‘Where is the collected mom I thought I’d be? She’s been replaced by a sweaty, shouty mama in dry shampoo and leggings.’: Mom reminds us ‘perfect parents’ don’t exist, ‘absolutely everyone is just getting by’

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“Back in the days where it was impossible to actually attend a 9 a.m. lecture at university because it was FAR too early (ha, 9 a.m. is like late afternoon to me now), and the days where I could get dressed and just leave the house, I used to think I would be the perfect parent…until I actually became a parent and discovered that it was a whooooole lot harder.

While I was pregnant with my first child, I remember my husband and I agreeing our child would only watch one hour of TV a day. (Next joke, please. Peppa Pig is basically our third child.) ‘We won’t be the parents giving our child a phone in a restaurant to watch Youtube.’ Ah, back in the days of denial when you assumed a toddler would absolutely love to sit in their high chair in silence while you all eat dinner. No, the unfortunate reality is that toddlers love to scream in public places and will do anything, absolutely anything to Houdini their way out of those straps and leg it out of the door. Sometimes, watching other children playing with play-doh on YouTube is THE only way to stop the meltdown of the century and avoid death stares from other people who are trying to eat in peace.

Courtesy of Katie Maddison

I knew what having a child would entail and kind of what to expect when it came to looking after children. After all, I had worked with toddlers and babies for years, so how different could it really be? However, absolutely nothing can prepare you for what life is actually like with two under two, surviving on three hours sleep and relying on chocolate digestives and coffee to power you through until bedtime.

Courtesy of Katie Maddison

I was a bundle of nerves and anxiety after giving birth the first time around. I second-guessed absolutely everything I did for this tiny person I loved so much and wanted the absolute best for. I never felt (and still often don’t) like I was good enough. The postpartum time I can honestly say was the most special time of my life, but also the hardest. From intrusive thoughts keeping me awake at night and the awful anxiety that can bring, to the lost identity, to looking like a deflated balloon and feeling like a milk machine.

Courtesy of Katie Maddison

How is it possible to be so happy and content but also so confused about what you’re doing and if you’re doing it right?

When my daughter was a year and a half, we welcomed our son into the world and the newborn experience was completely different the second time around. With your first, your life is turned upside down and every aspect changes, but your second just has to find somewhere to fit into all the chaos that is life with a toddler. Navigating the shops with a double pram and two kids kicking off to be carried is next level stress and since becoming a mother of two, I feel like I do not deal well with these stresses anymore! Where is the calm and collected mother that I thought I would be? She’s been replaced by a stressed out, sweaty, shouty mama in leggings that are covered in baby sick and smears of the meal my toddler begged for and then decided to throw on the floor.

Courtesy of Katie Maddison

With every day, I realize more and more that absolutely everyone is just getting by!

Every parent you see on Instagram with their picture-perfect life still has to fight 15 battles with their toddler on a morning to get out of the house, and still has days where they are exhausted and defeated by parenting.

Courtesy of Katie Maddison

Even with all of the hard times and exhaustion that I feel, I know these are the days my heart will ache for when my children are no longer children. Even though it seems so distant at the minute, time is flying by so quickly it shocks me. It is so easy to spend time stressing over every aspect of having children but when I look at them, I know that they mean everything to me in the same way I am everything to them.

Perfect parents don’t exist, looking after tiny humans is hard, and we need to cut ourselves some slack for putting dry shampoo in our hair for the third day in a row, feeding our child chocolate buttons for 5 minutes of silence and sitting on our phones during nap time when we should be folding clothes.”

Courtesy of Katie Maddison

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Katie Maddison of Sunderland, England. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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