Life – but not as I knew it …
My daughter is almost one. I’m trying to avoid saying ‘I can’t believe it’ or ‘she can’t be one already’ because that sounds somewhat moronic. I have, after all, been there for 99.9% of the days of her life, living and breathing every little development. The part that is incredible and surprising to me is not only how much she has changed in those 360-ish days – but how different I am too.
My first intention for this post was to write a good old list of everything I’ve learnt in my first ever year of motherhood. Because everyone knows the internet loves a listicle. Then, just as I put finger to laptop, a familiar noise erupted from my daughter’s pram. Her erstwhile peaceful slumber – and the possibility of me writing a blog post – had been replaced by a happy burbling chirp, alerting me to her wakeful state. I now know this signals my five second window of opportunity to show my face before it turns to distressed cries. And with that, the laptop was shut for another week.
In the moments of reflection between my planned first article and this one, I realised a list of first-year lessons would be inadequate. Because, it would have to be a list of every single item in my life. NOTHING is the same as before we had our bambino. Nothing.
Have you seen the Michael McIntrye video clip on parenting? Here it is again for your enjoyment. It’s absolutely, perfectly, spot on.
Life is now full of activities, or new ways of doing old activities, that would never have happened a year ago. Like finding myself making a baby beef casserole at 11 a.m. as it’s nap time and I might not get another chance that day. Or generally flipping the switch into crazy domestic woman during nap time. Ah, the volume of chores I can now do in an hour – that from someone who, at heart, still finds all things domestic a hideous drudge. Like having to belt out nursery rhymes in the shower, as my baby’s in with me in her bouncing chair. Like only sneakily using my iPhone when my baby’s occupied with her toys, as it’s a Class A narcotic attraction for eager little hands. Like, after a full afternoon of playing with toys, reading books and singing songs, seeing if I can get away with the ‘let’s lie on the bed and cuddle’ game.
The entrance of this force of nature has also created seismic shifts in my relationship with my husband. Planning and negotiation dominate our conversations. Like who’s going to do the daycare pick-up this week; whether it’s ok for either one of us to have a night out, and whether the baby changing bag has been properly packed before we leave the house (on two occasions we’ve forgotten to take any spare nappies on a long journey. Naturally, we did our best to blame each other for the oversight.)
For anyone not familiar with British humour, it would be easy to watch the Michael McIntyre video and think having children is a terrible mistake. Maybe you get the impression from what I’ve written so far that it’s an exhausting, non-stop appropriation of your life. It’s true, one thing I’ve learnt is a new depth of tiredness I had no previous comprehension of. But the bigger thing I’ve learnt is a new volume of love. The sort where I don’t care about putting myself second, or having huge bags under my eyes, or partying from 3-6 in the afternoon instead of 3-6 in the morning.
There’s a love I feel for my bambino that’s so fierce it’s almost overwhelming. It’s always there, just under the surface, but regularly bubbles up at the smallest things: when she brings joy to strangers on the tram by babbling at them; when she breaks into floods of giggles at a game of peek-a-boo; when she looks like all her Christmases came at once because she discovered how to make a new noise. When we cuddle, and she lays her head on my shoulder sucking her thumb, I know there’s nothing I would not do to keep her safe and happy.
Lessons from a year of parenting?
Lessons about being a parent?
I feel the first year with a first baby is a rite of passage. I don’t think any advice in the world could have prevented our personal tears and triumphs. From sleeping rituals to feeding habits, we have learnt what works for us and tried to tune out anything that doesn’t. I do have one favourite piece of advice that I think works for everyone: You cannot spoil a baby. There’s no such thing as too much love.
Everything changes. Embrace it.
OK – some things don’t change.
This week, I’m joining in with Brilliant Blog Posts.