My little love is now 16 months old. Since my last blog about the family, I have returned to work, become very slightly less anxious and Leo has learnt to sit, crawl and stand. He’s grown 11 teeth, had his one year jags and now he walks! He’s a total jabber jaws as well. He can say mama, dada, Nanna, papa, Gaga is a new recent word (for granny). He says yeah, no and shakes his head, dodo (dummy) and baba (bottle) and is learning more and more new words everyday. I can barely keep up. He knows where his head, his feet, his belly and his hands are. He also knows where his ears are but gets confused when asked where his nose is and often points to his ears for that too! He can “pass that to mummy” or “go and get your shoes”. He knows what I’m talking about if asked where his socks, shoes, toys or mummy, daddy etc are. He can also tell you what noises various animals make. His favourites include lions and snakes. His favourite story is still The Tiger Who Came to Tea.
He is such a happy, cheeky wee boy and absolutely makes my day. He is good with strangers most of the time and is quite happy to go to other family members and friends but if I am around he tends to be a bit of a mummy’s boy. He will talk away to anyone who looks in his general direction and one of the biggest most frequent comments/compliments he got was about his curls. He had incredibly curly hair that he got from his dad and everyone always said how lovely his curls were… in reality they were a bit of a frizzy, tuggy mess. I thought I would get really emotional when he got his first haircut but actually I feel like I was just ready for them to be cut off. He looks so grown up now that I’m not sure how to deal with it.
Back to work/mum guilt
I was lucky enough to be able to take 11 months off of work, thanks to annual leave that I was able to add on to the end of my maternity leave. I absolutely loved having that amount of time off but I certainly do not miss the financial strain it put on us! The first 6 months of Mat leave was fine as due to my length of service at my job I was entitled to enhanced mat pay. It was the next 5 months that were a bit of a struggle and increasingly becoming more so as the months went on. We are still trying to catch up on ourselves even now.
Since my return to work I found that I gained a small amount of a sense of self back. I wasn’t just mum as I had been for almost the past year. I actually had a knowledge of something other than just my baby and I found that people actually cared about my opinion. That doesn’t mean that I dont feel absolutely rubbish every day for leaving my baby with people who aren’t me or his dad (even though they are family members). Seven months later and I still hate having to go to work and leave him. Leo doesn’t seem to give a hoot. He has some of the most fantastic days going out on adventures to the park or soft play or visiting Farm Parks etc.
Since having Leo I feel like everything has become a juggling act and honestly I’m not doing a good job. I still haven’t figured out how to be me Gemma, work Gemma, wife Gemma and mum Gemma all at the same time or at the appropriate times. Most of the time I think I just manage to be my work self and then come home and I’m my mum self. Even if Leo is in bed then I am constantly thinking about what needs cleaning or putting away or sorted out for the next day and I haven’t learnt yet how to switch that off. Poor husband suffers the most. I can cope with not thinking about myself because in that way it’s only me that suffers but I struggle the most to be my wife self. I’m just so tired all the time now and my brain is so busy with everything that I forget that he needs a bit of attention as well. The most awful part is that I don’t know how to get the motivation back to fix it. We are working on it and slowly getting there but this is by far our biggest challenge yet.
What kind of mum am I?
The kind of mum I am has changed a lot over the last year and a bit. Now that Leo is walking around and getting in to things higher up on shelves and in places that he couldn’t reach or get to before I find myself getting a lot more frustrated with him. I try very hard to keep my cool but I’m not going to lie, when I saw him scooting about the floor on my Disney DVDs I was not best chuffed. For the most part though I try not to get angry or shout. He has figured out a lot of my “mum looks” already though which I find rather amusing. I also try to be a fun mum but I’m so rubbish at coming up with fun ideas for things to do and he is such an independent child that he is quite happy to play with toys and things on his own. As I don’t drive either I can’t just take him out somewhere. I have recently set myself the goal of passing my driving test by the end of the year though (watch this space…). I am still an anxious mum as well. I hate the thought of Leo getting hurt, not just scrapping his knees or anything though. That doesn’t really bother me but I always have the fear of him getting seriously hurt. Now that he is a little bit more stable on his feet I find myself panicking less but I still worry when it comes to stairs etc, even just little steps as he still hasn’t figured those out yet.
I’m a great believer in routine. I always have been. Leo has always had a bath, bottle, bed routine at night time, at least when he is at home and isn’t so overtired he needs to skip the bath step. We always seem to take Leo up to his room whilst we run the bath as well and I like that because I think then he gets the idea of what is going to happen next. Whenever he is at home we always seem to have a similar morning routine as well. I feel incredibly lucky that so far Leo has been mostly a great sleeper. Every so often he will go through a spell of bad nights though if he is teething for instance. I do believe that a good routine is to thank for his sleeping pattern though and hubby and I have always been very strict on that once he is in his room for the night then he doesn’t come back out again until it’s absolutely necessary or it’s time to get up, it’s working so far but we will have to see as he gets older how that will work out.
Things I struggle with
As previously mentioned I struggle daily with finding the right balance of doing things for Leo and others and then finding time to add in a bit of self care. I always thought I was a really imaginative person but nothing has proved that more wrong than having a child. I struggle with so many things these days but mostly finding fun and exciting ways to entertain Leo. He is such an independent little fella that most of the time even when I try to start an activity with him he gets bored really quickly and moves on and I guess a part of that is because he is still really young too. Before he was born I wanted Leo to be really creative and enjoy colouring and drawing but, in reality, he’s not at all bothered by it so that’s one activity out the window. I also don’t drive so I have to rely on taking him places on the bus which means I have to have money. It rains A LOT where we live as well so although we live right next to a park, we can only really go when it’s dry. I also find it hard to come up with nice, health foods for Leo that he will actually eat. So I will hold my hands up and confess that Leo basically survives off eggs. He does love a good soup though so that’s a good way to cram some veggies in to him. He really likes fruit pouches as well as he never used to actually eat the fruit and would throw it all over the floor instead. He has just recently started to enjoy eating fruit with raspberries and blueberries being quite high up the favourites list.
Being a parent isn’t easy, no matter what situation you are in but “mama” has by far, most definitely been my most favourite title I’ve had yet. One million percent worth the wait and the stress and the fear and the pain but also the joy, the love and the happiness that I have felt since having the little muffin.