Monday, 9 September 2013

Never Being Truly Free Again... And Why It's OK!

Every now and then, you come across something that particularly resonates with you.  I came across this sentence a few weeks ago:

“The very worst thing about being a parent is that you are never truly free again and the very best thing about being a parent is that you never have a better reason to be alive.”

This beautifully succinct sentence struck a particular chord with me because it very simply summarises the reason why I found it so hard becoming a Mummy and the reason why being a Mummy is the best thing that ever happened to me.

Famed all over the world (OK, in all previous work places) for using 1000 words when 10 will do, I thought I would elaborate a little further on both elements of this sentence.

The timing of this reflection is particularly relevant at the moment in my life as I have a couple of very good friends about to enter the very challenging but very wonderful world of motherhood and I have also been doing a lot of thinking about whether a second stomping of tiny feet could ever (in the far away future!) grace our lives.

As covered in many previous blog posts, becoming a Mummy has been, by a million miles, the toughest thing I have ever done in my life.  Looking back now with a bit more clarity (as I’m not totally and utterly loopy from severe sleep deprivation), I can see that the thing I found hardest about becoming a Mummy was all to do with me and very little to do with Dalton.  OK, so he wasn’t the easiest baby in the world.  He suffered (sorry, we suffered) from colic, he HATED being horizontal (which made it a little difficult to not have him permanently attached to me) and he neither napped or slept at night well for about the first year of his life. BUT, he was a healthy, happy baby boy who got ill no more than all babies get ill, cried no more than most babies do, sh1t all over me no more than most babies do, puked on me no more than most babies do and, well, he was just a normal, slightly larger than life (in body and in character) little person who did nothing to warrant the mess that I became when I first became a Mummy and really right up until a) he started sleeping better and b) I went back to work and was saved from becoming a total mental case - thank you work, I will never forget you for allowing me to feel in control of something again!

No, he did nothing wrong, what screwed up the status quo of life quite so dramatically when I became a Mummy was me.

I’m not going to beat myself up about it too much as a large part of why I struggled so much was the extreme sleep deprivation which, as all parents know, is truly like nothing you can imagine or could ever be prepared for, and it really does mess with your brain and any sense of rationality that you once had but, that aside, what I really struggled with was the complete and sudden loss of freedom, the loss of control, the loss of any order to my life and the very stark realisation that those things really were gone forever.  It might sound strange but I had to go through a period of almost grieving – saying goodbye to my old life and coming to terms with my new one – and learning to be happy about it now that my life had been turned completely upside down and would forever be that way.

I went from being a person who totally 'owned that sh1t' at work, I mean, literally, I would walk to my desk, as I still do, and there is almost always a queue of people who can't quite do their job without me, waiting for me to impart a small gem from the font of my knowledge, to being a person who owned no sh1t at all. Suddenly, as an apprentice full-time Mummy (but without the whole mentor thing), I often had my fingers and thumbs covered in sh1t, was on all fours picking up sh1t, was combing my hair trying to remove various food-related bits of sh1t, but own it, I most certainly did not. This came as somewhat of a shock to me. I was used to becoming very good at something within a few weeks of trying to master it (or just saying, "pah, f*ck this sh1t, this sh1t is stupid, crochet is for nonces", and sauntering off) but this was different. A) I wasn't getting any better at coping and B) I couldn't run away. Ever. Although there have been many times when I wanted to in the early days (and a few very rare moments that I still do even today - only temporarily I might add).

So, it's true, I’m not truly free anymore, and I never will be again (I can see this from my watching my own mother and how she can never really allow her life to truly be just her own again). I’m pretty much imprisoned in my home from 5pm onwards every day.  Spontaneous trips away and nights out are most definitely a thing of the past. Boozy nights out with friends are a once-monthly treat that I look forward to all month. Looking not entirely shabby all the time is something I just about remember (I've seen photos, it must be true). Everything is a very complex juggling act. And so on and so forth. BUT, here’s why I’m OK with all of that now.  It’s taken me a while but I really am.

Because it’s true.  You will never have a better reason to be alive.

As Dalton turns from a baby to a toddler to a little boy, sure, the challenges don’t go away, they just change (although you aren’t so sleep deprived so on the whole, it is SO much easier to cope with), but every single day that I spend with him, he does several things that totally and utterly blow me away and fill me with joy, pride, love and happiness - a kind that I had never even imagined existed before he came in to my world and rocked it.  Each new phase fascinates me.  I am in awe of what little people can do and what their brains are capable of.  I have managed to make (of course with Ron’s help) the most remarkable person I have ever met and I am prouder and prouder of him as each day passes.  Quite simply, I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with him and hope that time will slow down enough to not let it go too fast as it already is.

Until Dalton arrived, I was a reasonably content person (obviously grumpy on the exterior but that’s just my way of expressing my annoyance with the abundance of stupidity in the world) but I honestly felt like I was waiting for my life to start. I wasn't sure what I was waiting for but I felt like I was waiting. It's the only way to describe it. I felt incomplete somehow and sometimes a little lonely and sometimes, unimaginably now, even a little bored. From the moment Dalton arrived, loneliness (except for the early months when I was struggling with how I felt about struggling to be a Mummy) and boredom completely stopped, I felt complete (well, almost – I’ll get to that in a moment), I felt like what I had been waiting for had finally arrived. Life had arrived in a tornado, got totally started and was never going to be dull again. And for all the challenging aspects of being a Mummy that I still feel many days and the days when I am so exhausted I honestly don’t know what to do with myself to try to get through the day, I wouldn’t have it any other way and I am excited about everything the future holds for us as a family.

Things have improved so much in fact that I have finally stopped looking at pregnant ladies and fighting the urge to run up to them, throw both my arms around them and tell them how sorry I am for what they are about to go through. I now look at them and think, bless you, you have some amazing times to come, and sometimes, I even feel a little broody.

Conscious that I may have filled a couple of my pregnant friends with fear and dread recently, having met them at particularly challenging times in Mummy-Dalton land (teething - bastards is all I will say), I thought about what I would say to them if I had the chance to see them again before their life is turned upside down in a mostly awesome way and they get to experience the amazing thing that is meeting a mini you, and I would say this.

Being a mummy will occasionally lead you to places that are dark, depressing, sad, heartbreaking and a whole load of other not so great emotions. At times, you will probably feel the lowest you have ever felt. But every single one of those dark moments is completely eclipsed by the many, many awesome moments that you feel as a Mummy and, at times, many times, you will feel the highest you have ever felt. And there will be not so much in between. You will understand the true meaning of the word "overjoyed" and you will understand the true meaning of the phrase "this too shall pass" but overall, you will be in constant amazement of what you have created and you will undoubtedly get to a place, if you don't end up there fairly quickly, where you think, you know what, I did good.

So, I hear you ask, would I ever consider attempting to bring a second hurricane in to my world? Honestly, at the moment, the jury is still out.

I feel sad saying that as family always meant four people to me (just because that is what I grew up with) so it doesn't quite feel complete with just three. I had always expected I would have two bubbas (if I was lucky enough to be able to make them) and I didn't really want Dalton to grow up without any siblings BUT, and it's a very big but, I honestly don't know if I can put myself, me and Ron and now Dalton through it again. I have an amazing man in my life and an amazing boy in my life and I'm just terrified of doing anything that could compromise my relationship with either one of them. I believe I would cope better the second time, but, hell, sometimes I just think, is it really worth the risk? I mean The Baby God already gave me someone as close to perfect as I can imagine, isn't it pushing my luck to ask for a second? The biggest reason though, really, is that I absolutely don't think I could cope with two! Dalton takes every bit of energy I have both mentally and physically. There is no way I could fit someone else in to the equation and, right now, I'm not sure I would even want to. Sure, maybe when Dalton is older and at school the idea of having another one might not seem so hard but I'll be an even older and tireder Mummy then and Ron will be over 50 and we have to be realistic about what we can provide to a bubba energy-level wise and we also have to think about what we have (Ron and I). And how we might like to spend some time together as a couple before we shift off this mortal coil doing, you know, old people type stuff, just me and him.

I think the decision will be easy to make when the time is right (and that time definitely isn't now). We will either get to a point in a few years when Dalton is off to school and think, awww, do you remember those teeny clothes and all that cute gurgling (because I truly do believe you forget all the bad stuff) and decide we want to go through it all over again, or we will get to a point and think, phew, we made it, life is finally returning a teensy bit to normal, it was awesome, but please let's not do that again.

We will see. For now, I will remain focused on enjoying the one I have. He's more than kid enough for any woman or man to deal with anyway.

I leave you now, as always with a few recent pictures of my gorgeous ball of fluff, just in case seeing his scrumptious little face makes you feel warm and bubbly inside even just a little bit as much as it does me.

Here's to never being truly free again, and never having a better reason to be alive. *chink*

Dalton two steps ahead of me, as always


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