Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My success as a mother

Since I wrote that post on redefining my success, I've been thinking a lot around my role as a mother.

What does it mean (to me) to be a successful mother?

I've always, ALWAYS, even in the good old days when I thought the journey to children would be quick and painless (ha!), thought that I'd be a good mother.

I had visions of my four children - yes, four - playing together, eating together, going to school, etc, etc.

Then, as I aged, the vision went to three kids, and then two. And finally, when I accepted my infertility, I really just wanted ONE child, any child.

And now I have two :)

Anyway, despite the diminishing vision of a large family, I don't think I ever let go of the romance of parenthood. You know, similar to the twin romance thing I've spoken about before.

I think it's because I've been really good at everything I've ever set my mind to in life (well, except SPORT! Have no co-ordination with ball sports whatsoever!) and naturally, I thought I'd be a good mother too.

And then the reality of parenthood set in...

  1. First the babies came early despite me having a really good pregnancy.
  2. Then there was the NICU stay.
  3. And then there was Kendra. D reminded me of those days the other day just when I was getting misty-eyed about that newborn stage. My word! I honestly don't know HOW we survived. It was by the grace of God (Kendra's second name is Grace, by the way).
  4. Her eternal screaming .... and formula issues.... remember she hardly ate a thing for 8 weeks, from the time she came out of hospital until 1 October (otherwise known as The Day We Put Kendra on Novalac AC).
  5. And through it all, the sleep issues. Which, I now find out, are really not that bad (but that's a topic for another post).

I really had a hard time lining up my expectations with reality. The hard work of twins has almost been a breeze by comparison.

I think it's because of a number of things:

  • people don't tell you the truth (also another post!)
  • there's a secrecy if you're battling emotionally (I've found that people have no problems talking about the physical work)
  • infertiles are supposed to love everything about parenting (after all, you waited so long and paid such a lot of money to get the babies).

I know I felt TONS better when I started talking about the parts that are terrible about this mothering thing. Yes, I felt guilty in the beginning but I soon realised that most people feel the same things but just don't talk about it.

I honestly thought that I was the only one with baby problems because all over Facebook, real life and the blogosphere, I'd hear/ read things like, "oh motherhood is SO wonderful, I love being a mommy, etc, etc" all of which made me feel worse and worse.

Surely I can't be the worse mother in the world???

At one of our infertility group meetings, one brave girl shared that she was on anti-depressants.... turns out 90% of the people there were in the same boat but too scared to say so.

This secrecy thing is killing us!

So, sleeping through the night.

Since the severe sleep deprivation of the early days, my goal and dream has to have the babies sleeping through the night.

And I realised something the other day - the reason I'm so hung up about sleep is not about the babies - it's about ME.

I can't get them to sleep through so I feel like a bad mother and that means I'm a failure.

Which is just crazy. But it's what I've been thinking, deep down.

Because when I looked at my success pages, I saw nothing about sleep - instead my goal is to have healthy, happy, thriving babies.

They certainly are all that and more.

So when my natural tendency to stress about the sleep starts taking over, these days I'm chanting, "my success as a mother is not dependent on my babies sleeping through the night."

And you know what? I feel FREEDOM!

P.S. No pics as this is my 30-minute post for Steadymom


  1. For what my 2 cents are worth, I think you're a star.

    I get the lining up expectations with reality - like you say, look around - everywhere there are ad agency perfected images of motherhood - gees I still struggle to get my ONE out of the house on the perfect schedule, let alone bottle the jam, and make the apple pie for the windowsill :p Surely these false expectations set us up for failure/self esteem issues if we don't have enough 'real' families around us to know plastic from reality?

    Seriously though - a wonderful post. So very real. Oh, and I giggled at a line in your blog, because today I'd written in mine: "But because for my entire life until this point I'd succeeded at everything I'd put my mind to, I didn't think that that would be my baby in there and that somehow we'd beat this." - and yeah, that's you too my dear :)

  2. I am in TOTAL agreement with these three points you made:

    * people don't tell you the truth (also another post!)
    * there's a secrecy if you're battling emotionally (I've found that people have no problems talking about the physical work)
    * infertiles are supposed to love everything about parenting (after all, you waited so long and paid such a lot of money to get the babies)
    I hated that everyone expected that I should just be so happy that I had a baby that all the shitty things that go along with a new born I'd just simply enjoy! Its so not true, I battled the same issues as any new Mom and I felt the same way, despite having tried for a baby for almost 8 years.
    And I have to agree with you on the Novalac statement too, it changed my life and that of my baby!

  3. There is a really great book which is totally in line with all the things you have said in this post and i think that you would really relate to. It is called The Mask of motherhood by Susan Maushart - I bought mine online from TheBookDepository. this book really helped me to gain some perspective on all of the things you have mentioned.

  4. I can't stand the secrecy thing (which is probably why I am overly-honest about my experiences)! I believe that being a successful mother is having happy kids...I know people who have 7-year olds sleeping in their beds...yuck, but they're happy. Good for you for letting yourself off the hook for something which is completely out of your control!

  5. I've been very lucky. I am the fourth woman on my floor at work to have twins. The ages of their twins are 5 years, 4 years and 18 months. They have kept it real for me. My favorite is my friend Melissa who told me that once she went and sat in her car in the driveway with the radio on really loud while her newborn boys were crying and it didn't seem to be bothering her husband. She came back in the house and he asked her where she went (thinking she drove somewhere). She told me that was normal. Love having twin mom friends that tell me like it is!

  6. I recently went to a talk by a psychologist on motherhood. Coincidently she works at a fertility clinic - the majority of the moms in this group did not undergo any fertility treatment (two that I know of..). And during her talk she made a point that most moms have no clue what they "are getting themselves into", and no-one ever tells the truth about what it really is like, making most moms feel quite out of depth, and in the end resenting themselves for not finding it all rosy - she mentioned that she sees this a lot with couples that have undergone fertility treatment - and I felt so relieved! I thought that because what I had done to get here I had no "right" some of those feelings!

    Delurking - came across your blog over at Saffy's.

  7. I have some friends who have struggled with infertility (and it too me a couple of years to get pregnant with Ned and Penny) and I always tell them during their pregnancies that they don't have to love everything about being a mom - that it is hard work. While I enjoyed being "supermom" to my friends with singletons the truth is having twins IS SO MUCH HARDER. There is always something to worry about with one kid. Penny's eating, Ned's lack of talking and increased tantrumming, etc. Parents with just one kid can't relate. But as they all start to embark on number 2 I'm pretty realistic what life with number 3 will be like - just like I was mentally prepared for twins (I think maybe because I am a multiple?). You just try to think of the fun moments but be honest about the hard ones.

    Having twins means you think more about how you compare kids and it is forcing me to try not to.

    For me being a successful mom was sometimes about sleep and sometimes about eating but is now really about raising kids who are happy, healthy and PRODUCTIVE (and independent) members of society.

    You're a great mom and you know it! And I'm one too even when I get exhausted playing with them for 30 mins. I still love them and they know it.

  8. As the last days of my sister-in-law's pregnancy draw to a close, I'm continually reminded about what it was like when I was 36 weeks pregnant. All the wondering and worrying. And all the expectations.

    Then, delivery doesn't go as planned. Breastfeeding is way harder than it looks on TV. And you don't remember when you showered last.

    I hope that as mom's we can continue to bless one another with honesty about parenthood. The good, the bad, and the ugly (or smelly, in many cases).

    Thanks for sharing!
    Found you at Steady Mom.

  9. Amen to happy, healthy babies!! The rest of it is just details. : )

  10. It's hard not to get caught up in the minutia of the details, especially when parenting seems like it's under a microscope. Perhaps you should write out what you want for your children (like a mantra) so you have something to look at when it seems so overwhelming.


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