Becoming a parent is the hardest thing you will ever do. Whether you have climbed a mountain, finished a PhD or have built a house with your own bare hands. Parenting trumps that, easy.
No one really tells you how hard it is, just that it is hard.
And so like a surprise party where you are welcomed sporting your shittiest clothes, no make up and your hair unwashed you feel embarrassed and shocked awaiting for someone to embrace you in a warm hug to make it feel a little bit better when you realise it really is that hard.
Well, here I am, baring my soul if you like. I’m in no way embarrassed about this story, in fact I tell it often to anyone who will listen but it occurred to me that I’ve never shared it with you. The people who talk to me on a daily basis, who pop up in my emails or on my social media saying “thank you for making me feel normal” or “I’m glad I’m not the only one”
3 days in to parenthood, myself and daddy freckle took a glorious trip to boots in the Trafford centre. For any of you who have not been acquainted with the Trafford centre, it is the largest indoor shopping centre in Manchester laced with a variety of large shops. It is also a new parents worst nightmare.
I do have to note that it is not just the Trafford centre which is a new parents worst nightmare, but any busy overcrowded, hot, noisy place.
Looking back now, I have no idea what we were thinking. I mean, lets face it getting out of the house with matching shoes on nowadays feels like an achievement but we were new, naïve and full of adrenaline.
It was a sum total of 10 short minutes before our new born baby was overwhelmed with all the noise and we were unable to settle her in her pram. So we set off on that all important trek to find somewhere to sit down so I could feed her. Except, My boobs were ginormous and I was new at the whole breastfeeding in public lark, so I wanted somewhere a bit more private than on a bench.
I don’t know if you are aware of this mammoth task of finding a breastfeeding area, but it is indeed a huge task. So after stumbling around in a sweaty hot mess, questioning our choices to go there in the first place we finally found a changing area in Boots.
It wasn’t the best, but it was the best of a bad bunch. In fact it was the only bunch. A tired, smelly and cold last thought of the Boots manager when they designed and funded the build. So as the piercingly bright lights bounced off the white empty walls, and I sat on a blue plastic chair which was almost an adult version of a school chair I burst into tears.
Then Mike started crying.
All while Flo was feeding, and she was completely oblivious to the emotional break down going on around her.
We cried together in an intense moment of exhaustion, elation and anxiety. It was like the shitty changing room had finally been the last straw that gave us the permission to show each other how we felt.
We were so happy, so completely and utterly in love with her and each other but at the same time we were exhausted, confused and fumbling through those first days as a new parent.
We were in a whirlwind of emotions, and the relief to let it all out was immense. Like no other cry I have ever had. That moment I will always remember, not because it is a sad memory, but a moment of completeness. It was the moment I realised we were in it together. Together.
You see the thing is, breaking down doesn’t make you weak. It doesn’t make you wrong. It doesn’t mean that you are depressed. But you are expressing your emotions and that is the most amazing thing.
Parenting is hard. Physically, mentally and emotionally.
Don’t ever hold back. It is what makes us human after all.