Whilst it stumbles along slowly in those first few exhausted weeks time has flown by for me in a haze of being. Being patient, being tired, being proud, being angry, being loved. My son is seven, seven and I have to catch my breath from the storm of emotions that number brings forward in my chest. My firstborn. My boy that loves Pokémon and obstinance.
I blinked for a moment.
My beautiful son is confronting the years with a delighted gusto whilst I hastily try and hold onto the time we have together. It falls through my fingers like fine sand. I am still skipping through parenthood being a ‘try’er’ and a ‘coper’. Norah turns one on Sunday. This time I took more photos but again, those precious newborn memories snuggled together under blankets at 2 am watching Netflix with gritty, gelatinous eyes, are slipping. I wish I could store them, like colourful ribbons, in a wooden box with a brass lock.
I wake daily to my mummy role more confident with the fact I don’t have all the answers.
The idea of a ‘perfect’ mother has long been put on a high shelf with the dusty parenting books. Although the thought of her still unnerves me she no longer stands tauntingly behind me in the mirror. You cannot compare yourself to fiction. It doesn’t keep me awake at night that I can’t make hummus.
What advice would I give to new mummy me?
How frightened and overwhelmed she was, how determined and vulnerable. I wrote this post for the first time mothers who rely on Google and the seasoned mothers that will remember, and nod. Who gave their reassurance and wisdom so generously to a young frightened girl with a baby in her arms.
Come home and take a breath.
The first day alone just my little boy and me was a haze.
He cried I fed him, he cried I rocked him, he cried I changed him. I cried and he slept.
You spend nine months building to this moment and then suddenly there is you and a tiny person that relies on you for everything! And you sometimes have no clue what they want. I didn’t know how to bathe him or how many layers he should be wearing. My daughter I knew how to change a nappy but was still vulnerable, still exhausted after labour, still new to motherhood in a different way.
I can’t recall now that new baby smell, but do remember the silken feel of his skin, the tiny hairs and little fingers, the little blue sailor boat buttons on his white cardigan. It got pooped on and ruined. Her fragile cry that sounded more kitten than person.
You will rise and sink in an ocean of emotions, go with it, cry when you need for no reason and laugh when you can.
Some days will be calm and others chaos. Panicking is ok. Do not be lonely, call people, you are NOT an inconvenience. Some are hit with waves of love that leave them breathless others with whispers of doubt and fear. You will feel more level and like yourself again soon, you made a person it’s going to have consequences. If it doesn’t, you have not failed, ask for help or ensure someone else does for you.
I rang my midwife one day when I was too tired to lift myself from the bath and asked her to come get Leo. Told her she could keep him. I just needed to SLEEP. She came and held him whilst I had tea and toast. I, of course, did not give him away but it shows my desperation and all consuming exhaustion at that moment. Norah after a long and sleepless night I almost left on a bus.
Rest when they do, seriously put the hoover down.
With your second child sleep when they do is advice as pointless as dust. When the babies asleep the other child wants you to watch Disney. Hide in the toilet for five minutes and just have a moment for you to eat a Snickers. If you can get dressed and put on lippy hats off to you. You want to wear pyjamas for three days? Bloody well do it. Whether boob or bottle talk to them whilst they feed, trace every line in their face and enjoy those times when they sleep on you. Be grateful, but if those ‘cherish every moment’ comments make you feel guilty or murderous know that sometimes it is ok not like your children, or feel unhappy, or angry or fed up.
You will be encouraged to do things one way, or another, this is best…no that is best, don’t use a dummy, don’t formula feed, don’t this…do that…everyone is different, find your own rhythm.
Though you probably don’t need all those toys and products you brought. That Bumbo he hated. That night light she hated. That special all singing all dancing chair. They both really hated.
You make mistakes but are scared to let people know, don’t be.
You are amazing even if you feel far from it, you can eat cake for breakfast and burn the dinner. Don’t be embarrassed if your boobs leak in public or if your child Exorcist vomits on the bus. Do not listen to people who unkindly think they know better. The first time I shakily walked to the post office new baby in buggy, breathless and anxious a lady in the post office told me I shouldn’t have brought him out because it was a hot day. He was 7 weeks old, had a sunshade, a fan, sun lotion and a vest. I had tried so hard. Leaving the queue I got to the door before crumpling and wept gracelessly in the street. It must have seemed like I got really emotional over stamps.
Shh mummy don’t cry.
A mummy’s love is so tired that it’s eyes are gritty, so great and protective that some nights it watches them sleep as a moses basket feels like a threatening thing, it’s a love that will break and build a person. It’s a love for a lifetime.
Prepare to be broken and made as a parent. Like plasticine moulded into a pot that at first, doesn’t seem like the right size. It will fit eventually. Don’t be fooled my children look like blue eyed angels, but I am pretty sure at least one of them is a sociopath, and the other likes to eat leaves.
Below is an awful but hilarious video of me a month after Leo was born I sent to my friends to make you feel better about yourselves. (Ps apologies, re-blog quality film!)