Like you haven’t been doing it for the last year. Carrying an irregular-shaped ton around in your abdomen while the little dear bounces on your bladder and makes you feel oh so sick but oh so hungry at the same time. But eating the tiniest thing makes you full. And I’m not going to go into the other pregnancy things because they still make me shudder…
Then that DAY when you’re in constant pain for 24 hours before the poor wee creature is ripped out of you in the most horrendous, undignified way possible (this may just be you, Nic, I’m sure other people DO have “orgasmic births”, oh wow did you see that elephant zoom past the window..?). I can say this now as my friend has had her baby, a boy, yay! But anyway, back to the point. So yeah, not a great time before the blighter enters your life, and then you go without sleep for roughly six months (at least) and your existence then becomes some kind of hell/ joy dichotomy. At three in the morning I ALWAYS think back to my Psychology degree days and how I’m pretty sure there was a study showing that sleep-deprived rats died. They DIED. And that is how it feels, a bit like you’re going to DIE of exhaustion. I’m sorry but I told you before I was honest didn’t I? But somehow, mummies have evolved to stay alive, they just feel and look like shit all the time instead, and if anyone is unfortunate (or stupid) enough to cross them, well, they ain’t gonna be offered a lovely cup of tea are they??
Digressing, but speaking of cups of tea, there is NO WAY people should EVER expect a mum of a baby under 6 months to make one. I made MANY cups of tea in the first few weeks of having the Duck, and now I just think WWHHHHHHAAAATTTT??? To be fair I doubt it even resembled tea, the state I was in, but come on. Poor woman just had to go through all of that and now lives like a zombie, compelled to smile at well-wishers, so if you’re going to visit you can make your damn cuppa yourself! I vow to myself and all of my friends right here and now I will NEVER let you make a cup of tea in my presence when you have a small one.
This is sounding a tad like a moan, but I feel I must be honest with you Nic. You’re not going to have a gentle, hippy, transcendent birth in a pool of lurve with whales chatting blissfully in the background. I can’t explain the first few weeks of having Little ‘Un because you won’t get it until you do it.
ANYWAY, back to the original subject, back to work! Yes, you have been working really hard all these months, but now comes the time to wear a few hats. It’s scary because it seems like there is so much to organise and so many tasks to juggle. There are, but I promise you will be FINE. Honestly, (and I think we can determine I’m honest…) it is FINE.
After a few days back you will stop being quite so crazy, you have to let go and try to trust that the caregiver knows what they’re doing. Try to limit calls if you must call to once a day, and know that they can contact you if they need to. Saying that, I don’t have a boring desk job or access to a phone at work so maybe it’s easy for me to keep busy and distracted. I think in a way, it’s good to work because then you can talk to more adults and be something other than Mummy. As much as you love being Mummy, it’s nice to have your other skills appreciated. Some people claim being a stay-at-home-mum is boring. I don’t see how that is possible unless you have no imagination and do nothing with your kids. But still, I think working part-time helps keep me a bit rounded. Yes, yes, the cakes keep me rounded too, ha fucking ha.
You do have to be a bit of a hard-ass when leaving your kids to go to work. It might sound obvious Nic, as I know you’ve been on the receiving end of parents who linger for an hour seemingly to MAKE little Jimmy cry before they leave, just so they know he’ll miss them. You kiss them goodbye and leave. No song and dance or everyone gets upset. You KNOW that as soon as you’re gone they will be merrily playing in the sandpit as if you never existed. It’s good for them to be independent! Kids who go to nursery cope better with school too.
I’m not an advocate of going back to work really early by the way, not at all, and if you don’t have to that is AWESOME. But lots of us need to, and a year is an ok time I reckon. Like I say, it IS work having a baby, just not as you know it. So you need time to do your child-rearing job effectively and get everyone in the house settled and into a routine. I HATE HATE HATE that Katie Apprentice woman who bangs on about how she has had 3 kids and only 5 weeks off for maternity leave in total. I mean, why have kids? Really? I don’t see how she can be thinking about their welfare AT ALL. I could slate that stupid, obnoxious, fame-hungry cow all day but I think that’ll do. What an arsehole. Oops.
Ok so we’ve established that being a mum IS work, but at some point you may also have to do a job to bring in some dough. And that will be fine, because after long months of eating nothing but pasta bake and sprouting potatoes, and wearing maternity clothes (yeah it’s not just because nothing fits) and eeking out the remnants of your make-up drawer to cover those ever-expanding eye bags, having that first pay packet in your grubby paws will feel OH SO SWEET. Yeah, it has to go on baby food and a new load of bibs or whatever… but if you’re very lucky and very cheeky you might even swipe some of it for a brand new pair of knickers. Or a mascara. Or a BOTTLE OF WINE. Winner. Ahh the possibilities are endless Nic, go, GO AND SPEND!