Friday, 3 January 2014

Returning to you

On the first day of this year I took a bath.

A bath.


I was probably only submerged for as long as it took to fill the tub (these free-standing claw-foot tubs are fabulous but take ages to fill) but it was long enough and hot enough to activate my deodorant.  I read a three page article while bath toys trapped in their mesh bag floated at my feet and the IKEA crocodile bath mat embedded squares in my soft backside.


Next week my little boy will be eight months old.

Eight months.

That time is marked by a visible increase in my silver highlights and eye cream consumption.  The majority of which can be attributed to a *lovely* sleep regression four months ago which lasted six weeks and probably took six years off our lives.  There is nothing more soul-destroying than your baby waking up five or six times a night (each wake-up lasting about an hour) for weeks on end.


If you pick the right time, which is usually just about the time you seriously consider going on holiday and leaving the baby to fend for itself (I mean you're pricing up tickets online serious), it isn't too bad.  I mean it's never easy to listen to your child cry, we went in periodically to sing and pat and say 'there, there,' but when we finally decided to go for it, it only took two nights.

You may have noticed I stopped writing about four months ago.  Coincidence? I think not.

However lack of sleep is the only culprit.  The halt in writing also coincides with an identity crisis.

I didn't make many declarations about the kind of mom I planned to be before Pruin was born.  I figured I would lessen my inevitable mommy-guilt.  However, one thing I did declare was to not loose my identity in my child.  For example, I would never make any 'profile photo' a photo of my son.  I would not refer to myself as Pruin's mom.  It's a small thing, but it felt important to me.  It took me until after the regression (almost five months) to allow myself to put a photo of my son as a background on my phone.  Which still seems silly as I see him every waking moment of my life.  However, when those waking moments are a little too much it is nice to have a reminder that he is cute sometimes.

I can hear all you parents laughing at me. Go on. I will probably do the same to those that come after me.

What I realize now is that it is impossible to not loose yourself in your new baby.  Especially if you are parenting without any family/friend help.  Not because they are too cute and squishy and wonderful (which they are when they are sleeping) but because they require every ounce of your being, body and soul and mind.  I don't want this space to turn into constant complaints about the slog that is early parenthood but in case you haven't experienced this particular life experience let me just cut to the point and say it can be pretty grim and at times even the smiles and giggles and amazing moments of watching this thing become a person aren't enough to keep you going. When you're shaking with rage and exhaustion at 4am, a smile is not enough.

But time ticks away and suddenly it's time for the next step, whatever that may be, and you find some more energy and patience as you dive/stumble into this next phase.  You have new things to stress over and the list from before seems to take care of itself as you obsess over purees or crawling or whatever.

It's at this point that you also realize that it might be time for you to take some time for yourself.  Get that baby out of the baby bath and into the big tub so the possibility of taking a relaxing grown up bath is actually a reality that won't require shifting too much baby stuff.  Take back that glorious free-standing tub.  Go out and face those changing rooms and get yourself a pair of jeans without elastic tummy panels. Yes, I'm still wearing my maternity jeans.  I haven't been able to face a changing room and discovering that my shape has forever changed and I no longer have any idea which brand of jeans, let alone size, will now fit.

But I made myself find the time to write and I took a bath for purely relaxation purposes.  So that's something.

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