Does this admission make me a bad mum?
While the love is unconditional, the enthusiasm for family life is not always consistent.
Some weeks I’m on top of things and manage to juggle work responsibilities, family commitments and mother/daughter time with next to no trouble, but then there are the other times.
While I wish I could say that work takes a back seat or the household tasks get sidelined during these times, unfortunately that’s not the case.
During these excessively hectic weeks when I long for pre-relationship, pre-kid days, I’m ashamed to say that it’s my daugher Ella who bears the brunt of it.
I can’t exactly tell my manager to rein in his requests nor can I have my family living in a slovenly hovel, but I can tell Ella to leave mummy alone for a bit while she gets back on track.
I know how this sounds, believe me.
And before you jump the gun (like I would if I was reading this) and conclude that Ella is left to wash, feed and dress herself while her mum works on spreadsheets no one will ever actually consult, that’s not the case.
I tend to Ella’s practical needs, but during those times there’s no use in claiming I’m emotionally available.
I make sure she’s safe and her life is running to order, but there are no impromptu DVD evenings nor are there any Saturday morning snuggles as I frantically try to regain my equilibrium.
While I wish these periods lasted a weekend at most, it horrifies me to realise that there can be at least a fortnight every now and again when I find myself shutting off from the family as I frantically try to keep everything in place.
Thankfully, my partner is aware that I’m doing my best, so he picks up the slack and Ella relishes time with daddy as much as time with mummy, so it’s not like she knows anything is up, so to speak.
But I do. I know,
I know that during these times I willingly put my child’s emotional needs last, safe in the knowledge her dad is there to tend to her.
But what if I didn’t have him?
My tendency to withdraw emotionally when it all gets too much has been a feature of my life since my early teens and something I fretted about when I became pregnant.
“You can’t do that when you become a mum,” I told myself in the early hours of the morning after yet another sleepless night.
While some people draw their energy from the hustle and bustle of family life, I find mine becoming gradually sapped before I eventually hit a wall and need to retreat.
I eventually emerge renewed and juvenated.
I am ready to play 'Princesses' all weekend or crawl through the house looking for clues in the latest game of ‘Detectives’ or sit on Ella’s bed for hours on end while she describes her dream wedding.
I become the mum I try to be most of the year until I eventually cave.
But you’re meant to be a mum 24/7, 365 days of the year, so does this make me a failure?