I love a good book, because I’m reading quite theoretical texts day in day out for my Masters degree I love to pick up something totally light-hearted. I love Allison Pearson’s I Don’t Know How She Does It – no wonder it was made into a blockbuster film, it’s totally topical for the generation of the juggling mother and Pearson writes with great wit and verve. For me this is no ‘chick lit’ novel, although the cover betrays this, her protagonist Kate Reddy is brought to life by an author with a brilliant eye for detail, a heroine for the ‘can’t have it all…. can I?’ mother.
We were the first of our friends to marry, the first to have children, with only other mamas at baby groups to compare myself to they seemed to have made a really easy transition back to work, breezily they’d ask where Joss would be going, how brilliant it would be to have a hot cup of tea, adult conversation, use my brain again. Inside I was panicking, how would we manage the busy mornings, what if I had to undertake a really big task at work on no sleep, were there alternative childcare arrangements, which would be the best for me, for Joss???
I’ve been back for 12 weeks now, I feel quite settled but am still aware that I want to have it all and I can’t so something has to give. I’m also acutely aware that my ‘organised chaos’ whilst a tried and tested method for living life pre-children, isn’t so adequate when we have 100 things to do before we can get out the door and only ten minutes to do them in.
The emotional side of leaving my darling child is a conflicted one, I’d be lying if I said I don’t like my work days, I know a few other Mamas who feel the same but maybe others do and prefer not to say. I am a better mother the other five days of the week because I have another self that has other responsibilities, space in her head for more than just the housework, contributes and can take some space from the minutae of raising a child. On the other hand, leaving her is an incredible wrench, it’s knowing that she will be chatting to someone else, sharing lunch with someone else, I won’t cross her mind at all but she’s always in mine. I pop out for lunch and see something she would be interested to see, see another child doing something that she would be amused by, but I know she’s settled and happy and will be waiting with a huge grin when I pick her up.
What I most struggle with is the pace of time and managing it. There’s this tension between the start of the week where the hours and days stretch ahead, and the end where I return home on a Thursday, frantic to prepare a meal, get a nappy wash on so she has something for her bum for the next day, make the lunches, wash up, tidy and prepare my own clothes for the following day, into morning, getting everything ready and racing to be at the childminder on time to get to the office on time…. And then the return home, the Metro is delayed because it’s so warm that the overhead line cable has snapped (really!) and so I take a taxi and am late for Joss who is now hungry and crabby… Kate Reddy clearly feels my pain; “If I stay in the bathroom long enough Richard will fall asleep and will not try to have sex with me. If we don’t have sex, I can skip a bath in the morning. If skip the bath, I will have time to start on the e-mails that have built up while I’ve been away… ”
Then there’s the guilt, OK if I didn’t work we wouldn’t long have a roof over our heads but maybe I should have had a better career, a better house to take the pressure off… “Personally, I find nonworking mothers awkward company because it’s like someone standing there holding up a large polished mirror, the better to show the reflection of my guilt.”
I was struck by this when doing some less light hearted reading. I’m researching and writing about maternal time for my dissertation, I read a really insightful article by Heather Elliot which gave me some real food for thought. You might like to read it here http://www.mamsie.bbk.ac.uk/back_issues/3_1/documents/Elliott_SiM_3(1)2011.pdf
She also talks about Pearson’s book (fate, no?!) and her own experience of running into a friend and telling her she’s gone back to work “Does he miss you?’ she asks lightly. Mommy Wars.” I find the idea of being a ‘good enough’ mother really interesting, as a self-confessed perfectionist could this ever be enough for me? Motherhood has really forced upon me a sense of needing to let go of this, yet it forms a massive part of my identity and is something I look for in other mothers so it really interested me that Elliot found the same in her research – “I often come away from the mothers I interview wondering if they are ‘alright’, if they are coping. In thinking about my experience of reading, I also spot how vulnerable my mothering was, how easily I started to doubt myself. I am on the look-out for a similar sensitivity in the mothers I interview.”
So I see these other mothers and think to myself, I don’t know how she does it… But I do it, maybe not well, but I do. I do work, study and juggle, there are some practical skills I have yet you hone. Packing a bag the night before is something that has always evaded me, proper preparation prevents p**s poor performance apparently. I’m not a preparer, I’m a flapper, a frantic whirligig of activity slowly moving towards the front door, shouting to my husband quick, grab this, that, and the other, and constantly reminding him we have to be about by 8:15 or the world will cave in on us and spark a chain of events resulting in…being a bit late for work. Remembering things along the way and then, oh sh*t I’ve forgotten x,y,z. I probably ought to keep a diary, I buy one in December every year, crisp white pages, I love this one, how could I not want to write all my appointments in this, I’ll be a new woman, January 15th comes around and I stop and never return to the damned thing!
Call it procrastination, call it head burying in the sand, I know I’ll be the Kate Reddy that’s bashing shop bought mince pies for the school fair with a rolling pin to pass them off as my own! Why change the habit of a lifetime, eh?
…I wouldn’t change it for anything but wow motherhood isn’t what I imagined! It sometimes feels like a constant round of washing, cooking, cleaning, changing, chasing, feeding, and a flop on the sofa at the end of the day, interspersed with work days, uni days and the odd break from it all to pop to the flicks with Mr B!
My least favourite job is easily nappy stuffing, I love them and it’s satisfying to see them lined up but it’s the only part of cloth bumming I don’t like!
My fave part at the moment is chasing about, I’ve lost 11lb on slimming world and am happy to get my extra ‘body magic’ chasing after this crazy cracker, caught her trying out the slide at softplay today…err pretty sure that’s not how a slide works Joss!
Some days I do take it all a bit too seriously, like last night, Joss took 2 hours to go over to sleep and all I could think about was the washing, getting ready for the next day, but most guilt-inducing today my time to relax slipping away, a post by http://londondegani.blogspot.co.uk/ Orli, Just Breathe made me stop. I was behaving like a child, one that knows better and needed reminding to grow up! A welcome wake up call thanks, I have strengthened my resolve to work on my patience and remember that I am not a toddler, I have a toddler, we don’t need two girls throwing their toys out of the pram!
9th July 2011 I married my best friend after over ten amazing years together! We celebrated our two year anniversary last week and I looked through some old photos. We’ve changed a lot over the years but always have a smile for each other, no matter what changes around us, or changes us. I feel quite old looking at these photos, typically photos of us together are from holidays or nights out where everything is light and fun, but it did remind me that we need to take some time out soon just Mam and Dad, to touch base, catch up and make sure we’re here for each other as well as for Jossy. Tips on making this happen without guilt at leaving a gorgeous tot would be appreciated!
Now that we have Joss we’re a family of three + dog. We took her to see where we got married, Saltwell Park will always hold a special place in our hearts so we’ll make lots of return trips in the years to come…
Back in March Joss and I received a mammoth package of goodies from Munchkin. I’m a Munchkin Mummy and have been testing and reviewing products with Joss on a regular basis. We’ve blogged about bathing and teething products, this post is all about feeding!
A bit of background to Joss’ feeding is helpful! At five days old Joss was more interested in the world around her than eating, at 14 months old she’s more interested in playing than eating! She’s a petite little lady, eats just enough to sustain her mammoth energy and likes to be very very independent with food! We love our Munchkin highchair, it goes everywhere with us, to the grandparent’s houses for work days and we often dine alfresco and pop outside with the chair. Joss’ ‘I can do it for myself’ approach to food is very, very messy, all toddlers are mucky pups and Joss is no exception but she refuses to be spoon fed and very much baby led weaned, we had no choice!
She loves a good ‘party tea’ small bits of food that can be eaten on the hop to get back to playing; raisins, pancakes, fruit (she’s a fruit bat she eats so much of it), broccoli, cheese batons and avocado are her favourites. Whilst its great that she cracks on and feeds herself we wanted to start introducing some ‘tools of the trade’ so bowls and plates and spoons have slowly started to be introduced. We have Munchkin fish print sets to move on to as she gets older, but for now the suction plates and bowls give her some independence whilst preventing a whole bowl being thrown or tipped by clumsy hands!
Our baby group leader suggested we look for spoons with long handles, she told us to imagine being fed by someone wearing a boxing glove, that is what a baby sees when a big adult hand comes in with a spoon! It made sense, and Munchkin’s soft tip spoons are lovely long spoons with really comfy soft handles for moving on to self-feeding.
Munchkin have kindly given me a big bundle of soft tip spoon sets to give away, I have ten sets for my lovely blog readers. Each pack contains six colourful spoons suitable from weaning plus.
To be in with a chance of winning please:
1) leave a comment on this post telling me your little ones favourite meal.
2) For an extra entry tweet I want to #win a set of Munchkin soft tip spoons with @noblemcsquer from http://thereandbackagainamotherstale.wordpress.com/MunchkinMummyGiveaway
3) For a third entry follow my blog by email on the left
Closes July 31st 2013 at 12am winners will be notified by email on 1st August and announced here.
UK postal addresses only
…aren’t they just! JD doesn’t like our parent facing pram and demonstrated this by trying to jump out on a zebra crossing, my poor nerves were shot to pieces! I need to get a pushchair urgently so she can see more! It doesn’t help that she’s so big that people look in the pram expecting to see a newborn and cheeky girl pops her face out and raspberries them!
In order to tame her at home we invested the princely sum of £10 in a popup tunnel and 100 balls, hours of fun for her, ours of clean up chasing small balls out from under the sofa for me and daddy!
I thought I’d update on work life today, I’ve a 6 month contract extention which is a huge relief and actually working life is going well despite my worries! Its brought a nice balance actually, toddlers and quite trying some days and it’s good to use my brain for something a bit different too, makes for a better rounded mama and I have a bit more energy for chasing her round too! Still the toothless wonder at 14m, will this be the month we get a first tooth?
I’m launching a giveaway later this week in my role as a Munchkin Mummy reviewer, see you then!
It’s Royal Baby fever isn’t it?! I for one am looking forward to hearing what the little one will be called as the world waits with bated breath for the happy arrival!
Cuddledry are looking forward to welcoming the new little one too, and have launched a special diamante white cuddledry apron towel to mark the occassion. I love to see a new baby in white and this is so soft, fluffy and perfect for a newborn Prince or Princess! Why not visit www.cuddledry.com and snap one up?!
When Joss was born everyone remarked how like Alex she is, she is her Daddy’s double, and yet for me it was like looking in the mirror! I put these two photos together for Father’s Day, me 29 years ago with my Daddy, and Joss with Grandad nearly 30 years on, can you see the resemblance?!
I think tomorrow I’ll look out my baby book and put a few more collages together and try to get some of Alex’s baby pics to do the same!