Parenting Underwater: when motherhood feels especially hard

by | Nov 8, 2016 | MOTHERHOOD | 0 comments

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I’m in the car and I realise my breath is caught somewhere high in my chest, stuck there and not moving down into my lungs where it is desperately needed. I am breathing through a straw. I am operating a heavy piece of machinery with three small children in the car and I can’t breathe. But the small children don’t realise and they ask and they demand and they bicker and they cry. And I scream. I scream because they won’t stop. Why won’t they stop?

I am paper-thin. I am glass. The wheels move so quickly and they spin and spin and it only takes a tiny stone to flick up, hit that sweet spot, and You. Are. Broken.  

It’s tough. I used to write about how tough it was quite frequently but I stopped after a while because a/ the kids got older and things were actually okay and sometimes even good and b/ I was so sick of the sound of my own voice that I knew you guys must be sick of it, too.

Because how long can one talk about how difficult motherhood and the life of a housewife can be before it starts to sound like one long, monotonous bore? An overstating of the bleeding obvious? We all know this gig is tough. Relentless, boring and exhausting. We also know we need to look for the joyful moments. We’re all trying to do that as best we can, aren’t we? Kids are beautiful, complex creatures and the journey they take us on is just that: beautiful and complex.

But also, motherhood can be kind of soul-destroying. It’s no-ones fault exactly. Kids don’t mean to be annoying, demanding and high maintenance. As dependents, that’s kind of their job. They need to get to school or kinder, they have to eat and bathe and have stories read to them so that they can be wonderful and healthy, well-rounded and fresh smelling citizens of the world. It’s just that the job of meeting all these needs so often falls to mums and it’s hard not to get lost in the chaos.

My family is important to me and I know that if my husband works outside the home all day and I am inside the home all day, that my work is this home. But I have so many other things I want to do and those things are important to me, too. But they never seem to be the priority. Brendon is my greatest supporter and tries to make extra space for me to prioritise those things whenever he can but by necessity, this tends to be at night or on the weekends and by that time, I am often falling in a giant heap. Alone time that I should be spending writing frequently turns into me napping like a little old lady. And by napping, I mean sleeping the sleep of the dead. ‘I’ll just shut my eyes for 20 minutes’ I’ll tell myself and then awake 3 hours later in a puddle of my own drool. I am weary on a level that defies logic. My children are that little bit older now and that little bit more independent and yet, I don’t feel any extra breathing room.

For the record, mothers who work outside the home as well as inside it have my utmost respect. I don’t know how you do it. You are AMAZING.

Sometimes Bren has wondered whether my crushing fatigue is actually depression in disguise. I understand why he thought that. My history of depression is well-documented and it can affect my energy levels and productivity dramatically. But the thing about depression is that my lack of productivity is usually linked to a feeling of hopelessness. Why try when there’s no hope? But I don’t feel like that. I feel on the brink of amazing things. I have so many ideas and dreams I want to bring to life but when you wake up in the morning after 10 hours sleep and feel as though you’ve barely shut your eyes, it’s hard to get motivated.

I was driving Zig and Harlow to Bunnings on the weekend. It was 10am and I felt absolutely broken. It was Sunday morning, I’d had a great sleep the night before. I exercised on Saturday. I hadn’t touched an alcoholic drink all week. There was no reason for my exhaustion but there it was, a weight I dragged along with me all day. I felt unhappy in that moment but I’m not unhappy. I feel so positive about what is ahead. If I could summon the energy to push through and complete the tasks I set for myself each day, shit, I could really do something with my life!

Why can’t I push through? Maybe I’m lazy. I often accuse myself of that. And sometimes I do just say fuck it, and watch Real Housewives episodes. But it’s more than that. Day to day functions feel difficult. I am so disorganised and flailing from one thing to the next. My mind is constantly foggy because I am trying to remember so many things at once. When the kids are around, it’s not only hard to complete a task without interruption but hard to finish a train of thought. I am constantly scattered because I so rarely get quiet time to order my thoughts. I spend my days teetering between comatose and frantic. It’s a terrible way to be.

Even when Bren takes the kids out, I feel panicky the whole time I am alone because I have so many things I need to do while they’re gone and I know before I blink, they’ll be back. I rush around, procrastinate, panic and then just as I settle on a task to complete, the front door goes and my heart sinks. It sinks.

When I drop my kids to school, I don’t miss them. I don’t. In fact, I dread the time I need to pick them up again because our time apart is never enough to refill what I have lost since becoming their mum. My deficit grows and grows and I wonder when it might ever start to tip back in my favour?      

I love my kids. My god, I love them. But I am still trying to find a balance between being there for them and being there for ME.

So things are messy right now. But even the act of typing this piece gives me a sense of accomplishment. I have written something. I have taken a moment for me and it feels good. I woke with just the slightest bit more energy and it was enough. I don’t need to be robustly energetic at all times. I can exist on so much less than that. But even a fraction more than I have currently been feeling goes such a long way.

They say that blog posts should be useful and I fear I fail miserably at this. All I have to offer are my stories, my honest account of how I am experiencing this life. I can’t be a shiny figure of aspirational togetherness. That is not my truth. This is. And I hope that somehow, my truth is useful to you.


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Hello friends


I’m Angie!  I mum. I write. I wife. My husband would say this is the correct order.  He’s so neeeedy. I live with my family in Melbourne, Australia, where I complain about the weather for 90% of the year – but I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Except maybe in Lake Como, waving to my neighbours George and Amal each morning.

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