I didn’t have any time, or energy, to post anything last week because I was really busy preparing for, and celebrating, Reuben’s 2nd Birthday. His birthday has prompted me to think about how much my life has changed since having him. My last few blog posts have been all about me, and my MS, so in this one I shall turn my attention to Reuben and being a Mum.
There is nothing that could have prepared me for the changes that occurred in my life after I had a baby. I knew life would be different and I had anticipated the sleepless nights, the endless rounds of nappy changing and feeding. But I had no idea about some of the other, subtler changes that would happen to me.
For instance, I didn’t know how much I would doubt myself and how worried I would be about some of the little things he did, or didn’t do. Is he too hot? Do you think he is overtired? Is he teething? Should his poo look like this? Is he ready to potty train? And so on. What I now realise is that this change is permanent. Even though I am an adult, I know that my parents still worry about me. Every phase of growing up has challenges and difficulties, so the worry never goes, the problems just change.
I didn’t know how busy my days would be, or the attention he would demand of me, and the energy it would require. I hadn’t realised that I would find it so difficult to hold conversations, because part of my attention always has to be on making sure he is safe. I also hadn’t realised how organised I would need to be as a Mum, or the number of things I would need to remember. What have we got for tea? Did I take that load of washing out? Have we got enough nappies? I must get more bread. Did I remember to pack his sunhat for nursery today? What will the nursery think of me? I bet ALL the other Mum’s remembered. Next week is Children in Need he HAS to wear something yellow on Wednesday! Where’s my phone? I need to pay the electricity bill, and so on. I didn’t know that I would forget to text my friends or reply to an email because I was so busy.
I also didn’t realise that when a baby is crying in a public place, or a toddler is lying on the floor in the supermarket, more often than not, it is no reflection on the individuals parenting ability. It is just normal. Babies and children cry. Toddlers have tantrums. I have now been that Mum with the screaming baby in the shops and the Mum of a toddler having a tantrum on an aeroplane. It’s not fun but it’s all part of the experience.
My life now involves play dates, Rhythm Time, soft play centres, children’s birthday parties and going to the park. Every Monday morning I find myself singing and dancing with Gymbo the clown! I know every verse to every nursery rhyme, including the extended version of Row, Row, Row your boat! I choose my clothes based on how practical they are for kneeling and crawling around in. And yes I admit, that when I see my friends on Facebook going on exotic holidays or out for dinner, I am a bit jealous. I feel slightly nostalgic for the times Luke and I spent doing those things before having Reuben. But even so I wouldn’t trade being a Mum for a lifetime of amazing holidays.
Why? Because being a Mum is brilliant! Watching Reuben grow and develop is amazing. His first smile, the first time he laughed, his first steps and the first time he said Mummy are moments I will never forget. More recently, the first time he counted to three unprompted when jumping into a swimming pool, I could have cried. I am in complete awe of his development and love seeing the world again through his eyes. And yes, I celebrate all of his achievements as though they are ground breaking, because he is mine!
So every sleepless night, every interrupted meal, every abandoned cup of tea is worth it. I feel incredibly lucky to be a Mum and to have experienced and to know the unconditional love that having a child brings. When he bumps his head or grazes his knee he just wants Mummy to kiss it all better. He looks to me with complete trust and faith that I can do anything; all the wrongs in his life can currently be fixed with a kiss and a cuddle or failing that a few sultanas. Luke and I are his everything and I feel such enormous gratitude that I am so privileged to enjoy this experience.
The sticky fingerprints on my windows, the pile of laundry that never goes down, the snot and toothpaste smears that I regularly wear all fade into insignificance when I hear a tiny little voice say “Cuddle Mummy”. And how could I refuse? Those precious moments where he wants a cuddle and his head is on my shoulder, his warm breath on my neck are what makes my life complete. I treasure every second and try to burn those memories into my mind because there will come a day where he won’t want to “Cuddle Mummy”. So I accept that right now life requires me to give of myself, and my time completely in order to focus on the most important job of my life, being a Mum.
I didn’t know that at times I would ache inside from the pain of watching Reuben go through an illness and not being able to take it away from him. I have heard people say that you would do anything for your children but I didn’t know how that would feel. I had no idea just how much I would love him. It is a love beyond words and the most exhilarating and terrifying feeling all at once. To love someone that much is incredible but it makes me feel so vulnerable. I now know the meaning of loving someone unconditionally and feeling that their happiness is more important than anything in the world. Being a Mum completes me in a way I couldn’t have imagined and I feel so incredibly blessed.
So, a very happy second birthday to my wonderful little boy. Thank you for the best two years of my life so far.