The year 2000 was an eventful and very bumpy year.
It started with the disintegration of my mother’s second marriage. After twelve years of weddedness, two years good and downhill from there, my stepfather decided to pack his bags and leave. Unfortunately as he was an invalid, this actually meant that everybody else had to pack his bags, and her bags, and clean the house and garden for sale.
My mother was reasonably useless during the whole process, which we put down at the time to depression. She could not make any decisions, nor make any productive gestures. From my family’s side this meant it was mostly me that organised the whole process, including finding another place for her to live as they wished to sell the house. I remember being so frustrated that my mother just would not help herself, and that I was hauling weeds, cutting back overgrown ivy and separating 12 years of combined living to pack into his and hers boxes. I was six to seven months pregnant at the time and we were also deeply into trying to owner-build our own home. I was resentful, found my brothers unhelpful and wondered how I’d been lumped with it all.
Come April, Kid2 arrived. Unfortunately the race to finish the house first was not successful, but we moved in when she was 11 days old. In hindsight my advice to anyone who listens is DO NOT DO THIS. We were broke, having invested every cent in the house. We were living on one partial income, which we just could not live on.
When Kid2 was 20 weeks old I returned to work. This time was primarily financially driven as we were desperate for a stable income, but I was glad to go back to work. With Kid2, motherhood was no longer joyful. She was a wee little bub, 5lb 13oz, needed constant feeding, had colic and didn’t sleep for longer than three hours at a time.
I remember seeing my GP when she was six months old and finally settled in a routine. He was very pleased as he had been worried I was on the verge of post-natal depression. I was furious. Having barely emerged from a horrible hole of failure and self-loathing, I really wished he had said something – to provide support or help – rather than leaving me to fight my way to the surface. I now never underestimate the pain and despair that motherhood can visit on some. I know I felt truly alone and such a completely malfunctioning mess. I loved both my kids but just couldn’t cope with both of them at that time.
By the end of the year, I was in a happier place. Kid2, having blossomed after her early difficulties, was a blissfully happy older bub – full cheeks, chubby and angelic. Her sister adored her, and had almost forgiven me for having the second child, and we were meeting all bills (just).
After a pretty rough year, I thought myself lucky. We had a new home, two kids and things were picking up.