Forget ‘I love you.’ THESE are the three words every woman (mother) needs to hear.
Having kids is the most challenging thing you can throw at a relationship.
If you have them, you already know this. And I probably don’t need to say much more. If you don’t yet have kids but plan to, you might want to stop reading.
Right about now.
A mother’s love.
When you become a mother, you throw your heart and soul into your kids. Literally. They steal your heart and they suck up your soul. And you will never be the same again.
You’ll be better in some ways. Less selfish. Patient to the point of passivity. And finally, you’ll feel REAL unconditional love. Because even when they’re driving you absolutely bonkers, you’d still kill for them. In a heartbeat.
In other ways you’ll be worse. That unconditional love? Well, it can be a real sod when it comes to living your life independently of your kids. They will form the backdrop of every thought, plan and dream you ever have again.
This is the bane of the mother.
It’s different for dads.
When you become a father, your world changes in a different way.
The equilibrium shifts, for sure. But unless you’re a stay at home dad, the foundations of your life remain much the same. You still go to work. You still have after work drinks. You still have a certain sense of freedom.
Safe in the knowledge that your kids are being loved and well looked after.
This is the fortuity of the father.
Growing together or drifting apart?
You imagine having kids will bring you closer together. In the early years, certainly, more often than not you can find yourselves drifting apart.
She thinks. He carries on like he always has. Nothing’s changed for him. I wish he realised this motherhood lark isn’t all coffee and cakes.
He thinks. She’s no fun anymore. What’s with all the nagging? Some days she seems positively deranged.
At odds with one another’s new lives, the cracks start to appear.
Actually, she’s not deranged at all. She’s just really challenged.
Because the chances are that the bulk of the responsibility for those kids falls to her. And that means having to think about someone else before herself ALL OF THE TIME. 24/7.
It means living on a knife’s edge. Always being at the mercy of others. Small ‘others’ no less.
Will the kids do what they’re told? Will we be on time? Did I get that fish pie out of the freezer? Bugger, I forgot to put the washing out. S*** where are my keys? WHO’S HIDDEN THE KEYS? Why are you wearing sparkly socks to school? God, I’m tired. Put your shoes on PLEASE! Must get a present for so and so’s party on Saturday. Where did I put the baby?
These are just some of the thoughts that permeate a mother’s mind. ALL AT ONCE.
The responsibility builds with each child. So, whilst he’ll possibly expect her to cope better because she’s done it before, the reality is that the demands on her time become even greater.
He carries on like he always has. She becomes even less fun.
And so the cracks deepen.
Longer shifts than an ER doctor.
Most of the mothers I know, myself included, have at one time or another felt sheer disappointment at the hands of their other half.
Because sometimes, we feel unappreciated. Misunderstood. And downright resentful.
We didn’t know what motherhood really involved when we signed up. How tough it would be. That it would mean giving up the right to a hot cup of tea, a moment’s peace, our jobs, our bodies, our sanity. Our basic needs.
We didn’t realise that it would mean working longer shifts than an ER doctor. That there would be no promotions. No payrises. No appraisal.
We didn’t realise that it would change the core of our very being. So that we would no longer be able to think how we used to think.
We didn’t realise. Full stop.
Just tell her.
We all need praise. Encouragement. To feel like we are doing a good job.
We raise our kids on the premise of positive reinforcement. Yet we forget how much we need it ourselves. To get through those tough days. To remember that we are doing our best even when everything is going wrong. To keep in mind that what we are doing is really, really hard.
Dads. This is where you come in.
Forget ‘I love you’ (though that is nice to hear too). Tell her she is AMAZING. That you couldn’t do what she does, day in day out. That you appreciate her and all that she has given up.
Acknowledge her in some way every day because there will be days where she doesn’t have time to acknowledge herself. Don’t think she just knows because you told her a year ago. Those words need to be spoken. Aloud. And often.
Because, Mums? You ARE amazing. Every single day that you give yourself to your children so selflessly and generously whilst compromising your own needs.
THAT is unconditional love.