I didn’t have a f***ing clue about babies before I had one.
I thought I knew what motherhood was going to be about because I had done some casual babysitting in the 90s. Worse than that, I thought I’d be ‘a natural mom’. Biologically I was wired to care for the wee cherubs and turn them into stunning human beings. I was going to be a good – no, a great parent! I thought I was ready. #nope
Nothing prepares you. I heard this again and again in the first blurry months with my newborn. ‘Nothing prepares you’ said everyone from the sympathetic grey-haired nanna neighbours at the bus stop to my balding co-workers who hover in the corner of the staffroom with their instant coffee.
Nothing prepares you, but nobody even f***ing tried!! You know why? There are some things we are still not permitted to say as mothers. Because ultimately, motherhood is supposed to be “worth it” and any admission otherwise makes us a traitors to our God-given gift of a working uterus.
So at the risk of sounding ungrateful – here is some sh!t I’m not supposed to say …
Sh!t I’m not allowed to say as a mother
“Many of my favourite mothers are medicated”
I know there’s plenty of jokes about mummy’s medicine cabinet or giant glass of wine but a lot of the mothers I know are passed the “little helper” phase and into the daily prescription. My friends aren’t, as a general rule, nutbars. My friends are educated high achievers who are striving to meet modern society’s expectations in the workplace and are struggling to just keep things ticking over at home. Between the laundry, the iPhone, and, oh right, the clinging cherubs, I can barely find the time to pee.
“I have one too many kids”
I have more children than arms. If I’m really honest, I know I’d cope with the basic hygiene and looming financial responsibility of less kids better. Nothing personal – I couldn’t choose which one to give back. Strangers will tell you that you’ll only regret the kids you don’t have. Bullshit. While I don’t regret any of the people I made, I do regret not having a better child-to-money/time/arms ratio.
“Permanent sleep deprivation makes me a permanent a$$hole”
You get used to it, they say. About 8-9 uninterrupted hours of sleep is my preference. Six hours total is how much I need to be a nice person the following day. Luckily, I have other qualities beyond nice.
“Having babies makes me worse at my job”
I will never be as good at my job as I was before having kids. Partly because of the sleep thing, partly because a section of my brain is always diverted by general survival plans like food and water for the four dependents in my house. And fear. Fear of domino-effect tummy bugs to unplanned teenage pregnancy a decade in the future. Fear takes up a lot of mental energy. Some days I hate myself for my anti-feminist slide in the work force but I’ve started to find some peace on the days that I’m just too tired to care.
“I like my friends more than my kids”
Bad mother alert? Maybe, but come on. Friends are way more fun than kids. Maybe not more funny but I think it’s fair to say I’m not as into tickle fights with my daughter as she is after the first 10 minutes. And my best friend is a much better conversationalist than the five-year-old, the two-year-old and the 11-month-old combined. And she never asks me to wipe her butt.
“My children are really f***ing up my net worth”
Money and material possessions never phased me in my 20s. That’s because I had some. The luxury of having to stuff food into only my own mouth meant I used to think I was pretty well paid as a teacher. Oh, the privileged stupidity of it all. And retirement in an estimated 30 years is looking pretty unlikely even without an unplanned grandchild.
All of that shit is true but having kids isn’t about money, self-care or even about liking them. Children are about love and a lot of learning. And there’s plenty to be said about that, too.