Drowning in Motherhood

Motherhood has been an uphill battle for me for a while now. I have been sharing little explosions of truth on Instagram and Facebook the past month, but I haven’t been able to share it here. I am not quite sure why. I couldn’t even bring myself to write a Mother’s Day post, because I have been drowning in motherhood, and not the good parts of it.

COPYRIGHT MLM Drowning in motherhood

That’s actually an apt way to put it, “drowning in motherhood”. It can be so all-consuming. The bad as well as the good, so there is that at least. The love that knocks the breath out of you, the pride that blocks your throat, the awe that you created somebody so very perfect. And then the other. The tears streaming down that little face that you can’t stop that feel like they will choke you. That wide eyed look with the reaching clawing hands when you leave them in the safe loving arms of a teacher or grandparent that brings the guilt on so hard you can’t quite catch your breath. The total lack of sleep as you hold their hair back as they throw up or just keep wiping them all night long when their fever sits at 39.8 degrees.

And the sense that sometimes that is all that is left of you, the motherhood. That the person you were is gone. That the professional part of you is swept away in the tidal wave of little person need. And that’s what you WANT to do. It isn’t that it isn’t wanted. You want to be mommy. You want to be able to meet that need. That need is what defines so much of who you are now. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t become completely overwhelming.

It has been overwhelming lately. Charly’s need for me has been huge. Bigger than me. Bigger than her. Neither of us have been quite sure what to do or how to handle this sudden swelling of pure need of me wherever she is. If she could crawl under my skin, she would. She cries for me in her sleep. She cries for me when I drop her at school. She cries for me when she wakes from her nap. She cries for me when she is sitting right on me. The wailing sound of her voice crying “mommy I neeeeed you” echoes in my head long after I drop her at school.

COPYRIGHT MLM tears

It left me feeling desperate. I was sure there was something very wrong. But the longer it has gone on, the more people I have spoken to about it, the more the feedback has been that it is “normal” to some degree. Either because of all the change she has experienced this year. Or because emotionally she can’t quite keep up with how advanced she is intellectually and physically. I have been doing everything I can to be there for her. To be gentle and patient. Without letting her get away with murder.

The worst part, the part that just leaves you feeling frustrated, is that she has loved all the changes.

Change 1 – School. School has been amazing for her. She adores her teachers, has made some little friends, knows every word to every nursery rhyme, counts almost all the way to 20, knows her alphabet – the mumbled lmnop as one word is totally acceptable, and she skips uvw. Still, she turned 2 in February! She has so much physical confidence it astounds us. She runs, jumps, dances, spins, skips, hops and everything else. She builds block towers taller than her. She then kicks a ball at the castles to knock them down – and succeeds. She was so happy to go back to school at the beginning of the term, and then she got sick – again – and from the next school day, the hysterics started. Every day, the tears start slowly and she clings and whispers to me that she needs to stay on me and begs me to please not leave her; it then gets louder and more desperate, the teachers have to pry her from me and I can hear her screaming from the car outside. Before I get home, they send me a video or photo of her happy as a clam, playing with her friends, dancing, singing, hugging the teachers. Like a different child. Sigh.

COPYRIGHT MLM funny faces

Change 2 – Her new bed. This bed was all strategic planning on our part. She has only ever slept with me. From tiny. Being the terrible sleeper she has always been (and still is), it was a matter of my survival. Step one to changing that was buying her literally the most amazing bed she could possibly imagine, so she would want to sleep in it all the time. The second part of the sneaky plan was the more she slept alone without me, the less un-needed breastfeeding she would do in the middle of the night. It was working beautifully.

This child of mine loves her “castle” (with an American “a”) from the second she laid eyes on it. She has slept in it every night except for two half nights in the first week. I am in the spare bed in her room while she transitions and it was happening effortlessly. She would lie in her bed in the middle of the night and call me, I would lie in bed and say if you want to feed you have to come to me, and she would push a few times and then huff a big sigh and roll over and go back to sleep. She kicked me off her bed after very short feeds and happily lay and chatted to herself until she fell asleep, simply checking if I was there. I was over the moon. It was better than I had hoped.

COPYRIGHT MLM charly's bed

Change 3 – Getting sick – again. And the “all mommy all the time” started. And then this weekend with the vomiting and the crazy fevers saw me in that tiny single bed with a sick whimpering toddler breastfeeding pretty much non-stop because she was too afraid eating would make her throw up. And her waking and calling me every hour. Crying for me in her sleep. Begging me not to leave her, even just to the bottom of her bed.

COPYRIGHT MLM sick baby

Change 4 – Granny picking her up from school. She lights up when she sees her gran. She runs straight into her arms every time. She tells me in the morning while we are driving (when she is still excited for school before actually getting out of the car at school) to remember that granny is fetching her, and how “excite” that is. She knows I am here when she gets home, which I try to always be for lunch together and to put her down for her nap.

Change 5 – “Mommy and Charly’s” new car. We got our first ever “new” car. The most amazing 2013 Hyundai IX35 in charcoal grey. I am in love with it. She is in love with it. She loves telling dad he has the “yukky old car” and we have the best car ever. She literally gets excited to see it every morning. COPYRIGHT MLM car

And yet, all these amazing things have left her feeling insecure and needing me to be her “same”, her safe space. You guys, I am SO glad I can be that for her. I am.

But. Over a month of her screaming at me and for me while sitting right on me has left me drowning. That nothing I do seems to make her feel any better has left me drowning. Knowing that the second she wakes from her nap, I can write off the rest of the afternoon to holding her while she screams for me even when I am holding her, has left me drowning. Going from almost fully naturally weaned from breastfeeding, to breastfeeding for hours all weekend has left me drowning.

I was ready to give up on all “my” things. To stop blogging. To do the bare minimum for Tums 2 Tots. To give up on my huge dream campaign that can change lives and minds. To give up on my passion for other bloggers that has me planning yet another business in the near future. I felt like my working at what I love to teach Charly the many lessons that holds – doing what you love, doing things for yourself, helping other people, independence, and on and on – was just a line I had been feeding myself and I was being selfish and actually hurting my baby. My first priority. I was drowning in motherhood, and ready to just let it sweep me away.

And then I had an interview yesterday morning. Well, it was meant to be an interview, but ended up being a conversation that lasted from 09h15 to 12h15. I came so close to canceling it, I can’t even begin to explain how relieved I am that I didn’t.

Last month I attended the most incredible event with Kids Emporium. One of the main reasons the event made such a huge impression on me, and all the other women who attended, was meeting and listening to Lauren De Swardt, who started the soon-to-be international kids boutique store. This amazing woman, who at 22 years old became a mother and launched Kids Emporium with not one cent in backing. She walked into a room of 25 top tier businesses and got 23 of them to give her stock to put into her first store. Can you even imagine having that kind of guts and self-belief and persuasion skills? Anyway, I have drifted off topic. Kind of.

COPYRIGHT MLM Lauren

Yesterday morning I drove to meet Lauren at the Kids Emporium headquarters. With 27 national franchises and one about to launch in the UK, the headquarters are in a loft above her house, where they have been for the past 7 years. I walked in and felt at home. And we sat. And instead of starting with the notes I had halfheartedly made yesterday, when I was in that drowning-giving-up mindset, we drank a cup of coffee and chatted. About the event, about the bloggers, about me drowning in motherhood, about following your passions, about how you can only be a good mommy by being a happy mommy, about how it gets easier as the kids get older. The questions I had came up, and she answered them and I will be able to write a great article about this very special lady. But just being there and listening to her journey, sharing some of my own and having somebody of her experience and success, acknowledge my ideas and campaigns and plans and even encourage them. It shifted something in me.

COPYRIGHT MLM KE Breakfast

I am not planning on giving up just yet. Lauren matriculated from the same highschool as I did the year before I did. She is a mom to two well-adjusted kids of 13 and 8 years old, who are perfectly happy and secure even though their mom has to travel and be away from them sometimes for work. They aspire to be like their parents who are both successful entrepreneurs. Lauren has worked her butt off building something amazing from her own home, while being a great mom. That gives me hope. That tells me that maybe it isn’t me loving what I do that has my baby all wobbly. That it is maybe just a stage that will pass if I just keep doing what I am doing to make her feel safe and loved. That it may take years of ups and downs, but if you work hard at what you love and keep doing the very best you can for your child/children, there is a way to find success and balance.

COPYRIGHT MLM motherhood

I will share more of Lauren’s story soon I promise. But for now, I just want to say thank you to her for this morning. And thank you all for bearing with me.

Have you entered to win an adorable kiddies’ chef outfit with 3rd Kid Creations?

Sending all the love xx

 

Comments

  1. Tebogo says

    Hi Mandy

    Recently started following you on Instagram so I’m catching up with you blog posts, hence the late reply to your May post 😀

    Thanks for sharing your honest story. It took me back to a similar period last year when my son started crèche. He got sick so many times from April till June.
    He’s the most energetic and active person ever but all he wanted to do then was sit on my lap and be cuddled.

    He had a runny nose for so long, at some point I thought it would never go away and when it finally did I wanted to celebrate 😀.

    It felt like being stuck on a boat in the middle of the ocean and all you can see all around is water and no shore in sight.

    I’m sure you’ve heard this a lot but it does get better. This year it was much better, I was more prepared (more fruits & veges, multivitamins) and it was easier. He did get sick but it wasn’t as bad and it didn’t last that long.

    So hang in there, it will get better. You will rise above the water and swim to shore 😀.

    • Pregnant In Cape Town says

      Thank you so much for this Tebogo <3 We have just gotten out of a 10-day run of fevers over 40 degrees, so the timing is perfect after all :) Thank you for reading and for taking the time to reach out. I so appreciate it. xx

  2. says

    If you didn’t worry, you wouldn’t be such a great mum. I’m glad that you’re still finding time to do the things you love in the midst of it all. Strongs ❤️

  3. says

    Isn’t Lauren just the Ghandi of the working mom? I’m so glad that she could motivate you to keep going.

    I totally get those weeks too but in those moments I focus on simply putting one foot infront of the other. Just getting through that day. And taking a long bath at the end of it. A well-timed glass sip of wine also helps. Or an entire slab if coconut & cashews Cadbury slab.

    Hang in there Mandy because so far you are doing an amazing job! Tiaras off to you!

    • Pregnant In Cape Town says

      Anthea, you just made me laugh out loud for the first time in a very long time :) Thank you so much <3 I really need to start drinking!! Sending all the love x

  4. says

    My sweet friend, motherhood is DAMN HARD and when you are faced with a strong willed, highly intelligent person like Charly it makes motherhood HARDER. You are doing the best you can, in an impossible situation, cut yourself some slack. Charly loves you, you love her but it doesn’t mean that this time isn’t hard and that you’re a bad mother because you can admit that she is sucking everything out of you.

    What I will say is that this SHALL pass. Soon it will be sunshine and roses again and you will look back at this time and think about how rock star you both were for getting through it.

    hang in there sweets! YOU CAN DO THIS!

    XXX

    • Pregnant In Cape Town says

      Thank you so much darling friend <3 You are always such an inspiration to me. Much love xx

  5. says

    Lots of strength to you Mandy x This motherhood thing is hard! It gets better and then it doesn’t and then it does…such a roller coaster of emotions and daily struggles. I could say a lot more on this topic but will leave it at that. I hope things are feeling easier xxx

  6. says

    Oh Mandy! I can so relate to this. I I’ve been going through something similar with my son. It got to the point where I also felt like I had to give up the business I’m working on launching and just devoting all my time to him in the hope that it’s would make things okay.
    *hugs*

    • Pregnant In Cape Town says

      So glad I could make you feel a little less alone; I know it helps me loads. Strongs to you mama. We can do this <3 xx

    • Pregnant In Cape Town says

      Thank you darling <3 I literally have goosebumps when I think that you are even just messaging me from NYC <3 I hope you are having a spectacular time. Sending allllllll the love <3

  7. says

    Ah Mandy. I just want to give you a big virtual hug. I have been there. And sometimes it still happens. But right now, at almost four, I am actually getting things done in the afternoon while he plays. It is a miracle I savour and don’t take for granted. It will come. You will get through this. You are being an amazing mom being there for her. It is so hard. But I just want to give you a hug so badly.

    • Pregnant In Cape Town says

      Thank you so very much Heather, that message is a big virtual hug and I really appreciate it <3 <3

  8. says

    MANDY!! I am going to mail you. Charly sounds JUST like Kiara – changes for her were almost impossible to deal with. Even things like if I said we are going to PnP on our way home and suddenly I decided not to or we went to Spar – she COULD NOT COPE!!!

    Even now at 12 – she needs to know exactly what the plan is. Yesterday was a rough day – she got into the car and said “what is the plan for this afternoon” – she still has to know, when she is out of routine or things change too much she can not cope.

    Both girls reached milestones early and we know K is super intelligent which I suspect is a big part of the problem.

    But let me mail you

  9. says

    You’re such a bad ass,you know that?! That’s what I love about you most. :)

    And yes, similarly, I’ve too gone through times where it feels pointless to try and progress in the big ways for my career…Because if given the choice,I would ALWAYS choose motherhood…but then I remind myself, that I got through it the last time…and that my rate of progress may not be at the speed I want it to be,but its still going…and that patience and compromise is the name of the game.
    So glad you’ve chosen to stay in the game,because you are AMAZING and what you have to offer -both as a mother and person- is a gift. X

    • Pregnant In Cape Town says

      Oh Trace you make me cry every time you leave me a message or comment. Thank you for always being there and for believing in me <3 Much love x

    • Pregnant In Cape Town says

      Thank you so much for your response Michelle. I am so very happy that something good came out of this post for you <3 xxx

  10. says

    I just want to send you hugs and love and let you know that so many of us feel like this regularly…. drowning in motherhood, I’ve had a week of it too, where I feel overwhelmed by my children’s needs and crushed by the pressure of being a working mom. But there is something I believe in so strongly, especially raising girls and that is that we are setting examples for our girls on who they can be one day. That if they choose, they too can “have it all” by not allowing ourselves to be consumed or overwhelmed by circumstance and motherhood.
    Hang in there, it’s been my experience with parenting that it comes in waves, it will get better and this too shall pass.
    xx

    • Pregnant In Cape Town says

      Thank you so much Sharon. That is exactly what I want for Charly, to have her believe that she, as a woman, can follow her passion and be and do whatever she wants if she just works hard at it. It is bizarre that even though I am always preaching that mothers all go through the same things, and that we aren’t alone, when I get into the midst of one of these “waves”, I feel so very isolated and like such a failure. I can’t write about it in the moment because I feel so embarassed that I am struggling so much. I love all of you ladies for just taking a moment and leaving a message for me here to remind me that I am not alone <3 <3

  11. says

    Ah beautiful Mandy! I can so relate !
    You are so inspiring ! A shining light ! A pillar of encouragement and strength!

    Thanks for this beautiful and honest post!

    You are an amazing mum & lady – a force to be reckoned with xxx

    • Pregnant In Cape Town says

      Oh Cass, from a person as special as you that is such incredibly high praise <3 Thank you so very much xxx

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply to Jonelle Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>