I think I’m too honest. I don’t mean in a trust-me-with-your-life-savings way (though please feel free) but in a will-actually-tell-you-how-I-am way. So when people ask how I’m coping with two so close together I might reply ‘It’s been the hardest year of my entire life so far’ or more likely with a comedy rictus grin and high-pitched ‘yeah it’s great!’, indicating quite clearly how it’s actually going. I’m even blogging about how I’m (not) coping with having two so close together, as you can see. It’s a fine line between honesty and moaning, though, isn’t it?
As women we’re taught to not really moan about stuff. I mean, yeah, we can moan about the weather, and the fact that we want our boyfriends to know what we want for our birthdays without us having to send emails with links to the relevant Amazon/lovelybags.com/Tiffany&co webpage in them. We can moan about our jobs and our mothers and our mothers-in-law and the fact that our best mate always leaves her mobile switched off and in the boot of her car, but when it comes to the stuff that’s actually really shit, we generally clam up.
If a childless or first-time pregnant woman asks us what childbirth is really like, are we honest? No. We say it hurts, yes, but it’s a ‘useful’ pain and not like somebody’s jimmying your pelvis open with a crowbar and then making you squeeze a lit Jack-O’lantern through it. We don’t mention that after this unbelievable feat you have to stay awake continuously for about two months, jamming your boob into the squalling creature’s mouth every time your eyelids drift shut for a second. When somebody asks how we are after the birth we don’t mention feeling like a snake that just sicked up an alligator. We stay silent about the stinging stitches and we keep quiet about the piles which are making us terrified to even catch a glimpse of the toilet out of the corner of our eye.
Nope. We sketch over childbirth and talk instead about the immense and surprising love we feel for our babies (it’s true, we really do). We don’t admit we felt frightened and bewildered and wished we had just got a hamster in the first weeks of our baby’s life but we say it gets much easier at twelve weeks (true, in the same way that taking a paracetamol eases the pain of an amputation).
Once we’ve been through the awful bits we’re happy to gossip about it to each other but seldom to those who haven’t been through it. I sometimes wish we were just a titchy bit more honest with each other about what the difficult bits of motherhood are like. If we could learn to be, fewer women might find themselves in the doctor’s office, like I did just after Pickle was born, asking ‘have I got post natal depression or is having two kids under two just really shit?’
See? I’m too honest. I’m worrying about it now. Everyone’s different. Some people sail through childbirth and take to looking after babies like ducks to water. I can’t think of any more watery similes to make my point. I’m having a tricky patch but I love love love my babies and they are funny little companions as well as squishy dimpled bundles.
Of course, additionally, you could call this lack of honesty just Being Positive.