I was no longer going to self-sacrifice to the point where there was hardly any self left.
That I was no longer going to be concerned about how I was viewed as a mother or as a wife.
That what really mattered, the people I really needed to impress, didn’t need impressing.
I started getting my hair done regularly.
I started buying that lippy, or that top, or those shoes I was after.
I started making time for my relationship – started saying yes to offers of babysitting so we could go out.
I started making a point of having time with my friends – going out with the girls, staying in with the girls, talking on the phone to My Bestie Amelia. Going to stay with My Bestie Amelia.
Because somewhere along the line, I had realized that I wasn’t OK.
I was trying to live up to the super mum mentality that is so rife. I was trying so hard to be everything to everybody, I stopped being me. And I stopped coping.
And I did it all because everyone told me how well I was coping. What a great mum I was. How it must be hard to sacrifice so much.
And, considering my penchant for overachievement, I began to put on an even braver, more serene and got-it-all together coping face.
Piled on the commitments and sacrifices. The pressure and the expectations.
All because of what people might think if I pulled off the gold leaf paper mâché facade.
And I recently heard the gossip from my husband’s workplace, about us, about me.
How my husband does everything. He comes home from work and has the children thrust upon him. He is made to feed them, bathe them and put them to bed.
How he must care for them when I “run off” to wherever it is I run off too. That I sacrifice time with my family for “the blog. Whatever that is.”
And you know what, it’s all true.
Pal does come home from work and help me give the children dinner.
Pal does put them in the bath while I prepare their pjs and then we both dress them.
Pal does put the children to bed with a story book and a kiss.
But not because I make him – he does all these things because he is a committed and loving father. He understands the value of having a relationship with his children.
And I do “run off” for “the blog. Whatever that is.” I did it twice last year. I’ll have “run off” about three or four times by the end of this year.
I do go out with my friends, spend time getting my hair done, spend money on makeup.
That’s all true too.
Pal is supportive, encouraging, and also my chief wardrobe consultant. He “allows” me these moments, these “run offs”, because he is a committed and loving husband.
He understands more than anyone how important it is to find some space. Time to think. Have some fun. Because once upon a time he was very far away from being OK, and nearly lost his whole world.
And I nearly lost mine.
These past few weeks, months really – I’ve been on the edge.
And when I came home from Sydney, and RUOK Day, I was thrust back into life with three kids three and under with violent force.
One sick, two out of sorts because their mother had been away, and now she was back but preoccupied with their sibling.
I came out of an environment in which I felt refreshed, energised, valued- into one in which I felt stuck, overwhelmed and lost.
And despite knowing the SuperMum myth is a load of bullshit, and knowing that putting myself last all the time isn’t healthy, and that it helps no one to pretend to be brave, serene and across it all – you know what I did?
I put on my “Of course I’m coping and everything’s fine and I’m totally the best mum/wife/sister/daughter/friend/blogger” hat.
And promptly had a mental health episode that left me with too many coat hangers.
And despite using my washing to feel like I had some kind of control, I knew, and my husband knew, and my friends knew, that I needed more help.
So I went and got some.
Help that is, not more coat hangers.
From a friendly and understanding GP, a mother – someone who just “got it”.
It’s not all better now. It’s going to take some hard work and some adjustments for our family. But we have an action plan.
And that’s a start.