When I was pregnant for the first time I wondered why nobody had told me how awful pregnancy could be. How I would ache all over and every ailment from nausea to sinuses would be written off as a “pregnancy illness”. How insomnia would strike and I’d cry with tiredness sometimes.
When my first baby was born I had stitches and was barely able to walk I wondered why nobody had told me how debilitating it could be. I didn’t remember anyone talking to me about leaking pee or why I really needed to do those exercises months earlier.
When the people who told me that the first three weeks were the hardest when my baby was two weeks old changed the timeframe to six weeks , I wondered why. (I wondered if they hated me too!)
When my baby had colic and cried all the time, well, I wondered why I hadn’t been warned, or why the magic cure hadn’t been shared with me. Surely I wasn’t the first person ever to be in this situation?
When breastfeeding hurt and I was told to feed through the pain I wondered why nobody had told me that this could happen.
I thought there was a conspiracy of silence. Why wasn’t I told? Hadn’t I asked? Would I have listened? Would I have changed my path if I had known?
I made it my mission to talk about the stuff that people didn’t talk about. The hard stuff. The stuff that some people don’t talk about for fear of being judged or letting their defences down. Keeping up appearances doesn’t help everyone so I shared. I wrote about breastfeeding and toddler tantrums. People related. We all took a deep breath. It would be OK, it wasn’t just us.
This was my brand, my honesty. Straight talking, telling it like it is. Lifting the veil on parenting.
But something has changed.
Sometimes I find myself biting my tongue. Just a little, mind.
I still share the struggles of raising kids at the stages mine are at. (Like this). But I realise now the reason I didn’t know all of the bad things already.
I understand now the reason why other parents didn’t tell me that everything that’s to come isn’t all smelling of roses.
I do that now myself, I realised it last week.
It was when I heard mums of toddlers talking and one said how things will calm down when they go to school.
I admit it, I had a crisis of conscience.
I smiled to myself and wondered, should I tell them the truth, or do I let them wonder in the future why nobody told them? Things do calm down, but like I wrote about a few weeks ago, things get harder too.
I realised in the moment of deciding not to tell them that having them in school with homework and lunches and activities isn’t the walk in the park that we all thought it would be when we had babies. And us mums of school aged kids miss the quiet time of morning naps and the evenings when everyone was in bed by 7.30pm, including us if we wanted to be.
But if I tell them that, I’m doing more than setting them straight and being honest.
I’m stealing their hope.
And if there’s one thing that a mother of small children needs, it’s hope.
My conscience is clear, I didn’t tell her.
One day she’ll know, and hopefully she’ll do the same favour for someone else.
Sometimes, hope is all you need to get you through.