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The Bad Mother's Guide to Parenthood

Evie Sparkes is a published novelist, content writer and company director from the UK.

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A Bad Mother From The Start

So I decided I wanted a baby. I was twenty eight at the time. The perfect age for motherhood I concluded. Yes, I would be able to get really, really fat and it wouldn't matter. I could eat cakes to my little heart's content. I could slouch about in over-sized clothes and not bother to do my hair and it wouldn't matter one bit. I'd be pregnant, and pregnant women have an excuse to do all of those things. I was actually looking forward to it. Yes, I was going to be a Mother. The reality of motherhood hadn't really occurred to me though. I think I'd forgotten that I'd be left with a real-life tiny human-being nine months along the line. Bad mother syndrome had kicked in early on. I was on my way to it at an accelerated rate.

It's all very well consuming copious amounts of sugar and getting larger by the day but at some point there will be a price to be paid. Of course I paid that price and then some. I put on a whole four stone, yes you read it right. Two stone is recommended. An extra one is frowned upon. An extra two is considered irresponsible at best. I was starting as I meant to go on.

I was deluded until the last minute. In preparation for the birth and my returning super-flat stomach I laid out all of my size 10 clothes and smiled to myself. I was ready to look good again. I would burn my pull on trousers and invest in some three inch heels. It was okay to be a mother and fashionable right? I'd be the same person, just with a baby. How difficult could this stuff be anyway?

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A Stressed Husband And No Sign Of My Midwife

So the day came. I started having contractions at around four in the morning. This is easy I thought to myself. I don't know what these women are complaining about. And I'm a lightweight, so they must be super-dramaqueenish.

I was whisked off to the hospital at six only to be informed that my midwife was busy with another pregnant person that had inconveniently got her first ( I had opted for a group midwife program) I could hear said inconvenience wailing from my little room.

So there we were...all alone. I was given gas and air of course. I also had some pethidine. That was all I needed to feel like I didn't even need a midwife. I could do this all by myself. After-all, that's what women did in the dark-ages wasn't it? Yeah and most of them died my husband Jeremy said sternly as he shoved the gas mask back onto my chattering mouth.

Not a sign of a midwife, not even a nurse or even a receptionist in sight. We're short staffed, a sister had informed us half an hour previously. Too right they were short staffed. I had started to push and everything. Admittedly I was holding each horrific urge in for as long as I could but there came a point when I knew that my baby was coming midwife or not. Jeremy could be heard shouting like a lunatic. His voice echoing in my ears as he charged around the ward in desperation. I realised that any moment now I was giving birth. Oh well, it'll be a story to tell I told myself.

Five minutes later an irritated sister, the one from earlier, popped her head around the door.

'I'm pushing' I said. 'Can I have an epidural because I might die if not?'

'You can't be pushing yet' she said as she moved towards me. "let me look' I think she rolled her eyes too. 'Oh...yes you are. Oh dear. No epidural, too late for that now' she said, like it didn't matter that I was in utter agony and was clearly about to have a heart-attack.

Half an hour later, there he was. 'Don't you want to know what you have?' the irritated sister asked me.

'Oh yeah, what is it?'

'It's a boy.'

'Oh really, everyone said I was having a girl.'

With that, off I was wheeled down to theatre with a third degree tear. Three hours later, I was still in recovery. They'd forgotten all about me....


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Stressful Birth Equals Bad Mother

Well I say it was stressful. More for Jeremy than me to be honest. I was rather away with the fairies and as it turned out, I got my epidural when I had to be stitched back up. I couldn't move, so the girl in the bed opposite me was looking after Harry for me. I pretended for a while too. I was a bit concerned about the little thing in the see-through cot beside me. Was he really mine? What if they'd picked up the wrong one when they took him off for a bottle feed earlier? He didn't look like me. He had a mass of black hair and a scrunched up cauliflower ear. was that even normal?

I immediately decided that I was going to be a bad mother. I could feel it in my bones. I wasn't cut out for it. Why had I ever thought that I was? Everyone knows that I'm not the maternal type. I knew it. You idiot, the little voice in my head berated me. Now look what you've done.

So there I was with this tiny little person that would be relying on me to live. I could barely sort myself out, let alone anyone else. I've made a terrible mistake. I wonder if it's too late for adoption?

When Is it Bed Time?

I spent most of Harry's first few months waiting for bed time. His not mine. We'd watch C beebies which finished at six and then Jeremy would get home. Then it was his turn. It wasn't fair. He had all day to do what he wanted. He could go to the pub for lunch, have coffee with clients, laugh about the fact that I was cooped up at home with nothing to comfort me bar a seven pack of Twirls. I was depressed. Actually at this point I was just a bit low. Depression would kick in big time a few months later. I won't go into that in this article. That's for another time.

I'd Get Better at This

I imagined I'd get better at this motherhood thing when Harry got a bit older. It was just babies I didn't like very much. Hmmm...nope. I realised fairly quickly that I was selfish. I didn't want to give up my stuff. I didn't actually know what my stuff was at that point, but whatever it was, I didn't want to give it up to go to the park or make people out of play dough.

I internalised all of my feelings. You can't very well say that you don't like motherhood when you have a child can you? He might have been taken off me and given to a couple deemed more appropriate. Yes I was rubbish at this, but I full on loved Harry. I wouldn't have changed anything in reality. If I could have gone back, I'd still have had him. I just wanted to be better at being his Mum.

Still a Bad Mum?

And so it went on. I never did manage to get to that point. It didn't suddenly click. I never liked the 'kids' things. I suffered all of it with a heavy heart and spent far too many hours wishing I was just like all of the other mum's who clearly did get this stuff.

I was right. I wasn't really cut out for motherhood. Okay, so I wasn't a bad mum, just a little....oh I don't know. I want to say inferior, but I don't like any of the words that describe what I was.

Harry however, has a whole other memory of me as a Mum. I told him how I felt back then. 'Really?' he asked, quite perplexed. 'I didn't ever think you were a bad mum'

That was all I needed to hear. He's almost nineteen now. He's one of the kindest and most caring people I have the pleasure of knowing. We get on like a house-on-fire. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by my love for him.

I wasn't a bad mother. I was just overwhelmed by the magnitude of the responsibility and spent too much time wondering why I wasn't like everyone else. But how did I know what everyone else was really like? You never know what goes on inside a person's head.