2018: the year of the momfail
I always knew 2018 was going to be a difficult year. I expected it to be tough, but still it totally kicked my ass.
The first six months of the year I was pregnant with a toddler. (Ok, I was pregnant with a baby and I had a toddler but you know what I mean). Baby J turned one at the end of February, so those first few months of 2018 were all about crawling and walking for him and hormones and exhaustion for me.
Then we sold our house, bought another one and moved in in March. It’s a beautiful house but it’s old and falling apart so we renovated the bathrooms, put in insulation, put in a veggie patch, covered the pool and fixed the kajillion things that were broken (or that J subsequently broke). This house has already brought us so much happiness but if you have ever owned a house you’ll also know the financial stress that comes with it. Needless to say, the fact that I’ve taken maternity leave two years in a row, and have taken work really easy has not helped that situation.
Then there was the issue of Little S’s heart, which thankfully turned out to be just a whole lot of anxiety and no health repercussions. Annoyingly enough, the fact that Little S didn’t have a heart operation means that we’re fighting with medical aid to cover the costs of the NICU. Because NICU parents don’t have enough to stress about already.
Then the second half of the year was spent dealing with a newborn and a toddler. Baby J was walking and talking and being generally chaotic and unbelievably cute, and Little S was doing all the newborn sleeping/crying/pooping/reflux things like he was supposed to. We had a few illnesses but on the whole things were going well.
Or so I thought.
I really thought I had things under control. Sure there were days when J was a bit more challenging than others and Little S was still waking regularly through the night, but in comparison to my experience when J was a newborn I felt like I was finally on top of things. I was tired a lot of the time and frustrated when J had bad days (because I felt like it was my fault, obviously) but I was happy with the way things were.
Until I had a conversation with the Beard.
Ok, an argument.
I must say the two hardest things about having two children under two has been learning how to help Baby J with his emotions, and staying married. That’s something antenatal classes should really talk about – how having children will make marriage a lot harder than you ever thought it could be.
In a nutshell, the Beard came home and I passed a very passive aggressive comment about him “working” late all the time and it just kinda escalated. You know those
discussions arguments where you start talking about one thing and end up arguing over something you didn’t even know was an issue? It was one of those.
Turns out the Beard was really unhappy. He felt that I was unhappy all the time and super grumpy and he was worried about my sanity. At the same time he was feeling really frustrated with all the toddler bullshit we were dealing with and all the newborn issues he had seemingly forgotten about. But, in his words,
it’s shit now but we’ll get through it.
And that’s when I lost my mind. Not in an angry way, but I lost all control over my emotions. I couldn’t understand what I was feeling. I mean, I thought I was fine and I thought we were fine and here was the Beard telling me I wasn’t fine, he wasn’t fine and we weren’t fine. I guess I thought that not only was I coping but if I was having any issues I was hiding them well enough. But clearly not. And the Beard is my rock. To hear that he wasn’t happy with our family situation and our family life broke my heart.
We didn’t resolve much that night (or yet) but that was the beginning of a few really dark weeks for me. I was failing as a mother AND as a wife.
To be fair to the Beard, he didn’t realise the repercussions of his confessions. The Beard has a different way of dealing with things to me and his expressing his dissatisfaction with our current lives was a good thing and all he really needed to do. He wasn’t saying I was being a bad mom or wife and he wasn’t saying he wanted to pack his bags and leave. He was just saying how he was feeling.
But because I actually wasn’t doing ok, what he said really pushed me over the edge.
For weeks I couldn’t do anything. I was a ball of mess. Any little problem and I would collapse into a ball of tears. Everything that went wrong was my fault.
It was my fault that J was having difficult transitioning to his big bed (because I did it too soon), my fault Seb was waking all the time at night (because I was clearly doing something wrong), my fault that J didn’t have any clothes that fit (because I didn’t go shopping), my fault that Seb was being a velcro baby (because I hold him too much). Everything was my fault.
It’s tough being in that place. You feel so pathetic, so useless, so unnecessary. You don’t understand why you’re feeling that way but there’s nothing you can do to snap out of it.
What else can I say? That’s how it went for a couple months. Life goes on and you change nappies, feed your children, breathe and keep going.
Loads of family arrived for the festive season, the nanny went on leave, I got really sick and we were so busy I couldn’t indulge in any more crying-in-the-bathroom sessions, so I didn’t.
And then one day you realise the dark cloud has lifted somewhat and you are feeling lighter than you have for a long time.
Those weeks really helped I think, having the Beard around. It helped that he saw how frustrating the days can be when you’re around your kids 24/7, but also how awesome. It helped having the Beard on the same rollercoaster I was on. It helped not feeling like I was the only one feeling overwhelmed by the crazy.
And then it was the the new year – another busy amazing year full of change and milestones and love. And wine. All the wine.
Happy New Year to all of you xx