So after my previous post when I was wondering when the “mum” thing would kick in, I finally had a moment the other weekend when I really felt like a proper mum.
On Saturday, we got up, dressed and breakfasted, went to Tesco’s for a weekly shop, then I batch-cooked a huge load of Bolognaise and we made some savoury muffins together for the freezer, and I managed to get 3 loads of laundry done and changed the sheets on the bed all before lunch. By the time my little one went down for her nap, I felt like I’d accomplished a lot, and was feeling very much like a real proper mum.
But then afterwards I started thinking how incredibly sad it is that I associate being a mum with unpaid domestic labour/household chores. Such a traditional stereotype that has no place in 2019. I used to have weekends like that before I had a kid, weekends when I would be super efficient and cook and clean and tidy and achieve loads of my #WeekendGoals, usually proudly announcing my achievements on facebook to the world. So why now, does achieving the same household chores suddenly make me feel like a “proper” mum?
It’s so deeply sad that finally feeling like a real mum had nothing to do with my kid. It has made me stop and question my ingrained view of traditional gender roles, and wonder how many prejudices like that are buried deep in my own subconscious. I finally felt like a proper mum and it made me feel like a traitor to feminism, so it’s been a pretty weird week.
In other news, I had my first illness as a mum recently, (just a cold, but a nasty one) and it was hard work. I must admit to turning to CBeebies as the babysitter and leaning on the TV rather a lot – on one day I felt so awful and tired I had to just turn the telly on and lay down on the couch to nap and rest for most of the day while my kid stared like a zombie at the screen for hours. I felt like a terrible mum but frankly you do what you have to to keep going, and lots of people have reassured me it’s quite alright to let the TV be my co-parent when I’m not feeling up to it. Especially when you are on your own and don’t have anyone else to take over making dinner or playing with the kid or bring you soup, you’ve just got to do what you can. I have since made it up to her by making sure we are busy and out and about lots now that I’m better!
I also had some friends who were visiting while I was sick and it was a really tough call – on the one hand, I didn’t have the energy to see anyone or have people over, but I also realised it would be easier to manage a toddler with other people around. In then end they came for the weekend as planned, and it was lovely to see them, and the kids mostly entertained themselves, though after putting mine to bed I was sorely tempted to crawl into bed myself rather than dragging myself back downstairs to cook dinner and be sociable, so the evening was a bit of a struggle but nevermind!
The little one is teething, so she’s pretty up and down at the moment. One minute smiley and happy, the next grizzling and upset. We had a record number of meltdowns one Sunday (I think 7 full-scale tantrums throughout the day) but also an interesting milestone – she had her first tantrum while at a friend’s house (and then later at the park too) but it was a really good sign that she’s feeling safe enough with me to let go and freak out in a strange place we had never been to before. So even with the tantrums and the tears and meltdowns there is a silver lining, a milestone achieved in terms of our growing attachment to each other. And bless her, she’s tired, she’s grouchy, her mouth hurts and she can’t tell me what’s wrong so no wonder she is frustrated and upset! I am mostly attempting to give her soothing foods – things to chew on, crunch on, and suck on, and thankfully she loves fruit so has lots of nice soft things to eat.
In other news I am delighted that she has been accepted into the nursery I wanted (it has a competitive waiting list so we weren’t sure if we would get in) and I have secured her council-funding for the place, so the bureaucratic wheels are turning. She won’t start at the nursery for several months but it’s good to know she is in and it’s a really lovely nursery!
I am also trying to think ahead to plan for her birthday, for Christmas, for Halloween and make sure I am organised, have a costume, and start thinking about presents (this year I’ll be on a significantly reduced income while on maternity leave, so am planning some home-made gifts for most friends and family, which need to be organised well in advance!). We have started swimming lessons together, and found some fab toddler groups we really like so have some regular things to get us out and about most days. I’ve got a couple of nights out planned in October so will see how babysitting goes and I’m looking forward to a bit of fun! I’ve been missing my pottery classes so have started in on a new creative project (busted out the sewing machine to make a quilt) and have been enjoying that.
All in all we are fine, we are happy, we are chugging along through the ups and downs. She is an utterly delightful and good-natured child, pretty laid back and chilled out most of the time. She still loves to sleep late so I am enjoying our lazy mornings and cuddles in bed, and she makes me laugh most days, which is lovely. She’s slowly starting to say more words and express herself more clearly (or maybe I am just learning to read her body language and gestures more and more!).
And we have just had our 2nd Adoption Review, which went brilliantly – she was happy and smiley and settled and played with the social workers instead of clinging to me and hiding like she normally does, and by the end she had all of us singing “If you’re happy and you know it” and laughing. Everyone was thrilled at how well she is settling in and attaching to me, and they have approved the next stage so I can now submit the paperwork to apply for the Adoption Order, to make her legally mine. It’ll be a slow bureaucratic process and will take a while to work through the courts but it’s an exciting milestone to have achieved.