It starts when you have your first child. You wait for our beloved to return home for some adult conversation. That aloneness you experience when you first commit to staying at home with a totally dependent, tiny infant can arouse feelings that in some ways are indefinable.
While your partner is out there in the “real world”, you battle with your vulnerability and your newfound dependence. You may struggle with your new post natal body image and be surprised that your shower time has now been moved to the 3pm time slot. You may be horrified to realize that somehow, your trackie pants and t-shirt have become a staple in your wardrobe.
Your sense of social awareness has narrowed down to the number of nappies used in the day, the amount of baby formula used in your household, or if you’re breastfeeding, is your baby getting enough. Why won’t he sleep? All this is compared to what you read on the Internet and listening to the others in your mothers group.
You may measure your worth on how well your baby fits into “the norm”, how well your labour and birth progressed and whether you are doing it “right”. You talk endlessly about everything baby and life as you knew it has gone. You may well have managed a senior corporate position out in the work force without so much as raising a sweat, but there is nothing like a baby that won’t stop crying to bring even the toughest of us to our knees.
You walk around the house with your phone tucked under your chin, networking with all the other mothers who feel exactly the same.
The strange thing about this “Witching Hour” is that once you have joined the club, you can never leave. You ask all the “empty nesters”, middle aged woman whose adult children have left home. Twilight comes and they miss the “madness” that goes with the bath time, dinner, homework and generally nurturing your family.
You miss the noise, the cuddles, funny stories and the beautiful pieces of art that used to adorn your fridge.
Those first few years are difficult for all the above reasons, but they’re gone in a heartbeat. Treasure them - don’t wish them away, because they leave us soon enough.
Michele Roach is an artist and former pallative nurse. She is a proud grandmother of three children.