I was so ready to have kids, until I actually went ahead and had kids.
I had waited until I was old enough to have built a successful career, but not so old that I would struggle to conceive.
I had also planned ahead financially – making sure the maternity leave policy was favourable and I had some savings in the bank.
I had waited until I was married (even though I’m not at all religious, this is just one of those knee-jerk requirements I’ve been trained to believe I needed to fulfil before I could procreate).
I had waited until we lived in our own home, which had plenty of space to accommodate a baby.
So with all of my ducks in a row, this was the perfect time to get a bun in the oven. I was ready, I could handle this shit, it was my time.
And yet then the baby came along and I realised how ridiculously naive I was. Motherhood hit me like a lorry travelling at 100mph. The ducks never saw it coming.
It turns out we can never really be ready to have kids. I may have done the technically responsible thing of making sure my life was in relatively good order before getting pregnant, but I still totally lost it when the baby arrived.
The nursery I had so lovingly prepared in the months leading up to my first baby’s birth was in utter disarray within a day of her arrival.
Dirty babygros scattered around, a plastic bag of dirty nappies hanging on the door and I was totally confused by what the hell I was supposed to be doing.
It turns out buying all the stuff John Lewis tells you that you will need for a newborn and reading a couple of baby books does not adequately prepare you for the reality of a baby.
The reality is that:
Nothing can prepare you for what sleep deprivation feels like.
Nothing can prepare you for the feeling of panic as you struggle to decipher the hungry cries from the gassy or tired ones.
Nothing can prepare you for the shock at how relentless the days can be.
Nothing can prepare you for that first explosive nappy.
Nothing can prepare you for the loneliness that can sink in.
At times I am struck by the fact that when I was little it seemed like my parents had the answers to everything. Then I do the maths and realise that they were my age when I first remember thinking this. I have not got a clue.
So I can either conclude that my parents were far more proficient than me – doubtful, as I hear I was a right little shit at night for the first seven years, yep SEVEN – or that we are all just winging it.
It’s not about finding the perfect time, situation and mindset. The truth is that there is no amount of preparation – physical or mental – that can prepare you for becoming a mother.
It’s hard because it just is bloody hard.
If you ever doubt that you are not cut out for this motherhood lark, remember that none of us are ever ready.
Accept that you are in over your head.
Accept that you don’t always have the answers straight away.
Accept that you are winging it.
Maybe you weren’t ready, but you’re still doing your absolute best. And that’s more than enough.