Children: Sonny, 5 and Klara, 2
Expectations of Motherhood: Alarmingly few the first time round – I found out I was pregnant on honeymoon, it was completely unplanned, I’d probably still be putting it off now if it hadn’t happened like that as I’d never really thought much at all about having kids. Second time round I knew full well what I was getting myself into, but once you’ve got one child then second doesn’t feel like such a big deal, you’re already a parent.
Reality of Motherhood: To be honest I thought it’d be terrible, but that I’d be fine. In many respects it’s easier than I thought it would be, because I’d assumed the absolute worst, in others I can’t believe how utterly relentless it is. I don’t understand where they get their energy from, they never stop other than when they are asleep and it’s knackering.
I went back to work full time 4 months after having both kids and my husband took over – we’ve shared everything 50/50 and that has made things feel much fairer than they might otherwise have done. We’ve seen it from both sides so neither of us think the other is having a better time of it, whether that’s working or looking after the kids. When Klara got up in the night we both got up – I felt that it was important that both of us had a vested interest in getting her back to sleep, plus neither of us could complain about being more tired than the other. That’s the second time round though, I remember a time when I’d been up with Sonny for a couple of fraught hours one night and was looking for some gratitude from my husband but only got a compliant that he hadn’t been able to sleep the whole time – yet had stayed in bed.
Sonny and Klara are ace. They are funny, annoying, smart and silly in equal measure. Two is definitely enough for me though!
Taking your children home for the first time: It really is strange bringing the baby home the first time – you cannot believe the hospital are OK with it. I remember being irritated that my in-laws brought us back from hospital the first time and hung about, I just wanted everyone to leave us alone so I could get my head around it. Second time I didn’t want them to leave the house. It’s just so different the second time round, I had Klara, came home and walked over to Sonny’s nursery to pick him up just like I’d been at work for the day.
The best/worst advice: Best advice: “Don’t feel compelled to drag yourself out to attend classes – the baby isn’t arsed and it’s too much hassle. It’s totally fine to sit round all day in your PJs watching all the films you never had time to watch before”.
Worst advice: “You should join AquaBabies”. The handful of baby swimming sessions I attended with Sonny remain amongst the worst experiences of my adult life. I can vividly recall one occasion standing in a cold changing room soaking wet in my bikini with a screaming naked child and nowhere to put him down in order to make up his milk. I skived the rest of the sessions. Sometimes you just have to cut your losses.
The hardest parts of being a mother: The nagging suspicion that I’m just recreating all the bad things about myself in the kids – I don’t take them on long walks in the countryside and I’ve not signed them up to sports clubs or classes, and it’s almost certainly because I never really liked them. My sister’s kids are outside at the crack of dawn every day, mine are sat watching telly.
The best parts of being a mother: Other than the kids themselves, it’s the newness of it all. I had a great time of life before kids, having kids just feels like me with different things to do. Although it did take a couple of years to get to that stage, the first few years with babies combined with full time work and renovating a house were a slog.
Has becoming a mother changed you? I think my friends without kids would say it has, because my interests and evenings are different, but fundamentally I don’t think it has. I’m still the same person I’m just less available and more tired.
Hopes for your (growing) family: That the world becomes a fairer place and that they enjoy their childhood. I hate the idea that they might well be treated differently in life purely because of their gender, I really do hope that changes.
What advice would you offer to new and expectant mums: That no one is having an easier time of it than you – even if they claim they are or post pics on social showing everyone smiling at looking immaculate, it was just a passing moment caught on camera.