The Change (and no, it’s not what you think!!)
When things are bad, I like to make them funny. I have the dubious honour of being my family’s eulogy writer and even those are not spared my gallows humour (pardon the pun!). So when it came to starting my writing project, pitched at mums and their mental health, of course that needed to be funny too.
But I tell you what, as I begin to transition out of pure mummydom, and back into something approaching professionalism, I have discovered that something particularly UN-funny has happened to me. My 10 years of predominantly stay at home motherhood seem to have stripped me right back to my barest, rawest soul.
Without trying to sound like a total dick, I have been on a certain path all my life. My parents are both “someones” in their chosen fields, my education was revoltingly expensive, and while I absolutely mucked around at school (so sorry Mum!) I was never going to do terribly. After school I went on to do a degree, and then another one. I have never not had a job, and with the exception of one complete abominable stinker of a job, I LOVED my work. I was confident, capable, and sure of what I was doing.
BUT more than anything in the world, I wanted to have kids. We were over the moon when we welcomed our son and my life was finally complete. About three days later the big grey clouds rolled in and I waged a year long battle with PND before I got help. We would go on to have 2 more little ones in the next 2 years and suddenly I found myself a full time stay at home mum ill-equipped to revel in the role of parent. No feedback, no pay, no control (over anything!!!), and much to my own huge surprise and dismay very little in the way of either confidence or competence in dealing with these tiny humans. I was totally adrift in Mummyland.
Against all of the odds however we somehow bumbled through, and with the kids all off at school (alive and well I might add), I decided this year it was time to “reclaim me”. My passion project would be a blog that would share raw, honest, and funny accounts of parenthood. The types of stories I wish I had heard before my (ridiculously ill-informed) motherhood fairytale failed to materialise so others wouldn’t wade as blindly into motherhood and suffer the same devastating consequences (stupidly, I had no idea there were so many of these out there these days, but it’s a bit late now!!). I was full of enthusiasm and drive once again.
And then it started. I struggled with the technology everyone said was “easy” (fuck you WordPress). Could I actually do this? Am I too old?? I prefer to write with PENS for God’s sake, on PAPER!!! Am I just a dinosaur?
Then I saw the other ladies writing such great pieces in ‘my’ genre; inspiring, funny, relevant, and felt immediately ‘no one needs my voice’, ‘who would want to read what I have to say?’, ‘you’re deluded’. And BOY did it keep on coming…? ’I’m just a nobody’, ‘I can’t do this, ‘I AM NOT GOOD ENOUGH’. Down on myself as I was, another part of me was in shock.
While I recognised fully my shortcomings in Mary Poppins style mothering, I always thought I had the greatest of confidence in myself to perform on a professional level. Coming out of my child-induced professional hiatus however, I now find that every single bit of the “actual me” I always recognised and held dear has simply gone.
It is like the pre-child me never existed and I have to build my own internal CV back up from scratch. As I progress in fits and starts, and stall and stumble just as frequently, I have cause for the first time in my life to be thankful for my own stubborn pig-headedness.
It is this hitherto unenviable quality, combined with raw fear - and a sneaky bit of will to succeed at something again in my lifetime - that keep me trying to move forward. For, at the heart of it all, the ‘new me’ realises my greatest fear is that may just never “make it” again.