I inhaled beans on toast as soon as we had got through the door because I wasn’t sure if I would get the chance to eat later on today.
My daughter has been poorly over the last week – at first I thought it was teething, but once her temperature was up and her chest and back were covered in red spots, I booked her a doctors appointment and she was diagnosed with a chest infection.
She’s on antibiotics now thank goodness, but she is not herself just yet.
I’ve been trying to take her out to normal activities; playgroup, the park, town centre; mostly for my own sanity.
There were a few comments at playgroup this morning about how Violet wasn’t her happy self. Violet cried and cried and arched her back because I wouldn’t let her have more chocolate brioché that was available for snack (she’d already had four little chunks).
I tried to calm her down, tried to play with her, tried to give her a digestive from our nappy bag instead, but to no avail. A small group of mums looked over at us, asking if Violet had had an accident or something. I think it was the way that three other mums looked over that made me feel like running away, rather than the actual question.
SOME PARTS OF MOTHERHOOD MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE UNDER A MICROSCOPE.
There’s some kind of pressure I feel to be able to stop the crying immediately. It’s as if I have to been seen as trying to comfort my child whilst keeping my cool and being sweet and nurturing, otherwise I will be judged as a terrible mother.
I can understand that feeling poorly as a toddler must be shit – you would have no idea why you felt rubbish and would only want creature comforts (just like grown-ups do when they are poorly).
But as she sleeps in the hall, I am sitting in the living room in a panic. I can feel my blood racing through my veins, every noise I hear that isn’t my laptop is startling me, and my shoulders are up to my ears.
I don’t know how much peace I will get today, how much time I can spend just being me.
Being poorly has meant that my toddler has been 100% more time-consuming, more energy-consuming. I can barely leave the room without her crying. She throws more tantrums. She cries at minor stumbles. Even if I am sitting next to her, she will cry because she just wants to be on top of me.
Part of it has actually been nice, I love the extra cuddles I am getting. But I feel like I can’t breathe most of the time. I can’t get anything done.
She just cried out for a few seconds and I instinctively put my face in my hands, because I’m just not ready yet.
Needing a break is so crucial and yet, I feel selfish for needing one that lasts longer than an hour.
The TV has been a third parent even more so recently, because I need someone else to create a distraction. I admit that for me it’s too overwhelming and demanding to entertain a small child for 11/12 hours a day.
One of my favourite parts of being Violet’s mother is watching her play independently. I get to see her personality blossom and her curiosity in full swing – plus, I can watch as she does something new or figures something out for herself. And of course – I get some peace. I’m not being climbed on or moaned at. I can maybe read some of my book (shock!) or write something on my laptop (wow!) or order groceries online (incredible!).
Wishing for her to play on her own more makes me feel torn between how I want/need to parent and how I believe society wants me to parent. Am I wishing away her infancy and toddler stages just so that I can begin getting my life back? Am I not giving her as much attention as she needs to reach the NHS-approved milestones?
Will I regret wishing for her independence as well as my own when she is all grown up?
I dunno. I do know that I’m currently close to tears, ready to get into pyjamas because my stomach is bloating from stress, feeling like a mess of a person, and yet somehow I’m surviving. Surviving each day, doing my best (even though it doesn’t feel like it sometimes). And that’s all I can do.
I love Violet more than anything. Sometimes I can’t believe I made such a beautiful, playful little person. I can’t wait for us to be best friends.
I just want to be myself as well.