I had the best weekend recently. I got the luxury of a date night with my main man, we (I, it’s always I) purchased tickets to a club to stomp along to a favourite DJ of ours, dropping some banging tunes – we still say stomp, drop and banging right? Months ago I bought the tickets and dreamed of our date night. Devil child was adopted for the night by her best friend auntie (She’s MY best friend) and ‘best snuggle giver’ uncle, while mum and dad shoveled drink down their throat, just to get over pre-night out jitters – it’s been a while, I tend to get a little antsy before going out these days. I’m out of practice.
Pumped full of Sailor Jerrys off we went into the night. Until, wait for it…..4am! Say what?! Parents out till 4am, what stop outs…what fools. But don’t worry, the babysitters assured me a late child pick up the following day was acceptable. In fact it was pretty much welcomed, best friend auntie and uncle had the ‘whole day planned’ Elf style. Baking, crafts, playing, cooking, the whole lot, in one day, with a toddler – who’s the fool now?
I woke somewhat refreshed after our night of dancing, also known as repeatedly saying ‘ fuck sake, how young are these kids’, ‘ Christ, I’m old these days’, ‘aye, get a double’, ‘are we those old people we used to see in clubs?’, ‘fuck it, this is where we forged our love, lets dance’. I woke so full of love and happiness, like a weight had been lifted from my shoulder.
From a night out?
Yes. This night out meant more to me than a simple couple night alone. This night out made me feel like me. I wasn’t a mother. I didn’t have chores. I didn’t have responsibilities. I got to be pre-mother me. I got to be chatty Kirsty (who is as rare as finding a Mewtwo). I was drinking, dancing and not seeking out other mothers to talk about motherly shit. It felt amazing to be part of a couple, something my depression has tried, and continues to try and rip from me. We didn’t speak of life and it’s ever nagging list of crap we need to get done. We drank, laughed and had a great night, together, like when we first met 12 years ago.
Parenthood/motherhood, can be wonderful, amazing, the best thing you can ever do – and all that jazz. But it can also be a silent vacuum. It slowly swallows who you are and replaces it with ‘parent’. I’ve become lost in the vacuum. Too often my life revolves around ‘living’. Planning ABC, my mind in over drive thinking of what needs done, who needs to be where, who will crack and empty the dishwasher, when was the last time I cooked a ‘real’ meal. My mind is focused on ‘adulting’ and keeping my child alive long enough she will become a world super star and get me in a really good nursing home.
I wouldn’t change our decision to have a child, I just wish I understood what it entailed before I signed on the dotted line. But would I have understood? How can you relate to another telling you they have ‘lost’ themselves if you too haven’t been lost? More than likely I would have brushed it off, as I did with most flashing parent warning signs. I get it now.
The cape of mother (and father) comes at a cost for many. When I think back to the haze filled first few months of becoming a new parent, its easy to see why the last thing on my mind was being ‘me’. And from there, that parenting shit just snowballed. At first you stop meeting friends for lunches, then you stop going on nights out. Next you stop the random, witty banter via messenger. Keeping up with who’s doing what (or who) becomes as complicated as a Rubik cube after a bottle of wine, blindfolded. Hobbies are too taxing. Slowly but surely your life changes lanes, without you noticing. You change. And I didn’t sign up to that, not entirely.
I’m not exactly thrilled at, nor understand, my change. For one, I never had depression before I had a child. By it’s very nature it has changed my thoughts, my emotions and my relationships – in my mind at least. Along side ‘mother’ I gained the label of ‘depression’. If you laid out being ‘me’ as piece of string, at the right there is ‘me’. I felt like motherhood pulled me to the left, in the middle of the string. Depression whipped me into the air and threw me to the very left of that string, as far away from me as possible. I needed to deal with new thoughts, anxieties, emotions, before I could even think about getting back to me. I was replaced, almost entirely, by postnatal depression. It’s a warped and fucked up place. I remember describing, to a friend, what it felt like at one point. I described myself watching my life and my loved ones behind a pane of glass. I could see and hear them, but I couldn’t feel them. I had no connection with them, infact, some points I pushed them away, purely to feel some kind of emotion towards them. I felt so alone and so isolated, longing to smash through that glass and feel again.
For a long time, and still on occasion, I felt like I was alone. No one cared and no one understood. Depression ripped my logical and empathetic mind from me and replaced it with a hurt, angry, spiteful and nasty little beast. I can’t tell you how many times I pushed my partner away and asked him to leave me. Sometimes to hurt him, but mostly to protect him, from me. I do have a tendency to be a cheeky wee shite, I grew up with brothers, a girls got to assert herself somehow! But the level of hurt I dished out during the height of PND was not me. I knew that, yet I couldn’t always control it, nor did I want too.
After 2 and a half years I’m still learning about depression and myself. I’m not in the same dark place, things are getting better, with bumps here and there. But I’m positive they will continue in the right direction. Depression stripped me of one of the most celebrated moments of my life, my first child. At least for the first year, and it still strips me of days and weeks of life, making me crawl through them trying to reach that ‘better’ place again. I take each day as it comes, taking mental rain checks sussing out if my mood is low for a reason or because of depression. Do I want to be a mean bitch because I’m tired or am I being mean on the commands of depression? Is it justified to want to face punch the wall because my toddler has literally taken 1 hour to put her pjs on or am I getting frustrated too easily?
Mental health aside, being mum has changed pretty much every fiber of me. I used to look at other mothers doing their ‘duties’ and think nothing of it. She’s the mum, doing the washing, cooking the dinner, washing the children, sly drinking whisky in her tea, the usual. Almost like a robot. And thats how I feel at times, minus the whisky, a mum robot. I do my chores. I work. I look after my child. I get up and go every morning, I return home in the evening, do the toddler bed dance, do the ‘look in the cupboard and pretend I’m not going to order Chinese’ dance, I spend a few hours with my partner. Sleep. Repeat. Where does ‘me’ fit in? Where are the random meeting up with friends? Where are the 2am McDonald runs? Where are the spur of the moment ‘lets go out for dinner’ with my partner? Where are the all night box set marathons? Where are the trying not to punch your partner in the face after he’s beat you at Mario Kart 3 times in a row? Where are all the little bits of life that used to be me?
It’s not a complaint, I enjoy my life. I am extremely lucky and even more so grateful. Adjusting to parent life was rough and quick. It’s done and dusted now. We wear our parent red eye badges and grey hair with pride. But I still long to think of myself as me. It’s difficult to put into words. I don’t have the luxury of doing anything without much thought and guilt. A simple meet up with friends request would automatically get a big no from me. As a mother, I feel I have been tasked with majority of child care. That is in no way a reflection on my partner. It’s just our current work/home life situation. So I feel I’m house bound most nights, while my partner has the freedom, if he wishes, to socialise after work. I could, if I found a babysitter, but I don’t like to ask people for anything. My focus, like my partner, is on Jess. I just feel I’m pressured with it more so, due to the sexist world we live in and the roles that have been drummed into our heads. It makes it extremely hard to put myself first. I would love nothing more than to go for dinner after work with a friend, but the logistics of that melt my mind so I lean towards saying no. when what I should do is think ‘this would be really good for me so just do it’.
I miss things that used to be me. Even if it was just lazing about, spending 12 hours straight playing Sims. I would never dream of doing that now. In 12 hours I could declutter Jessica’s room, the loft and the kitchen. Cook a roast, finally take the stuff to the dump and also finally take those black bags to the charity shop. And that’s the difference. My focus is on life and chores and not whats good for me. What do I want? To be fair I do want all those chores done, but I also want to order pizza from my bed as a post pump snack before season 4 of Dexter. And I want to WANT to do those things.
I just kinda miss being me.