It’s 1am, and I can’t sleep. I’m not even close. I’m thinking about my daughter, and how lately our relationship seems to have fallen apart, and I’m quietly berating myself for not being able to be the mother I really want to be for her.
There’s something I’ve already learnt about the older child, 7 months in to having more than one. And that is how much added pressure you can suddenly and unintentionally find yourself placing on their little shoulders. The pressure to find something to happily amuse themselves with. The pressure to instinctively know right from wrong. The pressure to be able to read you, when you are feeling stressed, busy or at wits end. The pressure to just grow up. She’s 4. So much pressure for a little one.
My daughter is a star, she shines so bright. She is affectionate, caring and concerned, smart, funny, inquisitive, bubbly and loud, with never-ending energy and enthusiasm, and a good heart. She loves unconditionally. She is so beautiful that she takes my breath away. She wants to do everything – all day long she constantly asks me, what are we doing next Mumma? Will you do something with me? I want to do something with you.
But she hears no a lot. No I can’t do something with you right now, I have to [insert meaningless chore or task, or responsibility revolving around younger child, here]. No, don’t do that. No, don’t touch that. No you can’t. No no no. Some days I feel like I’m a hammer, banging away at that nail, until eventually it’s pushed all the way through and there’s no more banging to be done. I’m scared of breaking her spirit. Isn’t it strange that you can be saying words and yet knowing you shouldn’t be saying them, both in the same moment? How do you learn to put yourself in between that, to pry it apart enough so that you have time to take action?
She’s 4. She now has a younger sibling that she’s waited such a long time for, but he still can’t play with her yet. She has been through so much change in the past year, we all have, and she has coped with it amazingly well. We have asked a lot of this little girl already, and she hasn’t complained. She is such a wonderful person, everything I could have wished for in my child.
But right now, I am everything I never thought I would be as a mother. In fact, I despise my mother self. I don’t want my daughter to remember me as this mother. I want her memories of me to be of a mother who was always there for her when she needed it, who would encourage her, who was interested in her, who was fun and would play. And I am those things, all of the time on the inside, just not consistently on the outside.
I feel like I’ve been sitting around waiting for more energy, more motivation, more patience, to magically appear from somewhere. But it doesn’t. I desperately want to feel charged, full of life, ready for adventure and seeking opportunities to connect and laugh. But I am so tired. There are two of them now, and their demands and needs are constant, and every day is a marathon I’m running just to keep moderately on top of things, because if I stop for a moment then it will just resemble a 24-car pile up – the first car stops and the rest just continue smashing up in to each other.
I don’t know if this is post-natal depression. I suffered with it for the year after Moose was born, but is it possible for it to come back in fits and starts, with 3 years in between, with the birth of another child in between? It’s not like this all of the time, we have ebbs and flows. But in these dark days, it permeates the very walls like a disease.
She’s 4. I’m 32. I’m the one who needs to change this scenario, I’m the one who needs to be the bigger person, I’m the one who needs to man up and throw everything I’ve got in to this relationship. Because my daughter is a beautiful miracle, and she is worth whatever it takes, at the expense of anything.