Saturday, 10 March 2018

The Mums I thought I'd never be (and what I didn't know about motherhood)

Most women are the same when they plan to have a baby or become pregnant - you have a pretty good idea of the mother you imagine yourself to be, and also what life will be like when you add a baby to the mix.
I definitely did. I used to roll my eyes at women who were already mothers, with their endless reams of advice that just sounded like pessimistic complaining to me. In my mind, their words, from women who had got pregnant simply by sleeping with their husbands, were quite rude and disrespectful.
It had taken a year and a half of appointments, scans, counselling,  examinations, needles, pills, negative pregnancy tests, thousands of pounds, heartache and hope before we had got our wonderful two pink lines. Did they really think we would go through all that and then think 'Oh really, we'll be tired? You should've said, we don't fancy it anymore!"
 I know now that motherhood is literally like being on another planet, and you cannot imagine it until you are right in the middle of it, amongst the noise, and busyness, and mess, and exhaustion, and love, and happiness. But back then, I wouldn't be like them, I thought. I knew better, I was different.

These are just some of the mums I thought I would be, and the mum I actually became:

I'll be a mum who makes sure she looks nice, instead of just her baby having nice new outfits

I realised I had failed miserably on this when I put a top on to go to my nieces second birthday party, then remembered I had worn the same outfit for her first birthday party the year before! Our son regularly has piles of new clothes, when he was a baby and grew out of them every few months, and now for the changing seasons as he is a toddler. They are all organic, beautiful quality from the mainly Scandinavian brands we have loved since before Oskar was even created. Alternatively,  our wardrobes were relegated to the same mum uniform of well worn jeans, old striped tops and battered shoes. I always said I wouldn't stop making an effort with the way I looked when I had children, but the honest truth - you are too tired, have too little time, and there are much more important things.
Saying this,  I have tried to remember lately that I am a person and a wife, not just a mother. Now Oskar is twenty months old, spending a few more seconds on my hair, and putting on a bit of make up are more realistic. And I have made sure to buy a few new items of clothes for myself too...though my sons wardrobe still puts mine to shame!

I won’t be a mum who’s living room is full of toys 

I am quite houseproud, and very tidy, and was adamant that my house wouldn’t turn into one massive playroom. We kept our word with this until Oskar was 18 months old, after him having some larger toys for his second Christmas. Now our living room contains a wooden kitchen (which is quite tucked away next to our dining table), wooden bowls, houses and peg people, which all look like ornaments and go well with the rest of the room, a table and chair with art equipment, a pushchair and dolls, a campervan push along full of cars, and an Ikea tower - it had two cupboards of hidden toys, and two open with wooden cars in one, and wooden animals in the other. I like to think the toys we have out mainly look nice and in keeping with the room, but the no toys thing went out the window. It’s just not practical to have all your toys in your child’s room. Sometimes I look around my living room that looks like a hurricane has hit it and remember my lovely tidy living room, but then I look at the mess and it makes me happy - it shows my son is playing, learning, laughing, it’s the best kind of mess in the world. 

I won't be a Mum who takes nappies, sick and snot in her stride!

I am a fairly squeamish person around anything smelly or slimy, and thought that dealing with poo and vomit was going to be one of the hardest things about parenthood (honestly, how little I knew!).
As people who have long being interested in living as eco friendly as possible, cloth nappies and wipes were something Lauren was eager to use many years before our baby actually came along. I was a little more dubious at first. However, I hated the idea of all those nappies and wipes in landfill, so we bought both cloth nappies and wipes. As our son arrived by c section, I did all the nappy changes in hospital ,and then at home whilst Lauren recovered. It was just immediately something that naturally had to be done, and whilst I can't say I still feel a little queasy at the memories of those months where a mums hair constantly has a faint (or not) scent of vomit, or have to take a deep breath when dealing with a particularly bad nappy situation, I never thought I'd say the words, as I wiped something off my child's face with my hand "What's that? Oh, its just snot." And as for cloth nappies and wipes, within days I was their biggest advocate, and have inspired other mums to switch to cloth too!

I won't be a mum who has natural maternal instinct

I feel ridiculous even saying this, but before I was a mum, I genuinely wondered if  I would love my baby as much as I loved my beloved  dog. I was horrified at people who said what a shame it was that they didn't have nearly as much time for their dogs anymore. I feel I've I've said this many times over the past year and eight months, but how little I knew. I don't want to sound patronising by saying you cannot comprehend the love you have for a child until you have one, but it really is indescribable. I'm also not saying its more than love people without children can feel. The love for my son isn't more than the love for my wife. Its different, but at the same time, apart from for my wife, I have never experienced such powerful, overwhelming love. I am probably still not the most naturally maternal person, but I feel privileged to experience motherhood and the new capabilities it seems to have given me.

I won't take a million pictures of my baby and annoy everyone on social media with them

Haha, oops. Little did I know how every day babies seem to look different, or do something new. The time they are tiny is so fleeting that I have zero regrets of taking a million photographs.I also know people who refuse to put any pictures of their children online, something I respect. Whilst I will still never have a picture of my baby as my profile picture, I take and post a vast amount more pictures of my baby than of myself, or anything or anyone else, something I know I should probably try and change a tiny bit.  Although I use Facebook as photo storage, I think most of my family and friends know this, and there are very minimal, if any, cooing statuses of our bundle of joy. My Instagram contains a lot of pictures of my son, because he is a massive part of my life. Which leads me to...

I won’t  be one of those bores that has nothing in life apart from her baby

The annoying part about this, is this young people who meet you after you’ve had children, assume you’re a boring mom who has never travelled, had fun, got drunk. 
The thing is, when you have a newborn ,you do have little in life apart from your baby. They need constantly changing, feeding, winding, cuddling, comforting, playing with. You have so little sleep that you have very little energy or time for anything else, and how little time you have is something that I couldn't grasp until I had a baby. When they are toddlers they want your attention, to play with you, to follow you in the shower, to the toilet, to have lunch ready the second they decide they are hungry. I bizarrely thought that our lives of friends, music, going out for drinks and meals, to spas and on holiday, wouldn't be that different, we would just have a baby there too. Yes as he gets older I try to find time to be the many things I am as well as a mother, but the reality is being a mother changes your priorities a great deal. In the future the things that used to feature in our lives will slowly return, but for now, I’m content that much of my world is our son - he’s a pretty wonderful thing to devote so much time to!

My child will have perfect manners

Manners have always been very important to me, and was bought up to see them as something that had a big part of peoples first impression of you. I am the kind of person who gets really annoyed if I hold a door open for someone who doesn't say thank you. Our son has a vocabulary at 20 months of 50-60 words- none of them are please, thank you, sorry or excuse me. Why? Because he wouldn't understand the reason he is saying those words. If we taught him to say thank you when we gave him an apple, he wouldn't understand the concept of being thankful we had paid for, or chopped the apple. He does however say apple, as he knows that that word describes that object. When he is old enough to be taught the concept of manners, we will ensure he has excellent ones, and whilst there is nothing wrong with teaching toddlers to say please and thank you, it is, surprisingly, not something that is important to me yet.

I'll never be a mum that gives up foreign holidays

I remember texting my cousin a picture of the view from our hotel room at The Bellagio in Las Vegas whilst we were celebrating our first wedding anniversary. She laughed and said "you wait til you have a baby, it'll be nothing but Peppa Pig World!". When Lauren got pregnant the following year we had planned to take our baby to our holiday home in Malta when he would have been three months old. Once the baby arrived, we watched other mums lament of the horrors of taking a young baby on a plane, how much stuff you had to take, and the struggle of keeping them out of the heat of the sun, and cancelled our trip. Our last foreign holiday was two and  half years ago, and I can't lie and say we haven't missed them, although not as much as I thought we would. I sometimes look back at pictures of us whale watching in California, or navigating the souks of Marrakech and it feels like another world. We have however, discovered far more of our own country than we ever had before. We revisited London, Brighton, Edinburgh and Devon, parts of Wales, and going to Northumberland, The Lake District and Pembrokeshire for the first time, places that have turned into some of our favourite places in the world. Whilst Peppa Pig World is still the stuff of my nightmares (Oskar has only recently been introduced to television, and we haven't made it as far as Peppa yet!) we have been happy to put off our foreign holidays for now -we have been adding to our list though!

I won't be that tired

This was one of the most annoying 'pearls of wisdom' from fellow mums I received, and also the most common. "Gosh, you're all so negative" I thought. "Lauren works 70hrs a week sometimes, 12hr nightshifts with no break, we work hard, we know what being tired is." No, we didn't. Because it didn't matter how long or hard we worked at our jobs during the day, we got to relax when we got home, and then have a full nights sleep.  I’d say that I’d had a puppy, so I was prepared for a baby, then get annoyed at the looks I’d get from Mother’s in response to that! The first few months with a new baby that woke sometimes every 45 minute through the night left us like zombies. Zombies with dry, stinging eyes. Even at 20 months, O will often wake at 5am, or during the night once or twice. I sometimes hear women in their 20s at work, with no children, some who live with their parents and work part time exclaiming "I'm so exhausted!" After the fleeting urge to slap them passed (I'm kidding, just!) I stop myself from uttering those words that seem gifted into your vocabulary when you're a mother - 'you don't know what tired is!'. Because one day they will, and I remember how annoying I found it pre motherhood!

So there we go, the many Mothers I never thought I would be, and how I became...pretty much all of them. The Mother I am often surprises me - I'm calmer, more patient, I spend hours doing things I'd roll my eyes at a few years ago. I'm stronger, more brave, and I love my son with a force I can't explain. Everyones journey into, and through, motherhood is different, and I have witnessed it change people in different ways. Being a mother is not all that I am, but it's definitely one of the best things I've ever been.

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1 comment:

  1. I remember being pregnant with my first, thinking, "I know everyone SAYS I'll love the baby more than my cats but HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?!" Now the poor cats barely get a look in - so I hear you with the dog revelation!


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