I am doing a lot of reminiscing lately, about the past few years that I have been a mummy. I guess when you come face-to-face with a serious illness, you cannot help but to look back at the years that you’ve had.
I can honestly say that they have truly been the best years of my life – mainly because of the staggering highs and lows that being a parent has presented to me.
From the very first moment I discovered I was pregnant all those years ago, I felt a whole range of emotions – from joy to fear, to happiness, and right back to fear again.
The fear and worry of just not being able to do it.
I remember a friend telling me to get used to the feeling of worry, because it is all part & parcel of becoming a mother. You will worry about that little person from the moment they are a sparkle in your eye – right up until the time that they are fully grown (and then some).
It seems so silly to admit to, but I worried before each and every scan. I worried that they would tell me it had all been a big mistake and that the heartbeat I so wished to hear was in fact not there. Then would come the wave of emotions – relief, joy, and elation that there was in fact something there and I had not just dreamt it all.
It was in fact very real.
The main reason that I did not believe it all in the beginning was because I felt everything was just ‘too good to be true’. You see I had married the love of my life, travelled, experienced my ambition of living ‘down South’, and finally we had tried to start a little family of our own.
Then as soon as you have that baby you are thrown in at the deep end – it is almost like nature is testing you to see if you will ‘sink or swim’.
In a way I wish I could go back and talk to that girl who panicked that she couldn’t look after such a precious gift. Of course this is not possible – but if I could, I would say ‘don’t listen’. Please don’t listen to all of those books that you try to read proclaiming to give you the ‘best’ advice. There is not a book in the world that will prepare you for the journey that you are about to begin.
Being a parent is about finding your own way, and the more you try to be the perfect mum the more you will fail – because there is not such thing. It truly doesn’t matter if you choose breast or bottle, if your baby sleeps or not, how long it takes to reach certain milestones or what others are doing around you.
What matters is happiness and cuddles and above all being brave enough to admit if you are struggling.
It is not easy – in fact it is bloody hard work at times. Your own children push you far beyond any limits you ever thought you had. In fact, I have witnessed my husband (who is the most calm person I know) completely lose it courtesy of prolonged lack of sleep. No one will ever win the who’s more tired argument and it is far easier to admit that the little person you created is outfoxing you both at the same time.
The one thing that I have learned over the past five years is to cherish the small things. If I could write a book explaining this to other parents I would do – but even that would be impossible because each and every small thing is unique to your own family.
My small thing, my treasured moment that ‘gets me through’ happens every now and then – contrary to all of the parenting books and ‘best advice’.
My special moment happens once in a while, in the very early hours when no one is awake, not even the birds.
One of the children wakes up cold or scared or unsure and they wander into our room, they get into our bed and they snuggle up close and they instantly relax. We all do, because it is just the way it is supposed to be. It just is.
Eventually an hour or so later the second child wanders in and makes a little space, the space that they know is theirs, and we all doze. It doesn’t last long, it usually ends in someone hanging off the edge of the bed (this tends to be me) or being kicked, or even a random question being asked before either myself or my husband have fully woken up.
But it is our special thing and it is so special, and do you know what? If I had taken those books to their very literal meaning – all the ‘advice’ about everyone knowing their own place and staying in their own rooms, I would have never have experienced such an amazing feeling of belonging to my family.
Cherish those special things because one day they might have disappeared, and you will wish dearly that you had savoured every moment.
‘Welcome to the world Millicent Hazel Eames’