You know, I have been doing alot of thinking about ‘this time last year’. I am seeing this as a sign that I have moved into a new phase of parenthood – one where I almost forget how hard things were (yay) and can’t believe how big my little boy is (boo).
This time last year, I was about to ask for some help, although I didn’t know it. I wasn’t really feeling myself at all, I was exhausted from constant breastfeeding, not eating enough and desperately trying to live up to expectations – no one else’s expectations, but mine.
You see, I did have this vision of being a parent. My husband and I would be completed in a perfect little unit, I would be crafting and blogging and breastfeeding and cooking and seeing lots of my friends. I would be making clothing with my new applique skills and continuing to remember everyone’s birthdays. I would be coming up with an amazing plan for what I might do with my life to stop me from having to go back to the job that was making me a little miserable.
I would be the sort of mum who didn’t sweat the small stuff, who would write loving letters for my son to re-read when he was older. I would read to him and cuddle him and leave him to spend time with his family members whilst I regained a little of my sense of self back.
The reality however was somewhat different….
I was sad…. and exhausted…. and anxious and a little angry. I was waiting for things to get better. Desperately trawling Twitter and Facebook and texting friends with children to see what I was doing right or wrong. I was determined to breastfeed and the first 10 weeks were hell on Earth. I kind of wish I had blogged it a bit more as I have almost forgotten how hard it was. I remember a friend saying, when it clicks, it will be second nature and she was right – at 5 months I was feeding him in less than 10 minutes a time and I enjoyed it…. not so in week 5 when I cried everytime he wanted feeding. That’s a story for another time really. I felt like I never smiled and I was so desperate to get away from the house just for a couple of hours, just for myself.. but I didn’t really take the chance when it was given to me.
My turning points were centered around communicating. When I asked Grandparents to look after Chiplet so I could have a swim, when I asked my husband to take the baby out in the pram so I could sleep without worrying and when I told my Health Visitor that I felt very flat.
See if I had my time again as a first time parent, I would just sit back in my PJ’s and hold my little boy for as long as he needed. I might cry whilst breastfeeding him to sleep, but not because I was worried he would need me to do that forever, but because of the emotions and love I felt for him. I wouldn’t ask my friends constantly when things were going to get better, I would just wait for each day and realise that they were sometimes up and sometimes down. But most of all, I would have been a little more honest about how I was feeling.
Since then, I have told many people how I was feeling. I have friends with new babies and one who is finding things similar to me. The relief on her face when I said I had spent a whole week wondering whether I could get in a time machine and not be a Mum, was clear and you know what – knowing that you are not the only person feeling that way can be the lifeline you need.
So this time last year, I had just taken my son on his first trip overseas to scatter the ashes of the man who gave him his middle name, I was feeding my baby without pain and wondering how the weight was dropping off. I was convinced Chiplet would never ever nap or sleep in his own bed and wrestling with the guilt of early weaning. I was wedding dress shopping and realising that what I looked like was not as important to me as it used to be. I was missing my fiance and the time we spent together and wondering if we would ever find time to speak to each other properly. I was wondering how the hell anyone could go back to work at this stage and whether I would ever get a full night’s sleep again.
This time this year – well…. I am about to take my son on his first family holiday with all my favourite people, I am wondering why he likes rice one day and not the next. I am amazed that at 1.30am this morning he turned his big slate grey eyes to me and asked for ‘milk’. I am trying to keep up with his voracious reading appetite and wondering how many more times I can read The Snail and The Whale. I am thrilled to be living in an amazing village in a warm family home that need alot of work. I am still wondering when me and my hustband can have lunch together. I am looking in the mirror and seeing a much aged woman and I am actively looking forward to my job (most days).
Looking back is good, because it helps you to see what you have now and to turn your head the other way to look forward.