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A Letter To My Fellow Struggling Mother

by Jenna (follow)
Jenna Doula, Mum

Photo: courtesy of morgueFile
image courtesy of MorgueFile

Dear Fellow Struggling Mother,

Youíre having another one of those horrible days that has left you in tears, wondering if everything will be ok. Youíre not alone, I have them too. In fact today while I am writing this is one of those crappy days for me as well.

Youíre tired (or rather exhausted) because youíve been up half the night with a crying child who despite having had an adult sized meal for dinner was still 100% sure that she was still hungry and needed more food and if you had given in and gave her more food sheíd have ended up being sick all over the bed because she ate too much. This morning you are hungry yourself but donít feel like eating anything that is available in the fridge or pantry because your next pay day is still a week or so away and youíve been having to buy cheap things that donít really appeal to you but do still contain what is needed for a healthy diet short term for your children until you can get those damn bills paid, so instead you settle for the strong milky coffee with sugar added or the cup of tea that youíve been having for breakfast, and lunch too, for the past several weeks.

Youíre lonely because your life revolves around the house and your children and meaningful adult conversation not involving children is a rarity that sometimes sneaks up on you when you least expect it when youíre down the street, but the children always intrude and the rarity gets cut short. You are over the constant screaming, the yelling, the demands for food/drink/toy/Ēcarry me!Ē/Ēshe or he did this to me!Ē etc that are repeated again and again and again every single freaking day and you just want a break from it all. You are also sick of repeating yourself over and over again trying to get your children to do what they are told and theyíre not listening as usual and youíre ready to either rip your hair out or punch someone in the face.

Youíre not alone; Iíve reached that point sometimes too.

Youíre worrying about money, you donít know if youíll ever get out of the dark hole that youíre in right now because every time you finally get on top of one bill another one takes its place and youíre right back where you started. You canít get a job because if you do all of your pay will go into paying for childcare and that defeats the point of getting a job in the first place and you donít have the money to pay the upfront fees that the local day care requires either so thereís no point, and you canít get a well paying job that would cover day care and leave you with extra money to get on top of everything because you donít have the qualifications and canít afford the cost of going to Uni or TAFE to study and get those qualifications, heck you havenít worked in almost a decade either so no one is going to hire you anyway because you donít have any recent work experience.

You canít win no matter what you do.

You are worried about being able to put enough food on the table but donít want to accept help from organisations that provide food parcels and donít want all your facebook friends or your family to know how bad it is, because that would mean accepting it, facing it and getting it out in the open and being pitied by others. It is not what you want to have to do and you feel like a failure because you canít provide your kids with everything that they (and you) want.

You canít even remember the last time you bought yourself some nice clothes, youíve had the same clothes for years, some of them youíve had for almost a decade, and you keep wearing them until they are no longer suitable to wear in public and only good for rags, and then replace them with cheap second hand clothes from the op shop because even spending $12 for a cheap pair of jeans from Big W or Target is more than you can afford on your currently very tight budget that doesnít extend past buying clothes and shoes for your children who keep growing out of them as fast as you can buy them.

Heck, youíve had the same 2 bras for the last 3 or so years and theyíre maternity braís that you bought when things were a bit better while you were pregnant with your youngest child and you could actually afford to buy the occasional new item of clothing. I know what itís like, itís hard. You feel ashamed and feel like a failure. Itís ok though, you do the best you can and your children will one day thank you for giving up so much just so that they could eat, have a roof over their heads and have a couple of small presents on their birthdays instead of having nothing at all. You will get through this hard time and you will be stronger for it, you donít take anything for granted now because you know just how hard it is and you are an amazing, wonderful mother. You will survive and one day you will thrive and be able to buy things for yourself again, you just have to make it through this difficult time first.

Some advice from me to you - when it gets too hard to deal with your children step outside where the kids canít find you (lock the door if theyíve figured out how to open it themselves and escape like mine have) and take a deep breath, scrunch your face up and let rip with as many swear words as you can think of. It helps. Screaming into a pillow helps too, as does crying your eyes out, punching a boxing bag or another pillow and sometimes slamming that door (making sure little fingers arenít anywhere near it because the guilt from that makes you feel even worse) that is in your way can help too. It wonít fix everything, but you will feel more in control and more capable of dealing with the shit when it rains down on you again afterwards. When you run out of food and donít have any money to buy more go to the places that provide food parcels, contact the Salvation Army, St Vinnies or others that are out there, you are not a failure for asking for help during a difficult stage of your life, you are strong and brave and amazing and are doing everything that you can to keep you and your child healthy and fed and you should be proud of yourself for doing that even when it does involve outside help. Asking for help is the hardest part, I know that all too well myself and we also felt ashamed about asking for help too when we didnít have to feel that way at all, when we actually received our food parcels we felt so relieved and grateful that we cried, the next time we needed one there was no shame, just relief that we could all eat that week and we didnít have to worry as much, and when we were finally able to give back as thanks for the help we received we did so by donating things that we no longer needed to the organisation that helped us.

I know that no one prepared you for this kind of thing before you gave birth to your first child, you were given the usual spiels of ďyou just wait until they hit their teens!Ē, ďbabies are expensiveĒ and ďthe terrible twoís are awful!Ē by well meaning friends, family members and even random strangers, and you likely had a job back then which seemed to provide enough money to live well with everything that you wanted and you were still able set aside money in your savings account back then too but nothing you were told came anywhere close to what you are experiencing right now. Itís hard, sometimes its shit and you just want to run away and leave it all behind. Its ok, I understand all of that, Iíve considered running away myself numerous times, I havenít done it yet though because right when Iím at my last tether they do something amazing, beautiful, funny or cute that melts my heart and makes it all go away for a bit, makes it bearable. At least until the next time you have 2 or 3 or even more children screaming bloody murder in your ear while youíve got a migraine and havenít had more than 4 hours sleep and then you start fantasizing about running away again. Life just sucks like that sometimes, but you, like me, can get through this. I know you can because Iím another mother who is struggling just like you and if I can make it through then you can as well, just knowing that Iím not alone makes it that little bit easier. You have my support as you make your way through this difficult journey; you have the support of every other mother who has struggled and is struggling as well.

You can do this.

Almost all of us mums have been there at some point, and I wonít promise that it will all get better and the children will turn into little angels because chances are that wonít happen, but it will become easier to manage, easier to deal with, youíll find ways to compromise that they will understand and accept, and you will eventually get all of those bills paid and start being able to save up some money again. When your youngest starts school youíll be able to go out and work part time again without having to pay the exorbitant daycare fees, things will be better. One day youíll wake up and all the bad times will feel like a bad dream and your children will be preparing to move out of home for the first time and youíll be wondering what the heck happened, where did all of those years go?

My dearest fellow struggling mother, this dark time will eventually pass and things will get better. Donít give up hope just yet and keep working your way through because you will get there eventually. Donít feel afraid or ashamed to ask for help and remember that you are not alone and other mothers are going through this too.

With love,
A Mother Who Is Struggling Too.
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