This morning, I screamed at my children to ‘give me a flippin’ break’. This was not the zen mother I’d tried to channel as I lay in bed at 6 am listening to them argue. It may be controversial, but I’m going to say it: sometimes I hate being a mum.
Today was one of those times. With my husband working away in London, I found myself at home in Gloucestershire single-handedly trying to feed, wash and dress our three sons, aged nine, six, and two, while on my hands and knees attempting to catch an escaped hamster.
To get them out of the house so I could buy some groceries, I had to screech at them a hundred times to get their shoes on. By the time they had, my toddler’s nappy needed changing, as did his clothes, and then also mine. This ordeal is a daily occurrence and sometimes I find myself wishing for rain to disguise my desperate tears.
Yes, I am suffering from maternal ambivalence – a phenomenon helpfully referred to in Psychology Today as ‘the crime that dare not speak its name. It’s that feeling of loving your children but not always loving being a mum; not least, the way it takes over every other part of your life. And it’s not easy to admit.
A University of Chester study in 2019, exploring the ways maternal ambivalence impacts women, noted many were ‘shocked and confused to find themselves experiencing feelings of resentment towards their children.
In 2016, Kate Kirby’s book Hurrah for Gin acknowledged it is ‘perfectly possible to love your children with the whole of your heart while finding them incredibly irritating at the same time. More recently, BBC sitcom Motherland has depicted the nuts and bolts of modern motherhood with brilliantly brutal honesty, undercutting any notion of perfection and laughing in its face.
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