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.
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.
I sound incredibly pretentious and righteous with the title of this post. But the fact of the matter is, myself and Papa Bear are together 17 years last week. We must be doing something right. I was a teeny, tiny 17 years old when I met him, meaning I now literally know him half my life. I’ve thought of this day quite a lot over the last almost two decades. Knowing, and loving him (get a room!) for half of my life feels like such a huge achievement. He has been by my side for so long and I can’t imagine life without him. We were young when we met, young when we married and we’re still young. And we’re still together. Against the odds. Because everyone figured there would be odds. That we were too young. That we wouldn’t last. Well, we did. And we are. And I put it down to three things.
I’m broke. Ok not broke but this freelancer lark may just break my mind if I struggle to be able to afford to meet my friends for a coffee every now and again. Worst part of freelancing? Wondering if and when the money will come in. Only one month in and I already miss being a trigger happy credit card swiper. It was so easy. Thoughtless. Effortless. Until the bill came in. But now? I can’t wait to see a triple figure bill. Will I even make triple figures in a month? Who knows. Thinking twice, and figuring out how much surplus cash I have for coffee splurges, if any, has been a big change for me. But oh I’m learning tricks! I have to really. The biggest, is how to avoid the supermarket.
Two words – Spring Clean. This will be a good way to find out if Papa Bear actually reads my ramblings here. Usually if I ask him, “oh did you catch my blog today?” I hear a mumbling of “Em Yeah, what was it about again?” To which I discover he did actually open the link, hooray, but only skimmed through the text picking up key elements so he could nod yes and be compliant in the good husband stakes. He was my second subscriber (Hi to my first *waves to Grandma Bear*) and a guinea pig to see what the email looked like when I hit publish. FYI – self promo moment – if you want those emails you can subscribe to the blog but who needs more repetitive strain from hitting the trash icon! If you want to read me, you’ll find me. Anyway, I’ve digressed a little… I did say Spring Clean didn’t I! Surely I’ve suitably pissed off Papa Bear now but let’s see if he reads more!
I think I’m classed as a millennial woman. A mid thirties, career minded woman with children in the mix who is trying to figure out how to have it all – if “have it all” really exists. I am the type of woman who has a partner, a mortgage and ideas in her head to climb all sorts of ladders. A woman whose ideas about herself, her life, her future, changed almost without her knowing but those ladders were still there. I was twenty one leaving college with a Bachelors Degree in the Arts. I jumped feet first into my career as a Librarian and continued with postgraduate studies in the evenings. I loved it. It was a plan, a path, an ideal I was working towards. And here I am twelve years later, abandoning that career I worked so hard for. It wasn’t always the plan to stay at home, but life has changed my options, and more importantly, my perspective.
Today I enrolled Little Miss in primary school for next September. Big school. And my heart skipped a beat. If I thought it was bad her starting Montessori, then I’m going to be a mess when she joins the líne with her little friends. Her school uniform perfectly straight and ironed in those first few weeks, socks pulled up to the knee, shoes polished and oversized bag on her back. A right of passage. Growing up.
Little Bean is an animal, a hungry animal. I started weaning her just before six months because, dear god, I couldn’t handle the stares and shouts at whatever was on my plate anymore. No matter what I was eating, she wanted. When Little Miss was a baby I was an un-adventurous, time poor Momma Bear whose commute meant there were very little home cooked dinners for her. It didn’t kill her! She ate and ate and happily moved on to our dinners when life settled down. Little Bean’ s appetite has outweighed her sisters from the very beginning. She’s an animal… did I say that already?
I almost called this The Isolation of Motherhood as I’m in the thick of being a Stay at Home Mum on maternity leave but I’ve gotten to know so many Stay at Home Dads the last year through blogging and friends, so I’m being politically correct with my title. I wrote a post last year about the loneliness of parenthood which was about how your relationship can change when kids come along. I didn’t think I’d write about how lonely being a Stay at Home parent would be because I’ve read so much about it, I swore I wouldn’t let the isolation get to me. But it does. And I do wonder if dads feel the same.
Don’t hate me but yes I’m already thinking about Summer Holidays. For the first time in my life, I have already booked a family holiday for the Summer. No, we’re not going to Spain or Disneyland, although they were options that soared out of our price range even with the sales. Instead we’re taking the kids on their very first family holiday to a self catering house on a rural organic farm in Wexford. The beach, the quiet, the sunsets, the reminder of the magic of family holidays when I was a kid. I genuinely can’t wait for this staycation.