I read this article in the Guardian newspaper in which Bibi Lynch complained about how fed up she was with mothers moaning about how hard their lives are. She is not a mother and says that insteading of moaning, mothers should be grateful for what they have. I have every sympathy for the pain she is experiencing at the prospect of never becoming a mum and of course as a mother I cannot understand what this must feel like. Similarly though she cannot know what my life is like and why I feel the need to rant from time to time.
Before I became a mother I saw motherhood through rose tinted lenses. I imagined myself enjoying pregnancy, coping with the pains of labour and breastfeeding with ease. I looked forward to mother and toddler groups, playgroup parties and getting involved with school events. I imagined sports days, carol concerts, Christmas plays and having a tear in my eye as I applauded my children’s efforts and I looked forward to childrens parties, playdates and chatting with other mums at the school gates.
The reality has been very different. My first pregnancy resulted in a traumatic birth, a hemorrhage and a threat to my life and that of my baby. We survived thanks to fantastic care but I was deeply traumatised for a number of months. My second pregnancy also resulted in another traumatic birth; again a hemorrhage following a complicated delivery. After treatment my baby and I recovered but this time the trauma and baby blues didn’t lift and I ended up with post natal depression and exhaustion that rendered me almost incapable of walking very far. Life should have been wonderful with a toddler daughter and a baby son but it wasn’t – I was ill, my brain was ill, and nothing I could do would lift the misery I was experiencing. Believe me I tried but PND, like all forms of depression, is a serious and debilitating condition. I sought medical help and a course of prozac was prescribed and I recovered. Then I had my third child, my youngest daughter who was induced to prevent the complications I had suffered with my previous children. With hospital care I had the privilege to enjoy an almost natural birth which I never thought I would ever experience. I felt overjoyed but the joy was shortlived.
Not long after, other more serious challenges emerged. My eldest daughter was diagnosed with asthma, my son was diagnosed with autism and my youngest daughter was diagnosed with asperger syndrome. I never expected to become a mum of special needs children but I have and the impact this has had on my life has been enormous. My dreams of enjoying my children’s participation in school and other events never materialised with my younger children. They have not being encouraged to be part of the school community. Instead my son’s autism has been the subject of gossip amongst parents and bullying by other children and my parenting has been questioned by many.
If that isn’t difficult enough, my son’s mental health problems caused him to become a prisoner in his own home. The challenges were immense but we succeeded in helping him to recover and to start at a specialist school but after a year he could no longer cope and he is once again back out of school. As for my daughter, her experience in mainstream school has been equally difficult and the lack of support has caused her to drop out as she can no longer cope with the anxiety and stress.
As a result I am trapped at home as a 24/7 carer to two autistic children who have been appallingly treated by the education system. I cannot work and the few pathetic hours I do a week is hardly worth writing about here. Sometimes I resent not having a life outside the home; sometimes I resent my enforced imprisonment and I yearn to have a break but that is only sometimes.
Most of the time I’m happy to do all I can for my children and I do feel privileged to be my children’s mother. However motherhood is tough, tougher than anything I’ve done in my life so I only think it’s fair that I am allowed to rant occasionally about my situation and how I’ve been treated as a mother which is anything but the “superior citizenship” the author suggests. Being able to express myself in this way helps me to destress which ultimately helps me to find the strength to continue to fight for my children’s rights. Without that opportunity, how much worse would I feel?
By ranting I do not mean to make the lives of those who cannot become mothers worse and in their presence I would of course act sympathetically to them. But neither do I expect people who don’t understand my life to tell me what I should or should not be feeling. Of course I feel blessed to be a mother but I also feel deep anguish too.