So, Do You "Love" Being A Mom?
“So do you just love being a mum?”
It seems that shop assistants, in particular, think this is a good question to pop, as I drag my disheveled-self to the register after trawling shelves and aisles in great haste with a toddler and wee baby in tow.
“Aw do you just love being a mum?” they coo, all gooey and lovey.
“Er……” how do you respond to that? What a ludicrous question. And it is not, of course, confined to shop assistants. They, after all, are just making polite small talk and the fact that I am a mother is abundantly clear so why think further than the obvious question, right?
I have also been asked this by old family friends who haven’t seen me in years, and suddenly encounter me with my tribe: “So Miranda dear, do you just love being a mummy?”
“Er… do you really want to know how I feel about this or are you expecting me to sing ‘Yes! Yes! Yes! I adore it. My life had no meaning until now! I am entirely fulfilled. I could die tomorrow a happy woman… oh, wait… no I couldn’t because I’d be leaving two children without a mum. Mum mum mum. Um…”
They don’t have time for the real answer. I just say something like… ”Mmmm… ‘love’ is not the word I’d go for. Ha ha ha! (laugh to keep it light) It’s a challenge isn’t it?"
Do you love going to work every day? Do you love catching the train? Do you secretly love picking your nose? Do you love sitting in traffic? Do you love waxing your bikini line? Do you love lobster? Do you love sex? Do you love learning Spanish? What did you eat for breakfast this morning? How many times did your baby wake last night? Now these are easy to answer. Easy.
But there is no cut and dried to loving motherhood. I do not love being a mum per se. There, I said it. I do not easily fall into the mum role. I have to work at it and I have to work at it hard. I have no choice but to work at it hard because my children push me there. But if you ask me if I love being a mum, then I feel some sort of pressure to respond positively, to keep a good mood, to make you feel comfortable and so on. No one really asks that question, hoping to be dragged into my messed-up little head.
Because for me, frankly, it is a personal question and none of their cotton-pickin’ business!
Do you love your children? Now there’s a question. And a silly one for a different reason, because the answer is clear. Yes, of course. To the moon and back and then some. So much that it literally hurts at times. I cry with love. I laugh with love. I ache with love for my children. But my love for my children and my family does not, of itself, mean I love being a mum. Not necessarily. Sometimes. Sometimes not.
I love the joys and rewards which motherhood has thrown my way. I realise I am incredibly lucky. I don’t take my family for granted. I have beautiful, healthy, vibrant, dynamic, challenging, affectionate, wonderful children. Yes I’m so lucky; lucky to be able to conceive, lucky to be able to snuggle these incredible characters, lucky to hear and see them grow, lucky to commune with them, to be surprised by them, to be enlivened by them, to give to them. Lucky. I think my partner and my children are extraordinary and I have moments of intense elation and triumph and hope and accomplishment.
But I also have a lot of moments when I wonder how I got here. I’m tired. Through and through. I have never known exhaustion like it. New lines sit beneath my eyes and I feel weathered and worn. I feel all of my age and then some. Sometimes I feel desperate that this is all there is, and this will define me forever. I was never a baby person, or a kid person. Never. In fact I vividly recall a time in my life when I would happily have foregone the whole having children thing. Admittedly, I had a juvenile and foolishly selfish head on my shoulders at the time.
Eventually, I grew up and realised that children were an essential part of the bigger picture. It took some getting my head around. It took a little longer than I had expected to conceive my first bub, and with each month that went by, my desire, my need to have a baby grew and grew and became a wee obsession. These children are wanted. There is no doubt about that.
But I cannot deny that sometimes I feel entrapped by this new role. I sometimes feel that the light, the eccentricity, the vibrancy, the creativity, the humour and the spontaneity have been sapped out of me. Have I become dull? Do I have anything to say? Where am I going? Will I ever create music again? What interests me beyond this baby bubble?
I crave the freedom I had before motherhood. My life as a singer/songwriter. My life as a traveler. I allowed myself to dream because there was nothing tying me down.
I know it is in my nature, for good or for bad, to always have a wee toe in the past. I cling to memories, experiences, places, feelings and I wallow far too readily in what-ifs and if-onlys. A total waste of time of course. I need to find the space to stick my nose into tomorrow and take a big, dirty sniff and own it. Take it on. I need to dream again so that I can be an inspiration for my kids. But there always seem to be more work to do.
I’m not naïve. I am not deaf to the voices saying “oh come now, you can be anything you want to be, children need never hold you back; they are possibility itself, they will soon be less dependent upon you and you will be able to claw back some time of your own to redefine yourself again in this life.” I know. I can be rational as well as hugely hormonal! I am also utterly sleep-deprived and unmotivated and I know it will pass.
Being a mum is hard work. And just get over it Miranda. You’re lucky. Yes. I know. But it’s way more complicated than that. So if you ask that question (I need not repeat it), I’m certain you don’t have the time for the answer, so save it.
Miranda Barber is a singer/songwriter, voice coach, new blogger and currently first and foremost a mum of two. Mid-second pregnancy, she relocated with her family from London to Melbourne via Vietnam. The relocation after 13.5 years in London was a huge roller coaster. The relocation, coupled with the birth of her second child, prompted Miranda to start writing her observational blog at sweetmotherofblog.com focusing on her life’s car crashes and quirks on the huge learning curve which is parenthood.