Monday, 13 April 2015

'Change always comes bearing gifts'


I was in Waitrose last week and a woman rushed in in front of me. She was wearing a smart, beautifully tailored suit and clutching her BlackBerry in one hand and expensive purse in the other. She was clearly in a world of her own as she dashed to the lunch fridge, grabbed the first sandwich that she could reach and dashed towards the till.

It was like looking at myself two years ago. I recognised the air of frustration with the other shoppers,  who were just in her way. I recognised the perfectly applied make up which almost disguised the tense set of her jaw. I recognised the faraway frown that meant she was either mentally going over notes from her last meeting or preparing for the next one, which she was going to be late for if these slowpokes didn't move out of the way.

I couldn't help but smile as I realised with a start just how much my life has changed in the past couple of years. For a brief moment I felt a pang of regret as I thought back to my well paid job, my beautiful, brand new car and the sense of importance that all that responsibility had brought. And then I felt silly because what could be more important than the responsibility of raising a child? And who in the world is more important to a child than it's mother?

Becoming a mother has changed pretty much every aspect of my life. My body is certainly not what it used to be, that's for sure. It has soft bits which are still unfamiliar to me and I feel it has let me down so much since I became pregnant. My hormones are a law unto themselves. I long for more time to do what I want to do, rather than what I need to do, but wasn't that always the case? Friends have fallen by the wayside. Priorities have shifted. I even think differently now.

But in amongst these losses and unwelcome gains came the most amazing gift. My wonderful, amazing son. When I was pregnant I dreamed that I had a gorgeous little blue-eyed, curly headed, rosy cheeked boy and look what I got. He's truly perfect in every way. I love his sweetness, I love that he knows his own mind and I love his cautious nature. He has made my life complete and I want to give him everything I can - the best childhood he could wish for, a safe, secure home and all the love in the world.



I remember friends from my past who had babies and changed beyond all recognition, drifting out of my life and into a world of nappies, toddler groups and teething. I remember how I missed them. How after the first couple of times it happened, I caught on to the way of it and expected it the third time. It's inevitable. I do believe that friendships can survive motherhood - if both friends have children it's just a natural evolution of their relationship. But if one remains childless then they just don't appreciate the seismic shift that children bring. And let's be honest, it's hard to be as interested in someone else's child as they are.

When my sister had a baby we drifted apart for a few years. We still spoke of course and still saw each other but our lives were so different that we had little in common and our deep and meaningful conversations weren't quite as deep and meaningful anymore. She always had a baby with her, with his inherent demands and I never had her full attention anymore. She didn't have time to really listen to me and I had little interest in her new life. I didn't even really like children if I'm honest, so this intruder was just inconvenient.

But when we decided to start a family and when I found out I was pregnant I instinctively drew closer to her again. She understood what it's like to be pregnant, she knew how I felt and what I was worried about. She was a brilliant birth partner and she helped me so much in those early days - bringing me new nappies when we realised the ones I'd bought were three sizes too big, lending me her bath to ease my aching post-natal body because we still didn't have ours plumbed in. I've lost count of how many times I've sought her advice on all things baby-related. I feel like we're on an equal footing again now and we understand each other perfectly. I'll be forever grateful to her for her kindness and generosity since Forrest came along and for bearing with me during those couple of years of distance, for not taking it personally and for accepting me as I am. I'm not an easy person at the best of times and I understand now how it feels when someone you are close to doesn't get on board for the biggest, scariest ride of your life. It's disappointing and it hurts.

I know that I've become what I once despised - a baby bore. That's ok, I can laugh about it but I can't change it because that's who I am right now. All those things that people tell you - you don't know real love until you look into your child's eyes, life will never be the same - they're all true. I'm just not the same person I used to be. I used to feel sorry for women like me and think that their lives were small and meaningless, but now I feel sorry for the women who are like I used to be. Who don't know about the extraordinary, unprecedented kind of love you feel for your child, the strength of the bond that forms during pregnancy and grows inexorably with every passing day as you watch your baby grow into a little boy.  

It's a fiercely protective love that floors me every night when I sit in my chair in the nursery with Forrest, bathed and sweet-scented, when he nestles his head into the crook of my arm and gazes at me with his big, blue eyes until he falls asleep, long, dark lashes fanned across his perfectly rounded little cheeks.

I used to think 'for goodness sake. Doesn't she realise that there's more to life than her child?'

And now I think 'yes there is. Of course there is. But not much.'


8 comments:

  1. What a lovely post. Just want I needed to read on a Monday morning. And little Forrest is just so cute, and getting so big. I loved reading your before and after viewpoints.

    K.

    www.wonderingthrough.co.uk

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  2. Lovely :-)

    Lizzie x

    www.marmaladepie.co.uk

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  3. This is such a beautiful post. I'm the first of my friends to have a baby and I've found it very difficult - I'm not close to my mum either and therefore I've mostly turned to the internet when it comes to talking all things pregnancy and baby. One of the reasons I started blogging because I felt like I had nobody else for support. I feel like my friends have slipped through my finger tips which makes me sad, I know one day they'll 'catch up' but for the time being they are very much 'young, free and single'. It's interesting to read your view from both perspectives, pre-baby and as as mother.

    Jenna at Tinyfootsteps xx

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    1. It's heartbreaking when friends slip away but I think ultimately we have to let them go. Our children are our life at the minute and if friends can't understand that then there's just no room for them, is there?? xx

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  4. Babies bring change. My oldest in 10 and my youngest is 6 ( with a 9 year old in the middle!) I lost myself for a little while in the middle there, feeling the pressure of three small people keeping me busy. But , looking back, I don't regret a single moment of it - lost sleep, diapers, tears ( theirs and mine!) and toys everywhere. This new phase we are in feels wonderful too. The kids are more independent so I have more time for me ( zumba, books, crochet) but they need me just as much! Mothering is wonderfully exhausting and oh so fulfilling, just as you have said. Congrats Mom! You are doing a wonderful job!!

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    1. It really is exhausting and fulfilling in equal measure (three children? Hats off to you!)

      Thank you for your lovely comment :)

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