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'I expected it to be hard. But not like this': Why I don't love being a mum.

Before having kids, I expected it to be hard. Thankfully, these days, there’s so much sharing by parents on the difficult parts of having a baby that you don’t go into the parenting game as blind as you would have once.

But I did expect to enjoy it a lot more than I have.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids to death (the qualifier society makes all us mums say). But I don’t always love being a mum.

Things mums never say. Ever. Post continues below.

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Growing up and as an adult before I had my son, I had every reason to think I would. Society gives us such consistent and powerful messages about parenthood, motherhood in particular; that it is the most fulfilling role of your life, that any mum who doesn’t dedicate the better part of herself to it is somehow deficient in love.

I also always considered myself to have a high capacity to be selfless. Being a teacher it’s a quality you are forced to exhibit ninety per cent of the time, and I have THE most selfless mum to model myself on. I’ve also always loved kids, unsurprisingly, considering my job.

Which is why I guess it hit me so hard when I didn’t love my maternity leave. It was – and is – monotonous and never-ending.

 

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Sure, I got out and about; I had a weekly schedule of activities that meant I wasn’t stuck at home. (Though now that I’m on maternity leave with my second child, this isn’t so much the case now given the circumstances.)

But regardless of the activities, there are aspects of taking care of a baby that never change – you have to feed them, change them, battle them for naps and bedtime routines.

The fact is it’s a 24/7 job and it’s a recipe for near insanity. I feel as though if it were my job, it would somehow be so much more manageable because you leave at the end of the day. But being a stay-at-home parent means no breaks, no weekends, no sick leave.

Just occasional slivers of time when they’re sleeping or a grandparent has blessed you with childcare where you can just breathe.

I also missed and still miss the mental stimulation of working; there’s only so many times you can play the same game of cars up and down the hallway before you drive yourself insane.

There are, of course, moments of exquisite joy and happiness. The sound of my son’s squeal as he’s being chased, the warm glow of love and protectiveness that washes over me when I look down at my sleeping daughter on my chest. My life is so much richer for having them.

 

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I also expect – hope?! – that as they grow older and a little more independent it will give me some more space for me, and that I can enjoy the time with them much more.

But I do feel, with a few notable exceptions, very alone in my feelings towards being a mum. Posts on my social media are filled with pictures of one-year-olds accompanied with captions like ‘Best year of my life’, and mums wax lyrical about not wanting to be separated to go back to work.

I’m not doubting for a second that these are true. But you don’t see posts for those of us who don’t feel that way. We don’t tend to post the negative in our lives, not to mention all the social pressures on mums.

The result is that people like me feel worse and more alone; what’s wrong with me that I haven’t felt the same way? Am I particularly selfish?

I have to hope that it’s not the case and that all parents have times where they are over it. And more importantly, I have to hope that we feel like we are given room to share it.

To hear more from Helen, follow her on Instagram here.

Feature image: Instagram/@mums.unfiltered.

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