It has been incredible watching my daughter and my newborn, her brother, get to know each other. A loved him instantly. As soon we worked out how to explain to a 2 year old that ‘mummy has a baby in her tummy that will come out and live with us’ she was smitten. Hours were spent where I was forced to bare my belly as she bellowed ‘Hellooo baby,it’s sister’ at her growing sibling. At Christmas when she got a doctor’s kit her requirement that I allowed her access to my belly went up exponentially as she became a ‘Midwife’ and ‘listened to baby’ using a plastic imitation stethoscope inspired by the countless Obstetrician/Midwife/Sonographer appointments she accompanied me to.
This morning after being woken by her dad she came bounding into my bedroom, completely ignored my loving good morning coos and made a bee line for her ‘kleiner Bruder’ (little brother in German). Honestly I may not be the shiny, exciting attraction I used to be for my daughter but honestly I’m not mad at it. Watching their relationship grow and the bundles of love my first born freely pours out warms my heart in a way I never envisaged.
How have you found watching your children develop relationships with their siblings?
Any tips for helping to cultivate good sibling relationships?
It’s almost mother’s day in the US and this has me reflecting on the great impact that motherhood has had on my life. The person that I was when I found out I was pregnant, feels almost like a stranger to me. Being pregnant, giving birth and learning how to be a mother has been one of the most incredible, tough things I have ever done.
Here are some ways that becoming a mother has changed me forever.
I appreciate time so much more now
I find it so hilarious that one of my last exciting pre- motherhood excursions was using a day on my holiday from work,to travel one and a half hours away from my house, one way, just to get food that was twenty five pence. In contrast to that life, where it kind of seems like I had a bit too much time, the other day I managed to go on a ten minute walk alone and it felt absolutely luxurious.
The indulgent days of watching a whole series in one day, whist eating an abundance of junk food are well and truly over!As I look after my daughter full time, her schedule is now my schedule.She wakes up at 5am? So do I. She decides not to have her oh so sweet afternoon nap and instead run around the house? Me too. She is teething and wakes up 6 billion times a night? I am in there!
When I do happen to get time to myself I treasure it. Hold on tight to it and evaluate how best to use it.
I am so much more grateful for all of the awesomeness in my life
I feel like the sleep deprivation and lack of time to look after yourself, that goes with having a baby is like going through SAS training; it strips your life down to the bare minimum which means anything added is noticed and anything good is amplified.
When sleep deprivation becomes standard, having a nap feels luxurious. Having people in my life who get me with no effort and think about my needs before I even have a chance to is such a blessing. Even things that I ashamedly never used to pay attention to like being able to have a cup of tea or having a home with food now make me feel really grateful.
I do not do things that make me feel bad
Probably linked to now having less time, I now do not engage in activities or hang out with people who are good vibe suckers. When I had more time than trees have leaves, I would do things that would make me feel crappy. Yes it didn’t feel great but I had plenty of time to rid myself of the bad vibes later. Now that really isn’t the case. I have to be as emotionally intact and mentally sound as I can be to look after my daughter, so now engaging in things that do not feel wholesome and good is really not an option anymore.
I kind of wish I respected my self and my time before having A but I’m so thankful I got there eventually.
I am so much more confident
Honestly, the idea of giving birth terrified me so much, that I began having panic attacks whilst pregnant ( I’ll probably write another blog post about this). However, when it came to it, it was fine. It was bearable, I survived. Nothing bad happened and a part of me even actually enjoyed labour.
Having A forced me to face a challenge, when I used to be the kind of person who avoided anything that scared or pushed me too far. Giving birth was something I could not run away from regardless of how much I ruminated about it. My daughter was growing inside me and eventually she would 100% definitely need to come out.
Being forced to face this fear taught me how much life can be added to my life when I do the things that scare me.
Going through pregnancy and labour, also helped me to become aware of my body’s strength, abilities and power. My body was no longer something that annoyed me because it didn’t look or act how I wanted it to, when I wanted it to. My body became an amazing, super vessel which could look after me whilst also grow a whole, amazing, intelligent human being.
Now I feel like I had acted as though my body was a scrappy bit of paper, when in fact it was a multi million pound winning lottery ticket.
Have you found that you have changed since becoming a mother or doing something radical? If so, how?
This post was originally published on my other passion project, Cultural Magpie, check it out if you’re into travel, exciting things to do and commentary on all things culture.
To be honest I’ve been putting off taking A to the Dentist for a while.
I imagined crazy screaming and that it would be absolutely unbearable alone, so simply decided that I wasn’t going to do it by myself. My plan was to wait until my husband was free. He has a knack for lovingly encouraging my daughter to do things that she is scared of. Great strategy. But I kind of didn’t check when my husband was free. I didn’t try to co-ordinate his work at home dates with dental appointment dates. In the salsa of toddler life, I didn’t make a Dentist appointment.
Months of procrastination and two whole years of A’s life later, I decided enough was enough. When brushing her teeth I noticed she had a molar coming in which had a flap of skin on it which looked a bit odd to me. She had also had most of her teeth for at least a year.
I booked a dentist appointment for just us two.
To try to prepare her, I spoke to her about the ‘Doctor for teeth’; she likes doctors and has good understanding about what they do.
We spoke about how Dentists are really nice and help to look after our teeth. I even broke my basically zero screen time rule to show her a Youtube video of a child visiting the dentist.
This week we had our appointment.Everything was fine until we got into the Dentist’s room. As usual she keenly observed everything and seemed fine as I placed her on a chair with her favourite toys as my teeth got checked. With my limited vision, I noticed that she watched as my teeth were examined with a mirror and then cleaned. However,when I was done and no longer horizontal, I could see that she had tears in her eyes as she watched me ardently. I think the noise from the cleaning equipment must have scared her; she hates the vacuum cleaner. She may have also been worried about me. She gave me a small, brave smile.
When it was her turn to get her teeth checked initially she did not want to go on the dentist’s chair with me although I managed to coax her onto it. She sat on my lap and did not want to open her mouth. She held ferociously onto ‘baby’, her beloved doll.
Luckily the Dentist was good with children. She spoke to her about looking at her doll’s teeth. She asked her questions whilst managing to get a quick glimpse of her mouth. The dentist explained to me that everything she could see looked great. She also reassured me that the flap of skin on her molar was common when teeth are coming in. The Dentist did not want to push A further, as she was mindful that she wanted her to feel comfortable at future visits. My daughter got a sticker. We agreed that we would try again in 6 months.
I feel bad that I left the appointment so long. A part of me also feels a bit useless, as I did not manage to get A to open her mouth although I know that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.
Seeing the tears in her eyes after I got my teeth cleaned makes me realise that although my daughter is very independent and clever, emotionally she is truly 2 years old and needs my support.
We’ll try again in 6 months. Next time, I’m definitely checking my husband’s diary and will be taking him with us. I’m also vowing to take some time out to schedule fixed appointments for the year ahead so that I do not get distracted by life and book appointments in good time.
Any tips for taking a toddler to the Dentist and getting them to actually open their mouth?
So today it was raining. I sat A on my lap by the glass porch doors and together we took in the weather, as though it was a captivating film. I loved watching her little face beam in awe as the drops slid down the panes of glass and splattered all over the patio tiles. I’ve always appreciated the simple things in life but having a baby has really helped me to see beauty in things that I stopped noticing a while ago.
Becoming a mother has changed me. I don’t have much time for myself anymore so now find myself evaluating what to do with the minuscule moments I can capture.
Before having A, I used to spend too much time with people who didn’t make me feel good. Now I literally don’t have time for that. Spending time with toxic people means I need to invest time in washing all of their crap off of me after our encounter. It is just not worth it or sensical anymore. I don’t have time to see someone then spend even more time meditating their bad vibes away.
I used to put effort in relationships in which I was the only person putting effort in, the only one doing the ‘friendship work’, once again I no longer have time for that. I’m too busy making toddler friendly meals, running after A with shoes that she really is not feeling having on her feet or talking to her in detail about the 65th bird that she has noticed.
I now put proposed activities through a ‘Is it worth my time?’ analysis machine. I am grateful for all of the ways motherhood has changed me and is changing me. Too often I just looked at motherhood as an amazing, sacred experience which simultaneously robbed me of the time to have a simple shower or engage in basic human activities like watching four hours of Netflix (this is me making a joke by the way).
I feel like my lack of time has had the unexpected benefit of forcing me to respect myself more and not engage in things that are not good for me. I find it ironic that having more responsibility and restrictions as I look after my daughter has liberated me in many fundamental ways.
Have you found that motherhood has changed you for the better? Do you think having less time can actually be a good thing sometimes?
So recently A had her first injections. Being a curious little munchkin, she was just simply really happy to be in the nurses office and contentedly
sat lapping up her new nurse-related stimuli.
As the needle went in her chunky, little thigh there was silence. She had dealt with it amazingly well. Suddenly she let out the biggest wail I have ever heard from her tiny lungs and her face went a worrying shade of red. As the second needle went into her thigh, she wailed even louder. The entire time she cried, she looked at me as though I had betrayed her.