A poetic and honest account of my experience, as a devoted first-time Mama, wife and FE lecturer.
I figured some restorative vibes were much required, considering we greeted the day with a test of strength and resilience, as my boy came face-to-face (rather painfully) with the floor; right upon that very dreaded step: that very darned spot that you seem to spend all of your time desperately trying to get them to avoid, yet they happen to make their unfortunate acquaintance, amid innocent hurried steps to the play room.
Amidst a scene of shrill cries, blood, and a total haze of panic, I blurred my way through, without taking a single breath – high and disoriented on raw adrenaline; that feeling, as if unknowingly, I had reached the bottom of the cheap Prosseco bottle.
Lost within that moment, as I swept my boy up into my arms; cradling him tightly, against the cold compress of the scrunched up dish-cloth; nestled safely, within a warm embrace of blood, snot, and salty tears; to a muffled chorus of – I love you’s.
And with the slowing pace of our hearts, in that first gentle ease from panic, to reveal all but a slight scratch: I lay my head still upon the chest of my boy, and without any conscious thought – just relief, I sobbed.
And yet, within that isolated moment of weakness, at but a mere month away from our boy’s second birthday: I felt the reversal of protection and safety, as my boy quietly and softly muttered the most gentle and selfless words: “don’t worry Mama. It’s okay. All better.”
You see, I am no stranger to this usual pattern of emotional events; usually when change is due to occur, and i’m left guessing that the fast-ticking-clock of the Summer holidays is wholly responsible.
Only yesterday, the thought entered my mind, that those four weeks with my boy, are now down to one; and admittedly, i shed a few quiet tears.
Perhaps it was in the knowing that work – my cruel mistress, is far too demanding of my time and my efforts, and I am left but a mere juggler.
I don’t care to be sickening: he’s my boy, and he’s all of my favourite things, packaged into one magical creature.
All I want in this world are days upon days of adventures; making memories amongst nature; making art on the steps in pastels; hunting for “creepies”; reciting books; picking berries in the garden; and cosy “covers” morning time, with my two great loves.
But Mama has to work; so juggle, I must. 💔
After a supposed day release turned into an unexpected two-night hospital stint: having passed out twice, and covered myself in a shit-load of fancy-private-hospital-grub-vomit, I finally made my return home; to my two boys, and my two feline girls.
Greeted by a tearful husband and a sobbing blue-eyed babe, as he launched towards me with arms open wide, I was faced with the most enormous pang of guilt from having to reject his embrace; of holding him in my arms and smothering him with two-whole-days-worth of love. It’s been too long.
The two open wounds in my tummy: a harsh, yet maternal reminder of my ceasarian-section and those hazy, early days we first spent together.
Yet within that magical first hour of being home, my whole entire world was put back to rights; with my boy cocooned snug on my chest, arms wrapped around my neck, gently pulling back every so often, to scan the familiarities of my face; in between the most adorable and heart-wrenching sobs of his suppressed emotion into the cushion, from the sheer overwhelment, of two days asking for Mama.
Within that moment, my boy not only broke my heart, but he put it all back together again. For in that fragmented memory, I shall forever treasure watching our boy display the cognitive development of his early years; watching the expressions change upon his brow, from one to the other, as he struggled to decompartmentalise that chaotic encounter of frustration and relief and anger and joy and, love.
No dry eyes had by all.
And after tales of “where Mama’s been”, as he played with my hospital wristband between his tiny fingers, while listening to the sound of the rain and a distant thunderstorm, the whole house was asleep.
And I, reunited with my darling family, am finally home. 💙
Yes, I am indeed ‘seriously’ listening to the sounds of the ocean (not failing to mention – rain and distant thunder 😌), as I take my routine Sunday bath; cheap champagne in one hand, and ridiculously more-ish chocolate in the other.
Can you tell I’m mourning the sea? A physical yearning, with that dull-like ache in the pit of my chest, for the missing piece of my heart; that will forever belong to the sea. Like a sea-farer, lost on land.
Closing my eyes, I escape to that place – my “happy place”. Stepping outside of a busy rat-race life, welcoming (aside parental duties) – a responsibility-free, week-long escape.
Taking the half-an-hour jaunt by foot, from Carbis bay, to St Ives; with our boy strapped to my Husbands Viking chest, leaving my hands to roam free; collecting flowers for my darling boy’s “FLOW-ERS” demands.
We made a vow to walk slowly and take in, each and every step. Feeling his hand in mine; mine in his. Watching the expressions form on the brow of our boy, as he learns new things about nature and the sea. Being told that I’m a “naughty pumpkin” (bossy madam), as we come to my favourite spot, as I routinely insist: “don’t just look, but LOOK”, at how lucky we are to be witness to the most beautiful picture-post-card scene, right in front of our eyes.
We talk, about adventures upon our arrival. We play the ice-cream game; opting for flavours we’ve not yet tried before. We joke and laugh while constructing our daily “mission impossible” toddler-meltdown plan, for those highchair grenade moments, in front of child-less upper-middle-class folk, who tut and scowl; unless fortunate enough to receive a smile and a chuckle from a fair few.
… And just like that, through my streams of thoughts and words; my family and the sea, I’m right there. Thank you memories; aren’t you just magical! Thank you, for keeping me sane and mentally occupied, until the day we are reunited in our “happy place”, once again. 🌊💙
Give me a newborn, over toddler meal time, any day.
Babies come with their own rules; entirely different within their own right; manuals governed only, by their Mama’s own intuition.
I regard myself both blessed and lucky to have been truly encapsulated (without hinderance), by the bond me and my son shared in our first year together; listening, and tending to his needs only; (of which I like to believe), resulted in a well-and-truly happy, and contented baby.
With whole-hearted gratitude, I can honestly say, that our very first year experience, was a “piece-of-piss”; frankly, quite opposite to the brutal warnings we had prepared ourselves for. We literally have the golden child. Don’t hate me.
Fast-forward, to 17 months, and that “piece of piss” has become a piece of Rubix’s cube, when it comes to food; y’know, the part that you will NEVER get.
Feeding time. The two words that currently send nervous ripples throughout my entire body. The time which has become full of “Mom anxiety”, and sheer unadulterated frustration!
Naturally, completely and utterly uninterested in being in the kitchen, I have now taken upon being mentally and physically shackled to Pinterest boards upon counter-tops, while mixing up Mary Berry-worthy concoctions – needless to say, FULL of rejection! I don’t know what’s more frustrating: the flat-rejection; Groundhog Day of tackling the food-floor-decoration-game, or the sheer amount of food waste!!
Permanently stuck between worrying that your child is going to STARVE; gain a baby eating disorder (I mean – c’mon!); that this “phase” will be forevermore, or that I might possibly be arrested by the google search police.
Today, however, is a bluddy MARRRVELOUS day; with a bow and applause to Dadda’s home-made Carbonara, a handful of Tortellini, garlic bread and bowl of fruit pieces consumed! I now feel like I should DEFINITELY be nominated for an OBE or something, because our boy has consumed lots of healthy (and cultured – might I add) goodness; and today, I needn’t worry about him turning into a human crumpet.
Of course, I’m definitely not naive towards the fact that come 5pm, my fear will return, and I’ll be ready to tear my hair out/act a bit crazy/cry/have a food fight; send him off to watch the Clangers gang, with (…pause…sigh…) – a crumpet.
So, while on the subject of “parental trials and tribulations”, I figured there was no better time than to reference THE most amazing baby shower gift i received: “Things I wish I’d have known”.
I can whole-heartedly and honestly say, that without doubt, this is the go-to preparative manual of “what to expect”, for newly expectant parents.
Back then, I always used to think about what my list to expectant parents would be. I guess it’d go something like this:
1. Make your own rules. Follow your own instincts. Every single baby is different, and should be treated that way.
2. Never to be hung up on stupid shit; let them get dirty; let them have experiential play and paint the wooden floor with yogurt; let them stray from the path and run on the grass; let them roam and eat their dinner out of their highchair at times; let them ‘be’.
3. Remember that they are developing human beings; to not be so hard on yourself (however frustrating) if they will not follow your constraints of meal-times, bedtimes, etc; allow their character to flourish, while maintaining a healthy balance of discipline.
4. They are not going to starve themselves. If they have to eat crumpets, yoghurts and scrambled egg for an entire week, then stock up, and get over it.
5. Don’t please anyone else but YOUR baby and YOUR family.
6. And lastly: keep up with YOURSELF, and no-one-else. We’re all on the same journey, and anyone trying to infiltrate “competition”, or any ol’ shit along those lines, is quite frankly: 1) insecure, & 2) a bit of a knob.
Ironically on the subject of eating anxieties (as I have rather selfishly prioritised blog-writing over babba), I have failed to notice the fruit-pot poured all over the dining table and floor, as my Bebé reaches out for more “FROOT”.
I rest my anxious-mom case.
Love you Mama’s. Peace. Patience and persistency. ✌🏻️
Two hours have passed and I had to triple-check the time, as our boy is still fast asleep. He never naps this long.
So, I find myself sitting here: after having spent the last two hours undergoing last-minute lesson planning, for the first week back after the festive break; in a darkened living room, with an undressed Christmas tree; stripped bare of all its fanciful frivolities. And yet: aside the absence of festive cheer, and the post-Christmas blues, I feel utterly calm, content and at peace; truly grateful for this moment of solitude and stillness that I have been granted.
Christmas, I love you dearly; I really do, but your lack of routine has indeed had my head all-in-a-spin.
The season of merriment; the season of absolutely-no-flaming-idea-what day it is, what time it is, and what year we are in; forgetting what constitutes of a ‘meal’, aside the never-ending cheeseboard and chocolate; the movie marathon and Christmas carols TV itinerary; and the daily eight cups of water, replaced with Prosecco and Mulled wine.
To be quite honest, I had begun to wonder why I physically felt like I was on a constant hangover (and that’s aside the sleep deprivation of a teething baby) – having seen every hour of the night. And, admittedly (and entirely unashamedly) began to yearn for a return of the CBeebies jovial sounds through the house.
I guess this is my way of realising I do indeed miss routine; and that while I will always mourn the magic and haziness of Christmas, I am happy to prematurely embrace the season of spring clean and return of daily routine; if only for some much-needed structure back in my life.
My alarm is set for 6am; not because I need to be up at 6am, but because aside craving the routine of normality, I will (without a shadow of a doubt) be worthy of sectioning, without that extra half an hour.
Of course, that time will mainly be used having to come to terms with the fact that: 1) this is unfortunately NOT a bad dream; that my 6am wake-up call is beckoning my return to work; and 2) HOW on earth could I have ‘ever’ wished for this in the first place?!
Needless to say, I will think myself a total idiot, and take back this entire trail of thought, while aggressively (and frustratingly) face-planting my pillow; wishing if only time would stop, just for now.
Rewind a few years, and not even ‘once’ did I entertain the idea of ever wanting/having a child of my own; being far too comfortable with the selfish life, with commitments kept to a minimum.
And yet now, here we are, with a mantlepiece ladened with a snowman foot Christmas card and a handprint calendar.
Each to their own, but in my opinion, this is what life is all about.
One thing’s for sure, of all the superficialities a disposable salary lifestyle can provide, nothing will ‘ever’ equate to the wealth of being able to decorate your home with the most priceless and invaluable gifts, that any Christmas could ever bring; made lovingly from your baby’s tiny, chubby hands. 🎄🙏🏻💙