A poetic and honest account of my experience, as a devoted first-time Mama, wife and part-time FE lecturer.
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. 🎄🙏🏻💙
This weekend has been the first in four months that I haven’t spent the first few hours of each day coffee-clad, in front of a laptop and a pile of paperwork, lesson planning and marking, with a babe pulling at my leg to come up/sing along to Cbeebies/wrestle both paperwork and USB out of fleeting hands. It is indeed, an absolute joy.
Not even giving a damn that your little one grabbed the cheekiest chocolate biscuit out of the biscuit tin, with those speed-of-light nimble hands; nor that the sofa and your fresh white sweater is now covered in chocolate kisses and hand prints.
Napping together on the sofa, for the first time, in what feels like the longest time. Not today, am I clinging onto hope of nap time, so I can attempt to be domesticated.
This day, my son comes first. The vile cold that has worsened over the last week has stolen some of his sunshine, and right now, my sole purpose is to nurse him and put everything else well and truly clear of my priority list; ditching the everyday itinerary for slowing-down-time.
Stopping time to take in the tiniest fragments that make up a moment; like watching his eyelashes flit as he sleeps; feeling the rhythm of our heart beats in sync with one another, as we lay clamped together; feeling his tiny, chubby hand search for mine. This kid, in this moment, isn’t going anywhere, but the safe, warm and cosy confines of my home chest.
Waking up sweaty and red-cheeked, with strawberry-blonde Edward Scissorhand hair, all wiry and crazy and stuck on end.
Ditching bottoms, because your boy likes to ramble about as free as the day he was born, (also, because of the fact that you secretly love the sight of those chunky baby-fat thighs). Amidst the joy, is a cold rush of melancholy, with the realisation that your baby (who, let’s face it, is actually no longer a “baby” baby anymore), will soon outgrow those wonderful, chunky, play-dough thighs, and that you’ll forever mourn playtime, where you chomp down on them with your best (embarrassingly poor) monster impression.
Emotions ride high as your baby sits intently, watching your most treasured childhood Christmas classics with you, without a single peep. Calm, content and cosy; positioned securely under the nook of your left arm, as you tuck into a sharer plate of buttery toast together.
Having screwed-up corners of toast put to my mouth, as I am fed by our little darling; insisting that every single bite is to be taken after Mom-om has taken the first.
Playing the food game for as long as he is offering; to fully absorb that overwhelming feeling of pride as you watch your boy’s character develop before your very eyes, forming to be the kindest and sincerest, gentlest little soul.
This morning my Mom messaged, checking up on us. When I told her of the day we were having, she replied: “good. That’s what it’s all about.”
She wasn’t wrong there.
I wish every day could be like this.
After hibernating in our home for the majority of half-term; practically trashing our fun-filled-week itinerary, along with the remnants of illness (such as the Calpol collection, that seems to have gained some kind of eclectic interior status), we figured it was best to get out-and-about in our favourite city (Brumingham), to: take in the Autumnal sights (favourite time of year), lose hours in Foyles (never putting books back in the right order), and eat our bodyweight (and wallet-weight) in Sushi.
Forever drawn in by the Victorian architecture, there is always time for a prompt stop at the Museum. So, in keeping with the spirit of Halloween, we decided to introduce Grayson to the Mummies; however, we didn’t make it much further than the gift shop, (after making not the greatest decision we’ve ever made), to contemplate a duo wooden sword purchase, which naturally (for children maybe) turned into a play sword-fight, which very quickly turned into a play sword-fight gone bad; resulting in a big-fat-swollen eyebrow (quite literally nearly taking out my eyeball – and I would quite like to keep ‘both’ my eyeballs).
…And there, with his face peering from below the juvenile behaviour, sat our boy, staring in a sort of judgemental silence (rather bemusedly), at his pair of spare-parts for parents; all while I did my very best to play it cool in front of the half-term crowds, despite feeling like my face was cut in two and that my doting Husband was secretly trying to rid of me ‘Viking’ style, with his big red beard.
Of course this theme of ‘eventful’ was the very spine of the day, taking our ritual whimsical bookish flit through our favourite bookstore, and propelled the dream into oblivion, with an explosive diarorreah episode and a red-faced shouting Grayson, stuck amongst a group of whispering family readers in the quietest of corners – managing to successfully achieve both entertaining and awkward, all in one fail swoop!
Time to cart a “hangry” family of three onto a packed-out sardines-in-a-tin Yo Sushi, where people may as well have been sharing saliva they were sat so close; because who takes their baby to Yo Sushi on a Saturday in half-term anyway? Idiots, that’s who…
So we settled for our good old faithful Druckers – the “comfy slippers” of the dining spots, for a latte and slice of savoury heaven (the one providing the most energy).
And in the cosiest spot, the three of us happily sat, amongst a table littered with Clangers board books and pieces of nibbled food, with our content little boy gnawing away at a piece of crust in one hand, while cleaning imaginary mess with a handful of serviettes in the other, and Momom and Dadad hands held under the table.
No words exchanged; smiling and exhaling together – all at once, with a genuine warmth, humour and happiness in our hearts, and our eyes, at the chaos that is family life. Our chaos; our family life.
This, is #parenthood. 🙌🏻