A few weeks ago I got tonsillitis for the second time that month. I sat in the chair in the doctor’s room, shivering with fever while she took a look at my mouldy throat. She suggested that I give it a few days to see if my body wold fight it off on its own.
‘Just. Just please,’ I said. ‘I get this a lot and within a few hours I know what’ll happen. I’ll be vomiting and unable to keep any antibiotics or paracetamol down and I’ve got two young children at home and just,’
And then, rather embarrassingly, I started to cry.
‘I’m sorry,’ I said. ‘I just. I just need the antibiotics. I can’t be really ill again. I don’t want to wait a few days. You’ve seen how bad my throat is. I’ve got two little kids to look after and,’
More crying. She handed me a tissue.
‘You need to rest,’ she said. ‘It’s so hard when you have little ones.’
She prescribed me some antibiotics and I went home. It was too late for taking the antibiotics and paracetamol and I spent the day relentlessly vomiting and going delirious with fever until my husband drove me to hospital for an anti-sickness injection later that evening. My father-in-law came round to look after the baby and pick up my daughter from school and my Mum came to help put the kids to bed.
The other night my husband was late back from work and while the kids (my four year old daughter and my one year old son) were stripped off waiting to get into the bath, the baby bent over and did the most enormous, adult-sized poo I have ever seen. Then he stood in it and started screaming and then I stood in it while I was trying to restrain him from picking it up and also trying to scrape it all off the bathroom floor it with toilet paper and wipes. He broke free and ran around the bathroom leaving little shitty footprints behind him and squealing with delight. My daughter got into the bath and started crying because she was scared of the poo.
‘It’s ok, honey. It’s just a poo,’ I said scrubbing off the last of it with a wipe. ‘I’m getting it all cleaned off now.’
I grabbed the baby to wash his pooey feet off in the sink. They were both crying then.
When I’d got his feet clean I set him down on the floor while I drained the sink. He made a little grunty noise and my foot suddenly felt quite warm and I looked down to see that he had done a cowpat style poo all over the top of my bare foot and was now doing a wee on it.
‘It’s ok. It’s ok.’ I said to my daughter who was looking on, horrified. ‘I can clean it all up. I’m going to clean it all up.’
Another day this week I was in a coffee shop meeting my Mum for lunch with the kids. My baby was sleeping and I woke him up after a while so that I could give him his lunch. He really didn’t want any lunch or anything to drink.
‘He looks pretty unwell.’ I said to my Mum, as I put him in his all-in-one coat and back into the buggy. ‘Maybe I’d better take him home?’
At that moment he sat up in the buggy and puked up a good pint’s worth of breakfast. It just kept coming and coming and it was all going inside his all-in-one coat which was gradually filling up with sick so that he was sitting in a kind of quilted sick bag.
In the disabled loo I stripped all his clothes off and tried to give him a bit of a wipe down before we left and all the time he was screaming and thrashing around and I had to wrap him in a blanket and some of my daughter’s clothes to keep him warm as I hadn’t bought a spare jumper or anything for him, just a vest and some leggings.
One night when I was really ill a few weeks ago. I lay shivering and sweating in bed, a sick bucket next to my bedside and the baby woke up and cried and ended up in our bed and would only sleep lying horizontally across my pillow and then my daughter woke up from a nightmare and I just sat up in bed and looked the baby sleeping and my husband sleeping and heard my daughter saying,
‘Muuuuhmeeeeee,’ and I thought,
I just have to get away from you all.
So why am I telling you all these stories of woe?
Maybe because tonight, while my husband was upstairs bathing the kids and getting them into their pyjamas I got a text from my Mum asking me if I was alright. As I thought of what to write back I just sat on the stairs and cried. I texted her back,
‘I just never thought being a mum would be this hard. When you are ill or when you are low there is just no mercy. Not even at night.’
Because, you see, everything is a phase, but there are some phases and some months when things are just totally fucking shit. There are some times when you just sit down on the stairs and cry. There are some evenings when you have human faeces in between your toes and even when you are poorly and are desperate, SO DESPERATE for sleep, you just don’t get to.
Then you log onto facebook and see that someone has told you that you will look back on these days and treasure them.
Well, you know what? There will be plenty of days that I do not treasure and I don’t think that it helps any mother to erase all of their feelings about the hard bits because they should be treasuring anything. I won’t be treasuring any of the moments above. I hope I never remember them apart from maybe when I am an older woman and I consider even for one motherfucking moment telling a struggling mother she should feel lucky or grateful or blessed. How I feel right now at this precise moment is tired, ill, desperate, afraid, down, exhausted and overwhelmed. I could go on but my point is this; being a mum, it is just really fucking hard and the feelings around that should not just be sucked up under the blanket of gratefulness and love.
If you are struggling. If you are in a shitty phase too then I am with you, in spirit at least and I want you to know that how you feel is really important. You deserve to be heard and you can love your kids to bits and be the most grateful person in the world and still admit that you’re having a shit time.
I know that things will get easier soon. I know that this particular phase will pass but right now I just need to admit to how crap things are. I just need to be real.
That night when I stepped in the poo I read this amazing poem from my friend Emily Writes and it made me feel so much better. You’ve probably read that poem going around on facebook about doing stuff with your kids for ‘the last time.’ Well I prefer her version so bloody much and if you are feeling like me, I know it will make you feel better.
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