a few things i’ve learned so far

IMG_6115Before I had kids I thought there would be a distinct line between being a parent and not being a parent. As if you give birth and simultaneously download all the parenting wisdom you will ever need from iTunes directly into your head (one day…). I couldn’t think far enough ahead to realise that as a parent, as in life, you are constantly learning and evolving every step of the way, it never ends. Once you feel like you’ve semi-mastered one age, boom, it’s their birthday again. And my parenting predictions never did take into account the reality of personalities: the Pixie at age three is almost incomparable to Bird at the same age.

It seems funny now, some of the things I did with baby number one, compared with baby number two. And number three is just a whole other method entirely (read: no method). I used to have an app on my phone that would record sleep times (to the minute), nappies (what was in them and when I changed them), breastfeeds (how long on each side plus notes: “she fussed momentarily on the left today…” hashtag: notjoking) and… you get the drift. I actually became so addicted to using it I had to delete it from my phone (if she feeds and I don’t have my phone in hand to record it… did it really happen?!) I’m sure if I sifted back far enough into the archives here there would be mention of it.

These days things are very, very different. For one I don’t have time to think about all the things I used to think about. It is liberating not to worry so much about all the tiny details. To throw caution to the wind and do what I like. I still do feel some pressure to conform to societies wishes, but I can more easily shrug them off these days and do whatever suits me: bring my baby into my bed whenever I want, cuddle and feed her to sleep without a care, feed her what I want her to eat, not worry about charts or milestones or the dreaded “shoulds” (within reason), not remember or care (much) how many times she woke in the night.

While it’s much easier parenting with more confidence, I do so miss those quiet days at home with that first little baby. It’s such an incredibly precious time. You have a lot more appreciation for it with subsequent babies, when you realise that you now have to divide yourself between your children, that that special 1:1 element takes a lot more to orchestrate when you have a toddler (or more) screaming for your attention. I didn’t appreciate that those days of freedom would come to an end, because at the time they don’t seem free at all. If only I had known that sooner than I knew it, my life would be held down rigidly by kinder (and soon, school, yikes!) timetables, playdates, and of course, work. Schedules! Bells ringing! That the next baby would be born into these schedules, not into those long beautiful expansive days of what-ifs and whatevers and what-takes-your-fancy-today. Pyjama day? Great. Three hour walk and ten coffees? Excellent. Drive to the beach? Done. Sigh. Of course at the time I thought all of those things were too hard and I didn’t know what to pack in the nappy bag and what if she cried and people are looking at me and the pram might not fit through the doorway and I could knock something over and I have to cook dinner and it might be too hot… or cold… or in-betweeny… better stay home…

If I could go back and talk to myself as a new mother, I don’t think it would make any difference. Because I wouldn’t have been able to get to this place if I hadn’t been there. I had to go through the motions to learn that it’s ok, I’m ok, KB is ok, the kids are ok. We’ve got this! You can’t learn these things from being told, you have to experience it, try things, see what you like, what your baby likes and how you feel. Do I like the idea of rice cereal or don’t I? Am I comfortable with my baby in my bed or aren’t I? Do I need to try harder to get her to sleep longer or are we ok to go with the flow? Everyone is different, what works for one is not going to work for another, you have to figure it out yourself.

I know I’ve only scratched the surface of this parenting thing, there is so much more to do and to learn. So I guess the best approach from here is just to kick back, put my feet up (ha!) and enjoy the ride while I can. If there’s something else I should be doing, don’t feel any pressure to remind me, I’ll figure it out sooner or later. xx

it was you

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I look at this photo of myself from last summer and cannot comprehend it. It was you growing inside me. I watch a video that I took of my stomach bouncing and jostling as you kicked me, and now, knowing you as I do, I just can’t understand that it was you in there, doing that.

That you were so close all that time and I didn’t even know it. That you’re here now and that you were here all that time too.

It’s been seven weeks since Peach was born. She’s a lovely, round, squishy, smiley baby. KB has gone back to work and friends and family have (almost) all had their first cuddles. It seems that real life has continued, as usual.

But here I am, still getting to know this tiny human. Still marvelling at her sounds, her smell. Still tired and up all night and finding my way. Still feeling like it’s new, but old, all at the same time. Still wondering how all this happens, and why.

Still amazed by the fact that we made three humans.

I can’t think of where else to go with this post beyond that. I made humans. The end.

The Same Person, But More: Repeat! Shout!

I’ve made a real effort over the last few weeks to spend more time at home. I love being at home but tend to be a bit of a Yes Girl, never knowing how to say the N word – No.

N. O. Nup. Nope. NO. Nooooo!

So I drag poor Prince Charming and Baby from pillar to post on the weekends and I really do try very hard not to do that. Because being at home is wonderful. We had a great time at home over the weekend. Prince Charming planned out a new gate he is making for our deck. Baby found old bits of toast in the corners of the lounge room and ate them. I sewed and crocheted (please remind me every now and then that I am still in my twenties!!! How am I ever going to be the cute old nana in a rocking chair making nice rugs for grandkiddies that I strive to be, if I crochet myself into oblivion in my twenties?)

But this week, things have ramped up once again and we have been out and about (for work, not because I’ve been a Yes Girl) in the evenings and day times when we should have had better things to do. Today I had a team meeting for work and I had to drive to the Dandenongs in Melbourne. They are beautiful, and in my last role, pre-baby, I used to cover the region for the community development project I worked on. As I drove down the familiar roads I thought a lot about the last time I had driven those roads, when I was heavily pregnant and hanging to finish work and get on with my new life. The Old Me.

The feeling of the old me has stuck with me all day, kind of a melancholy-ish slash nostalgic (but not really) type feeling (loving my very apte and specific descriptions right now…) I have been thinking about who I used to be, and who I am now. I am the same person, but more. More open, more full, more rounded, more balanced. More Me.

At the risk of sounding completely corny, having a child really has opened my heart to my true self. The acts of growing, carrying, holding and giving all for one tiny baby have all brought me closer to the person I was meant to be. A Mother.

I love being a Mother. I love being The Real Me! Not The Old Me! I mean, she was great, but now, now I am that and more. If you read that line out loud, in a very loud yelling type voice it sounds a bit like a Harvey Norman ad.

My mind feels wider, wider like bigger like huge! Like I understand things now that I never could have begun to understand before. Things about love and life and being. Things about people and growth and humility and grace and kindness. Things about pain and worry. Things about anger and sadness.

It’s amazing, really. If you don’t believe me – try it for yourself! And then drive down old roads you used to drive down and crochet a bit and get a sore little finger so have to stop which leads you to watch a bit of Gossip Girl on the computer which then leads you to click your blog link then making you think a bit more about the roads you travelled (both today, AND in the past) and then you will see what I see. If you stare at your baby a bit while she is sleeping, that helps too.