Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Life update.

I have been planning on writing this post for the longest time now, constantly rehearsing and mentally writing it out in my head trying not to sound like a complete and utter knob, because ultimately that's the fear isn't it? when you're putting yourself out there in such a public way. It's vulnerable stuff.
There is also the  very important fact that Love Island has ended, and as much as i'd love to pretend i'm far too intelligent and above it, I am 100% not. And I need something to occupy that 9pm-10pm void in my life- Please do not judge me.

You see my life at the minute is a perpetual cycle of preparing meals for little ones. All day long i'm cleaning faces, bums, washing clothes, hands and not to mention  blotting questionable stains off the fabric sofa. Did I mention that it was cream fabric sofa?

I'll admit I am still very much in that  bubble that people often find themselves in after having a baby. I'm oblivious to chart music, i'd describe my style as 'comfortable' and bed time is up there with my favourite time of the day. This won't last forever, so i'm totally OK with this. I am totally OK with living like an 80 year old at this moment in time, I mean after all it's basically Autumn and this makes it perfectly excusable.
My partner? I am not so sure.. 
He's been reminding me to bin my 'comfortable' maternity underwear for years now.
I'm joking of course. 
Kind of.

 My new role as a mother of two little ones is still relatively new to me, and I am quite happily plodding along trying to make it through the day, keeping every one alive and making sure teeth are being brushed and at least something healthy is being consumed, because let's be honest, that in itself is a full time task.  I have an eight month year old who won't stop eating and I fear we will have to take on second jobs to fund his habit, and an almost four year old who has convulsions at the sight of a vegetable. If it's not snackable, free from all texture, colour and flavour she just doesn't want to know.

When i'm not knee deep in changing nappies, trying to get those orange stains out of the bibs (why do they even manufacture white bibs/muslins???) and trying to prevent my kids developing into future serial killers, I like to eat out, drink bourbon, take the odd nap and scroll through my insta feed, mostly to see what everyone else is having for dinner.

Social media seems to be a massive talking point at the minute, particularly the topic of comparison, and it's certainly something that affects my life greatly.

It's so easy to fall into that trap when things become a little mundane. I seem to have quite a knack of comparing myself to women who are up to their arse in endorsements and ad deals and begin to wonder why I can't afford to decorate my whole house in Farrow and Ball paint and pick up clothes in Zara as frivolously as I pick up trainer socks or hair bobbles in Primark.
I scroll on and I ask myself why am I not living in a warehouse conversion with exposed brick and ridiculously high ceilings? Why does my Daughter not eat broccoli like she does Barny bear cake bars? Why does everyone else seem to love their job and I could go through three boxes of Man-size Kleenex at the thought of my return from my maternity leave.
This seems to happen when i'm feeling a bit vulnerable. A bit, blah. 

The majority of the time i'm consciously trying to remind myself to cut myself some slack. I'm in a different stage in my life. This ain't no race.

Career wise, financially, physically or mentally i'm not quite where I want to be, but when I dig deep, I always come back to the fact that ultimately I want to be with my children as much as I can in their early years. I made this decision and have went out to work evenings and weekends just so that I can be at home during the week days. I don't regret it for a minute.
OK. Maybe there has been the odd day (or 50) when i've declared i'd rather work a 12 hour shift...... but let's not dwell on that. 
The bottom line is my children are my everything.

 I have ambitions, aspirations, lists of places that I want to see and things that I want to achieve for myself as much as the next person but at this particular stage in my life I'm slowly recognising that if my main goal of the day is just getting us all up, washed and dressed, then so be it. I'm choosing to celebrate all the little victories. My living room won't always be a shit tip, I won't always spend evenings picking Play Doh out of My Little Pony's hair. I won't always get the 6am wake up calls and have stand offs in shops over £5.99 magazines. 

Does that mean I don't moan about it? Oh please, of course I do! but will I miss it all when they're older? My God, yes! 
Which is exactly why  i'm adamant it's an 'anything goes' policy with Grandparents. They miss it, they miss it all, and some day I will miss it too.
These often mundane moments of my day are some of the things money just can't buy.
 I need to enjoy my reality and stop coveting someone else's highlight reel. 
We all need to.

On the topic of social media, I'm finding that in the four years of mothering I have witnessed a momentum gathering were women are going about their business. They're attending their beauty appointments in the early weeks after giving birth, bringing their kids on long haul flights to exotic places, going on weekends away with their girl friends and just getting back out there..  demonstrating you can still be the self assured, driven woman you always were and be a wonderful mother at the same time. There's a lot of ball juggling, but it's not impossible.

Their careers aren't being held back, and neither are their social lives because life does not need to stop when you have children. It is both fabulous and refreshing. I admire how polished some of these women look especially at times when I can't find the time to wash my hair. 
I know, I know.. we are all given the same amount of hours in the day..
I love how they are giving the middle finger to the many stereotypical images that are built up around mothers. We don't all arrive at the school run every single day in leggings and messy buns. 
There is no one size fits all. We are all unique in our own right, so why wouldn't our parenting styles be?
I mean it's absurd when you think about it. Our financial situations are completely different, as are our family dynamics, our support networks too so of course our prefered parenting paths are going to differ.

One of the biggest realisations  I discovered with becoming a mother, was how much we are judged (often inadvertently) 

It is relentless
From the way you feed your baby, what you feed them and where you put them down to sleep at night. There's even a real snobbery in regards to everything from the products you use on their skin to the pram you push them in. If you go back to work you're judged, if you choose to stay at home you are judged, and if you dare leave them with their doting grandparents for a few hours every weekend, you too are judged! Imagine leaving them with the very people who will shower them with the most love and affection?! 
I think it's just a case of human nature to judge, and I think it's inescapable to be honest
 but recently (and I do think it's through the power of social media) we are now beginning to exercise our freedom to make the best choices for ourselves and our family without fear.

People are opening up about their experiences with feeding, there is no longer such a stigma in regards to formula feeding.. Fed is best, didnt you know? Women (and men) are opening up about their struggles with their mental health, their experiences with anxiety and post natal depression, infertility, miscarriage and still birth. There are so many topics to list but people are opening up, conversations are flowing. You only need to scroll through your Instagram feed and someone is opening up about a struggle they have been through, the comments are rife with replies from people who have been through similar and although we might not agree with everything people are writing it's so enlightening hearing from someone else's side of the fence. 

I have also noticed  a big movement of mother's who are 'pulling up the drawbridge' in those early days https://www.dontbuyherflowers.com/motherhood/pulling-up-the-drawbridge/  and spending 'a week in bed, a week on the sofa' supporting the idea that motherhood is for life, these first few momumental weeks go by in the blink of an eye and perhaps we should be allowing ourselves a few weeks with little to zero expectations and the opportunity to adapt to our new normal. Visitors can wait, as can the house work.

 I can definitely vouch that some of us need this time more than others.
You could say i'm continuing to take the piss and find myself living by this mantra eight months on, but when my second baby arrived I became completely unapologetic to needing time for my sanity more than anything and this was the biggest aid to my post birth 'recovery' 
How can I promote a health lifestyle when i'm too exhausted to eat meals, let alone cook them? How can I promote self worth and confidence when I haven't had the time to do the little rituals that help me feel like the best version of me?
I only wish that I had twigged on to this mentality with my first baby but the baby books tend to stop at the birth.. I always allude back to the moment Andrea, our first midwife walked out of the door. "Errr, now what do we do now?"
To be honest it's been the 'insta mum' (cringe) accounts that have spurred me on during the bad days.

My little girl is now (very almost) four years old and lives each day as though she is on the stage. Everything is a performance and it can be entertaining and draining in equal measures. She is as bright as a button and from the minute she wakes up she is asking me questions such as "Where does my voice come from?" "Have you ever had a drink come out of your nose?" before i've even managed to open both eyes. It is all go go go. Throw an eight month year old baby into the mix and chaos escalates quickly in this house, or perhaps I should say squatters den, it all depends on what kind of day we're having. Eight months on and i'm still cutting myself some slack, because after all i'm on *jazz hands* Maternity leave. 
A maternity leave that is so very nearly at it's end. 

Maybe that's why i've been so reflective.

Reflective of how quickly time passes, how amazing but how hard.. so hard it can be. Reflective of what i've learnt and observed from other mothers. My new found respect for not just mothers, but women in general.

I never had any intention of writing for this long, nor I am 100% certain any of this makes sense. With baby shark being reintroduced into our household, mental clarity is hard to find these days. 
But I hope it does make sense, to someone, somewhere.

© A New Mum Without A Manual

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