When our Pregnant Bodies Fail Us

My sister phoned me a few weeks ago: she was almost 40 weeks pregnant and her cervix was not doing what it is supposed to do in terms of inducing labour. Her amniotic fluid levels were dangerously low and her placenta was calcifying – this baby needed to be welcomed into the world. R felt guilty and she was stressed – why was her body not doing what it was supposed to do? Why was it failing? She felt as though her only job at this point in her journey through motherhood was to safely deliver her unborn baby and she was unable to do so.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and I, at 29 weeks pregnant, am sitting across from my gynaecologist, telling her about the period-like cramps and low lying pelvic pressure I have been feeling. I am worried, as during my previous pregnancy I was admitted to hospital at 34 weeks for threatening pre-term labour. The Dr checks my cervix and it is thinning – my body does not seem to want to carry babies full term and I feel as though I am failing my unborn son. In a panic, I immediately think of Bean – he is nowhere near ready to have me ‘missing’ from his life for the next couple of weeks and how will my husband manage him, the household and work the hours he does? I am put on medication, get administered steroid injections for the baby and have to be admitted to hospital for a few days. Needless to say, I am ordered bed rest (which is not so easy with a 2-year-old).

I now need to heed my own advice so easily given over the phone to my sister: do not feel guilty (there is nothing you can do about it), do not panic and, most importantly, trust. Trust the doctors as they know what they are doing, trust your family to be there for you and trust that everything will be OK.

Isn’t that what life is all about? It throws curve balls when you least expect it and you need to simply put those big girl panties on and deal with it. No amount of worry, or complaining, or crying is going to make it better. Parenting is hard and sometimes it’s hard even before the baby is born, but all we can do about it is to put up our hair, have that cup of decaf coffee, get on with it and hope for the best. No amount of guilt is going to make anything better.

Yes, I am overwhelmed and scared and yes, I am worried: for my sensitive and gentle Bean and how he will deal with my absence and for my little baby who is still way too small to be thrust into this world. But, I have faith and I realise that life would not throw something at me I cannot handle. We, as mothers, as parents, are stronger than we realise.

I will not let this failing body of mine define me or my journey through parenthood.

Overcoming Separation Anxiety on the First Day of School

I am sitting in my car outside Bean’s Kindergarten and I am crying. Ugly crying: my eyes are swollen shut and red; my body is convulsing in sobs and I am wailing. It’s not a pretty sight and far from the happy vision I had about my Bean’s first day of nursery school. I have just dropped him off and he cried, a lot, clinging onto me for dear life; clinging on so tight that the teacher had to wrench him away from me so that I could leave. My heart is now in a million little pieces, heavy with guilt and worry.

The next couple of hours drag and I cannot wait to head back to the school to see whether he is ok (in fact, the thought does cross my mind to find a spot outside the school where I can sit and watch him, undetected, lurking in the shadows). Once back home I am met with an empty shell – the echo of Bean’s happy chatter replaced with silence. I wander through the empty rooms, packing away his unused toys, wondering where the time has gone – it seems like I blinked and now he is 2 and ready for school. I worry: is he ok? Did I send him to school too soon? Maybe he was not bored at home after all?  I feel out of control, not knowing what he is doing every second of the day, not knowing whether he needs me; whether he is smiling or crying.

The reality is that he is growing up (his very last molar is even growing) and young as he is, he is starting to find his own path in life. He is recognising like-minded kids to be friends with, he knows which activities he likes and dislikes and although he still very much needs me, he is trying to figure out how the world works on his own.

I realise that I am suffering from as much separation anxiety as he is and that I need to find a way back to myself (as a person, not just a mom), as much as he needs to find his feet in the world. Later, when I finally get to fetch Bean, I find him happily playing in the sandpit with the other kids. He is excited to see me, and he is ok. In fact, he is having fun.

He will go on to cry when I drop him off every day (not because he does not like the school, but because I am not there with him, which makes him feel vulnerable) and that is normal. His whole world (his daily routine and his caregiver) has changed, after all. To combat this, I tell him about all the exciting things he will do at school,  I try not to linger when I drop him off and I always tell him exactly when I will be back to fetch him.

And as for me, I try to be brave and I try not to let my fears and separation anxiety spill over onto him. I am also starting to really enjoy the free time, to do things like go to the hairdresser or having coffee in a non-child-friendly coffee shop (I had forgotten these places even existed). This new-found freedom is actually quite exciting.

Just do you, Mom

‘Mamaaaaaa’ my two-year-old sobs as I place him into his cot. It’s almost an hour past his usual bed time and he starts crying hysterically every time I try to put him down. This is new to me; my Bean has always slept on his own without any drama and I am getting frustrated – I cannot stand and rock my toddler to sleep for hours at a time after all. This happened the previous night and during his nap time, earlier today and I realise that Bean is suffering from separation anxiety again. He is scared and he wants to be close to his mom. My heart melts, I sit down in his rocking chair and I sing until he eventually falls into a deep sleep.

My little guy is going through so many changes, he is starting school soon, there is a baby on the way and I recently read him a book about a mom and dad who go to the hospital to have a baby and the mom only comes back a few days later. He is worried, he is scared and he is clinging onto me, his caregiver and his place of safety. I cannot be angry with him and I cannot let him cry it out. All I can do is to assure him of the fact that I will always come back.

Once Bean is asleep, I head to my book shelf, grab my various baby and toddler books and I google: how do I get this child to sleep? There are various answers, from crying it out to sleep training and none of the solutions really speak to me. At last, I come across an article posted by a sleep therapist and in it she mentions a few unconventional solutions: from allowing the child to fall asleep on a mattress in the lounge to letting the child fall asleep next to mom in his bed. I immediately call my husband and mention that it is time to move Bean into a big boy bed as this will allow me to lie next to him when he is scared.

Fast forward a few days and our house is filled with a peaceful, rested energy again. Bean loves his new big bed (we did make a big deal about it, allowing him to help choose the bedding and decorating his room, playing games on the bed etc) and he loves that I lie down next to him until he falls asleep (and to be honest, I love the extra cuddles and his gentle sleepy breaths – it brings peace to my worried mom-heart).

Yes, this is against all the usual sleep advice (some might even say it’s taboo), but it works. Bean’s fear might be irrational and it might not make sense to an adult, but to him, it is very real. When I leave him alone, he is scared – really scared. And I will not leave him to be scared if I do not have to. He is only two after all.

There will come a time when he will grow out of this separation anxiety again and one day, when he is a teenager, he will probably shut me out of his room with a no entry sign, so for now, I will indulge him and I will ensure that he knows that he can trust me, that he can trust that I will always be there for him.

One of the many things motherhood has taught me is that no child and parent combination is the same, no problem rears its head in exactly the same way and no solution has the same results. As a mom, you need to follow your gut and you need to do what feels right, rest assured that you are doing the best that you can do.

It can be easy to judge other moms and their parenting techniques, arrogant in the belief that what works for you must work for everyone else. But life is not like that and judging others is simply unnecessary.

So, you just do you, mom. You are this child’s mother. Follow your gut, your instinct and raise your child according to your own standards. Your heart gives amazing advice, all you need to do is listen to it.

A Second Pregnancy: The Good and The Bad

The pregnancy test is sitting on our bathroom counter and although I try to ignore it while it is ‘thinking’, I cannot help but stare at the screen in anticipation. Finally, the result is in and instead of the expected ‘Not Pregnant’ sign, the result is positive. Elation, joy and gratitude all wash over me as I call for my husband to come to the bathroom QUICKLY! Then, as he walks in with our almost two-year-old in tow, I feel a surge of panic and guilt.

Unlike my first pregnancy, which was mostly characterised by an almost naive joyful anticipation, I am overwhelmed by feelings of guilt toward our first born (how could I share my love and devotion toward him with any other being?), guilt toward this unborn little miracle growing in my belly and the utter fear of having another baby, another newborn to contend with. Although most people say you forget how hard those first couple of months with a new baby can be, I remember them all too clearly.

It is as if this second pregnancy is simply less important, less of a milestone than the first. People seem less enthusiastic, less eager to find out how I am (it’s not like I haven’t been through this before, right?) and, at the same time, I am a lot less fussed, often forgetting exactly how far along I am, not obsessively checking how big the baby is every waking moment of every day and simply moving on with life (I still have a two-year-old who needs my full attention after all).

It makes me feel like I am somehow depriving both my kids of the complete attention and total love which they deserve because I now will have to be shared.

And yet, at the same time, I often catch myself lovingly stroking my growing belly, waiting in excited awe for another small little kick as I sit and play with Bean. I might not be as rough and tumble as I once was with him but I do still shower him with admiration, love, discipline and devotion. Things are changing, but change is not always a bad thing – soon Bean will have a little brother who hopefully will become his lifelong friend and ally. Our family will grow and instead of sharing the love we already have; our love and hearts will grow and expand to include this new life.

When the fear of another (unknown) newborn phase grips my heart, I try to focus on the good: that unmistakable baby smell, that first smile, the tiny little hands and feet, those special baby cuddles, and I get gleefully excited. I envision how gentle and loving my big-hearted and kind Bean will be toward his new brother, how our new little fire will grow up with love and admiration in his eyes as he follows his older brother around the room. I smile as I think of sibling fights, followed by love and laughter and I want to literally jump for joy when I think of our chaotic and busy family life, those busy little toddler and baby legs keeping my husband and me on our toes.

Of course, there will be hard times, added financial stresses, there will too many things to do at once and we will be tired, but as any parent knows, the good will definitely outweigh the bad. It will be ok. It might actually be wonderful.

The Day My Life Stood Still

Written by: Guest Writer

“Wake up Pascalle! Wake up!” That is all I remember in that moment – those seconds which felt like hours. I felt like I was in a movie – you know the part when the actress gets world crushing news and the camera zooms in on her face and the background blurs, as if the life around her is collapsing? That is how I felt as I sat on the toilet, staring down at the blood soaked toilet paper I was clutching in my hand. Just staring at it – and mentally yelling at myself to wake up.

I was 7 weeks pregnant.

In that moment, I knew. This is the beginning of the end.

Getting myself to my gynae is a blur, but I remember scrutinising my gynae’s face as she did the scan whilst I bled on her bed. I remember jumping from her face to the screen – trying to figure out what was happening, even though I knew in my gut. “We need to do blood tests to check your HcG levels – you may be too early to show a heartbeat.” I knew that too was a cover – I was over 7 weeks. Heart beats can be seen as early as 5, and there was nothing on the screen. I was laying in the hospital bed when she came to see me. “I am afraid it isn’t good news”, she said. My levels had dropped by over 10 000 in less than 2 weeks and a DNC was necessary given that I had started to miscarry.

1 in 4. That’s what all the articles say. Well – I am the 1 in 4. The 1. Why couldn’t I be the other 3? What have I done that is so bad in my life to be the 1? Why would God give me this child for 7 weeks – and then snatch it away? Had I done something wrong, eaten something? Drunk something? Maybe I shouldn’t have cleaned the kitchen cupboard the night before. What does this mean for me now – what would people think? Was it a boy or a girl? Would I now need to endure the torment of sympathy from others who had no idea what was happening to me? Would my husband look at me and see me as a broken woman who couldn’t carry a child?

People would say “Everything happens for a reason.” “Rather it happen now than later on.” “God does these things to test us.” “Don’t worry – you will have another one.” “Don’t let this define you.” “You need to carry on – life has to go on.”

It was and still is relentless. All I wanted to do was punch them in the face and tell them to piss off and leave me alone. Because the thing is, those who have never lost a child don’t know. No matter how old. No matter born or unborn. No matter 7 weeks or stillborn. It was my child. My baby. And I was its mother – and I couldn’t protect it from what was happening. It was out of my control.

I tried to seek solace in blogs by other moms – but there was something “off”. The hidden raw truth. The things that no one wants to say. The reality of it all. So here goes my version. This is what I know.

1. Cry

Cry, by God just cry. Who do you need to hold it together for? You have just lost your child. A child you never knew and never got see grow up. A child that held a future and was taken too soon. Cry. Cry when people are looking and when they are not. Just cry. I read a quote that resonated with me. It goes: “Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give by cannot. All of that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.”

2. Write

People said journal. So I did and it helped a bit. But what helped more was writing to my baby. I wrote letters within days filled with tears and apologies and love. Letters telling my Peanut to ask God to tell him/her all about me and Daddy. And to ask Papa to show him/her how to make his coconut ice. When I told people this they looked at me like it was unhealthy – and this brings me to my next point.

3. Screw other people

This is your process. Your time. Your loss. People will try to get you to grieve and move on at a pace that makes them feel comfortable – but it will not work. Do things your way. Grieve your way. And stop trying to be strong for other people so that they don’t feel uncomfortable around you. This is happening and it is a real thing, and if people can’t handle witnessing it – then they need to buzz off until they can.

4. Remember your husband

This was shocking to me. As a mother, people hug you. Ask you if you are okay. Buy you flowers. Sit at your bedside. Wipe your tears. And all the while, there he stands quietly in the corner. Looking at you and you see it in his eyes. He is broken too. His world is shattered too. He has also lost his child. Remember your husband. You need to allow him his turn to grieve – you need to make sure everyone knows that he too is devastated. He deserves just as much attention and sympathy as you do. And this will no doubt be one of the bad times you spoke to in your vows. This will test your marriage. Just make sure you remember him too – two is better than one when facing a life-altering trauma.

5. Make peace with God

I was mad. And when I say mad – I was swearing at God. Telling Him that this was IT. I was done with Him and His way and His Truth. “Put your faith in God.” That was the most important thing I learnt growing up as a Catholic. And I did and NOW look! I hated Him and in those dark days after – I swore to never pray or go to church again. And then, a few days later I was writing to the Peanut and was so worried about where he/she was and I had this overwhelming sense of peace. Like as if He was saying: “The Peanut is with me.” And that’s the thing – faith. It’s a wonderful and treacherous thing at the same time. You just have to have faith that God has a bigger plan – and He gave you this because He knows your soul, and He knows that you can and will endure. Then being the 1 in 4 seemed like an opportunity. As if He had given me this path for a reason and He knew I could handle being the 1. I have made peace with God – and whatever it takes, you need to do this too – in your own way. And sometimes it is hard – I still question Him on bad days, but life is hard enough without having to hate the one Supreme Being.

Maybe I will have a baby one day. Maybe I will be blessed enough to hold my child and look into bright healthy eyes. Count the ten fingers and ten toes. Peer over a cot with worry to make sure my baby is still drawing breath. Panic when they bump their head or when their temperature sky rockets.

I guess that’s the message. Life. We take it for granted. We assume it won’t happen to us. We assume our baby will be fine. We assume we have one more chance. We assume we will see our loved ones again. We assume all the time.

To the other moms who have never experienced this (and I pray you never will) do the rest of us a favour? Kiss your child one extra time tonight. Hold them a little longer when you give them that hug. Appreciate the tantrums and screaming and cheekiness that boils your blood. Count the ten fingers and toes. Breathe and remember you are lucky to be the 3 in 4. Do this for the rest of us, until we can do it ourselves.

My Special ‘The Usual’ Mother’s Day

If there is one word which sums up life with a toddler, it is the word ‘repetition’: the continuous words of admonishment (‘don’t touch that’, ‘it’s hot’, ‘get down from there’), the almost constant wiping up of spills and cleaning up of messes and the ever-repetitive cycle of ‘silence-crying-consoling’ because the said words of admonishment have once again fallen on deaf ears (‘what does mom know anyway, right? I mean, how hot can that heater really be?’).

And yet, in between this draining repetition, there are moments of pure ingenuity. Moments of surprise in which I stare at our son with wonder and laughter. The moment when Bean decided that it was a good idea to unpack all of, and I mean ALL of, my unused plastic packets in order to create a blanket, for example, or the moment he decided to take my basting brush, dip it into the water lying in one of our vases and to then clean the table, or the moment when he grabbed a ‘poon’ (spoon) from the drawer to fix his toys (‘I fitsin, mom!’).


Bean and his plastic-packet-blanket


His workshop is ready, now all we need is his ‘screwdriver-spoon’

Last year marked my first ever Mother’s Day and I had high (ok, very high), expectations of this day. I imagined that it would be nothing short of fireworks, rosy cheeks and laughter. The reality was, of course, a little different: although I did get the gift and the cup of coffee in bed, it was just another day. Because nappies still need to be changed, kids can be difficult and yes, I am not the only mother in the world deserving special attention (shocker!).

So, this year, I decided to focus on the moments of ingenuity, magic and wonder, to embrace the usual, to relish in the every-day things of being a mom. Because, that’s what I am: a mom to an energetic, challenging and kind little bundle of toddler-love. Today, I am thankful to be called ‘mom’, I will change those nappies with joy and I will repeat words of love as often as I repeat everything else.

Yes, today is just another day, and it is wonderful.

Happy Mother’s Day!

5 Tips to Beat Sleep Deprivation

If there is one thing that we as a human race should invent, it has to be a system to store sleep. We live in a world filled with technological geniuses who create new inventions almost daily and yet no one has been able to find a scientific solution to the very common problem of sleep deprivation, except, of course, to tell us to sleep more. But as every parent knows, sleep is one luxury that is in very low supply.

This weekend, for example, we went on a much-anticipated date night. When we got home, tired and ready for bed, Bean was wide awake. With difficulty, he finally fell asleep around 2 am, only to wake up again at 6 am. Now, how absolutely amazing would it have been if we could have simply tapped into a supply of stored sleep, instead of getting through our day like a pair of zombies?

Seeing as our scientific community has, however, let us down in this department, I have put together a list of 5 tips to help every parent deal with the continuous lack of sleep.

  1. Stop feeling sorry for yourself

I get it, you are tired. Being a parent means that you probably didn’t get enough sleep last night, or the night before, or even the night before that, but wallowing in a sea of self-pity will only make the situation worse and bring unnecessary negativity into your life and home.

These sleep-deprived days are exhausting, but you need to ‘man up’ as they say, make the best of the day ahead and trust that one day you will sleep again.

  1. Share the load

Take the night and early morning shifts in turns, ask someone to watch your child while you have an afternoon nap (even a 15-minute power nap can work wonders) or indulge in a sneaky snooze while your child naps (the dishes can wait).

If you have no one to share the sleep-deprivation-load with, take a couple of minutes out of every day to simply be. Sit down somewhere alone and just breathe, centre yourself. I often have an extra-long shower in the morning and most of this time is spent simply standing still, letting the water wash over me. It is the only time I have to just be and I relish it.

  1. Ditch the Caffeine & Eat Healthily

Yes, I know, ditching caffeine sounds counterintuitive – coffee is what makes me get through most mornings as well. The good news is that you do not have to give it up altogether, simply in the afternoons and evenings. Believe it or not, sleep is the best cure for sleep deprivation (insert sarcastic wink here) and the best way to guarantee enough sleep is to sleep when your child is sleeping. And that means going to bed early. Having too much caffeine during the day will prevent you from doing this.

Our body gives back what we put into it and the best way to refuel those tired old bones is to eat good food. I can feel the negative effects on my body when I have over-indulged in the bad stuff (specifically food high in preservatives, trans fats, colourants and sugars). I therefore try and stick to a healthy, natural diet, including as many super foods as possible, and it has had a huge impact on my daily energy levels.

  1. Exercise

The benefits of exercise have been well-documented so I am not going to list them all here (you are all aware of them), but I will note that exercise will make any tired body and mind feel refreshed and awake. I often go for early morning walks with Bean (even when I am really tired) and although it feels like a drag in the beginning, those endorphins soon kick in, making me feel fantastic, refreshed and ready for the day ahead.

If you do not have the means or the time to go to the gym or for a long walk, create your own 15-minute exercise circuit at home. You do not need a lot of space or time for this and best of all, your littles can join in on the fun.

  1. Limit screen time before bed

A while ago, I got into the habit of checking my phone, scrolling through all my social media feeds, before going to bed. Not only did this prevent me from going to sleep at a decent time, it often woke me up more when I saw something interesting. I soon realised that this ‘always-on’ mentality is encroaching on my much-needed sleep time, so I stopped it. Now, I read a book: it allows me to escape, to switch off from my daily troubles and to fall asleep peacefully.

A bedroom is supposed to be a sanctity for rest, so remove all screens from your room and invest in an alarm clock. Allow our mind to switch off properly before going to bed.

Maybe one day, we really will have a way in which we can store sleep. For now, the good news is that as our bodies get accustomed to less sleep, we have the opportunity to experience more of our daily lives and our kids in the limited time we have.

Finding my way through the ‘Terrible Twos’

Bean and I are playing outside, blowing bubbles, and he decides that he wants to try to blow his own. He asks me for the container and as he unscrews the lid, he tips the container over, pouring the soap onto the grass. He cries, turns around and runs away, arms in the air. Once he calms down, I ask him for the now empty container back so that I can throw it away and fetch a new one. As I reach out for the container, he throws himself on the ground, crying.

Later, Bean asks me for an ice lolly, or rather shouts ‘Icy, icy, icy!’ at the top of his voice while running to the fridge. I ask him to say ‘please’, so Bean starts crying and runs away, arms flailing. He then calms down and reiterates his severe need for an ice lolly. This time I cave, giving it to him. I, however, forget to place it in his bowl first, so off Bean runs, again, crying and distraught.

I think it is safe to say that the ‘terrible twos’ have officially arrived. And it is not fun. I feel disconnected, like that confused, anxious and scared mom of a newborn baby, unsure of what to do, petrified of somehow damaging my child for life and so drained by the (what feels like) almost constant crying and whining.

I understand that Bean is merely growing up, that he is trying to assess his independence, that he is frustrated by his inability to do so and that everything is exacerbated by that fact that he cannot yet communicate effectively. I get that he is trying to establish his boundaries and I am fully aware that all he needs from me at this stage is patience, love and positive guidance. But, goodness, it is hard –  where has my sweet little boy gone?

As I navigate my way through this new phase of parenthood, I try to ignore the tantrums by simply walking away. In an attempt to teach him how to communicate, I try to talk about every detail of our lives, I explain our actions, reactions and the subsequent consequences, and I ask him ‘why’ when he simply says ‘no’ to everything.

I try not to lose my patience and I try to set a better example for Bean when I get frustrated with something. I try to be more assertive when I set boundaries and I discipline when he tests them.

Above all, I try to find the positive side, the humour, in these difficult situations. Yesterday, for example, Bean found my secret stash of nail polish while I was getting dressed. Excitedly, he decided that he wanted to paint my toenails. ‘Mama, auf (open)’, he said, pushing the nail polish into my hands. Being slightly pre-occupied, I explained that now was not the right time to do this, asking him to pack the nail polish away. His response: silence. ‘Good’, I thought, ‘he listened’.

A few minutes later, as I was distractedly looking for my mascara in the drawer, I felt something wet on my toe. I looked down and there was Bean, crouching over my feet, in deep concentration, painting my nail. The jar of nail polish in his hand was upside down and my beige bathroom carpet now had blotches of pink on it.

Although my first reaction was to shout, upsetting Bean and causing another tantrum, I realised that he was merely trying to do what I do. So, while my little neat freak was trying to ‘meam’ (clean) the carpet with an entire roll of toilet paper, I tidied up the bathroom, grabbed my things, put Bean in the car, and bought a new bathroom mat. We needed one anyway.

This phase, like the ones before, will pass.

Marriage and the Little Things

My husband and I are celebrating our 5-year wedding anniversary this week and, as usual, we almost forgot about this significant milestone, my husband frantically phoning the latest must-visit restaurant for a last-minute booking. Neither of us was surprised that this day almost passed us by without even a mention – this is exactly what A and I do after all. We never make a big deal out of our love; we simply do not do big displays of affection. Instead, we focus on the small things, the small acts of love which show us that despite our routines, child- and work-driven lives, we still care.

This morning, for example, A could go into the office a bit later than usual, so instead of our normal, rushed, morning routine, he got up, fetched Bean from his cot and made us a cup of coffee, letting me lie in for an extra 5 minutes. Not only did this give me a little bit of much-needed peace in our busy lives, it showed me that he cared – he sacrificed his extra lie-in time to give me a break.

And that to me is the crux of a good relationship. It’s not about the big displays of love, the extravagant outings or the expensive gifts, it’s about the daily acts of kindness, the spontaneous kisses, the gentle touch of a hand. Sure, the big things are also important – they give those special days that special feeling. But a relationship cannot survive on the big things. No, relationships survive on the little things.

It’s that extra shared cup of coffee in the morning even when he is running late, it’s cooking his favourite meal even though she doesn’t really like it, it’s unpacking the dishwasher so that she can have an extra-long shower. It’s the shared smile across the room, it’s the joint laughter at something silly and it’s telling her that she is beautiful. It’s the sheepish smile and the bad joke after a fight and it’s his gentle hug when she is crying.

These are the things that really matter. These are the everyday moments of sacrifice and gratitude, the small acts of love, which make me choose A, and our joint lives, over and over again. It’s these small, seemingly insignificant things, which make me look forward to the next few decades, because, when I look back on our marriage one day, our lives so inextricably linked, I want to remember the way we made each other feel, the moments of laughter, joy and love, not the fancy restaurant we visited.

Mom, be kinder to yourself!

Bean is sitting in his high chair staring at me with an obstinate glint is his eyes, his mouth shut, as I try to give him a spoonful of food. He swings his arm, batting the spoon away and the food goes everywhere. Before I can even think about what has happened my emotions get the better of me and I scream: ‘EAT THIS NOW!’. To Bean I must look like an angry bear in slow motion, jowls shaking, spit flying out of my mouth with balls of pure fury where my eyes normally sit. I have lost it.

Almost immediately a wave of dread washes over me. This has not been a good day.

Since becoming a mom, I have had a few of these bad days. Days where the silence at home and the lack of mental stimulation allows my mind to throw flashes of past mistakes, deeply buried away, into the forefront of my daily thoughts. Days when these memories consume my entire being with guilt and self-loathing. Days of frustration and boredom as I watch Bean build yet another tower, while I reminisce of past adventures. Days when I feel my self-worth slowly slipping away, my only real role being mom and wife.

Nobody tells you about these days. Nobody talks about their self-doubt, their heart broken into a thousand pieces when they get angry or frustrated with their children, the guilt that weighs heavily on their souls as they go on another business trip, or when they finally do something for themselves.

And we should talk about it – we all have bad days. It’s normal. We have all made mistakes in the past – without them we would not be who we are today. What really matters is how we move on from these days, how we work through the negativity and how we, as we work through these issues, become better parents and in so doing, become better versions of ourselves.

Although there are bad days, these are outweighed by good ones and I know that I am a good mom. I know that I do my best to be the best for Bean. So, for this year, my resolution is to be kinder to myself, to let go of the guilt, to let go of the negativity and self-doubt and to let go of judgement (of myself and others).

I am not a perfect parent, and that’s OK.