Yesterday, for a brief few minutes, I forgot I had a child.
I was walking to my block from the lift, hands clutching plastic bags, shoulders free. I had just returned from a business meeting and a baby shower, and I was wearing a short off-shoulder frock that felt nice and jaunty. It felt just like an ordinary day and for a moment, I felt like I could set my bags down, take a shower, play with my dog, put on a show and snack with my feet up while watching it.
And then I remembered – and the familiar dread came descending down again. That was my old life. This, my new life, would just mean I would go home to my husband who was bravely holding down the fort for five-and-a-half-hours for the first time, and take over mummy duties.
And that was what happened. What followed next was three hours of feeding, diaper changes, burping, rocking and sssh-ing, a 30 minute nap (her, not me), and trying to soothe a cranky baby girl after she woke up from it, while my knackered husband took a nap.
To say I’m exhausted would be an understatement. The truth is, I’m barely holding myself together.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my baby very much. Her beautiful face, her gummy toothless smiles whenever I talk to her in the mornings, her defying-gravity spiky hair, and her expressive big doe eyes. I love them all. We made her, and by some miracle she turned out to be this wonderful, adorable little human who is more than what we could ask for.
But, and there’s always a but, I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus – every day.
We have very little day-to-day family support, so we rely a lot on ourselves and the occasional charitable help from relatives, friends, friends’ mothers, and my dad’s helper.
My husband is a rock. He helps with everything when he’s back from work, and tries his best to reduce the amount of things I have to do when I’m home alone. Poor guy is pretty much tired and overwhelmed himself.
But alone, I feel inadequate, helpless, lost and useless most of the time, especially when she cries from being overtired because I’m unable to settle her down for a nap, or from gas/colic. And she cries. A lot. I find myself constantly in dread, with barely enough time to do anything in between crying bouts.
The darkness is real.
They say motherhood is instinctual, but not to me. It’s a painful, arduous learning journey, filled with anxiety, endless googling, bombardment to mummy Whatsapp groups and cries of despair to the hapless husband. It’s the toughest, more gruelling thing I’ve ever done in my life.
And part of the problem is my unwillingness to let go of my previous life. If only, oh if only I could just let go of that incredible sadness overwhelming me whenever I think about how this is my life now, things will be better for me. But that’s another battle I have to fight on my own.
I know this will pass. The saying goes: “The days are long but the years are short.” That’s what’s keeping me going. That soon she will grow up too fast and not need me anymore, and I will grow old and need her more.
So despite every day being a rollercoaster, I tell myself to hold on tight for the ride. Because it’ll be over soon before I know it. And her smiles, with that gorgeous twinkle in her bright eyes, make every pain worth it.
Just need to find a good buckle to strap me in so I don’t fall off.