When we went along to our first NCT meeting when I was pregnant with Bear, they asked us to each list 3 things that we like or enjoy. One of those “let’s all get to know each other” things (at a pretty sensible and respectable level, unlike 3 years later when us 8 Mums know WAY more than we probably need to know about one another).
On my list were 3 things I like – gin, chocolate and lists. Yes, lists.
I have lists of lists, and I am one of those people that will write something on a list just so that I can cross it off straightaway. I am probably (no, definitely) OCD about my lists and about being organised and about keeping on top of stuff. What. A. Loser.
As I write this, we are less than a week away from Bear starting nursery class at school, and less than 2 weeks until D-Day with #2. I am only too aware that the arrival of a newborn will come at a time when – for the first time ever since Bear arrived – we will also be up against the clock every weekday to be somewhere important at a specific time. I am also well aware that no amount of list-making will help that little combo.
So here’s an open letter (kind of) to me. A few promises to myself and my family that I need to re-read when I am frazzled and being neurotic about stuff.
I have made no secret of Bear’s first 6 months on this earth being far from enjoyable. She wasn’t a content baby, and I wasn’t a content Mum (the two probably weren’t a coincidence, either). I am determined to “get it right” this time – to not lie awake half the night worrying that we’re instilling a bad habit when baby is 2 weeks old, to not stress about the whole breast/bottle thing, to not feel guilty all the time for what I have and haven’t been able to manage in a day.
Ask for help
I was too proud and stubborn to do this first time around. I wanted to be one of those Supermums that could look after our girl while Daddy went to work, while also preparing lovely meals, keeping the house presentable and staying on top of the washing and ironing. I know with absolute certainty that that pressure I put on myself (no-one else did, it was all my doing) has fueled my OCD-y tendencies. So this time I have promised myself and Mr D that if I need help, I will ask for it. And if something doesn’t get done, then it really (REALLY) doesn’t matter.
Don’t believe everything I hear
While everyone else appeared to have this mummying business down to a fine art (or so I was led to believe, because like a fool I believed Facebook), I blagged my way through each day. I STILL blag my way through each day – fact. Second time around I will no doubt do the same, like millions of other parents who just make it up as they go along. But as we’re about to go in for round 2, I promise to remember that blagging is ok and that Facebook et al are nothing more than edited and uber-filtered highlights of peoples’ lives. Rather than feeling like a mediocre Mum, if our children are happy, healthy and loved when they go to sleep, then I promise to count it as a good day*.
*Even if there is Dairylea in the DVD player and I can smell a dirty nappy but can’t work out where I’ve put it. Even then.
Turn hindsight into foresight
I have always been honest on this blog about how I felt in the early days with Bear, and how hindsight taught me a lot. I’d worked in a job for years that I could do – I’d dealt with difficult people, deadlines, challenges, all-nighters and I wasn’t afraid of hard work. Then – overnight – I was WAY out of my depth. We couldn’t delegate, we couldn’t go back and change our minds, we just had to suck it up and get on with it. There were days I didn’t want to go out the door because I didn’t want to fail. I didn’t want to see anyone because it would remind me that I was the only one not coping (absolute nonsense – but at the time I didn’t see it). There were times I wondered what we had done, and I even said to Mr D that I’d always thought I’d make an okay Mum, but in fact I didn’t think I was cut out for it at all.
I read an article on postnatal depression, and I ticked a fair few boxes. I don’t think I ever had PND in its truest form, but I can recognise – in hindsight – that I didn’t feel as happy as I could have felt, or as I wanted to feel. I called the health visitor. She rang me back 6 weeks (6 weeks…) later. By which time a mixture of tough love from family and friends, and a baby that finally slept for more than an hour at a time, had helped me see a bit of a light at the end of the (once endless) tunnel. I promise here and now to recognise the signs earlier and to do whatever I need to do to make the next 6 months happier than those 3 years ago.
Welcome some chaos
Don’t get me wrong – we have a chaotic house as long as Bear is awake. She’s one of life’s non-stop whirlwind kinda girls. Chaos isn’t going to be a new thing for us, but it’s going to go up a level with new school shenanigans and a tiny baby thrown into the mix. I will cut myself some slack when things don’t get done, I will enjoy the mess (apparently I will even miss it when – years from now – there is no mess at all), I will enjoy the hectic craziness as our babies grow up, and I will think of at least one thing every day that we have done to make our babies happy. And then I think Mr D and I can pat ourselves on the backs.
I might even go the whole hog and ditch my list making. There – I’ve said it, and my NCT ladies will be proud. Because while those 3 things that I listed back in the NCT class still stand, the whole list business needs to go (unless it’s just to remind me that the remote doesn’t go in the fridge.) Chaos and rushing around and our house being turned upside down is how it is going to be for a while, and I am ok with that.
As the countdown to D-Day begins, I will admit here and now that I am anxious. The birth, the recovery, the unknown, the possibility that how I felt first time around might repeat itself. But I am hoping that the last 3 years have taught us that we can do this. We can bring up a happy child, we can be half decent at this parenting malarkey, and if we can do it once we can do it again.
And in any case, I still have gin and chocolate on that list and I’ve no intention of ditching them at a time when they’re likely to really come into their own. Not a chance.