Sometimes Motherhood threatens to overwhelm me. Drag me under, down beneath it's relentless waves that crash over me time and again, until I am broken, no longer trying to tread water, no longer gasping for air. Just sinking under, down and down, waiting for silence. The peace that only comes at 8pm at night, when the house is finally still.
This whole game doesn't come naturally to me at all. When I was 9 months pregnant with my son I was still presenting live tv, still meeting friends in air conditioned bars (as a heat wave engulfed London and my ankles swoll to the size of hams), still popping into the centre of London on the packed tube, still hitting the movies, still singing to my own tune. Then I became a mother and my god it was a shock. I hadn't really considered that for the rest of my days, I would come second. That Husband and I would pretty much never be alone together. That the movies would have to wait, and the sunday papers and the meet ups in bars. That every minute of every day I would be responsible for someone else. I genuinely never really thought about - because if you did, no one would ever have kids.
I was so crushingly lonely that the TV became my closest friend. I dreamed of escape - of Husband having a regular job. I had a child minder then - 3 afternoons a week, and still I struggled. I missed who I was.... My local Italian no longer was the place for lock ins - when I'd fall from the bar stool after one shot too many - now it was the place where the sunny Italian waitress would hold our son so we could shovel some pasta in our gullets before holding him once more on a Sunday lunchtime. The fabulous Hampstead Heath was no longer a place to laze and sunbathe, to power walk and gossip - it was for getting the baby to sleep in his buggy. The tube no longer my quick book read, or a sneaky people watch - it was the nightmare - for a buggy up and down a million steps and escalators, the hell as the baby cried and the commuters failed to hide their annoyance - a place to be avoided at all costs. The world became smaller. My flat became the world.
Then I went back to work. I felt like me again. I felt guilty and stressed and always on edge, but it was the price I paid to feel ME again. I loved being a script editor at the soap I worked on - even though I was over worked, underpaid, forever stuck on the M25 going home, and always juggling the needs of my son against the needs of the job. My marriage slid - but then when he got weekends off it kind of balanced out again. Just in time for me to leave the job (because I had to - gawd bless the BBC and their reluctance to make anyone staff any more) and get pregnant again.
This time I knew what was coming. I wanted two, I really did - but I was afraid. Afraid to lose ME again. It would be inevitable. Especially with no job to return to - and no solution to getting a job. (That would involve nannies and basically working to pay a nanny and a huge commute to London etc etc). There seemed no solution. Suddenly, I was trapped again. The world became my village/market town. It became my world. The Mothers and the happy clappy groups and the coffees and the stroll by the canal and the baby cinema screenings.... A world of endless motherhood. Dressing and packing schoolbags, and gym kits, and reading books, and homework and Kumon work, and cooking and laundry and laundry and laundry, and folding laundry and bath times and press repeat over and over again.
Last September I felt low. I took the pills. The post natal depression always bites. But deep down I also knew it was the fear. How to find ME again in all of this? How to work, how to challenge oneself above cooking a great shepherd's pie for tea? I put it off - with this idea and that - maybe a book? Maybe a part time job in TV drama? (HA! because they SOOOOOOOO exist. Not.)
Now I have a plan. It is a crazee one. Possibly my craziest yet. One I can't talk about because you will track me down and call the nice people in the white coats and I will be rocking myself on a cocktail of pills before you can say 'crazy lady.' But it is my hope you know? It is my own little oasis. So I can't give it up, I can't let it go. I won't let it go.
And this week, I've been waiting - for people to come back to me - folk who can help me in my quest. Kind, kind folk who are willing to help the crazee lady. And in this waiting there is a moment when for a second, the whole plan comes into focus - so sharply and acutely that it seems impossible. The 'if you really thought about it what are the chances crazee lady?' thoughts. And in those moments, I drown. I feel like there is not a single part of me left. No one iota of hope. Because I need a plan, I need hope. I need to radically change my life and that of my family - to make us work, to make me happy, to make me ME again.
This week Sproglette has been teething, and wailing and moaning and grumping. Sproglet has been an angel and at his school teacher consultations, his teacher clasped a hand to her chest and told me 'I am so proud of him, and all he has achieved' and I thought my heart might just jump right out of my chest and land on the table between us. She called him a 'lovely boy' and talked about him jumping up two reading groups and how much he had settled and grown since Christmas. He was young in his year and has now 'come into his own.' I left that meeting walking on air - so proud of my son, and his happy little face, delighted with his own work and progress. That is the good stuff. The stuff where you feel that all the reading practice and homework and spellings when you want to be watching the news, are in fact worth it. Likewise when Sproglet and I (as he calls it) huggle every evening after reading time. Or when he loves my home made chicken schnitzels and says I am a 'better cooker than Daddy.' (Which I may add, I am not).Or when Sproglette opens her electronic book and spies the cow that jumped over the moon and says 'Moo' loudly but it sounds more like 'Mow.' Or she giggles, or lays her fluffy head on my shoulder when she is tired. There are many many moments that make it rewarding and amazing and something that you know you were lucky enough to do. Lucky enough to have these little people in your life.
It is just an eternal struggle to find oneself amongst the poo horror stories, amongst the drudgery of running a home, of raising two with a Husband who does crazy hours. To rise up out of those waves, to climb up onto a rock. To breathe, take in the view and see that once the storm passes, there is calm, and there is peace.
PS To all you lovely lovely commenters, thanks so much for taking the time to just say hello, or what you think of the blog. It is appreciated more than you know. xxx