The Real Thing

Loud Hailer

Look, even though it’s five years since I witnessed the gore-splattered apocalypse of my love tunnel, otherwise known as childbirth, I am still staggered beyond reason at how mothers aren’t allowed to have individual thoughts and feelings. I have seriously lost track of the times I have spoken the truth about parenting only for someone to try to shush me into submission, for fear I’m indulging in some twisted gender-based dissent. So in an effort to make those someones shit nails of frozen panic, here are the aspects of parenting I’m supposed to be ashamed of… but am not.

Crying for the first five months of my pregnancy: No, not with joy you giant knobscot, but with crushing grief. That’s because contrary to popular belief not all pregnancy testing kits come with party poppers, although I could certainly have done with mine coming with a cyanide capsule and a list of ways to be creative with a bottle of paracetamol. Yeah, I slowly got used to the idea but not fast enough for those people who thought that I should resemble the beatific Virgin Mary.

Feeling nothing when my child was born: You have to be shitting me with this post-birth epiphany stuff, because the only thing I felt when Kraken Junior exploded forth was a stiff wind through the gigantic, raggedy tear in my biffins. Even when she was plonked onto my chest I asked what in the fuck I was supposed to do with a baby. Believe me, if there was a maternal glow it was chucked away with the stunned placenta and duly incinerated.

Not recognising my own baby: Come on, when was the last time you walked into a crèche of twenty infants and immediately identified your own? Really? Today? Then you’re going to love the fact that not once, in her crèche-based early years, did I recognise Kraken Junior when I collected her. In fact, I’d stagger towards the progeny of a complete stranger before being gently guided to my own. And even then she’d only be familiar because of the freakishly patterned romper she was wearing.

Drinking rum straight from the bottle: Fuck the glass. Or the coke for that matter. Just give me a gobful of Captain Morgan, directly through the neck of a bottle, at Kraken Junior’s bedtime precisely. Yup there have been times when the Cap‘n has put his arm across my chest in an effort to physically stop me committing the sort of act that would headline on News at Ten and I’m not ashamed to admit it. CBeebies Bedtime Hour it ain’t.

Smothering my own child: Oh, don’t look at me like that. I never actually did it but there were times during the 3am blistering blackness of my severe PND and PTSD when I wondered if, just if, I fetched that pillow and… And no that doesn’t make me a monster. It makes me a woman who was so desperate for respite, peace, sleep, food, happiness, a wash and a shit that didn’t tear at my stitches that I was open to even the bleakest of suggestions. Call Social Services if you like but all you’ll find now is me chasing Kraken Junior as I try to blow raspberries on the best little arse in the entire world.

Dumping Kraken Junior’s art work in the bin: Not just because the girl is prolific but because if I kept everything she scribbled, crayoned, painted and pencilled I’d feature on The Hoarder Next Door. That’s why there are days when, within hours of her proudly presenting me with a barely recognisable picture of a panda eating an umbrella, it finds its way into the bottom of the recycling bin. It’s that or having the coroner pronounce my death as ‘suffocation by Crayola’.

Enjoying my hospital stays: Look, in the last year I’ve had three IV-strewn holidays at the behest of the NHS and as ill as I’ve been I’ve also been imbued with a delirious joy at being able to lay still and read while not once being expected to find glue, make tea, pick crusty snot, explain tampons, dress teddy, read The Gruffalo, search for nits, holler “Clean your bloody teeth!” or attempt to remove the “black bits” from a Bolognese sauce. My next hospital stay is in November for major facial surgery and, frankly, I can’t fucking wait.

Still not knowing if I want to be a mother: Yes, there are still days when Kraken Junior runs into our bedroom and I wonder who in the fuck let that kid into the house. And yes, there are still days when I want to stick a pin in the departure board of our nearest airport before taking a one-way flight to the Hindu Kush. Then I see that little arse scamper past me and I’ll be fucked if I actually forget where my passport is. Raspberry, anyone?

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14 Responses to The Real Thing

  1. Molly says:

    Ha! My son is 14 today and I still have this one “Still not knowing if I want to be a mother:” on a regular basis!

    I hate the whole ‘earth Mother – parenting is a wonderful happy experience” nonsense. Not enough people feel able to say the truth, it is frigging hard work, exhausting, expensive, guilt ridden, roller coaster ride that robs you of your sanity. I love them both but boy do they drive me utterly bonkers!


    • The Kraken says:

      Thank you Molly! It’s good to know I’m not alone in not knowing if I want to be a mum although I am slightly worried that I’ll still feel that way in ten years’ time.

  2. Halo says:

    Amen, sister.

    I do not remember 6 months of my boy’s life due to being an anxiety-ridden, depressed, shell of a person. The lights may have been on but there was nobody home.

    I am still bracing myself for the knock at the front door that brings two ladies wearing sensible shoes with clipboards who say “MrsH? I’m terribly sorry there has been a massive administrative error. We need to take the children back to their original owner.” I’d believe it too if it weren’t for the impressive patchwork chuff I am now sporting thanks to their arrivals…

    • The Kraken says:

      Whoa! When Kraken Junior was born I asked every visitor to the house when her real mum was coming to get her. You should have seen my health visitor’s face. And I too don;t remember entire swathes of her early years because I was so, so depressed that my brain didn’t seem able to retain any of it.

  3. Liz Dawes says:

    Oh lordy. Innit though. On the OTHER SIDE they are all: “oooohh look I’m crocheting the teacher’s Christmas present and baking cupcake in the shape of my nauseating smile!” Round here it’s more:”I had a shower and the kids are STILL ALIVE”

    Stay on the dark side. It’s more……. Dunno. It’s just more. X

    • The Kraken says:

      I’m right with you there Liz. You know what? I do dressmaking as a hobby and when if make something for Kraken Junior I actually want to punch myself in the face for looking so fucking maternal.

  4. James Hall says:

    Wow! Powerful stuff…. Can’t begin to imagine all of it… being a mere man… but there’s pain and reality and love and humour, tears and laughter… and no escaping affection! Thanks!

  5. Jennifer Bruce says:

    “Dumping Kraken Junior’s art work in the bin” oh guilty as charged – and I have to do it really sneakily these days cos mine’s 13…..

  6. Liz W says:

    Laughing lots and hoping pelvic floor will cope…
    So true, and I am guilty as charged:
    - nearly took the wrong child home from nursery – the other child had the same coat as mine, FFS!
    - sneaking art work into the recycling under cover of darkness “look mummy, these have fallen in here by accident”
    - Dark thoughts. Many deep, dark thoughts. Many swear words that a nice middle class GP mummy shouldn’t know.
    - Many many raspberries! although thighs, not bums, are my fetish…

    thanks again, keep writing these truths.

  7. Bee says:

    I thought it was just me who can’t recall months of her child growing up. Thank you for sharing that – I feel a bit less of a Twat-Mother-fromHell xxx

  8. Rootietoot says:

    I love kids, always have…when I got pregnant for the first time I was over the moon and did all that stuff. Then he was born. It hurt and I was sore and constipated and my boobs hurt and there was this SMALL PERSON who couldn’t DO ANYTHING. I wondered what the hell was I thinking and can I go now, please? It took a solid 2 weeks before I’d even say his name and be able to look at him with any sort of feeling other than fear and resentment. He’s 25 now, with 3 younger brothers…though 2 of them were, shall we say, Entirely Unintentional. I got to where I liked them all well enough, but with ALL of them those initial few months were touch-and-go. Fortunately for them my husband is a phenomenal father, so they got the cuddles and attention they needed.

  9. I think more people need to start telling the truth about motherhood. There’s this big myth surrounding it that sets up every woman to fail on one level or another – if she doesn’t breastfeed, if she goes back to work, if she doesn’t use only washable, reusable, 100% natural nappies which she can then feed to the fucking chickens she keeps in the garden in able to supply her family organic omelets, or whether just sometimes she feels like screaming a few decibels louder than her banshee child just to block out their incessant fucking moaning. Unless you’re gurning like a waxwork as you pad barefoot through your herb garden, wearing your baby and a smug aura of calm then apparently you’re doing it wrong…that sort of bullshit propaganda has to be stopped. So thank you for chipping away at the big mama myth.

    • Rootietoot says:

      Another myth that needs to go away: If you do all that organic stuff you just mentioned, your children will be perfect angels who make perfect grades and get large scholarships, when they’re teens. Also complete bullshit.

  10. Tamara says:

    Thank you so much for sharing these thoughts. And also for cracking me up yet again! (You are so funny, I’m such a a fan!) As someone who has not (yet?!) had her vagina destroyed by a wailing, angry, and red little creature, it is really good to know that it’s okay to not be all confident and happy about the prospect of giving birth one day.

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