I never thought I would be. I wanted the Instragrammable parenthood remember, all baby yoga and coffee dates. I haven’t given up on the coffee dates (caffeine keeps all us mums going, am I right?) but baby yoga can go shove itself.
We spend so much time berating ourselves for not being perfect, not doing enough. I was terrible for this even before Squidge came along and since? Well, I’m the world’s worst mother if left in conversation with myself.
Since I went back to work in August, I have worked 3 long days (8-5:30). It was my choice and I cherish being able to be at home with Squidge midweek, even if I don’t get the lie-ins I so desperately need.
Because it’s hard. So much harder than I realised. I am physically exhausted. There has always been an element of fatigue with CP, but when I was younger and had more energy, I could lie and pretend it didn’t exist. Kev has always encouraged me to rest and nap and I have always screwed my face up and protested “But I’m only twenty(something), I shouldn’t need to nap!”
How times have changed. I wake up each morning, normally to Squidge banging the side of her cot, or poking her head round to look me in the eye as she shouts “Mum-mum-mum-mum!” which roughly translates to “Well, are you getting up then? I’m hungry!” And as I drag myself out from under the duvet, I’m already craving sleep. I have to plan in naps if I dare want to go anywhere in the evenings. I can’t remember the last time I had the energy to keep plans, even though I keep making them.
Saturday night, I am planning to go watch Grease, my favourite ever film and musical, at an outdoor screening at Cardiff Castle with a local social group. I want to meet more people, take an interest in somebody else’s life! And, if I may so, £16 a ticket is a lot of money for something I can stream from my sofa. I’m fed up with wasting money!
I thought it was happening on Friday, so was trying to tell myself it was a good job I was working and would be local. But the 2 hours between finishing work and the start time? I’d be falling asleep, so I was literally ecstatic when I realised I’d got the date wrong. It’s on Saturday, which means I can nap in the afternoon! I miss having a social life so much and to be honest, if Grease won’t get me to do it, nothing will! I need some time to just be me.
But I can also no longer deny I’m going to need more and more time to take care of myself. Kev had the foresight to know this. The medical viewpoint of CP is that the neurological damage that results in CP does not worsen. But no-one ever told me the symptoms might get worse and my God! the fatigue!
He knew I cannot work forever. I never even considered it. I was just hoping that I’d be able to stay at home because I’m a mum, never because I’d actually need to. I take a lot of pride in the fact I can work, and am also very proud of the little financial independence I have managed to build. Of course, that’s lessened since I reduced my hours, but it doesn’t mean much compared to time at home watching Squidge grow. She’s not even 9 months yet and she wants to walk!
Kev is working very hard, so that I might be lucky enough to stop working completely by the time Squidge starts school. I’ll have hopefully finished my degree by then too. It feels a long time in terms of the tiredness I’ll endure and how my social life and sense of self might suffer before then, but I suppose both of those are down to me. I never thought I would need to be done with the workplace before I was even 35. It has dented my confidence a bit.
But hey ho, I get to be Mummy, the best job I’ve ever had, the thing that helped me realise what I was for, what my purpose truly is. And being a mummy is all about Squidge. Cuddles and smiles, making sure she grows up healthy and happy. It is not, so my wonderful husband has helped me realise, about keeping house, or hurting myself in the effort to do so. I am Squidge’s mum, not the cleaner.
And so – we hired a cleaner! An extravagance for some, but you know what? The relief I feel is amazing. I get to have and enjoy my lovely home, because we’ve taken steps to keep it lovely and enjoyable – and not at the expense of my back! I am so happy.
You have to look after you. In my case, Squidge only gets one mummy. I’m going to give her my all. The damn dishwasher can wait to be loaded. And I might even indulge in a nap.
Because I’m not Super Mum…. and I’m (finally!) OK with that.