Memoirs of a 30-something Mum with a one-year-old
When does your baby become a toddler? For me it came around far too quickly. In this blog post I look back at some of the 'penny-drop moments' my husband and I have been through in the past year.
My son Flynn recently turned one and he was suddenly classed as a toddler in the eyes of society – but to me he was still a baby. Yet two months later, the word toddler couldn't be more apt. How did this happen and right under my nose without me realising? I've gone from religiously sterilising bottles and making sure purees are warmed, to buying shoes, taking regular trips to A&E and finding segments of ham sandwich stuffed in unusual places around the house. I’m currently mourning the fact that certain shops only sell baby-gros that go up to the age of 18 months, that I don’t need to sterilise bottles and that we don’t have to use formula anymore. I dreamed of getting to this point six months ago while knee-deep in milk, weaning recipe books and massively lacking sleep, but now that I’m here, I feel like I’ve taken all of that for granted. I miss my baby.
So I’ve put together a list of things that I have collectively named ‘my penny-drop moments’ that have occurred over the past year. It’s a mixed bag and, of course, written by a first-time parent, so a few things may come across as quite full-on. But at the time it was everything to me and it may be everything to someone going through the same experiences right now, so I hope my observations can help those individuals.
I was the ultimate career-girl pre-child. When I was pregnant, I was told in a jokey-but-with-a-serious-undertone-way how my career would take a backseat and I would have to give up on my incessant drive to succeed.
RUBBISH! Since having Flynn, I’ve flourished in my career. I have found a renewed passion for what I do (because I’m not doing it 7am-7pm, every day) and I’ve taken a new and improved approach to work, with me placing significant value on being passionate about what I’m doing, laughing lots along the way and making friends through business. All of which have led to me down some amazing business roads that I would never have dreamt of in a million years pre-baby.
I will snap back to my pre-child self in no time and this will be the body I feel most comfortable in.
RUBBISH. It took me the best part of a year to get back to my pre-child body in terms of weight, but my body shape is so different. I’m fuller, curvier and I look healthy rather than skinny – and I’m really happy because of this. I, deep breath in, prefer my new body. I really do. It has permission to eat naughty treats and lets me know if I try to skip breakfast or starve myself on another fad diet. My mind is finally being kind to my body.
My son should be sleeping through the night by six months old.
RUBBISH. I don’t need to go into detail on this one, other than Gina Ford’s book should be handled with care. I found it useful at the time and felt it helped to direct both Flynn and I with naps and educating him in the difference between day and night in the early days, but it also set me up for failure. Because, you guessed it, he didn’t conform as the pages went on. One year passed and he still wasn’t sleeping from 7pm-7am without waking at least three times. We tried everything, and I mean everything. I felt that I followed the correct sleep path (whatever that is) and still, he didn’t do what others babies apparently did. I hadn't done anything wrong, and looking back, I truly believe it is luck of the draw whether your baby sleeps through. In the end, we called in the wonderful Infant Sleep Consultants and within four days he was sleeping through with no problems. Simple tweaks changed things, but I wouldn’t have known what these were, let alone given myself permission to tweak them, so it was the right move for us.
I will want to look after my son seven days a week and won’t consider childcare.
RUBBISH. I had this vision that I would be able to juggle Flynn and manage to get enough work done during the day, or be able to sit and have my hair and nails done with him playing with his toys and it all being peaceful and stress-free. Surprise, surprise, none of this is true and so I have turned to childcare in the grandparent variety. I felt guilty just thinking about Flynn spending the day with somebody else while I did, shock horror, what I wanted to do. However, it has had such a positive impact on everyone involved. The grandparents find enjoyment in looking after a little person once again, but without the stress of bills and work to occupy their minds, and my husband and I both value the time we have with Flynn so much more. In the end, my vision of me looking after Flynn seven days per week turned into me watching lots of TV and being on my phone while Flynn played in front of me, so it made so much more sense for that time to be more productive for the both of us.
I will wear my old clothes and prefer to dress a little more conservatively as a Mum
RUBBISH. I dress differently now, but the complete opposite to conservative. What this tells me is that I’m so much more confident in myself and how I am perceived. I used to only wear things that matched and would shun ‘different’ pieces that actually looked good on others, because I thought I didn’t have the body, right hair colour or I hadn’t exfoliated and applied fake tan and so my skin tone wasn’t right. Now, I make clothes work for me and not the other way around. And dressing differently without overthinking it has given me so much more confidence.
I won’t co-sleep, give my child a dummy, pouches or formula.
RUBBISH. Needless to say, I did all four of these things and Flynn is still here to tell the tale. However, at the time when working out whether or not to give these to my son, I was in two-minds and beat myself up ‘when I gave in’. I can’t stop these thoughts if you’re living through this right now, but I can recommend that with any parenting decision you’re unsure about, you set yourself incremental steps and review points. At these points, work out how it makes you feel, whether it is still needed and whether baby is happy, content and putting weight on. By the time you go through this process, you won’t be as hard on yourself, I promise.
Having a baby has been the best thing I could’ve done for my career, my confidence, my body, my mental health and my relationships with others. It hasn’t been easy and at times I wondered what the hell I had done, but on reflection, I believe the process of having a child and having to adjust so abruptly, brought all of the aforementioned factors to the surface and forced me to review and adjust or cull things that I hadn’t looked at for years. It has been a liberating experience and one I won’t forget, but for totally different reasons to the ones I had considered pre-child.