Motherhood. Who knew it would bring on such deep feelings of guilt, anger, frustration, panic, inferiority. I, like so many others, have dropped their self assured persona and picked up a ticking time bomb. We are madly trying to descramble the code in order to, well, create that same order we might have had prior to choosing nappies over parties in scummy share houses. Don’t get me wrong; I chose this path and for the most part, am grateful for my reproductive organs. I'm grateful for the intense, stubborn-as- a-mule but thrilling female human my parter and I created and for having a stupidly supportive partner to share this insane journey with.
It has all come at a price though. Motherhood has brought me to some low points and social media has played a part in this. Trawling Instagram on a Friday night, exhausted from a week of casual work at a job I took out of sheer convenience with childcare schedules (oh and might I mention being pregnant again? What in God's name was I thinking? Call the closest nunnery immediately!). Here I see the fabulously, well thought out snapshots of my fellow creative womens lives, showering themselves in confetti, champagne, the latest wares, mid laugh, carefree and not tired. It goes on forever, and ever and ever. It’s technology like this that can ruin you and I hear it all the time - “Facebook/Instagram is eating me alive”. When you’re fragile enough as it is and maybe feeling a little fat and wishing you hadn't stuffed your face with that extra Tim Tam, what compels us to mentally self sabotage by putting ourselves down and making grand assumptions of how other peoples lives are playing out through a fucking filtered image?
Motherhood out on the streets is a war zone too. Having to dodge sympathetic stares from strangers or as the poor wee thing, your child, chucks a tantrum in the middle of the fruit and veg shop because you won't let her hold onto her mandarin without first paying for it. No one is coming up to you as you tell your child to stop being a jerk and giving you a high five. If I also have to hear one more old biddy making a passive comment on why my child isn’t wearing her beanie in winter, I might start plotting the demise of the elderly. It’s not intentional dear, we’ve been dealing with the battle of the outfits since 6am and I’ve lost all touch with reality. I'm just trying to get past you and your zimmer frame quickly enough to get another packet of Tim Tams!
As a creative woman I can’t help but feel as though I am slowly fading, some days are easier to accept than others. I have moments where I’m able to negotiate the idea with myself, saying that it's not forever, just embrace parenting and become immersed in the day to day grind that is rearing children. But, then there are the days where I’m internally calling out, waving like a boat in the middle of the ocean "SOS, I’m over here, please don’t forget about me". It takes quite an effort these days to keep connected to the circles of creative women that I used to call home. Saying yes to a performance opportunity or promising to commit to a writers deadline can bring such disappointment when my prior engagement (being a mother) overrides any inkling of artistic hope.
What has developed through becoming a mother to a girl is a fierce feminist view on the world and how I wish for my daughter to grow within it. I find myself doing a lot of questioning about the day to day existence of females of the now, how far we’ve come, and how far we still have to go. This fills me with pride and rage all at once. I just want to know that when she grows into a woman she can look back and say that I gave her all the tools and knowledge to be the best human she could be. I want her to have the belief that she can be whoever she wants with total confidence and assurance.
So, I’m coming to the realisation that motherhood is one big mother-fucking-battle. A battle with letting go, a battle with public domains and a battle with change. Through these battles, what I can promise myself are these things: I will always remember who I am deep down and what my strong personal beliefs are about being a woman. I will not lose sight of my creative self and if nothing else, teach my daughter to have full respect for her being and keep a packet of Tim Tams on hand at all times.
Rachel Valentyne is a 35 year old mother of one with one on the way. She lives in Newstead,
Victoria but has spent most of her life in Melbourne. These days she writes for Get Outta Town, dances with The Boon Companions and works at MainFM 94.9 as a presenter.