Children: Beatrice, 4 and Evelyn, 2
Expectations of Motherhood: I didn’t have any expectations of Motherhood. I went into it completely blind and naïve. I studied, got a career, got married and had a baby without out thinking about it too deeply. I knew that I wanted children at some point but I was never one of those young girls who played with dolls all the time that wanted to have lots of children. I don’t think I had even changed a nappy before having my own children.
When I had become pregnant I attended all the antenatal classes, read all the books and planned a water birth. We were given the all the perfect images of how it would be. Instead, I sat around in pj’s until gone noon, breastfeeding, drinking herbal tea and watching tv. Not that there is anything wrong with doing any of those things, but what happens in the books and what happens in real life are two completely different things. I did not realise how much my life would change. It was almost like a smack in the face to put it bluntly. People would often say, ‘Your life will change,’ but I thought, ‘It can’t change that much’.
The reality of Motherhood: Motherhood can be completely exhausting, repetitive and overwhelming. You can never switch off, even when they are asleep and even when you’re asleep!
It is the never-ending lists that consume my thoughts day and night: lists for work, lists for nursery, lists for school, list for home and making time for family and friends.
Have I remembered Beatrice’s wellie’s for the sponsored walk on Monday? Has Evelyn had her pictures printed for nursery? Have I completed that risk assessment for that patient who might need admitting to hospital? Yes I must remember to ring my mum and send a text to Caroline to ask how Charlotte’s first day at preschool went, and don’t even get me started on remembering about all the childrens parties.
When I had Beatrice, going to baby groups with the mums that I had met at pregnancy yoga was a big saviour. My family doesn’t live around the corner so I couldn’t just nip to my mum’s house if I was having a bad day. I couldn’t ask my sisters to have Evelyn if she cried non stop due to teething. I couldn’t ask my Dad to take the girls to the park either, whilst I had a nap. I know they don’t live a million miles away, but it’s just not the same as having them around the corner. However, when meeting up with the mums that I had met locally, it was comforting to hear that they didn’t have their sh*t together either. We are still in contact with each other four years later and most have second babies too. We make an effort to meet up without kids too which is always great.
Everything is so different the second time around. Things seem a bit easier. I feel as though I’m a bit more laid back, although I think my husband would probably argue differently. But having said that I do feel a bit more relaxed about things, eg. when it came to routines, breast-feeding and weaning. Evelyn just does her own thing and we are all chilled out about it now.
I think as the girls get bigger we all go through changes and different challenges. I thought it tiring having one baby, but then we had another little one and I realised I was even more tired. Now Beatrice is at school, I’ve returned to work and have nursery and school runs to do, my level of exhaustion has reached another level. I feel as though I’ve done a full days work before I’ve even arrived.
Luckily my in laws have been a big help in terms of child care. We would be lost without them really. My husband is very supportive too which has a major impact in terms of how we raise our children together. We have similar views and the girls are complete ‘Daddy’s girls’ which is heart-warming to see. He’s not shy about wearing a princess crown occasionally either.
Taking children home: I remember leaving hospital with Beatrice for the first time and looking at how small and precious she looked all wrapped up in her car seat. I looked at her and thought, ‘It’s just us kid. Now what do we do?’
When we had Evelyn I couldn’t wait to come to home so that I could look after Beatrice. She had only just turned two and I felt as though I had left my other baby behind, even though I knew she was being well looked-after. I felt less worried bringing Evelyn home the second time around.
I loved Evelyn just as much as Beatrice when I first saw her; both had big brown eyes and lots black hair. I couldn’t believe how tiny and perfectly formed they were.
The best advice/worst advice: It gets easier. Now that they are getting bigger and more independent they help each other. They can communicate more and tell me what they want instead of having epic meltdowns. They still have meltdowns, but at least I know what they’re about.
‘It gets easier’ is also the worst advice though, as when our girls were younger with two years between them it felt like having twins! Both had similar needs and wants. They would cry at the same time, or one would set the other one off and they were unable to do anything for themselves. I remember being told this many a time, but I needed a date, time and year of when this magical ‘easier’ time would occur.
The hardest part: Is feeling as though I’m not dividing my time equally amongst the girls. When we only had Beatrice she had my undivided attention whilst I was on maternity leave for a year. I took her baby and toddler classes. Evelyn goes to some groups and I was lucky to be able to have another year off work whilst on maternity leave. However, she didn’t attend as many as when Beatrice was younger, but I guess she has the extra benefit of having an older sister to play with.
When Beatrice is in school I get to spend time with the youngest. I try to do things separately with them too as I think its important for them to have one-to-one time with mummy, as sometimes they battle for attention and that can seem tough. Especially now that I’m back at work part time and they are at school and nursery.
The best part of being a mother: Watching how much the youngest idolises the oldest. Just to watch how they interact with each other makes me smile. Beatrice loves reading books to Evelyn. Evelyn would sit and hang on her every word. One of the best bits is listening to what they have learned in school and nursery and watching their little faces light up as they tell stories.
It never fails to surprise me at how caring they are with each other too. If Beatrice is upset ‘the baby’ who is almost two and half will give her a hug and cheer her up. It’s so lovely to see their little personalities develop too. Beatrice is a morning person like me, chatty as soon as she wakes up, whereas Evelyn takes after her Dad, and they are definitely not morning people. It takes them both a good forty minutes to wake up and be full of the joys of spring like Bea and I.
How has becoming a mother changed you? Becoming a mother has made me realise just how much my mother had done for all of us. I think I had a vague idea but I soon realised how much love, care and attention they need. It has also made me not fret about the small stuff. I don’t really have the time to dwell on small matters anymore.
It has also helped me to appreciate help from other people. I hate to use a cliché, but it really does take a village to raise a child. Before I had Beatrice I use to plod on and not really ask for help. Now that I have the girls I will take all offers of help without giving it a second thought. Luckily we live in a good community with the beach being five minutes away and a park is across the road. So we are always bumping into neighbours and people that we know. It makes such a difference to be able to stop and chat to a friendly face, especially if you have one of those days. I remember driving back from Manchester after visiting family and my husband was at work. The girls had fallen asleep in the car and I wanted to move them into bed without waking them as it was late. My neighbour offered to watch one of the girls in the car whilst I moved Evelyn into her bed. Its just little things like that, that makes a big difference at times.
Hopes for your family: I hope our girls continue to grow up to be kind, caring and confident. I hope they have the self-belief to do anything that they want to do when they get bigger. I also want to them to be happy and healthy. They are both strong willed little girls, I don’t want them to loose this spirited nature. As they will need it to survive in the difficult world we live in at the moment.
What advice would you offer new and expect mums: To not to follow advice.
Don’t spend your time worrying and listening to your grandparents, mother and friends about how to raise your baby.
Follow your instincts and do what you think is best for you and your baby, as no-one knows your baby better than you.
One other thing I would say is give them an extra cuddle, extra kiss, another bedtime story even though you’re dying to have some “me time”. Take a moment to really look at them and try to remember how little they are and store it in your memory bank as it really does go ever so fast. Take a moment to reflect as time is ever so precious.