Being Enough

being enough

This week I turned twenty four. An age that I used to think would be one where I’d have my life together, all figured out. It seems like a properly grown up age, doesn’t it? On paper, I guess I do have that life together. I’ve found a very lovely man, with whom I live in a very lovely apartment, with our (not biased at all here) very adorable toddler. I even work for a company who while I won’t go as far as describing them as very lovely, do treat their employees with decent conditions and some rather lovely perks. I’ve been to university, attained my degree and an education on top of it which didn’t happen in the classroom or lecture hall but rather in the rainy cold mornings spent working towards something Student Union related, or the late night “tired and emotional” chats enjoyed with Lennoxes chips. I live in a city which I now consider home (not quite “home home”, but getting there) after six years here, it’s given me my accent, my love of tea and my life as it currently stands. As far as things go, it’s not a half bad way to be at 24. 

But. Is it enough? Am I being enough?

While on paper I seem to be living a rather nice grownup life, it isn’t the life I envisioned myself living through my teenage years or even in my earlier twenties. To be fair, I headed off to college to do a Drama degree, so it’s quite likely my career path would have been a tad more rocky had I stuck to the dreams of my teenage self (Rachel Berry, I was not). I envisioned further education, masters, phd’s, the potential of becoming a lecturer, or changing my career path and becoming something that required a crazy amount of extra study like a solicitor, or going into research. These days, I’m lucky when Daddy Pig comes out with a scientific statement that I can put down as “educational programming”, or I watch (depressing) documentaries on television or Netflix about the obesity/refugee/economic crisis. Today I ran into someone I used to know back in my heady university days, someone who I’m incredibly happy that her life has worked out the way it has as she’s worked really hard to get where she is and is still the lovely person she always was. But I walked away from that meeting, brief as it was, feeling inadequate. I was wet from the rain, dressed down in a hoodie, a toddler always 5 seconds away from meltdown in the buggy. I looked frazzled, and despite it probably not being real, and probably being my imagination, I felt as if she was looking at me with a look of “So, this is how your life has gone”. If she wasn’t thinking that, I certainly was. 

This is not how I saw my motherhood being. Honestly, I don’t know how I saw it being. I didn’t see it being like this though, spending half my days willing it to be bedtime already, and the other half feeling ridiculously guilty for even having those thoughts. I feel guilty for having post natal depression, for letting it invade my bond which I have with my (as previously referred to) adorable child. He’s a deadly little person, dance moves and all, and yet I am just so tired, so frustrated with not having a manual, with him not having a volume switch or the ability to realise that Mammy isn’t quite able to keep up. Toddlers are hard work, I know, but I’m constantly feeling like I’m not giving him enough, asking myself how many Leaving Cert points each Peppa Pig episode is subtracting from his final total (not to mention the bumps on his head. He’s inherited my accident prone trait. Not good.).I wonder if I should, could, be doing more to bring on his development – and nothing has been mentioned by medical professionals or childcare workers, this is all just in my head. We sing songs, we play games, I try to get him into reading. He loves to brush his teeth and to dance. But each time I try to grab 10 or 15 minutes of peace by placing him in front of Fireman Sam or Peppa, there is a niggling part of me that says “This is not the parent you were meant to be”. I find myself sometimes resenting my motherhood, not so much for the change it has made to my life, but for the fact that I am terrified that I will mess up this tiny little person who has so much potential, and that I have no idea how to stop it if that is what I am doing. In practicality I know I’m doing a semi-decent job, the child treats fruit as sweets, and gets along with other kids perfectly well, while trying to charm every woman that walks by with his smile and tilted head and big brown eyes. The nagging feeling though, the Mammy guilt, the feeling of not being enough is a permanent, unfortunate, fixture. 

Adorable, and good at dealing with phone support. Who wouldn't want to be the best they could be for him?

Adorable, and good at dealing with phone support. Who wouldn’t want to be the best they could be for him?

I sometimes feel like I’m 24 going on 90. My body is failing me (as is my mind). Thanks to an almost two year old back injury, I’ve been out of work sick for months, unable to do basic tasks without pain, in a seemingly unending cycle. It’s not a permanent state of being, there are days and weeks where I feel like I can do anything, but then one act of overdoing it knocks me back a couple of steps. Others my age are heading out on crazy nights out, going travelling, progressing in careers; and I find it an achievement most days to sit in the same chair for more than 20 minutes at a time. This isn’t an “Oh Poor Me”, I swear, it’s just frustrating to know that the things I should be able to do are just outside my reach, thanks to something out of my control. I am extremely lucky in that I have access to wonderful medical professionals who are doing their damnedest to ensure that my physical condition improves so that maybe soon I’ll be 24 going on 40, there is no doubt about it, I’m privileged in a way that makes me feel bad for even having this kind of a rant. I know there are much worse out there. That has been my attitude thus far dealing with my depression – unfortunately it’s also a stick I’ve used to beat myself with, a common one with others suffering from the condition going on anything I’ve read – “What are you upset about, so many people have it worse than you”. I watch the news and see the horrific things going on around the world, I listen to the radio and hear interviews with parents whose kids have been in life threatening situations or are suffering illnesses beyond even my worst nightmares for my child and KNOW that my life is a charmed one, as they go. It just feels like something is missing. 

I have a wonderful life, a supportive family and loving, amazing partner, a funny, intelligent toddler full of love, a beautiful (if half unpacked) home, and I’m sure that my daily stresses are likely heaven to some people’s ears. I just can’t shake the feeling that I’m not being enough. Enough of a mother, enough of a person who has had the education and the chances I’ve had, enough of someone I thought I’d be. I’m not looking for reassurance, thats not what this post is about. I guess its just something I’m going to have to change my standards for myself for. 

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21 Comments

  1. September 20, 2015 / 8:58 pm

    Oh Lisa, I’m both heartened and heartbroken by your honesty in this post. Those feeling are omnipresent in parenting and while you feel they may be related to your young age, believe me, at 40 I feel the same! The mummy I am us not always the mummy I thought I’d be. Parenting is a sea of confusion with Islands of exquisite happiness. It rarely feels like we have any clue if we are getting it right! But each day we get up and resolve to try hard then we are winning. It’s just fine to feel bad, but just know that you are doing great…he is one very lucky boy xx

    • September 20, 2015 / 9:15 pm

      Thank you Elizabeth. It’s just been one of those weeks where my brain has been rising up in revolt against me, I’m sure next week will be better (the child slept through the night last night, going to take that as a good omen!). Thanks so much for reading and your lovely comments, which have made me feel better. You’re right – so much confusion on the way to the feelings of happiness like I’ve never met before, but such fecking lows when I feel I’ve messed up! All we can do is try!

    • September 20, 2015 / 9:27 pm

      You wrote beautifully exactly what I was thinking.
      Lisa – you are doing brilliantly and you’ll turn many more corners before you look back on your 24 year old self and be truly impressed by how well she did given everything that was going on in her life x

      • September 20, 2015 / 9:49 pm

        Thank you Kate, I sincerely hope so. Until then, one day at a time!

  2. September 20, 2015 / 10:41 pm

    I diagnose you with a SERIOUS case of Mammy guilt. Chin up Mrs. If it helps, those encounters happen: I’ve had loads even in recent years when I was happy with my career et al. I wanted to cry after them “it isn’t how it looks!” You’re doing great job, and have a great blog: that is your creative outlet xx

    • September 20, 2015 / 11:25 pm

      Thanks. Yeah, it is a serious case of the Mammy Guilt, just letting it seep into other parts of life! Also, seriously laughed at your last post and shared with friends who are traumatised by their babysitting charges inflicting In the Night Garden on them!

      • September 21, 2015 / 9:01 pm

        Ha, really?! It’s special alright! We got a fab picture of her today sitting with a giant iggle piggle. must update the blog 🙂

  3. September 20, 2015 / 11:52 pm

    Oh Lisa I lived this life and I feel and understand every word.
    Being a young mum is not easy, all those dreams and ambitions are lost as is the person who dreamed them.
    Yes we in a way, mourn a life changed but even on our darkest days we’d not change it.
    Now for the good news, because you began so young, you will, in time, live again. Not a good life, but a great life with your child/children older but you still young enough to enjoy them and live., go out and socialise and have a great time.
    Hang on there you are a mum and a great mum at that. Pat yourself on the back, hug your little one and be good to yourself.

    • September 21, 2015 / 9:08 pm

      Thanks Tric. He’s gotten very affectionate in the last few days which has been lovely – even in my darkest moments, a cuddle and a big kiss from my little blonde man is all I need to realise the world isn’t all that shite after all. I look forward to my rediscovery of nightclubs at 40 when he’s off in college, mortified that his mother is doing tequila shots at the bar.

  4. September 21, 2015 / 8:55 am

    I hear you.

    Happy Birthday. Wishing you some more sense of satisfaction as you read back over this post on your 25th 🙂

    • September 21, 2015 / 4:13 pm

      Thank you 🙂

  5. September 21, 2015 / 11:41 am

    Oh your blogpost has me in tears. You are MORE than enough. Nobody does motherhood – or life for that matter – perfectly. You’ve had a raw deal in terms of health and you’ve still managed to produce that gorgeous little boy. He’s lucky to have you as a mum. You might think that 24 is old but seriously, it’s not. By the time you’re my age you’ll have gotten through the tough stuff and you’ll be laughing. Chin up, you’re doing an amazing job.

    • September 21, 2015 / 9:05 pm

      The comments have me in (good) tears – I wasn’t expecting my little rant on life to have incited feelings in others! It’s not that I’m feeling old at 24 (though at the moment my body says otherwise); more that it’s a completely different world I’m living in than what I envisioned 24 to be. Fingers crossed the tough stuff takes a hike some day soon! Thank you for the vote of confidence, much appreciated.

  6. September 22, 2015 / 7:57 am

    I think feeling guilty is part of the territory, It is really hard to be a parent, whether you planed it or didn’t, whether you work as well or stay at home.
    You’re doing a great job xx
    #anythinggoes

    • September 22, 2015 / 11:32 am

      Thank you. Yes unfortunately the guilt is a forever thing regardless of what we do!!

  7. September 23, 2015 / 9:40 pm

    What a heartbreakingly honest post Lisa. You have written what most of us have thought at one time or another and really quite often.
    You have had a tough time and are doing an amazing job, be kind to yourself xx

    • September 24, 2015 / 8:45 am

      Thank you x it felt good to get it out!

  8. September 27, 2015 / 9:41 am

    Thank you for linking up with #anythinggoes linky You mention about feeling guilty. Well I’m not going to say don’t because I feel guilty if there are days when I am willing it to be bedtime. However We shouldn’t, easier said than done though. Sometimes children just test your patience so much and whilst its not there fault all the time its only human nature to feel like we just need a break or need it to be bed time. I love this post you have written it in such a lovely way. x

  9. September 29, 2015 / 8:20 pm

    As you know I’m far from having a toddler so I can’t really relate to some of this but in some ways I can. First off, if you weren’t worrying about being the best you that you can be for the sake of that adorable (and I can attest to his adorableness!) little man then I’d be worried about you. It’s only natural.

    As for feeling like others are judging what you’ve become, shove over there and let me join you! I have an extremely varied educational experience and it seems to be getting more varied every day. I’m constantly faced with the ‘so exactly what ARE you going to do with yourself?’ question at every turn and I hate telling people what I’m doing because it always gets the ‘riiiight and what the hell has that to do with archaeology’ response. It’s a battle I’ve given up fighting because it only leaves me feeling crappy. Life never turns out the way we want but at least you aren’t still stuck in your mams home with nothing to do! You have an amazing little boy, a partner that adores you and a job that, when you’re able, you’ll kicking ass at and be counting down the seconds till you get home. Chin up sweetheart, it’ll all feel better some day, I promise!

    • September 29, 2015 / 9:58 pm

      Thanks. On my good days I know all of this. On bad days… I’ll keep this to look at.

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