Recently I wrote a post about us potentially not having any other children. Meaning in that case that Ollie would be our only child. The reasons that we are leaning in this direction are numerous, but it comes down to me not being sure that I could cope mentally with another birth (Read about Ollie’s birth story here) and having a newborn.
That post has been by far and away my most popular post to date. Almost as soon as I hit publish and sent it out into the online universe, I started receiving messages, comments, likes, text messages, shares and phone calls from friends both old and new. So many of these messages were from people saying that they could relate to what I had said about potentially only having one child because their own experiences had been so overwhelming.
A new friend told me how she felt ungrateful and guilty as a result of these feelings. She has told me of instances where she has struggled to cope to the point that she felt as though she may be drowning.
This is definitely something that I can relate to. In the early days, I was beyond overwhelmed with the weight of the responsibility and expectations that I placed upon myself. I was constantly being offered help by our family, but had no idea how to accept that help or how to ask for it. I felt as though asking for help indicated that I had failed as a mother because I apparently couldn’t live up to my own unrealistic expectations.
It seems to me that there is a stigma (whether it be perceived or real), attached to saying that you are struggling or need help. Does asking for help mean that you have failed as a mother? No. Does admitting that you are struggling mean that you love your child any less? Heck no! Does it make you a bad mother if you say that you have days where you just scrape through? NO!
As a person who is a major self guilt ‘layer-on-erer’, it has taken me almost a year to finally accept that struggling or not always loving the role doesn’t mean that you don’t always love your child. This is something that I have been working on for the last 6 or 7 months and continue to work on still.
I felt enormous guilt because every time I looked at my child, I wasn’t automatically filled with adoration. In fact, sometimes my first thought would be something resembling resentment. Even now, it hurts to say this and I feel a sense of embarrassment and shame that you will read this and suddenly my dark secret will be out. To be honest, I’m scared of the judgement that could come with that admission.
One year on, I have a beautiful relationship with my Ollie. He is be sweet, willful, cheeky, cranky, cuddly or sad all in a short span of time. I have never loved anyone the way that I love him and I know that I never will again, unless down the track we have another baby.
I have loved my baby boy every single second – he is the light of my life. My occasional mixed feelings don’t make me a bad person. They make me human. Some days I am better at believing this than others. Like I said, I’m a work in progress.