They really are 6 and 8 years old now. I am actually a proper mother, not a woman flailing around crazily thinking what on earth happened to MY LIFE. Truth is I can’t remember really being me before the girls. It’s not a long time but it’s a significant one. It’s more significant than any other single thing that has happened to me or that I have been part of. Having children was something I assumed I’d do when I grew up. But yet I find myself looking at them or driving them home from school thinking ‘how on earth did anyone let me do this?’. The idea of myself as a responsible adult is, frankly, extraordinary.
Now here I am just over 8 years after I gave birth to Eliza, I run my own PR business – a dream I had held for so long but until I met Emma-Jo (my business partner) it was never a feasible reality – I am mistress of my own destiny. We live in a nice village. We are happy. Him indoors is an amazing teacher. Wow. On paper it looks so amazing doesn’t it?
And yet…and yet there are times when I’m terrified of the ‘black dog’. He never really left me, he followed me here from London, from my teenage years I guess. He waits in the shadows for a moment when I’m really truly bone-tired. Stressed. That’s when he makes his return. And he lurks around, he gets closer. But what he doesn’t realise is that now I have so much more to beat him off with. I have Him Indoors. A man who really does love me. He might not really understand what all this weird depression stuff is about (who really does?) but he supports me nevertheless. I have two girls who would do anything for their mother (when really pushed – let’s be honest it’s not their first thought on waking up), but they are a reason for me to beat that dog into submission. And I do. Effectively.
I have good friends. Old friends who know me and know what I mean when I say ‘I’m a bit low, a bit overwhelmed’ and I am lucky enough to have new friends who are getting it. They maybe didn’t quite realise the ‘dark side’ existed but they will support me and be there for me and I love them for that.
It’s not easy, but who can honestly say their life is? It takes a steely determination to fight. Fight for the happy and content person you know you are deep down. Isn’t that what we all do each and every day? One look at your Facebook feed will show you the happy, joyful people (pictures, happy status updates), those seeking meaning (inspiring quotations) and those honest enough to say that actually right now life is a bit shit.
So this mummy’s life has moved on so much from my first post. I’m a very different person. But ironically I’m probably more Holly than I’ve been for years. Kids knock you about (not literally, well not always), they kick your old self into the hedge. You become a MOTHER. You lose yourself. It’s corny and hackneyed but isn’t anything that’s true? We can’t find any new words so we use the same ones and the words become predictable.
Today we have had old friends round for lunch. Friends who were with us on a short break when Eliza was crawling. They have a 2 year old who is utterly divine. It made me think in sharp focus about those times with a toddler and a baby. Him indoors and I chatted about it and he said that he literally couldn’t remember it clearly, it was a blur. And it is. A blur of just moving from one job, one task to the next, the occasional moment spent cuddling your children thinking ‘wow’. But then you’re back on the treadmill.
And it doesn’t really ever end, of course it doesn’t. It just gets different. You’re not changing nappies, trying to breastfeed, trying to get them to sleep, praying with all your being that they will sleep all night. You’re worrying about friendships. Are they happy at school, are they getting on okay, do they have problems. Then you worry about their music taste – Taylor Swift – really?
As I sit here listening to Joni Mitchell, my go-to for all my ‘black dog’ nights, I am reminding myself of how lucky I am.
On balance, I’ll happily admit that it’s all good in this mummy’s life.