I'm back to this blog after a month long break. Didn't realise I'd been away as long as that; August really has just flown past. Cannot believe that my darling daughter will be 1 year old in less than a week.
This time last year I was hugely pregnant. Swollen everywhere: hands so big I couldn't fit any rings on, feet so swollen I could only get them into one pair of sandals, face so swollen I just felt "urgh". A lovely elderly lady from my church told me that I was "so stout during this pregnancy that a shopping trolley should be pushing that bump around." Yes, I was waddling and hating every minute of those 9 months. Vomiting, peeing, swelling. I wanted the baby out, and Praise God, she's out now. My womb is now a closed shop.
With Adam I had a lovely pregnancy and looked decent all the way through. I felt great too. Lydia was a different kettle of kippers altogether and I'm daily amused and amazed at how different their personalities are.
Now I've been pregnant twice, given birth twice and have 2 children I can cringe at the dozy things I said when I was childless. Ideas about what I'd never do, what I'd let children do and ideals about what was correct. Now I have children I have learnt to temper that a bit and let things flow a bit more.
Which is why I cannot stand 'advice' from childless people. I cannot bear to listen to their 'suggestions' which are really them hinting that they'd do such a stellar job. Maybe they will, maybe they'll fall flat on their faces. Who knows? The key thing is that even they don't know till the baby arrives. My 'advice' is to not count your chickens till the eggs have hatched.
There are so many variables involved in being a parent: support from family, support from friends, support from health professionals, location you live in, health of yourself, health of the child, disabilities etc etc.
I read an online article two days ago that raised my eyebrows. Made me feel all sorts of anger and pity for the author. Well intentioned article, but as a pregnant woman writing about all the great support she's going to get once her baby is born I couldn't help but wonder, "how do you know that now?"
The article was on the popular Her Meneutics, from Christianity Today and was emailed to me as well as scores of others who are on their update email list. The fact that it was on a Christian site... I'm not sure if that just reinforces the hopefulness of the author, or makes it seem more smug. I'm hoping the former.
Article was called I won't be my baby's only mother and you can read it at your leisure. Basically it was a swipe at attachment parents being wrapped up in their babies and how the writer was so much wiser. She planned (notice the word 'plan' as her baby is still in utero) to let others around her help out: family, friends, neighbours so that the baby had a good range of 'mothers' and all the onus wouldn't fall to her.
The article itself doesn't say anything too scary, but it's the tone. The idea that there are family, friends and neighbours around to help. I almost chuckled at that.
My admission is that before Adam was born I'd never even heard of attachment parenting. I actually thought I'd give birth, stay home for a year then go back to finish my degree and work part-time after that. I'd picked a day care provider and had even paid my deposit. I just saw that's what a lot of other people did, so I just assumed that's what I'd do.
Fast forward to when he was born and I just couldn't leave him. Couldn't even imagine leaving a pre-verbal baby with anyone else and my mind boggled at how anyone could. I know finances are a big pull for the majority of people, so choice might be restricted as to whether or not they can stay home.
I sort of fell into the attachement parenting thing, and hadn't expected it. Which is what I tell my incredulous childless friends. To not be so smug about all the nights out and holidays you're maybe going to have once junior arrives. Your career? It might not be so important to you in the future.
Another admission is that Andrew and I fell into the role of being our 24/7 selves because there was no other option. If one doesn't have family, friends and neighbours willing to help out, then the only option is to do it all oneself. Your total focus is your child because all else sort of fades past.
Maybe the writer of the article has friends queuing up with offers to babysit. Maybe they'll do it, and that'll be fun for her and bonding for their friendships. Or maybe it's all lip service and she'll need to beg for an annual night out.
I'm being a bit unfair. My family are actually very loving and keen to help. But my parents work 40 hours each a week, and my brother and sister also work. But when they are free they are great with offers to mind the kids. I'd estimate their help enables Andrew and I to have around 5 hours together every 2 months. The rest of them? Nah, not so much. But that's their choice, and as much as it chokes me, it is their right to be like that.
What I'm trying to set out is that you don't know what you don't know because you didn't know it. Make sense? That woman might hope that she'll have help, might think it's fair for others to muck in and be "other mothers" as she terms them. But it might not happen. They might shrug and just be benevolent strangers.
I actually agree with a lot of what she says - that it's far too much stress to make one mother be the life, soul and bedrock of every aspect of a child's life. She also says that it's beneficial for the child to have a range of people love them enough to muck in and take on part of the role - I agree with that too. But in our individualistic society how often does that really happen? Really?
Motherhood has been so denigrated and is now viewed as a lowly option. People don't want to do that, especially not for free and if the child isn't theirs. The countless times I've been made to feel that way by family and friends as they head out for social events is staggering. The fact that Andrew and I haven't had an overnight alone in around 2 years just doesn't phase them. Offer to help? I wish. No, rather they'd prefer to tell me about the clubs, the holiday's, the meals they've had and cross their fingers that they aren't on such an island in the future if they ever have children.
We have a good social life, yes, but just not together. You see both, but not with the other.
Yes, they are our children and there's no dispute that they are well cared for and very loved, but the attached at the hip status isn't just a lifestyle choice, it's cause it's all we've got.