I’ve sloped off gradually from blogging over the last few months in a bid to focus more on self care, achieving other life goals and just, well, living away from a laptop a little more. However I knew the day would come when I couldn’t not write this blog post.
It won’t be my last one, in case you were wondering / hoping. But this is the dawn of a new era, the next chapter and every other cliche phrase we might manage to throw in to this blog post. I’m going on holiday, and as soon as we are back, I start my new part time job, back in the science industry.
I started my blog having been made redundant shortly into my maternity leave of my second daughter. I’ve blogged my way through almost five years as a stay at home Mum and pondered what the future might bring whilst trying my hardest to live in the moment with my daughters, as they grow up before not only my eyes, but yours too.
Together we have navigated the rocky roads of motherhood, a whole host of health and home issues and reviewed a fair few products along the way.
Without the blog, I don’t know I could have stuck at being at home as long, I really don’t. It’s allowed me to have an outlet, a space to talk, given me a sense of responsibility, a place to learn and grow from others I’ve met along the way. The blogging world has broadened my horizons, opened my eyes and my mind, and in no uncertain way, changed my life for the better. I just wasn’t ready to look for another job, and my default answer to the constant grilling about my career was that “I’d know when the time was right”.
As I am just hours away from my last term as a stay at home Mum, the skyline ahead is forming an entirely new horizon. I’ll be returning to the version of me which set off on maternity leave five years ago, back to the world of meetings, annual leave, work colleagues and commuting. I’ll be once more in the environment of deadlines and pressures, of teammate camaraderie and receiving a regular paycheck every month.
Of course I’m nervous. About how the kids will adjust, about how I’ll fit in and about dusting off the cobwebs of my brain. But above all I’m really excited and I know this is the right time and the right decision for all of us.
I thought at this juncture it would be fitting to look back at the past seven years – at the challenges I faced as a Mum; the muddles which really stand out as being the hardest ones to battle, but which I did ultimately, conquer and move on from. I did it; I muddled through.
Change of identity
I don’t think there is many points in my journey that were so impacting as the first few weeks and months of being a mother. The massive leap from social butterfly to hermit with baby attached hit me like a double decker bus and I can honestly say I didn’t come out of the fog for a good three to four months. It was only then when I started to find my stride and gain confidence in doing anything with the baby in tow. I was lucky enough to have a great network of friends and I double lucked out with a brand new circle of Mums I bumped into along the way, yet even still, the isolation of being at home most of the time, alone with a non verbal human was tricky for me to say the least. I mean, who even was I any more? It certainly took several years for me to figure that one out, but when I did, it was worth the wait.
Ahh, the booby days. I can look back now with both honesty and nostalgia. I did it for both girls, for around four to five months. I saluted it’s biological fantasticalness and it’s undeniable practicality but ultimately, I was not a lover of whipping the boob out. It made me feel nervous of going out and in hindsight, I’m out entirely convinced I wouldn’t have been better off combination feeding somehow. I’m truly glad I did it, I stopped at the right time for me, I’m happy I don’t have to do it ever again.
I’d take a hundred years of breast feeding or loss of identity over this one. When we lost our second daughter at 23 weeks pregnant to a heart condition, our world fell apart and we were in a dark place for a long time. Tigs was our reason for getting up each morning and yet there is a whole chunk of her little life that is a bit of a blur. She needed us, but we needed her more. I’ve talked openly about baby loss here and I’m an advocate for being open about the pain and suffering so many parents feel under a veil of stigma. I truly believe we should all show compassion and understanding to those coming to terms with baby loss and allow them to grieve their way, out of the shadows.
Oh my goodness, the potty training stage with the Mouse was nothing short of a disaster. We struggled for a long and tough eighteen months to crack the big jobs, requiring an emergency biohazard-esque change bag on every excursion and a constant sense of mild panic over a potential code brown situation. I never thought the stage would pass and I dreamt / prayed / wished for the day we had a household of four toilet trained humans. It did come, but blimey those days watching her with chronic constipation were crippling. My heart goes out to anyone experiencing this, and please please seek the help and support that is out there.
Amidst the inability for our youngest to deposit her digestive waste, she wasn’t too great at taking on much either (surely no coincidence). Having berated my own Mum for (in my fifteen year old opinion) not dealing with my younger brothers fussy eating habits sufficiently, I ate my words as I invented crazy songs, dances, games to try and get our youngest to eat anything off her plate (sausages not included, but we can all reach a consensus that three sausages a day is far from an ideal and balanced diet).
The struggle is real; a child that won’t eat. It’s also pretty true that kids can amaze you with how much energy they can have on surprisingly little calorie consumption.
Sometimes I think the Mouse’s sleep habits were part of the reason i couldn’t fathom returning to work – I was too flippin’ knackered. She didn’t sleep all night until she was almost three and even then spent a good few months at a time regressing for all sorts of reasons, or substituting all night raving for early morning wake ups. Motherhood with a non-sleeper is damn tiring. (Sorry to anyone I declared my smug naivety when our first born was the dream sleeper).
I said she slept, that doesn’t mean we did. Tigs suffered for the first five years of her life with a seasonal cough presenting asthma. i.e. she coughed all night all winter long – from September to March. At the first sign of the drop in temperature, the snuffles would appear and we would be back in the world of propping up beds, steaming olbas oil in the bath room and rubbing vicks on her back. We heard every tip in the book and we tried it. But ultimately, she did grow out of it. That doesn’t take away from the harsh memories of worry and tiredness, and alternating shifts with the ear defenders on.
Hi my name is Sarah and I love people. Old ladies, teenagers, little kids, dear old men, folk with stories to tell and people I can bring out of their shell.
Of course, as a stay at home Mum there are plenty of times, hours, days where the only adult conversation is with the postman (another Amazon delivery?) or perhaps another parent on the school run.
As someone who needs to fully exorcise her 20,000 words a day this was a hard gig; not just for Dad Muddling Through either.
I sometimes think it’s almost expected and understood that new Mums can be isolated. There is a great deal of support and community centres aimed at Mums with babies or toddlers. The reality has been for me however, that the last year of being a stay at home has undoubtedly been the hardest and most isolating period of my motherhood journey.
I guess stay at home Mums are in the minority, and as the kids became less dependent on me in an all consuming sense, the gaps between ferrying them around and feeding them started to feel a little more daunting. We’d grown out of play groups, we’d lost most of our friends to the return to work. As an October baby the Mouse was treading water just as much as me, and I realised for the good of all of us, I needed something more than being Mum.
I realise the above paints a dreary picture of motherhood, but as my blog has always been open and honest parenting, it’s the reality I need to speak about.
But the biggest truth? I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
This time with the kids has been a gift that despite being unplanned, has allowed me to raise our daughters, our way. It’s been the worst of times, but boy has it been the BEST of times.
Dancing around the kitchen, chats over lunch, all of the baking, playdates at the park, painty hand prints, lazy mornings warming up after the frosty school run and even Peppa bloody Pig marathons. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.
I close this chapter a different person to the one who entered it. Focused, grateful, content and complete. As we tie up the ends on any final thoughts on more children (no pun intended), it’s exciting to embark on the next leg of the journey… to see who our girls grow up to be and to guide them into knowing them they can flourish away from underneath their mothers wing.
And I have no doubt, there will be plenty more muddling through every step of the way.