I have a confession to make: today, I am a terrible mother.
When my daughter was born, I bought in to the idea that breast was best. I loved the suggestion that there was something I could do from day one that could give her the best start. I loved how that made me feel. And, fortunately for me, I found it easy.
As she grew older I could be found pulping and puréeing first thing in the morning. I found myself shopping everyday for yet more fresh fruits and vegetables, fish and foods free from artificial colours or preservatives. I have never been much of a cook but, even to me, it seemed pretty straight forward.
In that first year I also became a familiar face at various mother and baby groups. Something that didn’t come quite so easily. I despised the prospect of singing in pubic and was pretty terrified of socialising with people I didn’t know. But I did it anyway. And survived.
And I filled the days with every manner of enriching activities! From swimming to baby signing, museums and visits to the library, arts and crafts, flash cards, singing and dancing, days at the farm, fresh air and exercise and everything in between. And the reading! Endless hours of reading! Repeated reading to the point where I can recite a whole host of children’s classics from memory alone. Because how could I ever refuse her requests to sit down together and devour a book?!
And, possibly harder than finding the time to fit in all of the above, I found the faith to tell myself that everything I did for her, every choice I made, held her best interests at its heart.
But I didn’t do it because I am perfect.
I did it because I know I am not.
I have been worried about today for a long time. If I am honest, I cannot believe it didn’t come sooner. I never thought I would survive this long.
Because I had already been a statistic. 1 in 4 people this year with suffer with a mental health issue. Depression, anxiety, paranoia…the spectrum is wide and the term encompasses so many different things but, having been there more than once before, I know the symptoms are often the same.
Put simply, it can become hard to cope.
I am reluctant to label the feelings that have been growing inside me for the past few months. I hope that I won’t find myself forced to as I sit opposite the doctor and ask for their help. But these feelings are familiar.
And, for me, the worst part is how they fool me in to thinking I am a failure.
So today, after spending the morning sat on the sofa whilst my daughter watched too much television, feeding her lunch of fish fingers and baked beans for the third time in a week and then driving her to her grandparents to spend the rest of the day and night, I returned home and got in bed.
And now I lay here doing the maths. Will all my efforts count in my favour? Have I done enough to make my workings add up? Or will my weakness cancel out anything I had going in my favour?
What does it take to be good enough?