Children and ages: Oscar 6, Erika 4 and Zachary 11 months
Previous blog post: https://the-mothers.co.uk/2013/10/01/laurie-and-oscar/
Life since the last blog post: After we had Erika we were initially undecided about having any more children. The idea of three older children was appealing, but by the time she was 2 I felt completely happy and things had started to get easier as she came out of the baby stage. The thought of starting all over again was not appealing!
We moved house in December 2016, and I had been really unhappy at work and had been applying for lots of jobs and not really getting anywhere; life was busy. Then in April 2017 I found out I was pregnant. This was a massive shock and I’ll admit, at first, I was very upset and spent several nights awake panicking about everything. I felt that I was trapped in an unhappy job as applying externally when pregnant wasn’t really an option! My husband was amazing though, even though he’d been adamant he didn’t want any more children, he made me feel completely supported and reassured that we could do it.
The pregnancy was hard! I had no complications but just looking after the house, working and looking after 2 small children left me utterly exhausted. Oscar also had Scarlett Fever towards the end too which was difficult. I tend to sleep badly when I’m pregnant and I had a lot of back problems and generally felt really old! But hey, I got through it. That’s one thing I’ve learnt, there’s nothing I can’t deal with. I didn’t make things easy for myself though, I applied for two internal jobs and when I was 30 weeks pregnant, I got a new job. I couldn’t believe they chose me and now have renewed faith that we aren’t always automatically discriminated for being mothers or pregnant.
Motherhood since last being on the blog:Having Zac has been easier in a lot of ways, mainly because of how I approach things; I know that difficulties with babies are usually a phase and that things change so quickly. It makes it easier to just go with it and to not get stressed by things I can’t control. I had the same problems with breastfeeding Zac as I’d had with Erika, but instead of persevering and making everything a thousand times harder, I just stopped and expressed milk for a while. It was still heart-breaking to stop, but the decision was easier and I didn’t punish myself for stopping this time. My experiences of breastfeeding have deeply impacted on me and I struggle to talk about it now.
Because Oscar and Erika were a bit older when a new baby arrived this time, they have really helped out and looked after each other. They keep Zac entertained and keep an eye on him when I’m making their tea. They both think the world of him. If Oscar is feeling upset or cross about something, I can just put Zac on him and he’ll be smiling within a minute. Similarly, Zac’s face lights up when they get home after school and nursery and he does his open mouth, slobbery licking kiss on them all the time.
I have definitely parented Zac differently as I just haven’t got the time I had the first or second time around. He gets woken up to do the school run and doesn’t get a bath and story every night, but he seems perfectly happy and I know he feels loved by all the attention he gets from all four of us.
Has motherhood changed you?:Yes, I’m a whole new person in many ways. My focus has completely changed, and pretty much everything I do is for the children or the family as a whole. The saying, ‘if you want something doing, ask a busy woman’, has new meaning to me as a mother as I just don’t stop and I’m amazed sometimes what I manage to get done each day. Although I never quite seem to get everything done, but does anyone? Sometimes though, I feel like I’ve lost part of myself. I don’t feel I’m as relaxed any more, and I struggle to just sit and do nothing as ‘the list’ in my head is always nagging at me. I also feel the jokey, happy part of my personality doesn’t always come out. This is probably an area I need to do some work on; learn to relax, play more and look after myself better.
Hardest parts of being a mother? The relentlessness of looking after three little children is hard and this can make me stressed, which I’m embarrassed to say means my tolerance threshold is low sometimes. I have spoken to other mums about this and am reassured I’m not alone. But I still wish they’d listen and put their shoes on!
As they get older, new challenges arise and there have been some small issues at school for Oscar. Now he’s at school I have less control over his life so I’ve had to prepare him and support him to deal with things on his own more. I’ve had to remember that these experiences are helping learn and will prepare him for life when he’s older. Oscar and Erika have also reached the age where the bickering has started! They can be the absolute best of friends but then wind each other up until someone is in tears or shouting at the other. It’s so frustrating as sometimes I feel like it’s none stop and usually over not very much. But I try and see both their points of view and I to remember the frustrations I felt around my siblings when I was younger.
One thing that’s difficult, but that just needs expert planning, is finding time for myself and my relationship with my husband. I’m a member of a choir and do Pilates once a week so these give me time to do something I enjoy and are both really good mentally. We just need to find a good babysitter now!
Best parts of being a mother: The awesomeness of my kids! Sometimes it catches me off guard and I think, ‘where did these three come from’?
Erika is very witty and makes us all laugh; she has a very strong sense of self and is a powerful little character. Zac is turning into a little boy now and he is very loving; he kisses us all the time and climbs all over his brother and sister. Oscar is developing his confidence and I feel so proud of him. From being too shy to join in at birthday parties, he now volunteers to demonstrate moves at karate and was chosen to be a narrator in this year’s nativity. I feel so lucky to have healthy, happy children and love having a full house – despite the noise!
What you wish you’d known before having children?To make the most of having free time and being able to do whatever I wanted, when I wanted. I’m not sure I really made the most of it. People could have told me what they think of being a parent but you can’t really know until you’re there, doing it yourself. I think perhaps I hadn’t appreciated how life would change so much, but I’m not sure I could have really prepared for that anyway.
Any more advice for mothers and expectant mothers: Just the same as last time I think; you know your children best, so listen to advice and pick and choose what fits with you. But ultimately, trust yourself. Try to find time for yourself, it’s so important; your children need a mummy who is happy. Take all the help you can get, don’t think you have to do everything on your own.