so overwhelmed and have spent the last three years in fluctuating states of anxiety and stress. I now realise that I wasn't helping myself. I should have just stopped being a stubborn arse and let people help. No one won a medal for drowning in their own stress when help was available.

Today, a friend told me about her sister in law who has a four-week-old baby and regularly has been declining help. Despite the fact they have faced some real challenges, the sister in law insists that everything is fine. I really do hope that everything is just fine but I wish I had her number to text her and tell her not to be stubborn. Stubborn isn’t worth it.  I really hope my stubborn son won’t be like me when he is in this position and realises that his stubborn mother was daft. Even if everything is fine, if someone wants to make your life easier, bloody well let them! The longer you leave it to accept assistance, the harder it becomes to ask for. Don’t feel ashamed. Swallow your pride. Don’t worry about being perfect. No one thinks less of you. Be your own best friend and accept the fucking help! I doubt you will regret it.
(NB, if you do, please don't blame me. Cheers. Thanks. Bye)

(Post script: Mum, if I decide I can’t face wiping your backside when you are old, I will make sure I pay someone nice to do it J )

1 comment:

  1. Oh my god! Your mum sounds amazing! I would DEFINITELY ask for her help, two kids and a husband working six days a week, you deserve this. Also, you're so so so lucky that your mum is there to help you, my mum is in America and would offer to do the same as yours if she were here, so take advantage of the fact you have family close to you! (not to guilt trip you or anything ; ), sorry I mean this in a good way : ) ) I've returned to work and the house cleaning/laundry/cooking have all gone massively down hill, not that I was even good at it before, but we have ZERO time for that, especially when I want to spend those precious two hours after work being with my son : ). Going back to work is a game changer, but by the sounds of it sounds like you are a strong woman and you got this! : ) (also ask your mum for help! : ) ) Thanks so much for sharing with #StayClassyMama!

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