This blog is about having children at a young age. It might come as a shock to some but I am 25 years old at the time of writing this. I was 22 when I gave birth to Cadence and turned 25 the same month I gave birth to Asher. I hope you enjoy.
I haven't travelled the world yet. But I journeyed to the edge of the universe when I gave birth to you.
I see pictures of people with hearts still inside their bodies and wonder how they boarded planes or clambered rocks or swam in oceans without a tiny hand to hold.
Some of the people in my life put on high heels and go out into the world. We stay here, in our own world. A world without lunch breaks or much adult interaction. I spend my days with you within these four walls, so privileged to call my home "your home; our home". We spend time in nature. We spend time in libraries. We spend time at playgrounds. We spend time.
I pack your toys away where my magazines once lived; the magazines that sold a different life.
My old clothes are no longer worn due to the impossibility of offering my breast to you.
My body, the temple that loved you to fruition, is different. I stand proud and slightly softer, both in body and mind, as I watch you, a piece of me. I watch you experience the world with the eyes, brain, lungs, heart and feet that I created.
My work is sometimes invisible. My work happens around you. My work interrupts our play. My work is important. But not important enough that I would trade a tidy house for another game of doctors or story.
I don't sleep.
I think back to my former self, the person I was before you. She was magic. And I am still magic. But she didn't know.
I am watching you and you are watching me and I know that you know. You know that I am learning still. You are patient with me as you teach and guide through this season of my life, our life.
We aren't watching the time. The time is just fading. There is no plan. There is no waiting. Because you were always the plan. You're already here. Now, we have an entire lifetime together. But it's not long enough.
I am thankful that you came to me at a young age. I am thankful that you chose me at a time when I thought I wasn't ready for you. I am thankful that my life took a path where I am able to walk it with you.
"You idiot", they said. "Was it planned?" they asked. I found myself holding you closer to me, sucking my belly in, my cheeks a rosy red of shame.
The moment I did this though was the moment I was denying myself the power of you. It was the moment I decided I would never be ashamed of you, even when you tell everyone at the supermarket about your runny bum from last week. I say this with my tongue in my cheek. There is no exception.
My children, I am blessed to have such a title for you. But it doesn't do you justice. My angels, my soulmates, my loves: thank you for being here in this life with me, this very second. Thank you for teaching me. Thank you for choosing me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
In gratitude, your mama. X
Welcome to the September edition of The Postnatal Project Q&A. Here, I answer two questions a month related to parenting, sleep, breastfeeding, postnatal depression and everything in between. If you'd like your question answered, get in touch via the contact page.
Just a reminder that this post does not replace medical advice.
Welcome to the August edition of The Postnatal Project Q&A. Here, I answer two questions a month related to parenting, sleep, breastfeeding, postnatal depression and everything in between. If you'd like your question answered, get in touch via the contact page.
This is a hard one to begin. Part of me wants to lay it on the table for context. And the other part of me wants to leave this version of my life untouched. It's like putting your feet in the ocean. The more you kick around, the murkier the water gets and the harder it seems to see every other aspect of your life clearly. And it stings.
The only thing I have in common with my father is the memories we share before being his daughter got hard. He could be reading this - I don't know. He could know I have a second child - I'm not sure. Did I tell him I graduated uni? I can't remember. I wonder if he'll notice my married name.
If you search Google for "newborn checklist" or "things to buy for baby" you'll likely come up with a list a mile long. It can feel really overwhelming to be planning to give birth and bringing a new person into the world but sometimes I feel like more emphasis is placed on the nursery than on the entire lifestyle shift that occurs. It's extra pressure you do not need.
I'll make a point now that personalised name decor, wall decals, matching side tables and trinkets are lovely but absolutely unnecessary. Instagram and Pinterest show these divine nurseries that make your ovaries ache. But I think time and money could be better spent and it can perpetuates the idea that motherhood is this pristine and glorified interior design job for some. Some people enjoy this kind of thing and I'm a sucker for wooden toys and lovely books but it's not something you need to focus on or feel pressured by if you'd rather not. You do you. You're not any less of a mother if your nursery is plainer than anothers'.
There's always been debate about which is the "harder" (you'll need to read that with big, sarcastic quotation marks to get the full impact) aspect of parenting. That's why I don't say that it's harder to stay home or harder to go to work - I say that it's different. You actually cannot compare the two. There are too many variables. But as I write from my perspective, a stay at home mother, I think it's important to note that it's not all coffee playdates at the park and sitting down to blog when you're at home with a toddler (hence why this website has been neglected for several months).
As a society, we have evolved beyond our wildest dreams. Technology, possibilities, values. As humans, we haven't. We eat. We sleep. We reproduce. We die. The same as we have for centuries - before society became this way.
As a new mother, you hear about this all the time: the tribe - that in different cultures, women are on bed-rest - their only task is to sleep and breastfeed the baby. The rest of the family take care of everything else.
For some unknown reason, we aren't that culture anymore. We moved on. We thought we could handle it.
I had a beautiful baby shower - organised by some brilliant girls who I went to school with. We hadn't seen each other as regularly as we would have liked - but life seemed to get in the way. We had boyfriends who became partners, fiancés, husbands. We had degrees which became jobs, careers and lifestyles. We had dreams and goals that became houses, travel and other nice things. We oscillated between catching up all the time and going months - sometimes years - without properly seeing each other. There were always texts back and forwards: "we have to catch up soon!"
I remember being asked what I would like when the time came and I was in hospital following the birth of our baby. I said: "I would love for everyone to visit - but do you mind texting or calling before you come so I can make sure I'm in a good way? I don't know how the birth is going to go". We talked about Saturday nights on the couch with a cuppa while my baby slept. We talked about picnics at the playground while my child played. We talked about dinner, babysitting, anything I needed. Oh, how we talked.
Who knew that the woman I was anxious to meet four years ago would become someone that I would love so dearly and come to rely on. I still remember that moment well - we walked from Brad's car across the lush lawn to meet his mum, Deb. I was so nervous. Brad and I had only just started dating and he had spent a lot of time at my house and with my family - but I'd spent next to none at his.
Over the years, Deb and I started to really enjoy each others' company - but I didn't really go out of my way to spend time with her. When Cadence was born, I really resisted her help and visits. I wanted to be the perfect mother to her first granddaughter. I wanted her to be proud of me. And most of all, I wanted her to feel like her son had found someone worthy of sharing a daughter and a life with. I didn't want her to see my pain or my struggles.