12 August 2010

The realities of motherhood

This was written on 20 August 2009!

If you want a baby, you have to be prepared to have your world be ruled by Sod’s Law.

Here is all you should know before making the decision to have a baby. You probably won’t hear or read it the way you should ― your desire to have a baby anyway will be too strong, you won’t care about what you read, you just want A BABY, I know, I was probably like that too, but I feel the need to tell it like it is, because every woman deserves the truth about motherhood and because women lie to each other. They don’t have the TIME to tell you exactly how it is ― they just say ‘Yes, I’m fine, it’s a bit hard, I’m tired, but we’re fine’, when really, what they want to tell you is THIS:

1) You can’t spend any quality time with your husband/partner.
2) You can’t spend any quality time with your friends, mum, dad, family.
3) You can’t spend any quality time with yourself.
4) You can’t spend any quality time with your baby, even.
5) The demands on your time are excruciatingly... demanding. You don’t have time to brush your hair, to put on make up, to go to the loo, to make a phone call, to send that email, to drink that glass of orange juice, to eat that piece of toast. All these little things you didn’t even know you were taking for granted Before Baby (BB).
6) Looking after a baby is relentless, you keep doing the same things over and over, day in, day out, without respite, especially if your family live far away and can’t relieve you of a few chores every now and again.
7) It gets better, but it gets a lot worse. You get used to interrupted sleep, you get used to not having a life any more, you get to appreciate that little being, but at the same time, as you do less and less for yourself, you need to do more and more for that little one ― more cooking, more looking after, picking things up, tidying things ― and my daughter is not even crawling yet! I know it will get worse! But I’ll do even less for myself and my friends and so I’ll have that little extra time to do those new things...
8) The minute you finally hit the pillow, your baby wakes up and needs a cuddle to go back to sleep. Not every night, but definitely the nights before the days you work. For sure.
9) She always naps for 2 hours in the morning. The day you absolutely need a nap yourself, you tidy up the kitchen and prepare the next bottle and send an urgent email and make a crucial phone call, you go and lie down ― five minutes later she wakes up. Today, she only needed a 30mn morning nap. You have to get up again, go and see her, pick her up, smile to her, change her nappy, feed her, carry on for the next three hours, until she needs another nap. And then you won’t do anything, you’ll just go straight to bed. You don’t get bitten twice on the same day.

At this point in my life, I can only think that the only reason women go on to have at least another baby is that they have accepted that their own, old, normal life has been put on hold, perhaps indefinitely, but for at least 3 years, and they have ‘seen the light’ ― the one that shows 99% of the time the beautiful things that a baby brings into this world and into their life. I have yet to ‘see the light’, I must say. However, I know I have started to distinguish it, all the way out there, at the end of that tunnel, the tunnel that encloses the first year of a baby’s life (as far as I understand, it IS the hardest year ― but only because after that you are used to not having a life of your own and you have started to really appreciate your baby and his/her funny little ways and to accept that this is how it’s going to be for the foreseeable future).

The last few days, I’ve had a really bad virus. Today I’m at home, unable to go to work, barely able to type this up, but I’ve been wanting to write all this for so long, I just have to, while C is at nursery, hopefully not catching anything nasty. And it’s only when I was quite ill with this virus (Monday and Tuesday) and spent two days with my daughter, right next to her while she played and I rested on the sofa, that I realised how truly gorgeous she is and how playful and funny and full of life and lovely she is and how selfish I have been these past few months, thinking about me me me and my old life and how perfect it all was (yeah right!) and I have accepted that perhaps my new life is better after all and I really must erase that old life of mine from my memory and start afresh with this new life, consider only its positive points, never think back, never hypothesise about what my life would be like if I hadn’t wanted that baby.

And at bedtime, C gives me the biggest kisses and hugs that make my heart melt and my eyes water and my emotions swell throughout my body and I realise how much I do love her. It nearly makes up for everything else. Nearly.

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