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We see you mums: its exhausting saving face

We are bombarded with 'heart-warming' messages that insist we stay positive…

They tell us to hold fast and strong and remain hopeful for something. We are not quite sure what that something is. It could be a vaccine that will allow this last year to disappear into the pages of history. It could simply be getting used to the new world as it is, adapting to all the alternative ways of living. It could be getting past the next few weeks of lockdown. Whatever it is, the message is clear: Keep smiling and trust the process. Soon things will feel normal again.

This message is directed to everyone. However, there is no denying that the burden of holding things together falls on mums, in most families anyway. You were never consulted on this, never asked if you wanted to be the person holding things together for everyone else, but here you are.

We saw you doing this back in March, doing your best to make everyone feel safe and secure when you felt anything but. We saw you organising a safe Easter and making Summer feel carefree for the few moments you could. You faced Halloween like it was your mission to make it normal. Yes, the decorations went up far too early, but it was worth it. It was worth the stress to plan something for them to look forward to. To hear them screech and giggle with delight again.

We see you now, planning furiously, clinging to Christmas as if it might be taken away at any stage. Packages arriving, Christmas lists being ticked off, breaking your ‘no tree before December’ rule because you know how much it means to them this year. Making your home feel special, a safe and secure place for your family to retreat to amidst all the uncertainty.

We see you going out of your way each day to make things easier for the ones you love. Even if it’s a matter of ‘getting them out the door’ so someone can work from home in peace or to make sure they are tired enough to sleep by running them around whatever green space exists within your 5km.

Little minds are full wonder but don’t always have space to appreciate what you do for them. Reward yourself by cutting yourself some slack. Though the ever-present ‘stay strong’ message might make us feel like falling apart is not allowed, this is not true. Have a cry, have a bitch, have a tantrum. Let yourself get mad and tired. It’s important to know that it’s okay to let the balls (or shiny festive baubles) fall for a moment or two. 

With her daughter Evie as her muse, Anna writes about mumhood and all its intersections from mental health to movies, social issues to pop culture. Anna lives in Dublin with her daughter, partner, three younger sisters and parents. She is a dreadful cook, a fair guitar player and thinks caffeine should be given as a yearly vaccine to parents - courtesy of the HSE.

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