Someone very lovely mentioned to me recently that is must be hard having no one to handover to in the evening for a break after a long day of, well, having a toddler. And to be honest, although there are lots of things that suck about being a single mum (like having no one to do the washing up), I’m not really sure I would list that as one of them. Often I have friends who have been solo parenting for a few days say “I don’t know how you do it!” and I just kind of shrug. Maybe it’s because it’s kind of always been this way, or maybe it’s because the unconventional routine we have works for us and my “me time” comes when Dil is with his dad. Whatever the reason, it made me realise something. Perhaps to an outsider or to people who haven’t gone through it my situation seems difficult, but I’ve never really seen it that way. I never made a choice to be strong; I’ve just adjusted to my reality and I keep on carrying on, getting shit done and coping the best I can – as we all do regardless of what we are facing. The mama struggle is real, but it can look different to each of us.
We are all in this motherhood thing together, we all have this mutual understanding of how amazing and how awful it can be in a way that no one else ever could. But we are all facing our own individual battles and different hurdles and someone else’s struggle or how they cope isn’t a reflection of our own and how we survive ours. I often look at friend’s situations from an outsider’s perspective and wonder how on earth they cope. How they manage to deal with the stress and the strain of what they are facing. What heroes they are for not only surviving these battles but making them look easy! Getting through things I can’t imagine, and handling it with such strength and ease.
I have a beautiful friend, who may well be reading this right now, who is an incredible mother to two gorgeous children. Who dealt with (and continues to deal with) a whole list of hurdles. She battled gestational diabetes, deals with multiple food allergies and I’m not sure she ever sleeps. I don’t know how she does it! I don’t know how she gets out of bed every morning and takes on another day. And yet, she seems to totally have it under control. She seems to be taking it all in her stride, carrying on every day and powering through. She’s a mama hero and she doesn’t even know it, because that’s her reality and she gets up and she survives the day because that’s what we do, as mothers. We get up and we get on with it and keep on going, no matter what obstacles we face.
Someone can seem so strong as we watch them handle things we would never want to face, and it leaves us wondering why we find our own, seemingly much easier reality, so hard to deal with. How can my beautiful friend deal with everything life has thrown at her so brilliantly and I can’t even keep my house tidy. But the struggle is relative. Maybe they look at our situation and feel exactly the same way. Because very recently my beautiful friend told ME that she’s always thought I was amazing, for facing my own battles! Just as I was admiring her for being such a strong, inspirational mama, she was feeling the same way about me. I think as mothers we all have a tendency to play down what we cope with, what we survive, what we face. It’s nothing, it’s just life, it’s ok. We see the things we haven’t done, the things we could’ve tried harder at, and somehow we miss all the amazing accomplishments we’re racking up. We are stuck in this habit of only seeing our shortcomings and we are missing so many of our achievements and strengths.
We are mothers. We get up, we get on with it and we survive the day. We keep going. It’s not a choice, it’s what we do. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t a hero for doing it. That doesn’t take away from the fact that you are strong and you are brave and you are inspiring people around you. So even when you feel like you aren’t coping, even when you feel like you’re doing a terrible job and you’re messing it all up. Remember that to someone you’re a hero, you’re amazing, and to someone you’re their inspiration to carry on. Next time you catch yourself listing everything you’ve done badly and everything you could’ve tried harder at, stop. Treat yourself as you would a friend and start listing everything you’re doing right, everything you’ve achieved and all the things you’ve survived. I bet you’ll be surprised at how long that list becomes.
Photography by Mr. Adam Robertson