Two Years Of Motherhood
I always joke that my birthday is a kind of month long Mardis Gras, with parties and fun and shenanigans galore. In truth I always try to make it like that, partially because January is a crap month otherwise, but partly because we all deserve a month to celebrate ourselves.
So it would seem that my Little Droid is following suit. It feels very much as though November is his month; but it’s also my month to reflect. Remembering those days waiting to give birth and how they felt they would last forever; remembering his birth and how terrifying-magical-beautiful it was, remembering the days afterwards when we huddled together in that newborn cocoon, whilst around us our friends and family circled like wise, loving planets, sending food, flowers, baby clothes and hovering for cuddles.
To celebrate Artoo Detoo’s second birthday, I thought I’d share some of the wisdom (ha) I’ve gained since becoming a mother, in the hope that if you’re on this train ride too, or about to embark, it will help you to cut yourself some slack.
Lesson 1: You are not in charge.
Oh, you make decisions. You decide where you go, how long you stay, how and what to feed etc etc. But your baby is the boss. It’s ironic, isn’t it; we spend all that time learning how to be adults and be in charge of our own destinies only for it to be completely shattered by a toddler screaming because he wants a toy in the supermarket. Or wants to go to playgroup dressed as a fairy princess. Or wants to play Playdoh when you want to go out.
Go with the flow. It’s easier, and you might even have a bit of fun.
Lesson 2: If you’re trying to be a good parent, you probably are.
You are the best parent for your little one. You. Not your mum, not that old lady on the bus who tutted because your baby didn’t have gloves on (you try keeping gloves on a surly one-year old, madam), not Super Nanny. You. I was determined to be pretty strict with my kid. Bedtime routines, no fussy eating, no messing around and screen time kept to a minimum. What a delusional arse I was. I have discovered, to my surprise, that there is a name for my kind of hippy-dippy parenting (other than ‘Total Pushover’), and it’s Gentle Parenting. I also know parents who read all the books on gentle and attachment parenting, resolved to be just that and are now the kind of disciplinarians who sleep-train and have sticker charts and potty trained early, and do all the stuff I thought I would. You end up being the parent your child needs. Let’s face it, all toddlers are total feral balls of energy anyway; what all the ones I know have in common are that they all know how beloved they are. And that’s the secret.
Lesson 3: This Too Shall Pass. Eventually. We Hope.
Often on my Facebook memories something will pop up about how much I hope the baby will be sleeping “by then”. Well, he’s two now and that is still very much hit-and-miss. We’ll go weeks when he only wakes up once or twice for boob, then weeks where he refuses to go to bed, then weeks where he wakes up six times a night. It’s mad. There is no pattern to it, and we are slaves to our tiny son’s sleep nonsense. However, I know that this is just a season. Even if it is a bloody long season. One day in the not too distant, I’ll hopefully be using a lever to remove his bed from his back to get him to school. Fingers crossed.
Lesson 4: Lower Your Expectations.
Low. Lower than low. Hades low, to quote Josh in The West Wing. I had hoped that by now my son would be tucking into all kinds of exciting cuisine, but to be honest most days he survives on Weetabix, pasta and biscuits. In fairness to him he’s a little behind on the whole eating thing, having started six months late thanks to his allergies and undiagnosed silent reflux, but some days it can be difficult to get him to eat anything at all, let alone something that might have a passing relationship with vitamins. My boobs are still very much involved, despite the fact I thought they would have happily retired back to their previous ornamental status by now. Droid’s little mates have me totally pegged as the Biscuit Lady, and come begging like little puppies whilst their own mums roll their eyes (I’m sorry for corrupting your kids, ladies). It’s all fine. He’ll get the hang of it at some point, and at least he’ll eat several different types of veg. Sometimes.
Lesson 5: Time Is A Funny Thing
It really is. That first year was sloooooow, and I remember a lot of it. But I don’t remember much of Arthur’s second year. I remember everything from his newborn days as though they were last year, which is extremely weird. This past year has been a blur. When people say “Doesn’t it go fast?” I go “Er… sometimes…” because a lot of that first year dragged and dragged and I felt frightened and worried and as though I didn’t know what I was doing. Which I didn’t, of course. Nobody does. But then they get a bit more robust, and you get to know them better, and you work out where their little brains are at (in Droid’s case it’s usually steam trains), and it does get fractionally, infinitesimally easier. The one thing I do try to remember is that he won’t always be this little, this cute, this into me. I try very hard to imprint on my mind the moments when he puts his arms up to me and says “I carry you?”, or when he hugs me tight and says “Aaaaah, Mummy.”
And now, I’ve got to go and wake him up in the hope that he’ll go to sleep before 9pm later.