I’ve always been a very independent person since I was very little (apparently). My career requires me to be super organised and good with children. James is very similar and we are both creatures of habit, very fond of a good routine and pre children planned our lives to the nth degree! Despite this, Harrison’s arrival completely shook us both to the core. I felt despite people warning me what was about to happen, I’d have all this baby stuff nailed within a week. While I was getting my knickers in a twist over how much sleep we were getting, which boob was fed from last, sterilising everything in sight and trying to work out why the baby was crying (he’d been fed, winded, changed, cuddled, put down, picked up, sang to and had white noise played to him); we had a lot of family and friends in the background offering support. I saw it as a bit of a sign of weakness or that people thought I wasn’t coping, which is completely ridiculous.
I think I had too higher expectation of myself, Harrison and James too to some extent. I feel sorry about this, but I think it happens a lot. Far too often you see picture perfect families on social media and wonder how on earth they are looking so happy/great/organised/better than you and forget these are the edited versions of real life (the bits that people want you to see. Not the bits where the baby has just shat up his back and ruined outfit number 3 of the day! Or the picture where you’ve just argued with your husband about why he tidied away the bloody muslins) It was only when I found out that I was expecting Molly that the penny dropped. It’s not weak to ask for or accept help when times get tough. It’s completely normal.
I returned to work when I was around 6 months pregnant. I actually couldn’t wait to go back to work, I was getting bored at home and was craving to be in a more grown up environment (despite working in a school!). Harrison was about 10 months old, into everything and needed stretching; he started three days a week with a childminder. It started really well and we slipped into a routine really easily, however I forgot how exhausting it is growing a tiny human. Not to mention dealing with all the illnesses Harrison kept picking up while in childcare and having to deal with the stresses and strains of being a teacher. In stepped my family, extended family and a strong army of mum friends. Thank the lord. My granny used to come every Wednesday and often my mum would come on one of my other work days to provide ‘meals on wheels’ . My mother and sister in law also helped us through by babysitting, dropping by with groceries, hand holding through the tough times and always being on the end of the phone. This help has continued since Molly’s arrival and I couldn’t be more grateful.
My ‘mum squad’ (old school friends, uni friends and friends I’ve worked with), who also happen to have been my friends for years before we had children, are often what get me through a day. Our What’s App groups should be published as ‘mum manuals’. The wealth of knowledge we must have between us is probably endless! I read recently that the latest ‘parenting trend’ is to behave like elephants, where they raise their young as a herd and not singularly. Sometimes younger or older females baby sit while the mother goes for a rest, to feed or bathe. They basically lean on and learn from each other or share their knowledge about how to raise a tiny elephant collaboratively. I personally, don’t believe it is a ‘trend’. It’s nothing new, lots of people (and animals!) do it. It’s a choice that I’ve made and I’m sticking by it. I’m an elephant mama and I’m proud of it. I’m extremely lucky and wouldn’t be without my ‘herd’. Learning to accept help has been liberating.