So maybe you’re pregnant. Or already have children. Perhaps you are thinking about children. This post is for you.
A baby changes everything. After a lengthy period on a boat, it takes your legs a little while to recoup and remember how to walk on dry land again. This is what having a baby is like. Jelly legs.
On the surface, nothing much has changed. A 7lb (ish) ball of human newness has entered your life (admittedly with an awful lot of stuff ) but nothing else has changed.
Except it has. Everything has.
Your relationships change.
My experience of this is as follows:
My relationship with my husband:
I have been with Karl long enough that I thought I knew all the ways I could love him. I was wrong. Having a baby has tested us in a way we hadn’t yet been tested. It has brought us closer together but also tested our limits and patience with one another. My love for him changed the moment I saw him hold Matilda for the first time and tenderly held her and stroke her face. Watching him get stuck in changing nappies and cutting toenails (seriously; that’s still a two-man job in our household) has given me an appreciation and respect for him that I didn’t have before. But, before I get too mushy, I still cannot bear the sound of him snoring.
My relationship with my parents:
I have always been close to my parents, but becoming a parent myself has made me appreciate them both so much more. I find myself sometimes thinking back to arguments we may have had when Sarah and I were teenagers. Thinking about the ways our words could have hurt our parents and how I dread that with Matilda.
I had a happy childhood. I speak of happiness in childish innocence. We rode our bikes around the green and played in the paddling pool. Mum was the disciplinarian (sorry Dad, I know you tried) but also our confidant and friend. As far as mum’s go, I always knew mine was special. Since having Matilda, it has made me much more reflective. I can only hope that I grow to become half the mother my mum is. She sat with us doing homework even when I can imagine she would rather be doing anything else.
My dad is a giver. He has worked hard our entire lives to provide for us. He has always spoilt us and put our needs before his own. If he doesn’t already know, then Dad, I am so grateful for you. He is kind, generous. Not funny though, I draw the line at complimenting you on your awful jokes.
Mum, Dad, if you are reading this, then I hope you know how much I love and respect you.
My relationship with friends:
I am fortunate to have maintained the majority of my relationships (so far) but having children can be isolating. Your friends that you used to get ‘silly drunk’ with stop inviting you out. Maybe people stop texting. See my post on the importance of building up a network of other parents here The Importance of the Mum Squad
My relationship with myself:
It took me a very long term to refer to myself as ‘mum’. I think I may have whispered it to Matilda when she was about 12 weeks old. Obviously not in front of anyone. I’m starting to get more comfortable with the term. But the shift in my focus came before she was born. Those two pink lines. From the moment I got pregnant my world shifted like tectonic plates rubbing against each other. Sometimes it was nothing more than a gentle rumble (sitting differently with an arm in front of my stomach). At other times, it was a full on earthquake. I would lie awake wondering what she would look like. Or what she would grow up to be. Whether I would be ‘any good’ at being a parent. I would (still do) cry at the news. I would feel selfish to bring a child into this cruel world, which at times, seems so full of hate.
Just as your centre of balance shifts to accommodate your huge pregnancy bump; your entire being shifts when you become a parent. At times, this makes you feel like you are about to lose your balance (or your sh*t). It can be overwhelming. It can be terrifying. It can be wonderful. It can be awful But it is always intense.
Cliché right? But so true. Matilda has changed me. Altered my world view. Helped me appreciate everyone around me. I hope, even on the darkest days (the ‘why won’t you nap’ days) I can read this and still feel my heart bursting with pride when she attempts something new. I hope I can remember the feeling when she cut her first tooth. Like being punched in the stomach with a nervous kind of excitement. I hope when she’s cranky and frustrating that I can remember that before her, I did not get to feel that excitement and pride over anyone’s tooth.