Today, I’m struggling. I’m struggling with this whole parenting thing. I am doubting my ability to be a good mother to my two daughters. The fact that I am now expecting baby no. 3 is freaking. Me. OUT. When I tell people that I’ll have 3 kids under 5, they physically shudder, or shake their heads. Or tell me that it’s going to be sheer insanity. That I won’t leave the house for about five years. That 3 is the hardest number.
So yeah, I’m scared. Was I planning to have 3 under the age of 5? No. No I wasn’t. And I know that that has made it more difficult for me to mentally cope with this reality. But recently I had a pregnancy scare, and as I lay in the birthing ward waiting for the doctor, my two previous births in this same hospital came rushing back to me. I looked over to the bassinet and felt excited to experience the joy of welcoming a new baby into the world again. I felt honoured to be blessed with this opportunity. And just when I had these sentiments, I heard the first cry of a new baby being born in another room. I heard the midwives in the ward exclaim gleefully and happily that baby was finally born, and I felt privileged to share this moment with an unknown, unseen mother. Thankfully, everything was fine and I was able to go home. I left the hospital in gratitude and excited at the prospect of welcoming a new baby, a new person into our family. I felt reassured that I could give birth again, because let’s face it, once you’ve been through labour, you spend all subsequent pregnancies in a state of sheer terror of D-Day, the “D” representing both ‘Delivery day’ and ‘Dooms day’. Ignorance is bliss when it comes to labour and birth, and by the end of your first pregnancy you just want to get it out of the way, because you have NO IDEA HOW PAINFUL LABOUR IS. With baby no 2, and 3 and so on, you live in utter fear of the pain of labour, counting down the days with quaking legs and waking up from nightmares of that pain.
But I digress…
That was around a week ago.
This morning I woke up from a night of fitful sleep, a sleep interrupted by the baby kicking me from the inside, from the almost two-year-old who didn’t want to sleep in her own bed and kept waking up, from scream-out-loud they’re so painful leg cramps. I dressed the kids when they woke at 6:30am, and settled them for a quick breakfast of cereal, while I prepared my own tea and toast, and before long, my eldest had spilt milk all over her dress, stockings, chair and floor.
I yelled at her.
I lost my patience.
She just stood by her chair.
I continued to yell as I cleaned her up, then told her to go and change her stockings. Then Z (my little one) decided that she wanted to take off her stockings as well, and proceeded to have a tantrum when I didn’t let her.
I yelled some more.
Once that debacle finally settled, Z decided she didn’t want cereal, but chocolate instead and made her way to the pantry and pointed to the highest shelf where she knew the chocolate was kept.
I said no. Can anyone hazard a guess as to what happened next?
Yep. More tantrums from her and more yelling from me. I picked her up and tried to physically restrain her over my extremely large, larger than usual as most people took their leisure to tell me, almost-28-week pregnant belly.
When I finally settled her down she decided she wanted a chocolate chip muffin that I had made yesterday and was currently eating, but she was smart enough to demolish and tear it apart to pick out… you guessed it, THE CHOCOLATE CHIPS and left the bulk of the muffin in crumbs and pieces ON THE FLOOR, which my eldest immediately stepped on…
More yelling ensued.
I got them to sit on the couch and read some books while I drank my tea at the table and ate a piece of toast whilst getting lost in my phone. Because #badparenting.
No sooner had I gotten through half of my toast, fighting ensued between the girls because Z wanted to read whichever book her older sister was reading.
Y E L L I N G…
I ambled over to the couch to attempt at negotiating peace between the two when I noticed that Z had picked up the can of drink my husband left on the couch last night and was happily chugging through what remained (which really wasn’t much).
LAST STRAW. I snatched that can, squashed it in my fist and launched it across the living room, the remaining liquid in it sloshing the rug and couches as it sailed through the air.
Z started crying at my reaction, and I sat on the couch surrounded by toys, food particles, sticky soft drink remains, one crying toddler, another deflated elder daughter, one baby inside furiously kicking me, and me… Not a shred of dignity left, not a shred of confidence in my parenting ability left, absolutely and completely OVER IT with that overwhelming guilt washing over me.
I can’t do this. I just cannot do this.
And OMG, I’ve just read over this and cannot stop laughing. I can’t stop laughing at the hilarity of all that I’m describing, but I’m also crying at the same time because it’s actually just ridiculous and I know it’s probably not that bad, but also that I am currently deep in the trenches of parenthood .
You know when you speak to parents of older children and you lament on the difficulty of smaller kids, and they shoot back with “oh that is NOTHING. WAIT till they’re TEENAGERS. I WISH my kids were BABIES AGAIN” and you just want to push them off a cliff (is that too sadistic?) because no matter what you do or say you can’t convey to them your sheer tiredness and lack of energy at trying to raise more than one highly irrational and illogical human being who wants to be with you ALL THE TIME while you try to do something for yourself outside of them, you know, BE SOMETHING besides “JUST” a mother?
Maybe when my kids are teenagers, I will also say the same. But right now, I’m tired, I’m losing patience and energy and I’m constantly wading in a sea of doubt which threatens to pull me under, every single day. Doubts about my competence, my ability as a mum, my lack of knowledge and wisdom to raise these children into good, Muslim, human beings, anxiety over sending my eldest to school next year when I REALLY want to homeschool (more on this another day), stress and insecurity over how I am going to juggle three children with the school run, fear that I am scarring and traumatising my children with my parenting…
Today, I am just, struggling…
And I need to hear from you fellow mothers, how are you coping? How do you keep sane? How do you not drown in self-doubt?
I’d love to hear from you all.
*Images taken by my dearest friend Zahrah of Love by Lah’za. Please do not use without permission of The Modest Life.