I do not love being a mum…


“So do you just love being a mum?”

It seems that shop assistants in particular, think this is a good question to pop, as I drag my dishevelled self to the till after trawling shelves and aisles in great haste with a toddler and wee baby in tow.  “Aw do you just love being a mum?”  they coo, all gooey and lovey.  “Er……” how do you respond to that?  What a ludicrous question.  And it is not of course confined to shop assistants.  They, afterall, are just making polite small talk and the fact that I am a mother is abundantly clear so why think further than the obvious right? I have also been asked this by old family friends.  They haven’t seen me in years, and suddenly encounter me with my tribe:  “So Miranda dear, do you just love being a mummy?” “Er…do you really want to know how I feel about this or are you expecting me to sing ‘Yes! Yes! Yes!  I adore it.  My life had no meaning until now!  I am entirely fulfilled.  I could die tomorrow a happy woman…oh…no I couldn’t because I know I’d be leaving two children without a mum.  Mum mum mum.  Um…’”  They don’t have time for the real answer.  I just say something like…”Mmmm ‘love’ is not the word I’d go for Valerie.  Ha ha ha! (laugh to keep it light)  It’s a challenge isn’t it? (Deflect so that they are forced to give their own opinion on the matter and slowly back up and suddenly realise I have a nappy to change before I am expected to trifle any further on this silly question.)

So how can someone like me, answer a question like that?  I am so far from being black and white on any issue, least of all my life.  Least of all about motherhood.  Oh I have some pretty strong opinions about things but motherhood has set me up with a whole new world of questions I need to ask about myself, and I was already grappling with a fair few.  People who know me, do not ask me that question.  Do you love going to work every day? Do you love catching the train?  Do you secretly love picking your nose?  Do you love sitting in traffic? Do you love waxing your bikini line?  Do you love lobster?  Do you love sex? Do you love learning Spanish? What did you eat for breakfast this morning?  How many times did your baby wake last night?  Now these are easy to answer.  Easy.  But there is no cut and dried to motherhood.  I do not love being a mum per se.  There, I said it.  I do not easily fall into the mum role.  I have to work at it and I have to work at it hard and generally I have no choice but to work at it hard because my children push me there.  But if you ask me if I love being a mum, then I feel some sort of pressure to respond positively, to keep a good mood, to make you feel comfortable and so on.  No-one really asks that question, hoping to be dragged into my messed-up little head.  “How do you feel about being a mum?” would seem a little less confronting as it doesn’t presuppose that I am loving the experience, but I would again be surprised if a total stranger asked me this as, quite frankly, it is a personal question and none of their cotton pickin’ business!

Do you love your children?  Now there’s a question.  And a silly one for a different reason, because the answer is clear.  Yes, of course.  To the moon and back and then some.  So much that it literally hurts at times.  I cry with love.  I laugh with love.  I ache with love for my children.  But my love for my children and my family does not, of itself, mean I love being a mum.  Not necessarily.  Sometimes.  Sometimes not.  I love the joys and rewards which motherhood has thrown my way.  I realise I am incredibly lucky.  I don’t take my family for granted at all.  I have beautiful, healthy, vibrant, dynamic, challenging, affectionate, wonderful children.  Yes I’m so lucky; lucky to be able to conceive, lucky to be able to snuggle these incredible characters, lucky to hear and see them grow, lucky to commune with them, to be surprised by them, to be enlivened by them, to give to them.  Lucky.  I think my partner and my children are extraordinary and I have moments of intense elation and triumph and hope and accomplishment.

But I also have a lot of moments when I wonder how I got here.  I’m tired.  Through and through.  I have never known exhaustion like it.  New lines sit beneath my eyes and I feel weathered and worn.  I feel all of my age and then some.  Sometimes I feel desperate that this is all there is, and this will define me forever.  I was never a baby person, or a kid person.  Never.  In fact I vividly recall a time in my life when I would happily have foregone the whole having children thing.  Admittedly I had a juvenile and foolishly selfish head on my shoulders at the time, but I was happy with the scenario which I had rather superficially circumnavigated in my mind.  However, I grew up and realised that children were an essential part of the bigger picture.  It took some getting my head around.  It took a little longer than I had expected, to conceive my first bub, and with each month that went by, my desire, my need to have a baby grew and grew and became a wee obsession.  These children are wanted.  There is no doubt about that.  But I cannot deny that sometimes I feel entrapped by this new role.  I sometimes feel that the light, the eccentricity, the vibrancy, the creativity, the humour and the spontaneity have been sapped out of me.  Have I become dull?  Do I have anything to say?  Where am I going?  Will I ever create music again?  What interests me beyond this baby bubble?  I crave the freedom I had before motherhood.  My life as a singer/songwriter.  My life as a traveller.  I allowed myself to dream because there was nothing tying me down.  Look I’m not silly (of course I am but it helps the sentence flow) and I have done a reasonable amount of work on myself over the years, so I am not deaf to the voices saying “oh come now, you can be anything you want to be, children need never hold you back; they are possibility itself, they will soon be less dependent upon you and you will be able to claw back some time of your own to redefine yourself again in this life.”  I know.  I can be rational as well as hugely hormonal!  We have relocated to Australia and everything is new and I have none of my music network or my 13.5 years of friendships nearby.  I am also utterly sleep deprived and unmotivated and I know it will pass.  But it means that I need great reserves of energy to dive in and find my brave spark.  It will happen.  I’m not asking for a shoulder rub or sympathy sighs.  It is in my nature, for good or for bad, to always have a wee toe in the past.  I cling to memories, experiences, places, feelings and I wallow far too readily in what-ifs and if-onlys.  A total waste of time of course.  I need to find the space to allow myself to stick my nose into tomorrow and take a big, dirty sniff and own it.  Take it on. I need to dream again so that I can be an inspiration for my kids.  There’s work to do.  Being a mum is hard work.  Get over it Miranda.  You’re lucky.  Yes I know.  But it’s way more complicated than that. So if you ask that question (I need not repeat it), I’m certain you don’t have the time for the answer, so save it.  Next!

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23 Responses to I do not love being a mum…

  1. Dils says:

    My sentiments EXCTLY Miranda! Very well said
    – and – just for the record every time I read your blog I
    find you an inspiration and am reminded of what a
    wonderfully, bursting-at -the-seams-creative lady you are-
    Even in the midst of the toddler years. Look you even can’t resist
    writing an almost autobiography while you’re right in the thick of it all-
    Go girl! And thank you x x x x

    • Sweet Mother says:

      Thanks darling Dils. Writing this blog became a necessity more than anything. It is a bit like the morning pages, if you ever did the Artist’s Way? It clears my head and gets all the fuzzy matter onto the page and in some sort of order so that I can move on. And I need some sort of creative outlet so it made sense. Thank YOU x

  2. Mari-Sian Fudge says:

    Darling Miranda,

    Miranda, I so ‘hear you’ on every level….. When my daughter was about 1 month old and I was out walking over Hampstead Heath with some (childless) friends, my girlfriend asked me “Is your daughter the best thing that has ever happened to you? Do you feel totally fulfilled now?”……I stared at her bleary eyed and thought to myself “crikey!!! what the hell do I say?” On the one hand, of course, I loved my baby….but on the other hand all I could think of at that moment was the reality of the endless sleepless nights (& very early mornings), the crying, the hours of preparation it took to leave the house nappies, wet wipes, spare change of clothes, blankets, sterilised bottles of expressed milk, boob pads to fit in my bra (in case I had milk stains running down my top) …etc I tried to conjure up an honest answer but ended up saying “yes, of course”…..because trying to explain to someone without children the life changing experience that it is…would have been way to complex for a Sunday afternoon. It’s bloody hard work but rewarding on so many levels. Funnily enough, I quite miss those days now that my daughter is a teenager and too big to pick up and squeeze! I have entered into a whole different ball game….which is another story.

    • Sweet Mother says:

      Loud and clear Mari-Sian, lady how i miss you. And your darling girl is no longer a wee tot, but a proper, beautiful princess like her mamma. I have no doubt that you have a tale or two to share and your struggles are of quite a different nature now. I know you’re a dreamer too, so you must have your moments. Visit me. You must x

  3. Rebecca says:

    Thanks for sharing Miranda….. I feel the same, thought I was the only one. I struggle with motherhood and as someone who has never ‘struggled’ before I am finding the whole experience a tad challenging! And I will admit I am over people accusing me of being negative about motherhood- no longer friends with that person….I am very honest about what motherhood is to me and very open and honest about my struggle with it. Thanks again for sharing!!!

    • Sweet Mother says:

      I’m with you all the way sister. Can’t say I’ve never struggled before, but I certainly struggle now! Writing this blog is keeping me sane. Thank you for contributing. xx

  4. Amity says:

    I love you, I am you.

    Today I closed my eyes and wished I could be transported back 10 years for a week. But then my 4 year old screamed in my ear and I snapped out of it.

    • Sweet Mother says:

      Oh yes, yes, yes. Just to take off camping around Wales or the Basque country without a care in the world. Just for a week…perhaps two. All my love. A shared story.

  5. Faye says:

    I love reading your blog, you make me feel normal and sane to have similar feelings. I feel I’ve aged 10 years in 2! Whenever people have asked me this question I’ve usually responded quite honestly and said ‘parts of it.’ I think Harry might be a lot like Maple – spirited but such a character. I love that but it’s pissing hard work :)

    • Sweet Mother says:

      Pissing hard work indeed Faye. I guess that’s why there is a Mother’s day to give thanks to all the mums out there. We always celebrated it in my family, but I truly don’t think I realised how low I ought to bow down to my mother until recent times. Hats off to you mum. I know that I was a huge piece of work. Seriously demanding. Poor, poor mum. M x

  6. Rebecca says:

    Well written Miranda,and thank you for your honesty! I too have wondered how to answer this question on many occasion and have often gone for the lighthearted joke so as to deflect the expected gushing answer. Your blog struck a chord and I’m glad I’m not the only one!

    • Sweet Mother says:

      Hi Rebecca. Yes, what a ludicrous question hey? There are women out there who adore it, so I guess the question is not always met with a guarded response. But those women must be so different to me. I don’t seem to hang out with any of them, that’s for sure!

  7. Lady Shaula says:

    Do you know, darling Miranda, that somebody only yesterday offered up what I think is a marvellous theory….
    Motherhood theory: one is either great at being a mum to little children, or to grown up kids, but never both! (and occasionally neither).

    I was so happy when each of my kids turned 5, because I felt we’d really begun… I’m just appalling at those early years. Can’t stand them.
    But I LOVE being able to have wonderful long talks to my teenagers and to their friends and all the great things they teach me and challenge me with.

    So, who knows, perhaps you’re just getting through this early stage so you can reap the rewards of everything that comes next.

    Lots of love, (great to have found you again, at last)

    • Sweet Mother says:

      Hey! Lovely to hear from you here. You have the benefit of many more years of experience. I feel that I am wearing perpetually wonky training wheels. My greatest hope is that I can sort out some of my automatic responses to my toddler’s challenging behaviours so that we are still friends by the time she is a teenager! Thank you for your contribution here and I so hope to hear more from you. M x

  8. Gaby Sanchez says:

    oh my goodness!!! You totally just made me feel 100 times better. I applaud you for this one. I felt guilty for a long time feeling the way you did. I love my Son but definetly sometimes I think what did I get myself into. I got married at 22 had my Son at 23. Iam currently enrolled in college trying to earn my Associates Degree in Child Development and it is the most difficult thing to do with a toddler….It’s a great relief to know that Iam not alone. This is the most amazing and honest blog I have ever read. Kudos!

    • Sweet Mother says:

      Gaby, that is just the sweetest feedback. My, you go get em girl. I imagine you are truly challenged right now. You will deserve that certificate at the end hun. Last night, a friend sent me a link to this website, which might be of some interest: http://www.themothermovement.com.au

      Keep in touch, Love M xx

  9. Kathy K says:

    Came here via BlogHer. :)

    You’re not the first person with these feelings and you won’t be the last one. I think it’s normal to have these feelings from time to time. I think we’ve all felt that, but not everyone is willing to admit it because of how judgmental people can be, especially other mothers.

    I’ve had the same feelings you have. My son is grown up now. He’s in his early 20s. There were times when no, I did not love being a mom because I was tired, exasperated, sometimes I felt trapped and felt like I lost myself. But I was lucky enough to have a good therapist back when my son was little who said that it’s not healthy to obtain your identity as a person through your children. She said that even though my son, who was a baby/toddler at the time needed me, he was still a separate person from me and I had no right to hold him back from forging his own identity and if I made him my identity, that is what I would be doing. Later in life, when he wanted to be on his own, I would have been the mother who refuses to let go of her child. I’ve seen what happens when mothers are too enmeshed with their children and it’s not pretty.

    You do have a right to have your own hobbies and things that are separate from your children. In fact, it’s actually very healthy for you to do so. I don’t get this criticism from some people of mothers who actual have “me” time and do things without their kids, even when it’s in reasonable amounts of time. In fact, when I was growing up, my parents did stuff without us. It just meant that we spent the week or the weekend at our grandparents house, which was five hundred different sorts of fun than being at home because they had five acres and lots of trees to climb and this vast, overgrown area we called “the jungle”. :)

    You’re neither right nor wrong to feel this way. And until those kids are grown up and on their own, you’re going to have moments of feeling this way, too. But you will also have moments where you feel like being a mom is the best thing ever. It’s all part of being human and we’re human beings. We just need to stop being so hard on ourselves. :)

    • Sweet Mother says:

      Hi Kathy, you’re absolutely right. Creating space to do my own thing will make a world of difference. I feel like it’s a wee way off as my eight month old is all baby and all about boobie and no bottle!! God I love him. I think my post sums up a lot of mums’ experiences of motherhood. I by no means feel that it is wrong to express that and it is actually pretty helpful to shout it out now and then. I am in the early, early days of all of this, and when i get back into the driving seat of my career I think things will certainly change all over again. I truly appreciate your comment and grateful that you stopped by here. Miranda x….oh and yes, the grandparents are super, super helpful and their place too has a huge 2.5 acre garden for ramblings and hideaways and every kid’s fantasy! Sometimes my mum takes my daughter for a couple of nights and that certainly cuts us some slack!

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  11. Shelly Morris says:

    Oh mercy!! This was what I needed to read tonight!! I have two year old twins, and as someone who had a strong identity and lots of activities and interests before their arrival, I have had serious struggles adapting to motherhood. The struggle to be the best parent I can be, while still being myself. It’s good to read from other women who face the same struggle, and makes me feel a little more sane. Best wishes to you all!!

    • Sweet Mother says:

      Thank you Shelly, what lovely feedback. It is always incredibly enlivening and relieving to discover that huge numbers of women share your feelings right? Yup, I hear you loud and clear xx

  12. Tina says:

    Thank you for your open and honest post on motherhood. As I put my 23- month old son to bed tonight and poured myself an extremely large glass of wine I read your thoughts and felt so much better that I wasn’t alone. I became a mom at 39 and after having traveled to over 30 countries I miss my previous life so much at times. I will never regret having my son but there are definitely moments where I’d like to rewind and get crazy without any worries.

    • Sweet Mother says:

      Hey Tina, I’m so pleased that the honesty hit home. I’m growing more comfortable with my role as mum and my kids are quite truly magnificent (and awful in equal measure!!) but I cannot imagine there will come a day when I don’t still yearn for the freedom I once had! Onwards and upwards! xx

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