Thursday, December 12, 2013

An Attempt at Context (over share)

I'm an incredibly emotional person (spirited, if you will). I always have been. I feel things deeply and respond accordingly, often without thought or reason - just emotion. It's both a blessing and a curse. It means I can often muster empathy but rarely grasp rational thought when overwhelmed.

At different times in my life I have sought the help of a counsellor or psychologist to help me work through my emotions until I felt able to process them alone again. One of those times was after the birth of my beautiful baby Zephie, another was post the Lady Baby's birth.


For a long time after having Zeph, I silently struggled with mother hood. I'd had a C-Section and a couple of people suggested that I could/should have had a natural birth. It was demoralising and humiliating and I found myself enraged by the natural v's 'un natural' birth debate. It's hard to start your journey as a mother with a perceived 'failure' on your report card. I guess I was really shaken for the first time - I couldn't control this experience - no amount of exercise, meditation, prayer or stretchy balloon birthing devices could have changed my delivery.

 Meanwhile, Zeph was an unsettled little dude and I questioned weather his birth had made him so (ridiculous, i know). He cried a lot, was very alert and had me referencing 'baby love' at least twice a day.

Naturally, I found the demands of being a new mum just as full on as every other new mother does.

Yet  when people would ask me if I was loving my new role I would smile and nod and bat my eyelashes before gushing 'ooh yes, it's SOOOOO wonderful'.

 And it is so wonderful. Giving birth to that little baby boy changed my life in an indescribable way and  he could not be more loved.

But what I really wanted to say at that time was 'are you crazy? I'm exhausted. i've lost my job, my body, my income, my social life and i'm a bloody hormonal wreck AND my boobs leak. THEY LEAK??!!'

Instead I would give the rote answer, cus I didn't want to appear a failure, or weak or depressed. I wanted to be awesome and hot and skinny and have the parenting gig in the bag. So I just pretended that I did.

Privately I was seeing a counsellor. We would talk about parenting, marriage, boobs, babies, self worth, control, value and God's love. I went with the intention of getting myself sorted out so that I could be the perfect mother.

I emerged with a new mantra 'adequate parenting, not perfect parenting'.

But how was I going to convince all the other mothers that I was awesome if this was my mantra? How would I have them believe that my house was always clean and my children were always cute and that I never resented them or missed my old life. How could I do that?

I resolved that I couldn't, obviously.

Hence my desire to share openly here on this silly little blog.

If I present a perfect life here, then I lie.

I'll tell the full truth of being a mother, warts and all. Because if I don't then I perpetuate the problem. I contribute to the isolation. Mothering is hard. So hard and so humbling. But i'm happy to look like a crazy loony if it means that when my own daughter is a mother, she will know that she can be part of a team. Part of community of mothers who lift one another up in their weakness - or even allow the normal to actually be normal- rather than weak.

 Just like this community here.

Somewhere  around the time that I first started blogging my mum smiled at me and said 'it seems like you've found a really beautiful, supportive community there, Em'. She was right.

* While I'm not really addressing any direct issues from yesterdays post i guess i'm just saying that i'm okay with not being 'okay' sometimes. In fact, I expect it and enjoy it when the goodness returns again. 


  1. You are soooooo brave for sharing so openly.
    I'll be recommending this post to someone I know who is struggling at the moment......
    Have a lovely evening,
    Tania xx

  2. Oh Emily, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.. I can relate to what you have written on so many levels! xx

  3. hey. you write well. and bravely. i'm glad you wrote this, i'm sure there are many who are. the truth about the relentlessness, the exhaustion, the deep, deep love is just too much to share with people before they have babies, so we enter into this thing a little blind, i think. thanks for giving me a little courage today, i ditched the monotony and took the kids for a wander around a town i hadn't really visited before. and i wrote some words i've been struggling to put together, so, yeah. ta!

  4. Thanks so much for your honesty!

  5. Oh Em, this post really resonated with me.

    It's crazy the expectations we put on ourselves, or maybe rather the expectations we perceive other people have for us. My house is constantly, embarrassingly messy and yet when we have new people over I get it in my head that it is my chance to convince someone that I am some amazing house keeper. The cracks start showing pretty quickly I assure you...and the true friends stick around regardless of the sticky floors and dirty pots in the sink.

    I really admire that you have sought help in your overwhelmed times. It's a brave admission and not one that we mothers give enough credit to - everyone is too busy trying to be brilliant at everything.

    In the end it is such a relief to know that we don't have to do it all, and certainly not in our own strength.


  6. Thank for saying this and for saying it so well.

    And I think that all mothers process these emotions differently...some might withdraw, others might lash out.

    I found myself throwing a complete tanty in my kitchen on Sunday. I was just so frustrated with my mothering life that I threw a loaf of bread on the floor.
    So silly I know!
    I was happy that Daddy R and Baby C weren't there to witness my anger but it was a big wake up call to me that I need to regroup and invest a bit on time in me...because I certainly don't want to become a mother who throws bread on a daily basis!

    And yes, the blogging community is wonderful!

  7. It's OK to say you're not OK.

    More people should seek counselling, the impact it can have on your life is a priceless investment.

    I've been seeing my counsellor for 4.5 years, he has a farm because I've paid for it, but it's worth it, i love what it has done for me and the flow on effects have been hard and good at the same time.

  8. What a refreshing read...not because you're going through a rough patch, but because you are honest and real.

    This could have been about me with the birth of my first baby, a son 2 years ago. And forget the c vs natural stuff. I had a natural and still felt the same way you did. I'm days/ weeks away from having my second child and I am very worried about PND returning, but like you said, if I go into it knowing I won't be perfect, I can't fail.

    Would love to read about your experience after the birth of Lady Baby...

  9. Your Zeph sounds a lot like my Otto (the spirited child book is also my bible!), I found him a really difficult baby, forget sleep there was a world to explore and he would demand so much of it. People often ask me what he was like as a baby and the only word I can come up with is frustrated! He was always frustrated that he couldn't move, couldn't talk, couldn't feed himself, it was hard.

    I sought a professional through that time too and it saved all of us, she said I didn't suffer from PND, just absolute exhaustion. Thank you for writing such a wonderful post.
    P.S I am a long time reader that feels compelled to comment more lately, I really enjoy all the posts you write and love your style.

  10. I wish we were 'real life' friends :)

  11. Thanks for your honesty. I love your blog because of this!
    I'll keep your words in mind when I become a mother one day.

  12. Oh boy... I am so with you here! The struggle to keep everything 'together' is huge. I have three children and have been through PND twice... it is a rough ride. I am coming to the end of it now, thank goodness.

    When people ask me about my birth, baby, breastfeeding experiences I try and tell them the truth as honestly as I can without scaring them. It is rough. It is hard. But, in a way it is beautiful...

    I really start enjoying my babies once they are about 1... My little man is awesome. Love him to bits.

    Awesome post. So great of you to write this down for others. So. So. Great.

  13. I hardly know anyone who is still pretending that it's all easy and okay. We're all just doing the best we can and probably failing miserably, just like our own mums did. Adequate seems to works out perfectly in the end.

    Much love to you, Em.


    1. Hear hear Bron! You are so right. Your kids don't see adequate though, they see perfection Em:)

  14. Raising kids in this day and age is hard..... my kids do things, I try to cast my memory back to when I did that ...... I never did that, I would never do it, I would still (at my age) never do that. Kids today are bold and fearless, which is both good and evil LOL. We just have to accept them and love them and guide them when we can..... *sigh*. You will look back one day and see what an exceptional job you (are doing) have done. Be proud of your children, tell them every day, they will be proud of you!(we don't need more than that!)

  15. You write so honestly and eloquently - this is why I keep returning to your page! Today's post is my favourite. I am a mother to three little people and it has been such a battle to keep up the pretense of a perfect existence - I tried so hard and I ended up falling apart and into an awful depression. I still struggle daily, but now have a mantra similar to yours. Today's post will bring light to so many. Well done xxx

  16. I never know what to say in reply to posts I really agree with- everyone else always seems to say what I was thinking! So I will just say I did a lot of nodding reading your post- thank you, nice to know we are a team, us mothers!

  17. We have such similar stories Em. I believe I went through a real grieving process post the birth of my first son too. He was a breech birth and therefore, like yourself, I had no choice but to have a c-section. He was a huge baby, so it all worked out for the best anyway. But I couldn't shake that feeling of failure, for not being able to birth him naturally. I'd attended pre-natal yoga and exercised and done those horrible 'stretching' thingys. Although I KNEW I wasn't the only mother ever to have a c-section, in my eyes, I could only see all of these mother's around me who had 'real' birth experiences to share... and mine was just an 'operation'. By number two babe, I had a different outlook on the c-section scenario and was much more relaxed about it.
    But the motherhood chestnut. I struggle pretty much every day too. I feel guilt and worry and inadequate in the job that I do. It seems that no matter how hard I work, it's just never quite enough. I know other mother's feel the same way and it's ridiculous to think I'm alone in this journey... but there have been times when I have felt very alone.
    Blogging is such a wonderful outlet for those emotions and of course catching up with friends as often as possible, eases the burden somewhat too.
    As always, a wonderful post, that really hit the spot and made me feel better about my own bad days, thanks Em xo

  18. Hurrah for you Em, and for honesty, and 'good enough' parenting, and for blogging so we can all share our ups and downs!

    I was talking to my partner about blogging, about how being real is a fine line, and how I wouldn't want to make any readers feel bad or envious, but at the same time I want to share my joys - he was so shocked, it never occurred to him to worry about what effect his words have on others, he just says what he thinks! Do you think it's a female thing, to want our words to be a positive force in others' lives, because we know how we can be made to feel low by comparing ourselves to others? Or maybe it's just a matter of self-confidence?

    Whatever it is, your words are so helpful to us, thank you! Rachel x

  19. I always love to get in this space and read your direct and sincere words.
    Your honesty is inspiring Em, and so is the happiness which come from your children.

    Leticia xx

  20. Wonderful, brave and inspiring post Em. I went through similar when Labour with my first ended in an emergency c-section. I can't believe people day things like that to new Mum. It can be so hard to try to do it all. I'm battling daily with my perception of what my house should be like and what I actually have time to do.
    You're a wonderful mother. Here's to the emotional girls - we are passionate. :) xx

  21. Bravo! With two under 3 of my own, I check out some blogs & just wonder HOW they make it look so easy. Thanks for being normal & letting others feel normal w/your blog :)

  22. your honesty is so brave and admirable. motherhood is hard and beautiful all wrapped into one. we need to be kind to ourselves and to others.
    from one 'spirited' girl to another x

  23. It's really important to share things like this, Em :)

    I think I was in shock for a good year after the birth of my first babe - every day was a challenge, I had post-natal depression, a baby that would cry for hours and hours (and hours), hardly any milk and a desperate need to breastfeed (because to not breasfeeding would mean failure); and I definitely didn't feel like I bonded with him as well as I 'should' have. I felt broken and disconnected and totally isolated, and was so, so lonely; and I had unbelievably high expectations of myself and the type of mother I thought I should be - the one that was cool and calm all day, overflowing with love and goodness, never cross, always gracious.

    It took me an age to let go of the fantasy and to be ok with the mother that I turned out to be; not perfect, frequently impatient, usually frustrated and guzzling coffee at the end of the day, often bewildered and overwhelmed and always hoping and hoping that I'm doing a good job. And I've come to see that there is one thing that is universal with all mothers, whether you've got it all together or not - and that is that we love our children, so very much. And in the end, that's all that really matters.

    Hoping that you have a brighter day today x

  24. It was recommended to me that I read your blog because of this post. Honestly, it was like reading my thoughts that had been transcribed by someone else. I have been battling similar issues for the last 12 weeks since my son has been born and i thought I was all alone and the only person who felt this way. Thank you so much for sharing because it has honestly opened my eyes. If you are finding a way to work through it all, it gives me hope that one day I can too!

  25. In all honesty, this is the first Beetle Shack post that I've ever nodded along with. You are so very courageous to put it out there; and it is brilliant to be reading the truth. Bravo!

  26. Ain't that the truth! Beautiful..thank you :)

  27. LOVE this post. Love your honesty and courage for writing it. Bet you feel a teensy bit better for having written it? I'm going to take your lead. xxx

  28. I love your honesty Em. It's the best thing about your blog, being real. So thank you :)

  29. Thank you so much from a first time mother with a 4 month old baby. I wish I could hug you and tell you what this post means to me. Every word resonates. Every single word.

  30. It's so lovely to read this. It's also really lovely to read that you're thinking about when your own daughter might be a mother. My mum and I were close, but we've grown apart as I've started to understand myself more and she hasn't understood that change in me. Mum is so quick to criticise new mums, a family friend recently gave birth and mum was so quick to comment how she'd 'put a bit of weight on on her bum'. Mum's also not relaxed at all about a house not being perfectly tidy and clean. We've recently started trying for our first baby and it terrifies me what I will face when that baby comes along. I read your post and I can see that they are the battles I will need to personally overcome, as an emotional sort as well. I can see that it's going to be hard and I'm sometimes overwhelmed that not only will I need to accept not being 'perfect' but I will need to defend my choice to not be 'perfect' as well. This gift you're giving to your daughter - even though it may be decades before she appreciates it - is priceless! Miss-B x

  31. I agree, it's ok to not be ok all the time.

    I've been seeing a therapist for 6 months. I love it. Never felt happier.

    She said, it's normal to go up and down. If you didn't, how would you know you're alive? Life is a rollercoaster. We just have to try and enjoy all the ups and downs, and accept the bad and be grateful when it's good.

    And the leaky boobs? Haha, it's the funniest thing really. Who knew we could leak just by hearing a baby cry?


  32. Hi Emily. Thanks for your post and for sharing so openly. I can relate to your struggle with motherhood at times (and also the need to appear to be 'loving it'). It's always wonderful to feel you're not alone. So thankyou!
    ps - But I also love your last post on happiness - embracing a new kind.

  33. somedays its playdough and pancakes and other days its just totally crappy x i hear ya

  34. Em,
    I empathise with you on the whole C-section dilemma. I too had an emergency c-section with my first child and struggled with feelings of guilt for quite some time. I was angry with my body for failing me and felt like I had missed out on one of those amazing experiences in life that only a woman can experience. I have since has two further c-sections - both elective, as i made the choice not to risk the same thing happening again and not being able to care effectively for my baby for many weeks afterwards due to the trauma of emergency surgery.
    I still to this day, when I hear birth stories, feel pangs of guilt and sorrow - (like mourning) for not having given birth to my children the 'natural' way but then I look at them I thank the heavens that they are here and they are healthy and happy.
    I always try to look for the 'sunshine' in each day to get me through which in winter is extremely difficult.
    Thank you for sharing. It's nice to know, I am normal. :)

  35. Thought I should let you know that I just read this post for the 3rd time. Seems like it resonates with all mums. So much truth - I admire your courage.

  36. Wow. This post sings to my heart. My little one turned me upside down. As a spirited mama I also struggle not to feel things before my brain processes them. Then an equally spirited screaming non sleeping bundle came along and rocked my core.
    Struggles with those feelings of being a crap mom and then a sudden realisation that I can do this hits every day.
    With another brewing in my belly I remind myself that I can. We all can.
    Thanks for your honesty. Makes me normal again.

  37. Bloody people who make rude comments about caesareans, they have no idea how acidic that can be on a new mum. I got told after my second emergency Caesar after a birth in which the scar tore and I nearly died, that I should have a chat with .... - she gave birth to twins at home. So many WTF moments for a new mum, I did a lot of reading but it was still a huge adjustment. God I love it though - 11 years of motherhood and they're all at a much easier stage than those newborns in nappies, darn teens on the near horizon just to shake things up a bit. A beautiful honest post.

  38. Hear hear to what you've written and all of the above comments on c-sections. That made me so mad on your behalf. I had epidural and forceps delivery for my first and for about a year felt like a total failure for 1. not being "strong enough" to handle the pain and 2. not being able to push my baby out...toxic stuff!

    You're not alone - but I guess you know that. :-) Thank you for such a honest and inspirational post. I love how you tell it like it is. x

  39. Oh, I m right there with you Em!

  40. These sentiments are the very reason I started blogging this year. I now have three little ones, and I hit rock bottom after having my second. Everyone told me that "three is the hardest" and I thought "if three is harder than THIS there is no way that I am going anywhere near there." But then I started listening to myself and to GOd instead of a bunch of women that I am nothing like. It's funny, really, how we are so intimidated by people we have nothing in common with. I still give disclaimers when people pop over uninvited and my house is a mess, which it ALWAYS is.... I'm trying to stop. Thanks for being another woman that I can relate to instead of be afraid of.

  41. Amen, sister! That's why I blog too.

  42. Whenever I read your posts I seem to nod and say "yes", "me too" and "amen" to myself like a mad woman!! 😉

  43. It's like you took the words right out of my mouth! Beautifully written (as usual). Thank-you for always being so honest and true. Your thoughts and words are sometimes all I need to hear for encouragement and support as I too, navigate motherhood on a daily basis. As a fellow c-section first time mom, I struggled with the guilt and shame of delivering in a way not looked upon as "natural". It's taken me baby steps to proudly call the delivery of my daughter, birth. A reminder to everyone, not just mothers, that all births are natural, the types: vaginal and cesarean. Not natural vs. unnatural. And both deserve as much respect and kindness as the mothers do who were a part of it.

  44. Oooh....really, that bugs me so much. It's so insensitive (and audacious!) to tell a person what they 'should have done'. How do they know what you should have done? Unless it's your own Mom saying it...and even then.....nobody has a right to diminish your decision, or undermine your experience. I know women who have had all 3 of their children C-section because the first time, they had to have a C for medical reasons, and then after that they didn't have a choice. Are they not a mother 3 times over because of that? Certainly not!

    I had an epidural for my daughter by choice, but I don't feel that my experience was any less worthy because of it. Yes, there's a small part of me that feels I 'missed out' on the 'natural' part of it, but it's a very small part. Nobody has ever said I copped out though, and if they did, I would be highly offended.

    As far as you can 'know' a person through reading their blog, you rank right up there among my most highly respected Mom's. The love and devotion you have for your children is obvious, and many others (maybe even some who would make a comment like that), wish they were the Mom you are.

    Merry Christmas!

  45. I seriously admire how you can share your feelings so openly. Sometimes when I try to convey my frustrations or fears I just sound like a big complainer. But being a mom is hard. No two ways about it!

  46. Em, what a wonderfully honest post. For all the honesty and openness you give us, your readers, I hope you feel like you get the same back (for the most part) in the comments. I've read the comments above and it seems that the women with the clean houses, no insecurities, no money issues, no frustration or sadness at times are the minority (if there's any?).

  47. Em, what a wonderfully honest post. For all the honesty and openness you give us, your readers, I hope you feel like you get the same back (for the most part) in the comments. I've read the comments above and it seems that the women with the clean houses, no insecurities, no money issues, no frustration or sadness at times are the minority (if there's any?).

  48. It seems the biggest problem women have is that they are so ready to judge each other instead of just supporting each other. We need to get a little more tribal where this is concerned and just muck in and help somebody who struggles because lets be honest- we ALL do. Then we wouldn't be so pressured to pretend it was all great.
    Last year my first impulse after my diagnosis was to hide it from my children, my family and every friend we had. Had I failed them all by having cancer? Crazy thoughts but true. A good friend got me over that on the first day and I was carried through a horror year on a raft of love and support from close friends and acquaintances. No judgement, just support. I'm not saying motherhood is like cancer but it is all part of life and there are hurdles as well as high lights all the way. Still, I remember feeling I should be positive and happy all the time to protect my loved ones from my fear and pain. So I started to blog it and- Oh! The wondrous support that is out there in this battered old world.

  49. As bloggers, sometimes we filter things that we write or show on our blogs, and it can leave a picture of everything being 'perfect' all the time when it probably in fact is not...... I love to visit real blogs, blogs just like yours, because sometimes it's nice to know that the shit is hitting the fan elsewhere and that I'm not alone xx

  50. Thank you for keeping it real. I am not a mother yet, but I am sure that reading your blog will help to prepare me for motherhood and what is to come. You say it how it is and I really appreciate that. You are awesome. Jacqui

  51. I appreciate this, along with a 5 and 3 year old, I have a four month old and man do I find these baby years hard! You have said what I feel at the moment, thanks.

  52. Very similar situation here
    And yes, there are so many mothers around the globe feeling just like that
    why are our expectations SO high?
    why do we feel other people are so judgemental? Because they are? Because when it comes to motherhood other women try to tell you something about THEMSELVES when they "critisize" a new mother?
    thanks for this post. I am an avid follower of your blog!

  53. I hear you. I so hear you xxx

  54. I love your blog. "Warts" and all.
    Motherhood is is exhausting and challenging and so much more rewarding than anything I have ever done.
    But some days just coping is so very hard.
    I think it is so comforting to know that other moms feel the same way.

  55. Yes, Yes And Yes. K xo

  56. And that's why people love reading your blog Em - you're honest with your emotions (I'm the same - I struggle to hold them in at times) and you're honest about being a parent. It's about time someone was!

  57. I applaud your honesty Emily every new mother feels like that at some time,I remember NOT wanting to give birth to my second child when i was in labour i had changed my mind and thought i could not love her as much as my firstborn,how wrong i was xx Lisa Mckenzie

  58. Well done, babe. You're the awesome. It takes a much stronger person to stand up and say I need help xx

  59. Thank you so much for your post. Iits relieving to read that I'm not the only one

  60. You have such a way with words and personal understanding. I believe that is what we can all aim for... To understand ourselves, where we fit in the world and how we can best raise our children to do the same with compassion, care and kindness. Hope you manage to take strength from all your friends out here in blog world.


Thanks so much for your words of encouragement, advice and solidarity.

xo em