motherhood the lonely truth - motherhood is lonely

Isn’t it strange, how you can be so lonely yet rarely alone? Motherhood sure is a strange, and very often, lonely place.

I was lucky, there were several people who I knew on maternity leave at the same time as me, we bonded over our new found common interest. We went to baby & toddler groups together and it was lovely. Then maternity leave came to an end. We work different days, our child’s sleeping patterns clash and we rarely see each other. I tried attending one or two mother and toddler groups on my own once everyone else had returned to work. I hated it. I didn’t chat to anyone. Just sat there like a nervous wreck. Everyone had already formed their friendship groups and I was alone. Much like that lone mother would have felt when she walked in and saw me and my friends sat together, laughing and joking, in a happy group. We didn’t mean to alienate people; but I’m sure that we did.

Working from home is great, I love the flexibility, I love that I get to spend more time with Aria, I love making money doing something that I love. But I hadn’t realised quite how much I would miss gossiping while working in an office along with forty odd women. Those women weren’t just colleagues, they were friends. The harsh reality is that people are busy, people have their own things and you rarely keep in touch.

I am so grateful for my online friends, my blogging friends who keep me sane by flooding my WhatsApp with conversations, advice and banter on a daily (more like a minutely – is that a thing?) basis. Without these girls I really would crack up. These girls have become my rocks, my friends. I may not see them in the flesh, but I see their words and feel their support.

Despite having this amazing support network I still feel lonely. I need to see people, I need to converse and use hand gestures, rather than just typing a sentence and staring at a phone screen.

I have found one baby/toddler class that I enjoy and now try to attend weekly. It is a music and dancing class which takes the pressure off as I just sit there singing and dancing with Aria. I have made pleasant chit chat with a few of the people there, but it has never progressed to anything outside of class. While I won’t be calling these women up for a chat anytime soon, they are there. They may not realise it but just a simple hello and small talk can make a lonely mother feel that little bit less lonely. I just can’t make friends, unless I’m drunk, I make loads of BFFs in those pub toilets, but unfortunately turning up drunk to a baby group isn’t really acceptable, and would doubtful make me any friends.

Next time you go to a mother and baby group and sit there feeling left out because no one is talking to you, just know that there is likely someone else sitting there thinking exactly the same, but they’re just too shy to approach you and remember that a smile and a simple hello really can go a long way.

aka, the terrible twos. That’s right, my sweet little daughter is officially a twatty two. She isn’t even two until next month, she is behind with pretty much everything else but she just couldn’t wait to get this ‘phase’ started. I use inverted commas because I really hope that it is just a phase and not an actual personality transplant.

Blog header image baby crying with header text 'the twatty twos aka the terrible twos' blog post all about the struggles of a tantruming, clingy toddler

So what do the twatty twos involve…

Well my darling daughter has a tendency to be an angel in front of others, people often look at me in disbelief when I tell them that she is in fact the devil reincarnated. She is actually shy at times, when there are lots of people about she often looks to me for help and guidance. We attend a regular music and dance class and she won’t even go and get an instrument herself, I have to go with her.

Well, I’ll let you in on a not so secretive secret. It is all an act.

At home she is clingy, stroppy and demanding.

She hands me the remote and says ‘Peppa’, she cries when adverts come on in the middle of Peppa, I get that adverts are annoying but come on!

She has perfected ‘the drop and strop’ in remarkable style.

family photo, mother given up toddler stropping and dad just lying there

Just the other day she decided that she wanted to sit on my lap to eat her food instead of high chair, she cried, and cried, and cried, so I took her out of her highchair and put her on the floor. Of course that wasn’t giving her what she wanted as she wanted to be on my lap. She looked me straight in the eyes and… threw a pea at me as hard as she could, which isn’t very hard but still.. devil reincarnated. Where did she get the pea I hear you ask? It was one of many that she had thrown on the floor when I sat her down to eat her tea of course.

She is clingy to the point that I can’t do anything. She cries when I leave the room, even if just for a drink. She refuses to nap, unless of course it’s on me. She cries in pushchair when she is tired as she wants me to carry her so that she can sleep on me. She will cry all the way home, even if we are an hour away.

People say that I should make the most of my little cling on, why would you moan about your baby wanting to spend time with you and giving you constant cwtches, they ask. Because, I am a person and I have a life and I have things to do that aren’t really doable with a toddler clinging onto my yoghurt covered leggings and screaming.

Don’t get me wrong, a clingy day here and there is nice, it means sitting on the sofa watching films and not doing much else, but when it comes to day eight of not even being able to go to the toilet without an audience it really gets quite shitty (sometimes even literally..).

Other twatty behaviour includes crying because she wants a yoghurt rather than the pizza that I’ve given her (why!?!), crying because she is tired but doesn’t want to go to bed and crying because my iPad is allowed to be used for nothing other than Peppa Pig related activities.

and don’t even get me started on Earl the twat cat.

My daughter slept through from the age of two months, and oh how smug I was about that. I had the perfect baby who slept like a dream and everything was lovely and happy. Fast forward to today, she will be two next month and she hates sleep. She is a sleep thief and everything is grumpy and miserable.

from sleeping angel to sleeping demon - my two year old has started refusing to sleep in her own cot - a plea for advice

We are at a complete loss as to what to do with our darling daughter, the sleep thief. Every night gets a little less bearable. We are all exhausted, we are all grumpy, we are all snapping at each other. We all need sleep. Even the sleep thief herself needs sleep. Now that she is over tired she is sleeping less and needing sleep more – it is a vicious circle.

It’s been building up to this gradually. Quite a while ago Aria went from sleeping through to waking once or twice during the night, she would usually have a bottle and go straight back down, no qualms. On the odd occasion she would be really upset, we would assume she was teething and if hubby was dealing with her he would stay with her until she fell asleep. If I was dealing with her I would bring her in our bed – I have no patience, especially not at 3am, and definitely not at 5am.

This week it has escalated. She will go to sleep fine with her bottle and a book. Then she wakes up during the night and all hell breaks loose.  She will not settle. She hates the person who goes to see her, she hits and kicks so that she can get to the other one of us. She will absolutely not go back in her cot. Even hubby has started to bring her into our bed – which of course he says is all my fault. When she comes into our bed she has to be close to me, she literally lies on top of me and presses her head into mine, until she eventually shuffles off down the bed and settles at the bottom of the bed.

Then last night it blew up out of control. Her bed time came and went. She would not go to sleep. I tried giving her a bedtime bottle and she refused, just climbing down from my lap and running away. I tried reading to her and she cried. I tried putting her in her cot and leaving her and she screamed and screamed and screamed. She stayed up until around 9:30pm when I decided just to go to bed myself and bring her in with me. Then it was party time.

She went hyper in our bed. Pulling the duvet off me, walking across the bed and then throwing herself down, bouncing all over the place, singing, punching me, kicking me, pulling my hair – all while laughing hysterically.

At 11:30pm she eventually shuffled down to the bottom of the bed and fell asleep, where she stayed until the alarm went off at 7:30am. Eight hours sleep is not enough, not for a toddler. She has gone to nursery today with big bags underneath her tired little red eyes.

I am hoping she will have one of her famously long naps in nursery, the longest one was four hours. She needs it. And me? I’m getting drunk tonight in the hope that I sleep through everything.

We went to Bluestone in December and she slept through every single night, which has us thinking that maybe she just doesn’t like her cot? As a result we are getting her a new bed, her single bed should arrive today, I’ve also ordered a Peppa Pig duvet cover and some Peppa Pig wall sticks because she is obsessed with that bloody pig, I’m sure she prefers Peppa to mam & dad so hopefully she’ll happily sleep with Peppa!

She also loved veg, particularly broccoli, a quick look at the dried up veg splats across my dining room floor will show you how wrong I was to be smug about that…

Judging people, it’s human nature really isn’t it? Especially when it comes to parents, everyone who is everyone judges parents. I have in the past, even before I was a parent myself which was really silly, I hadn’t experienced bringing up children myself so who was I to pass judgement on others?

crying baby sat on bed wearing I'm not tired vest - header image with text over from judging to judged - parental judgement

It’s funny how the tables turn. There have been a few instances lately where things have happened to me and I have realised that I have previously judged someone for the exact same thing.

Just the other week I judged someone because it was raining and they had their poor son out in his pushchair with no raincovers. He looked cold and wet. I went into work and commented on how awful that was. A week or two later I absolutely had to go out and was alone with Aria. It was raining but I needed to go out. The raincovers were in Spencer’s car, which conveniently was at work with him. I was now the cruel mother taking her daughter out in her pushchair with no raincovers, allowing her to get cold and wet.

Before becoming a parent I would comment on children’s behaviour while out and about all too often. Muttering phrases under my breath such as ‘control your children’ and ‘I would never let me child get away with that’. I now know the reality. Sometimes, just sometimes, when you haven’t had proper sleep for a week or are feeling down and vulnerable, it is easier to allow your child to run riot, often in the hope that they will get it all out of their system and you can have five minutes peace, just five minutes peace is worth the humiliation and the judgement passed by others at your unruly child. Sometimes because you simply can’t muster up the energy to tell them no, and you certainly can’t deal with the strop that would follow if you dared to say no.

Spoiling children is another fine example. How many times have you seen a child perform in a shop or cafe because they want something, and then roll your eyes when the parent gives in to the angry tears and stomping feet? Just think before that eye roll, that nervous mother probably doesn’t want the humiliation and attention of the breakdown that would follow a refusal. Sometimes, just sometimes when you’re feeling down and vulnerable it is easier to just give in.

So please, stop before you judge. You don’t know that person’s situation. You don’t know what they are going through or the circumstances leading up to this particular situation. I urge you all, think before you judge.

a letter to my teething baby blog post header image black & white photo of crying baby

Dear Aria,

You have approximately three teeth now, we aren’t sure of the exact amount as you don’t like to let us look in your mouth, but there is definitely one on the bottom and at least two on the top. These have come through in the space of a week. You went almost sixteen months of your life without teeth, and now, bang, four all at once. I imagine that it has been very hard and painful for you. You were able to chew through so many tough foods without teeth which makes me think that you had pretty hard gums, and in turn makes me wonder if the teeth cutting was even harder and more painful for you.

You’ve been waking up in the night crying, a lot. Some nights you are inconsolable. Daddy and I try our best to settle you, we really do, but we are struggling. You’ve slept through the night since you were two months old, we’ve had the odd night here and there when you wake up but not often. We both like our sleep so this past week of sleepless nights has been really difficult for us, and for you.

I just want you to know that we don’t mean what we say when you wake up, we aren’t really angry at you. We’re just tired and stressed. We hate seeing you in distress and we feel useless as we can’t settle you. We wish that we could take the pain for you but we can’t. All we can do is offer you medicine that may or may not help and cwtches, plenty of cwtches.

Some nights we leave you crying, this doesn’t mean that we don’t love you and don’t want to help you. We do this because there is absolutely nothing that we can do for you, and we know now that if we leave you, you will eventually settle yourself and drift back off. We don’t do this all the time, just when we have tried everything else and know that this is the best thing to do, for us all.

You refuse to come and sleep in mummy & daddy’s bedroom and you refuse to fall asleep on us while we give you cwtches in the chair in your room. You will only sleep in your cot. This is a good thing, it is great that you will settle yourself and want to sleep alone, but it does make us feel rubbish when we leave you in there, crying and in pain.

To my teething baby, please ignore what I say when you wake me up in the middle of the night, I really do love you.

P.S. Please, please sleep well tonight.