Six years ago, I had a crazy busy job and a crazy busy life which included dashing back and forth to clinics in my seemingly impossible quest to become a mum – an abstract concept as it turns out, one that you simply cannot describe until it happens to you. Finally, after endless disappointments, I had what many women take totally for granted – a totally normal 12 week scan, and from that moment on…life will never be the same again! With enormous angst and trepidation in my heart, I set about finding the balance of carrying on with life as normal just in case, just in case…the fear of disappointment never leaving me, and taking care of myself for the remainder of my pregnancy.
In the midst of all of this, a bundle of chaos and catastrophe also enters our lives in the form of Duncan, the Springer Spaniel, and my fear that he would be sure to savage my new born baby as soon as she enters the world, only adds to the pressure. But 7 months later, a bundle of pure perfection arrives in my life…hairy and screaming and not without a little bit of drama, but unbelievably, miraculously perfect nonetheless and of absolutely no interest to Duncan since she isn’t round and doesn’t bounce. From that moment on, my life became a different sort of crazy. Every second of every day devoted to that little person who I had no idea would rely on me for absolutely and literally everything. I’m sure it didn’t say that on the tin!
A conspiracy of silence exists for sure. We’ve all seen a gazillion photos of exhausted mum, small Churchill lookalike wrapped in hospital blanket, and proud dad, but I for one had no idea what was going to happen from that point on. I remember driving home with Ella in her car seat thinking, what now…what actually happens now? How do I spend my days? What do I do with her? Where will I put her – in a box perhaps? Over time that stuff all works itself out. You get into a routine, you work your way through the phases…each one different, each one not in the slightest bit easier despite the reassurances and promises, until you realise you’ve been at this lark for nearly 5 years and that that bundle is about to start school. So now what?
The constant internal and external debates and discussions about the merits and stresses of being a full time mum versus a working mum reach a whole new level, especially when had in tandem with ‘the great school debate’. But the fact is I’m going to have six hours a day to myself that I haven’t had for 5 years. For me, it is a no brainer. I simply have to find something to do that doesn’t involve the V word – voluntary – doesn’t involve any form of baking and doesn’t bear any resemblance to anything ‘mummsy’. Chutney making was merely another thing I needed to know how to do, but I shan’t be doing it again – been there, done that! I have to remind myself who I was – my pre-baby self I mean. Not all of it obviously, because I’m sure I’ve learned a million valuable lessons since then, but I was a strong and independent career woman and I want to show her a bit of that so that she can become a strong independent woman herself.
And thanks to my sister, I find myself a nice little gig – an admin job with potential. More than I could ever have dreamed of. And with butterflies in my tummy, and a fair deal of self doubt in my heart, I squeeze into my office skirt of yesteryear which amazingly and thanks to my life of chasing around a 4 year old with barely a moment to feed myself, still fits perfectly. And a pair of M&S high heels that Ella has set her heart on and been clomping around in since I brought them home the night before. For the first time in a very long time I feel good…very good. I almost feel like I have woken up from a dream.
Ella can see I look different, and she stands on her tippy toes to give me a big hug and say, have a good day mummy…like she knows. And for 6 hours I immerse myself in learning systems and procedures, and where the coffee machine is, and barely give my beautiful girl a second thought. And when I do see her, when I pick her up from nursery, I have never seen anything more beautiful. I can’t think of anything or anyone I would rather see, and I think she is looking at me as if to say, don’t worry about me mummy, I’m a big girl now and as long as you keep loving and hugging and showing me the way, I’ll be alright if you go and do something else, something apart from being my mummy. Because you will always be my mummy.
Being Ella’s mummy is the greatest privilege on earth, and I don’t regret one single minute of my time with her over the last 4 1/2 years, although I probably wish I had yelled at her a little less. But I am looking forward to getting back to a ‘real’ world, to a world where mention is seldom made of potty training, baby led weaning or even breastfeeding. A world that I could not have envisaged returning to in anything other than a pair of high heels!