Up until you were a year old I wrote you a letter every month. I had been planning to do this long before you were born but afterwards, when motherhood was so different/difficult to what I was expecting, it felt even more important to write to you; and not all of them moaned about how little sleep I was getting. I kid, most of them did. Hah! In all seriousness, we had a tough first year few months so I wrote down all of the amazing things you did so that we, mainly me, would remember that there were wonderful times amid our tears.
Last week my parenting hit a new all time low and so I thought I would write to you again – although this one is totally as a reminder for me.
On your 17-month-birthday I found myself fleeing to the balcony to hide. I say hide but, should you ever become spy (and ideally that is not a career I would encourage), the way I did it with you waving at me and giggling as I pulled faces at you through the glass in the back door is not, I repeat NOT, the way to hide.
You were suffering a monster bout of teething and, understandably, you were miserable. This was the first time you had stopped crying since lunch – which, incidentally, you didn’t eat. Nothing I did or didn’t do to make you feel better helped and I was transported back to those horrible first few months when it appeared I lacked one of the essential and basic skills of motherhood – the ability to soothe my own baby. When I couldn’t help – or even find any help for you – it dented my already shaky confidence and last week reminded me of this.
We have come a long way since then but when I started to feel my chest tighten in the same way it used to – bordering on panic that I wasn’t going to be able to cope – I knew I needed to take a minute. What I realised as I stood out in the cold was that, it wasn’t you I was fleeing from but everything else I had going on in my head which made your crying harder to deal with.
That night, this quote appeared on Pinterest (how does it know exactly the right thing to send?). I imagine Oprah knows a thing or two about keeping lots of plates spinning and what I took this quote to mean is that you can have a career, family, good relationships, a clean house, “me time” etc but not all at once. And that was me last week, no matter how much I tried to cram everything in.
My biggest problem is sleep or the lack of it – ooh yet another letter to you that includes this theme! I go to bed very early so that I can get up to you in the night, which usually kicks off around 10.30pm and carries on until you’re ready to get up for the day between 4am and 5am. It means my day is a lot shorter than it would be but that I can be up in the night and still get through the day without the dizzy spells I once had. It’s worth it but it means things – mostly down the bottom of the list – don’t get done. But while I take Oprah’s quote on board, I would add another line: “You can have it all. Just not all at once. And that is completely ok.”
I am sure there are women out there who can have it all at the same time but I’m not one of them – and, as of last week, I feel no pressure to do so. I decided to prioritise. You, little bear, are top of my list, followed by daddy/family, then work (as I need to keep up with your charity-shop toy addiction some how) and then house stuff and way, way down the list is all the other things which come under “me time”. I only have you to myself for a short while before you will need to go off to school or begin your spy training and you are at such a wonderful age where you do something new every day – although please note, I am not talking about climbing here, you can stop that now, if you like – that I need to stop worrying about “it all” and focus on you.
I know how very lucky I am to have you, I never forget that, and, while I accept that there may still be times where I want to hide, if my mind hadn’t been so packed with all the other things I felt I needed or wanted to do, I would have realised that you were simply having a bad day. We weren’t descending into the bad old times, far from it.
So, my pledge to you is this. While I know it’s important I have a little me time every now and then for sanity’s sake, from now on I will be concentrating on the important things. If I get anything else done, it’s a bonus but if I don’t that’s really ok because you are my priority.
In fact, you are my all,