Mummy stuff

Balcony moments. Or: please keep that guilt to yourself

balcony moments

I had a conversation with my mother-in-law recently, during which she referred to those days when the kids are really small and you sleep way too little as ‘those days with balcony moments’. You know, when in the middle of the night after what feels like the one thousandth night in a row you find yourself pacing up and down the hallway with your bawling, kicking and screaming child in your arms. When you have tried everything and there is nothing left to try. When you are so tired, you feel like your legs will not carry you any further, let alone you and your child. When you cry with your child in unison and when jumping from a balcony (with or without child) has crossed your mind, even if only briefly.

Luckily, we are past nights with balcony moments. Also, we live in a ground floor flat. But I remember feeling so tired and weak at some point, I had to wake Big M regularly in the middle of the night for him to take the screaming baby away from me, fearing I couldn’t physically hold her any longer.

I also remember talking to one particularly annoying other mum who countered each of my confessions of early motherhood’s struggles with the words ‘but aren’t they such a blessing?’ It used to freak me out – seeing her bleary eyed, teetering at the edge of abyss that is PND, knowing that she had cried for the better part of the day (and night). Why couldn’t she admit that motherhood sometimes is bloody hard, no matter how beautiful and healthy your child is, no matter how desperately you wanted a baby?

We are not making it any easier for ourselves by covering up how shitty (poo nappy, anyone?), lonely and exhausting motherhood can be at times. Why pretend? Why pass on your irrational feeling of guilt to someone else? Why deny the existence of balcony moments?

17 Comments

  1. Laura Perks says

    God, yes.
    Immediately upon reading the title of your post, my mind rushed back to a time of debating (at 3am) whether it was kinder on my daughter to jump with her, or leave her behind with the knowledge that her arrival contributed to my jump.
    Dreadfully. And something to be gotten through & worked through, not pushed aside & hidden.

  2. I applaud you on this post because we’ve all been there-especially first time motherhood for me-a baby with colic and just feeling so alone with family so far away.

    I think women need to start being more honest with one another (and the media with their ‘perfect motherhood’ approach making you feel you need to hand in your vagina at the thought that parenting isn’t all rainbows and unicorns)…

    However in your friend’s defence, when you’re so lost, so sleep deprived and down finding the confidence to admit how hard it is, is well…can be so hard.

    Things have to change and posts like this will help. Thanks for this x

  3. I pretended with Maxi as if I didn’t, I would have jumped. I was trying to convince myself more than I was countering anything anyone else said.

    Motherhood is the HARDEST thing I have ever attempted

  4. Cordula says

    Yay for that post! I am currently stuck at home with a sick child. My boyfriend is traveling for work and has been so for almost three weeks (and another two to come). It is almost like it was in the very early days.

  5. Jeez, I have no idea why people hide the fact that it’s bloody hard and yes, there will be moments when you want to walk out of the door and carry on walking forever. Babies are divine and children are a joy but it’s really okay not to enjoy every moment.

  6. …and apart from hard work, it’s a very lonely one too – thanks for sharing & making it less lonely 🙂
    PS: ‘Balcony moments”, great phrase coined there.

  7. Yes, honesty is important but I guess some people cope by repeating such positive mantras. no guilt intended. I’m one of the people who needs to share how bad things are, and more often than not, I met with wandering eyes, it is not what people want to hear. Thankfully I had my blog and a partner who listened and took baby when I was close to the abyss (no idea how single mums do it, they are superheros). But even now, I’m reluctant to speak publicly about the really dark moments – so you’re totally right, it would be good if there was more honesty, while there’s also those who can only cope by pretending all is manageable. It’s the straw they cling to. Or the fact that none of my mummy friends admitted that their baby wasn’t sleeping through at 9 months, which freaked me (and how much more relaxed was I when I knew it was normal 2nd time around, my 3 year old still mostly doesn’t sleep through but it’s ok). It would have so helped if only one had said, yes, ditto.

  8. Great post, that I can definitely relate to and the idea behind Kensington Mums.

    It occurred to me that mums really need a network support so that they won’t feel alone in a haze of milky delight during the first few months of being a Mum. Being a Mum is definitely the hardest job, but rest assured you are not alone!

    Lets all put the mmm into motherhood x

  9. I think blogging has hugely contributed to this. Before blogging, I think mums found it very hard to find a place where they could say “help!” or just “I’m so tired, promise me this will pass”.

    Now, it’s much more acceptable to do so. I truly believe blogging was instrumental in making this happen, and changing the culture. People felt safe to confess anonymously online to such feelings, and now that’s fed out into the wider culture (as blogging became less anonymous).

    Hurrah for bloggers!

  10. Very well said.

    I went to see a friend with a new baby the other day. She is in her mid forties and it’s her first child. She was actually brutally honest about how hard it is – which I found refreshing. I’m sure some people do find it all rewarding but I think most people struggle.

  11. Yeah I know what you mean the first few years can be rough on your sanity. But thankfully I don’t have a very good memory so now mine are 13 and 10 I look back on most of it with rose tinted spectacles even those funny moments like being at the playground when they were small and them both crapping themselves and me having no change of clothes with me….although it probably wasn’t all that funny at the time …….

  12. mummy to two says

    What a refreshing post!

    I am finding this more and more, that some mums just gloss over how hard it is and if you admit how hard it is, its almost like you are weak. Not a good mother. Someone who isn’t coping, I am constantly telling my younger sister who doesn’t have kids how hard it is. Not to put her off but so that she goes into it with her eyes wide open! I want her to enjoy it of course but its not all glam nappy bags and fancy posh buggies and the latest baby fad, its sleepless nights for years not just months, its coping alone because the husband is working such long hours to pay for the children and its not having five minutes to read a magazine. Finish a coffee, chat to a friend on the phone without interuption

    Of course I love my children and I have struggled with guilt buying myself something or spending time alone doing nothing but hey when I became a mum, I did so to be a mum not to give up my entire life as an individual

    4years in, I’m only just realising that its ok to admit how hard it is and I’m not selfish for wanting time out sometimes.

    X

  13. Great post! I can definitely relate to this from when I had my first son..OMG…colic, chaos, PND and I tried to talk to other mums about that it’s not always happy days, but they looked at me like I was a bad bad mum..;). Then when we had our second son, it was easier – he was so laid back and chilled, slept well etc, but with just 2 years between them and my oldest still being extremely active..it was HARD…then now a year ago (tomorrow!!) we had our third little son….and believe it or not, but it has more or less just been rosy and fluffy clouds since he was born;) He slept through from when he was 5 days old (never ever feeds in the night- I thought people lied when they said their babies did!!) and it’s been so nice to be able to experience a nice baby year (which makes me feel guilty towards my two older boys…), but of course it’s hard and I’m shattered every single day, no back up here (my parents live abroad) and my husband works long days and two of my boys are just soooooo full on, but lovely! ooohh..this is getting long…All I wanted to say was..thank you for a lovely post! I know how you feel! xx

  14. This needs to be said, and said more often.
    We are sold a dream before we have baby. The dark and difficult times are never shown to us, we don’t share with those not yet in that space for fear of appearing weak. We don’t share amongst other mother’s enough, too often we pretend – it’s all OK.
    It would be so much easier if it was all more honest.
    Babies used to be born into tight knit communities, mothers, sisters, friends on hand, now we have babies in isolation in every sense. We should connect more often and that’s what i love most about blogging. The opportunity to connect and the honesty.
    thank you X

  15. I couldn’t agree more. I had plenty of balcony moments (great turn of phrase), and suffered from post natal illness which lasted two years, sometimes I wonder if I really am better now (i’ll keep taking the pills). I had terrible anxiety and intrusive thoughts, I still get the thoughts. And many a time, I wanted to throw myself off something. I great post. Thank you. X

  16. This is a refreshingly honest post, highlighting that occasionally mums do find it isolating, lonely or frustrating when at home all day every day with their baby and on 4 hours sleep a night, much as they are loved and you would do anything for them.

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