When I initially started The Cuckoo Mama I wasn’t really sure where I was going to go with it, what I’d write about and, in a way, hadn’t particularly thought about anyone ever actually reading it! I had (and possibly still have!) limited technical know-how, a granny-esque approach to social media and absolutely no clue about what I was/am (!) doing!
But, I knew I wanted to write.
Spurred on by a good friend, I started the research, muddled through the tech stuff, with only a few tears and tantrums, and, rather sooner than I’d anticipated; I had a blog!
Looking back I think I started writing again at a time in my life when I was feeling incredibly unsure about who I was. I remember feeling anxious because I didn’t know what defined me any more. So much had happened, over the last five years, that I’d lost sight of me. I’d stopped working and earning a wage, something I’ve always been proud of. I’d become a mother and, as wonderful as that was, it was also unnerving. I’d spent so long being an infertile; living each day to a schedule of drugs, injections, scans, procedures and grief, yet, finally, here I was living a life I’d struggled to believe I’d ever have. I suppose, in some ways, I felt like a bit of an imposter.
I was scared. I felt judged and I was desperate to become the impeccable, and oh so accomplished, mama I’d promised my unconceived child I would be. And, those who know me, know I rarely do things by halves!
I, therefore, wasn’t surprised when I started making toys, setting up admirable, but very time consuming, activities, goodness, I even made my own bread, daily, for Sam, so that there was less salt in it. I wanted to do everything perfectly, and then some. I was enjoying myself but taking everything too far and became exhausted. I was piling on the pressure to live up to an ideal, which had been created before I’d even become pregnant. My husband, seeing the signs, tried to help me believe that, if I really did want to bake, one loaf a week would be wonderful and that, sometimes, just a simple brush and paints would suffice, but, I refused to listen: In order to be the mother I felt I had to be, nothing short of perfection would do and attempting moderation was akin to failing.
Then, one rainy day, when Sam was napping and we’d had a pretty fraught morning, I sat down to write and couldn’t find it within myself to post about cheerful, splendid mama things; it simply didn’t feel true. Yes, we’d played in the mud but, no it hadn’t been enjoyable, Sam had whinged and run off, I had sighed, a lot, and marched him back, under my arm, feeling grumpy, cold and negative; I’d let myself down, again. So, instead, that nap time, I sat in front of my screen and let the words flow. I wrote ‘It’s all about ME!’. And being so honest felt good. It felt refreshing. I felt cleansed and, gradually, through my writing, I’ve begun to heal.
Soon after, my tag line came to fruition and, I started to realise that, whatever stage of our lives we’re in, whether it’s infertility, or parenting, our career or relationships; we’re simply us, we’re human and we’re trying. I might have flaws, and a wobbly tummy, and I might not have the answers to it all but, I have a love for my son that knows no bounds, a kind heart and the desire to do, whatever it is I’m doing, to the greatest of my capabilities.
I’m trying my best.
And I’m open to learning.
I know that, like everyone in every situation, I have super days, mediocre days, bad days and super bad days. My version of super bad days can leave me feeling as though absolutely nothing I’m doing is right. I’m tired, Sam’s tired and Pepper pup probably is too. Everything is a battle, a negotiation, a bribe or full blown toddler warfare. I’ve lacked patience, but not frustration, and every decision has, most likely, been made purely for survival.
On those days, when I catch sight of myself in a mirror, I look frazzled; you know the look, the one with wispy strands of hair unglamorously “framing” the face, where mascara (if I even made it that far in the morning) is rubbed around the eyes and there’s something dubious on my clothes. And forehead. And I don’t want to examine it too much because I’d prefer to live in denial about opening the door to the postman with poo on my face.
But I try to laugh. And drink a vat of wine in approximately 180 seconds. And I write.
The old me used to think I’d failed, on these days. That loving my son wasn’t enough to make me a good parent. I’d feel insecure, lack confidence in my abilities and cry during nap times because my miracle boy deserved better than me. I experienced a guilt like I’d never before known, and all because I wasn’t living up to an image I had, unrealistically, created during four years of infertility.
I’m relieved I no longer, mostly, feel that way. I can breathe again, feel relaxed again, secure in the knowledge that I am a good mother and it really is just one day in a series of many. As, an old heroine of mine, Anne of Green Gables would say; “Tomorrow is a brand new day, with no mistakes in it, yet!”
Like, so many of us out there, I’m actually doing an excellent job. The happy days outnumber the bad and I’m confident that Sam is experiencing a jubilant childhood, even if he doesn’t encounter every creative idea I’ve ever come across on the world wide web. I know this and have, more importantly, really started to believe it.
I am discovering that I can be a wonderful mother, without being perfect.
So yes, I do sometimes lack patience, I have failings and question my parenting. But, I also have a lovely time with my son, we experience joy, we laugh lots and, shock horror, I’m confident that I do things right too. My son also knows that I love him. Deeply. Unconditionally. And despite what I went through to get him, I’m not beholden to the deals of desperation.
I might not be the mother I thought I would be, but, in reality, I’m doing a better job than she ever could, because; I’m real, I’m me, and I really am trying my best.