I’m not a natural mother. I’m told I’m a good mother, which I try to work on believing, but I know I’m not a natural mother. It takes work. It takes effort. And it’s something I have to constantly think about.
My brother is incredibly natural with children. Little ones attach themselves to him wherever we go. They adore him. He’s totally natural and wonderful with kids. All children like him and he never struggles to communicate with them, and always knows how to interact with them.
Before Miss Rose I’d rarely spent time around children. I’d certainly never changed a nappy. I liked some kids, didn’t like others, but didn’t feel like one of those “natural” with children people like some are.
I always knew I wanted children, I just didn’t know what I was meant to do with one!
When I got pregnant with Miss Rose I was thrilled. I’d previously had a miscarriage and serious infection, and desperately wanted to conceive. Being a mother was something I longed for.
Then it happened.
Would I bond with her? Would I love her? What if I didn’t like her? What if she was just another child I was indifferent to?
These fears raced around my brain.
Turns out it was fine and I definitely loved her, but I had no “rush of love” that so many mothers talk about when their child is born. I didn’t get a “rush of love” with Baby B either this time around. It’s not like that for me.
And I have a step-son now too who I obviously didn’t get a “rush of love” with because I didn’t know him for the first year and a half of his life.
I’ve always had a growing connection with my children, both biological and step. It’s a relationship. It grows as we grow as people and grow together. I’m closer to Rose than I am to Baby B because our relationship is more well established and I know her better, we’ve spent more time together. But that doesn’t mean the love is more or less for either, but because this is a learning process for me I feel more secure in it with Rose because of experience. With Z it’s different again because whilst he depends on me to a certain extent and I see him every day, it’s a whole other relationship entirely as he has a mother he is very close to and therefore doesn’t need me in the same way, and now I’m learning how to be a step mum.
I’m not confident in my mothering. I’m not confident in my step mothering. Some days I think I’m terrible at both, some days I think I get by.
The more I get to know my children the more I feel I can do this. Then they throw some developmental stage in the works and I feel like I’m back to stage one where I’m getting to know them all over again!
I wish this was more natural to me and I could just understand what they want and need and how to talk to them with ease. But I don’t. Humans confuse me. Adult humans do, child humans do, and baby humans do. I struggle with all aspects of relationships with people in some way or another so of course I struggle with child relationships too. But it’s harder when it’s kids, because you can’t explain it to them.
This morning I was trying to chat to Rose. She’s having a bit of a difficult time settling back into the school year and I’ve been trying to have casual “how you are doing?” chats with her. Little conversations to milk bits of knowledge from her that I can use to help her.
“I don’t want to talk to you, mummy,” she said, as we built the marble run together.
“Why not, baby?” I asked, feeling utterly terrible about myself.
“It’s boring.” she said sadly, with a sigh and a shrug. “I don’t like it.”
She’s right, of course. Questions about how school’s going and what she does at school and whether she likes her teachers are boring for kids. They don’t want to talk about that. She wants to talk about My Little Ponies and Harley Quinn and how to build the best marble run.
So I got no information with which to help her AND I convinced her to stop talking to me anyway because I’m boring anyway.
I managed not to cry and kept building the marble run with her, then smiled as she squealed in delight as the marbles cascaded through it.
This is a learning process for me. For nearly four years now I’ve been learning how to be a mother, for nearly two years I’ve been learning how to be a step mother, and it’s a process I have to think about and work on every single day.
Luckily I like my children, and I don’t like all children like some people do. That helps. That makes my job easier, even though it’s still challenging.
And I always like having a project. Project Mum.
Are you a natural mum? Is it something you struggle with? Let me know, I’d love to get any hints or tips on how to get better at it!
Check out my website, www.jjbarnes.co.uk, and you’ll find links to my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and I’d love to hear from you on any of those!