Monday, October 26, 2015

Becoming Mum: Everything and Nothing

Well, it's official. Thanks to the arrival of the cutest little man in the whole wide world, I am the stay-at-home-Mum that I've been dreaming of becoming all year. When I was working half a day short of full-time, I looked ahead to this life stage in wonder... what would it be like actually staying at home every day while the rest of the world works? The concept seemed wonderful, but bizarre. Now when I look back to my days of being a worker just a few short weeks ago, it feels like it was a whole other lifetime.

So, what do stay-at-home-Mums of newborns do all day? If they're anything like me - everything and nothing. Five weeks into this new life, here is what I have learned. It turns out that babies are every bit as hard work as people say they are! One day I can do dishes, bake pumpkin bread, smash out a big batch of chicken pies for the freezer, take out the trash and prep a week's worth of salads for lunches in the time between feeding, burping and playing with my little man. Other days just one tiny thing can shift, and that load of laundry I feebly threw into the washing machine as I heard the sounds of my baby starting to stir is still sitting there, unhung, hours later. There have been luxurious days where I've managed to squeeze in a morning AND an evening shower. There have been days where I've scheduled a trip to the toilet "after this feed is finished" and halfway through the next feed, I realise I never ended up going. There have been nights when I have only had to get up once, for an hour or so. There have been stretches in the middle of other nights when my baby hasn't let me put him down for hours. There have been mornings where I have had time to put together a proper cooked breakfast. There have been other mornings with cold cups of tea, and no possible chance of squeezing in breakfast before 10am.

On the days that fly by with little more to show for it than a half-emptied dishwasher, I feel like I'm failing. On the magical days when I spend the day on my feet and still have a happy, fed baby, I feel like a super hero. When I worked, I was in a routine of ticking boxes and achieving tasks to a schedule. In comparison, this life is chaos. Each day is different, but one thing never changes. This life is good. Every time I pick up my little boy from his bed and hold him to me, every time he looks up into my eyes during a feed, every time he gurgles and does his funny not-quite-there chuckle as he lays kicking on his play mat, my heart is full. I am so, so lucky. I'm already so aware of how fleeting this time is, and I'm embracing all of it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Becoming Mum - Leaving Work

All of a sudden, my desk at work isn't my desk any more. I'm 4 weeks from finishing up at my job, and a replacement has started. A replacement that I dearly hoped that we would find in a timely manner, yet whose presence has me feeling unsettled and leaving me to hop between empty desks for the remainder of my time. Am I excited that in 4 short weeks I'll be starting a new chapter (at least for the foreseeable future) as a stay-at-home Mum? More than anything. But it turns out that the process of closing the previous chapter isn't actually as easy as I thought it would be. In fact, I'm more than a little bit heart broken to be leaving. This job and I have had our ups and downs - it started as my former boss warning me that if I wanted to come back and work for the Church after a 2-year break, I would need to do "a little bit of finance" as part of my role (knowing that last time, finance was the thorn in my side) but it became my heart beat, a job that I gradually built myself, that I loved, that I learned so much from, and that I'm damn good at. Not to mention the amazing work environment, and some of the fantastic people that I work with.
For the next year, I won't be unlocking the giant creaky gate at the side of the building at 7 in the morning, flicking on the lights and putting together a breakfast of porridge or avocado toast and tea to gulp down while I check my emails in the quiet, empty office. I won't be watching the clock, waiting for the different time check-points when I expect each of my colleagues to arrive. I won't be taking screen breaks at reception to clear my head or keenly watching the office kitchenette for the arrival of home baked cakes and biscuits. I won't be whipping through data entry or feeling the immense satisfaction of an empty filing tray. I'll be in my house, catering to our little boy, re-heating cups of tea that have gone cold and missing the extra income that my job provides. But I have no doubt at all that I will love every moment of it.
It's a strange thing to face a big gap in work, when I have worked in some capacity or another since my first job at the age of 16, washing dishes in a tea room. I've never committed fully to study (two semi-baked degrees to my name, baby) but I've always been a dedicated worker. And now? I won't be - at least not in the same way. The more I come to terms with it, the stranger a reality it's becoming.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Advice to my high school self

I was awesome

Today a friend (high school teacher) sent out a group message in which I was included: "Good afternoon wise ladies. I want to do some work with my year 11s. If you could give a girl one piece of advice that you would have loved to have received when you were 16, what would it have been?"

I sifted through ideas... thoughts on boys growing into men, on treasuring your families, on not taking friendships for granted, on forming good habits with your health now rather than in 10 years when you've had a chance to do some damage, heck, even on peer pressure. But then I wondered, seriously, what pearl of wisdom would I have truly benefited from? I thought back to my childhood, in which every need and want was met by my loving parents, in which I was privileged to attend an elite school, and whatever struck my fancy at any given time seemed achievable, easily. It seemed that I barely had to lift a finger, and I got what I wanted. The simple act of wanting seemed to achieved its own end result.
Granted, the things I wanted back then were generally easier to achieve than the things I want now, but I'm sorry to say that the principle stuck with me, and I think a lot of adults find themselves in the same position. We want for a new career, a more beautiful body, a nicer house, a new skill that has always interested us. But do we find ourselves working to achieve it? Do we think logically, plan the steps that it will take to get there, and make our move? Some do. Regrettably, I don't.
So the advice I think I will respond to my friend with, the advice I would love to go back and give to myself in high school, is this: "Nothing worth having will fall into your lap. If you want something, you need to work for it. Set your mind on it and make it happen, because unless you do, it won't. People who influence you and even help you may come and go, but the only one who is truly responsible for building your life is you." I figure there is just no such thing as a whimsical life in which you spend every day getting exactly what you want - unless what you want are very simple, basic things. And I guess if that's satisfying for you, then that's fine.

Occasionally I harp on about the fact that more than anything, I want to write. The amount of times I have voiced this desire though is just the tip of a monster iceberg. I think about it every day. Every day, stuck in traffic on the way to my job (which I love, by the way) I think "I wish I were a writer". I imagine stories, Google freelance writing jobs, read books while thinking about penning my own, dream of getting back into this blog, but it's always "as soon as life slows down/I have more time/I feel like committing to it/etc". Has that worked for me over the years? Amazingly, no, it hasn't! I am no closer to my writing dreams today than I was years ago when they first began popping into my head.

I'm not going to end this post with a decisive "So today I commit to writing something every day!" or anything like that. But I would like to think that following this little epiphany, I might shift my mind-set and start becoming more practical in the way that I look at my hopes for my life. I don't want to reach the end of my life and regret not pursuing something that I believed was so important to me. Maybe this will resonate with you, too? I'll leave you with that thought.