Its 2019. We’re breaking into a new decade very soon and yet there still remains a veiled perception of the stay-at-home Dad, who he is and what he should be like. Strong. Masculine. In the office. And yet we consider ourselves to be a progressive and understanding society. You see, it all still seems to be about Mum when we talk about staying at home and being the primary caregiver. In todays Irish Times, I spoke to a Dad who has felt the prejudice and judgment with wanting to be the Dad at home, the one who cares for the kids 24/7. He has felt the stigma and the inward pull of his masculinity as friends and colleagues ask “why would you want to do that?”
The past few weeks have been quite a whirlwind and I’m only slowly coming down from it all. Actually no, I’m levelling out and about to spiral back up again because on Thursday I’m heading to Cork which will include not only an awards ceremony but a hot bath and a big bed all to myself!
“The fourth trimester meant recovering and understanding more than the physical labour of birth and focusing on the emotional labour which is the ebb and flow of a new maternal life.” My words, from an article I wrote for the Irish Times in July. “Parenthood will change you. It’s almost an affliction that rewires the internal mechanisms of your body and brain. Like a sometimes-instant switch, automatically flicked, when your baby takes their first breath.
My recovery was a long eighteen months combining so many actions on a daily basis to keep my head flying higher than the flamingo. What did I do?
I was once asked, on the radio no less to thousands of listeners, to describe what anxiety feels like. Where do you start? Anxiety isn’t simply a nervousness that makes you indecisive. I’m sure I’ll list off how I was feeling and any woman who has suffered will nod in agreement. It’s painful, physically painful. There is nausea, headaches and dizzy spells aside from the mental overload. It feels hopeless and it can pass before it hits you hard again. The lull and low of anxiety didn’t affect me all the time but it sure did like to linger and attack quickly.
Something transpired out of motherhood, rising from the ashes like a giant pink flamingo. It probably began earlier than I care to admit, but a few weeks after Devin was born, my focus was gone, my routine and schedule, all fragmented and I suddenly felt this overwhelming urge to blow up. It was less to do with the fact that we had a five-week-old baby and more to do with the extreme possibility I was suffering from intense postnatal anxiety and depression.
I haven’t been the best blogger lately have I? I used to feel guilty over having 4+ weeks gap between posts but I’ve a new lease of life lately and my number one rule is to attempt to get rid of the guilt which likes to creep in and hover of my head and every decision I make. On top of that, I find I either haven’t had time or a good enough topic to write about and god forbid I start repeating myself. I have, however, found myself connecting with parents over on Instagram as we share the load of this miraculous and sometimes incredulous life that is parenthood. If you haven’t joined me in my very many random conversations then please do pop over but for today, lets talk about Momma Bear in all her bare naked glory.
There are days, quite a lot of them, when I don’t feel like the adult in this Momma Bear, Baby Bear scenario. Allegra crept up to me one afternoon and wrapped her dainty arms around my legs and hugged me hard. The little mite, in her tiny years and few short feet, has grown up so much but still 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 Mum.
I like Disney Princesses. Little Miss is very fond of them, if anything for the way the dresses twirl when she spins. We’re all raised on Disney with Snow White, Belle, Aurora and Cinderella being staples in most of our homes. The stories are adventures. The songs are beautiful and melodic and the beauty is profound. It’s not our world though is it?