When I became Momma Bear I swore I would never let my baby cry it out. It’s cruel and unkind. Babies are not mature enough to understand how to manipulate us. They simply want us. And Little Bean wants Momma. All the time. To the detriment of her sleep… and mine. But then I realised two things, I’m exhausted but more importantly…
Being Momma Bear has changed me. I’ve changed drastically and dramatically and for the better. We grow up, drag ourselves in to the world of adulthood and expect nothing. For some people things don’t change. They blend from one decade to the next with the same ideals and shoes. Others change quickly, become bigger, better versions of their younger selves. And then there are new parents. The change is sudden and immense. The growing up and learning is vast. Parenthood is like an affliction that changes the internal mechanisms of your body and brain – in a positive yet frightfully severe way. Has parenthood changed you?
How many times, as Momma Bear, as Papa Bear have you put your needs to the side? Dropped your needs over by the “side board of lost intentions” only to be remembered as you fall into bed, or as you sit on the loo with an audience complaining about being hungry, bored, tired or sore. How many times have you thought, yep I feel hungry, bored, tired and sore too, only for the thought to quickly evaporate as their needs outweigh yours? I wrote an article recently for the Irish Examiner about being an introverted mother and since writing this feature, I’ve relaxed a bit more and allow myself those five, ten, fifteen minutes – if I can get it – to regroup, refocus, to be still and recover from the never-ending exhaustion of a day with kids.
I’ve spouted the term mindfulness about throughout my posts recently without really telling you what it is or how to concentrate on it. I’m obviously no expert having only come across the term less than a year ago but I’ve found it be the best thing, or rather, concept if you will, that has eased me back into real life without panic or stress. Being a Momma Bear who is also a Working Bear has had some pretty hefty challenges which could have easily knocked me downwards if I let it. But mindfulness has kept me focused in a way that calms my mind to the storm that often swells up around me.
I’ve had some incredibly mixed emotions lately. Little Bean is almost one and I can’t help but think back over the year it’s been. It’s been good but it’s also been bad. And those bad days are standing out more. But I am ending today focusing on Little Bean and her big sister because while the year has been a challenge, guess what, we got through it.
The last time I stepped foot inside a gym for an exercise class was when my first nephew was six months old. His mum corralled me into joining Tae-Bo so she could whip back into her pre-pregnancy shape. What resulted was some hilarious nights, incredible sweats and tests to our pelvic floor, hers and mine – and I was childless at the time. My nephew turns thirteen next month. From his babydays to his now teenage years, I have forgone any exercise that required lycra or appropriate footwear. Time to get my ass into gear – literally and figuratively.
It’s been almost two months since my anxiety “blip” which left me floored for two weeks with intense frustration, anger and anxiety that I lost control of. I wrote a letter to my Fricking Flamingo and kicked it out of the door. Before this blip I thought I was ok, in the safe zone, and had let life jump back on board making me forget about the ways I manage my anxiety.
It’s one of the first worries most parents who are expecting number two have. It was something I often thought about but brushed it aside considering my sister has four kids and seems to manage with balancing four personalities. But lately the sting of the reality of caring for a baby alongside a four year old has crept in. The last few weeks, as I look at the curls lengthening on Little Missus’ head, I wonder if she’s losing out as Little Bean demands more attention. I truly feel outnumbered and underpowered.
Or rather, getting enough sleep and staying hydrated is pretty much the best any parent can hope to achieve. I have to admit, and I should be embarrassed as I say it, but my health is not at the top of my agenda. Since quitting my job and having two kids run rings around me, earning money and putting clothes on their bums is what keeps me going. So writing is my wealth but with that stupid attitude my health has taken a nose dive. Stress, anxiety, yada, yada, yada, we all know the drill. But to be good to my kids, I have to be good to myself.
There are days, quite a lot of them actually, when I don’t feel like the adult in this Momma Bear / Baby Bear scenario. Little Miss sidled up to me one afternoon this week and wrapped her dainty arms around my legs and hugged me hard. The little mite, in her four tiny years and few short feet, has grown up so much in the past year but so desperately needs her Momma’s hugs. And I hope she always will. In that instant, as her arms squeezed me tight, I thought, dammit I needed that. I needed that hug. And I also thought, dammit I’m the Mom.