Life has a funny way of changing your perspective on things. For us, the idea of our family tree spreading didn’t start with that giggle and jiggle under the sheets. The drawn-out two-year conversation about whether it was the right time to start a family, hung like a cloud over us as we thrashed out the whys, the ifs and the buts. It was a long process. It’s the old story of I wanted kids, he wasn’t sure, I pushed the issue, he pushed back, and I won in the end.
It’s possible I should start off by the saying that you should really enjoy the baby making sessions because there may come a time when squeezing in more than a thirty second smooch becomes tedious. But that may put you off the idea of having kids and what would be the point of that. Let it be known, sex as a parent is both limited and glorious for all the obvious reasons. But when is the right time to add a baby to your daily grind?
The phrase “having it all” did not necessarily begin as being strictly implied for the professional mother but somehow, over the years, we have found our way here. Career driven women who inevitably question the balance of life with work and motherhood. Making choices as though it’s a necessity to choose. Or attempting to balance the load of success in every aspect of our lives because we are the great acrobats of modern society. Because being successful is how we are supposed to measure these things, right?
We question those choices. And argue about why we can’t have it all. We debate the very idea of what it means and why we want it, searching under rocks and digging on every X. Feeling the pressure of guilt, self-doubt and judgement on every scale as it balances out of our favour. We battle an ever, omnipresent idea of being bigger, better and more than we are. As though striving to reach goals, break through glass ceilings and chase our dreams becomes a questionable commodity as motherhood calls. Almost as though we search in vain.
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?
In June, we visited our local country school. The school that will take Little Miss from junior infants at a tender age of four years eleven months all the way up to an inconceivable eleven years old and an added seven months. What kind of little girl will she be at the end of this journey? How tall will she be? Will she even sound the same as the baby voice swiftly disappears into the memories I play back in my head? How excited will she be? What new friends will she make? What plans will start forming in her head for what she wants to be when she gets older?
Are we ever truly ready to have kids? Like really, really ready? Mentally, that is. Are we mentally prepared for the noise, the chaos the lack of time, the constant worrying about money and how we’ll get the first kid through college, let alone the rest? When do we know we’re ready to become a parent? Is there a moment when life just hits you? Like a flashof lightening that sparks the realisation in you. Do we wake up one morning and think ‘I’m ready for this’ or is that our biological clock kicking us in the rear end? Is it something we think we’re ready for, only to then worry whether we actually are ready when it’s too late and baby is cooking nicely in the oven?
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 remember when I was on maternity leave with Little Miss, I felt very out of the loop with colleagues and friends. I was taking the standard 26 weeks maternity leave, which in itself is an incredibly short time. I would be back to work in, what now feels like, an instant. But for those five or six months with little contact from colleagues, I felt very isolated from work and it was odd heading in on that first day back. There was a sense of unnerving questions despite being excited to get back into the fold. Was I missed? Have things changed much? Can I still cope with the workload? Now that I’m not going back at all, feeling out of the loop is an understatement. I feel kind of blurred, like a nomad, forced to find my own way and a new center. And being dependent on myself to provide that centre is even more daunting.