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The flip side of motherhood

Carlotta Cerri

Sometimes we all cuddle in bed, all four of us, and we feel like a perfect family; sometimes we go fo a long walk to the beach, let Colbie swim in the sea, and play with her; sometimes the kids nap at the same time, and Alex and I can sit on the couch and have a conversation; sometimes we leave the house with a smile, Emily asleep in the pram, Oliver running happily and chatting away; sometimes the apartment is clean and neat and it smells good; sometimes we have gorgeous afternoons at the park, we feed the ducks, we play together, we take in the sun; sometimes we spend quality time together, and we love each other infinity times infinity.

Often, though, our life is NOT like that.

Often, leaving the house is a struggle. If I get Emily ready first, she’ll be screaming in the cot while I get Oliver ready. If I get Oliver ready first, he’ll be screaming at the front door (patience is not his strong suit). If I try to get them ready at the same time—putting shoes and jacket on Oliver while holding Emily—my back gets so sore it makes me want to cry.

Often, I can’t be on top of things. I do laundries all the time, but the pile of dirty clothes keeps growing; I put clean clothes away in the closets, but they keep appearing everywhere; I vacuum and organise and clean, but nothing ever feels clean and organised (nor vacuumed with our hair-dispenser beast).

Often, I’m not the patient, understanding, montessori mom I want to be for my children. Oliver’s going through a delicate age, and the arrival of a little sister hasn’t made things easier. He’s started challenging us to test our limits, crying and moaning when we say “no” or he doesn’t get his way, doing what we ask him not to do, and not doing what we ask him to. I try my hardest to be patient and talk to him in a gentle way, but often I lose my cool.

Often, I’m not the loving, fun, happy wife I want to be for my husband. I don’t deal well with lack of sleep, after a tough day I’m either a weepy mess or a fuming monster; sometimes I’m so sick and tired of the kids that when he comes home I just hand Emily to him before even saying hi, tell him to keep an eye on Oliver, and go lock myself in the bedroom for a while.

Often, I’m not the thoughtful, caring friend/daughter/sister I want to be for the people in my life. Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed I don’t answer phone calls, I don’t keep in touch, I don’t feel like being social, I take Oliver to school and I rush back to the car so I don’t have to talk to anybody.

Often I feel like Alex and I are both single parents. He’s got Oliver, I’ve got Emily, he puts Oliver to sleep, I put Emily to sleep, and often by the time he comes to bed I’m fast asleep, and bye bye parent time when the kids are asleep. I feel like haven’t seen my husband in weeks, and it’s not easy.

Often, when Emily is screaming for some reason and Oliver is screaming for another reason, and I don’t seem to be able to calm either one down, I just stand there, watching and listening to them cry, and think ”What have we done?”.

And then there’s the guilt.

I feel guilty for not being more patient with Oliver, and I’m afraid that every time I lose my cool with him, I also lose a bit of his trust and love. But after asking him 80 times to please get in the car—he has to do everything by himself nowadays, which might sound great, but it’s really not when you slept only four interrupted hours the night before—I just lift him up and put him in myself, and not in a super gentle way. And then I regret it.

I feel guilty for taking it all out on Alex, he’s my rock, he doesn’t deserve it, but sometimes I’m so exhausted that all I can see is what he doesn’t do, the clean clothes he hasn’t put back in the closet, the toys he hasn’t tidied up, the laundry he hasn’t done, the nappies he hasn’t thrown away. And I feel even more guilty for not telling him that I see all the things he does do.

I sometimes lock myself in the bathroom and cry, because there’s nothing else I feel I can do.

And then I feel guilty about that too, because I think of all the single mothers out there, the mothers who aren’t as lucky as I am, who can’t spend so much time with their kids, who have to go back to work after four months, who work long hours and see their kids only briefly at night (and they anyway have to deal with all the tantrums, dirty laundries, and guilt).

And on top of that all, lately I never have the time to finish what I start, not even this blog post.

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