What do mothers do all day? What have I done today? Often I’m asked this question and I reply ‘nothing’ or ‘not much’ and the thing is that actually that’s completly untrue. I think infact I am busier than I have ever been. It’s just that the things that I’m busy doing, don’t make money and therefore society doesn’t value them and therefore we don’t talk about them. So I’m going to talk some of what I did today:
5am: and I am woken by a creaking door and the gurgle of a wide-awake baby. My amazing lover had taken her into the other bedroom to give me some sleep the last few nights. I miss him but sleep is nectar of the gods and I am SO grateful! He laid down our squirming, swaddled offspring, kisses my cheek and heads out the door. I tried to prise open my eyes, she chortled up at me then screwed up her face and grunts. I knew what that grunt meant! I sat bolt upright to try to pick her up, unswaddle her and push myself out of bed in a swift, one-handed manouvere…. yeah right, my eyes were barely open, it was pitch black, freezing, I tripped on the corner of the blanket, and sat heavily back on the bed, narrowly missing sitting on my offspring, who seemed to find this hilarious and flailed her fists more vigorously tugging out a chunk of my hair in the process. Second time lucky I managed to stand up, free of duvet, babe in arms, I stub my toe on the corner of the door, swear much more profusely than I’m sure 3 month old ears are meant to hear….and hobble to the bathroom. By this point the reason for my attempted speed is seeping between my fingers and onto my nightie. I put on the its-still-night-time light we got for the bathroom intended to keep offspring sleepy….yeah…..anyway! Suffice to say the poosplosion that has occured is so intense it requires a full pajama change and a wash down for both her and me! During the change I worry that she is cold, so attempt to cover her in a blanket, (which gets poo on it) keep her feet poo-free, check that her poo is err ‘normal’, check she is-OK, stare into her big blue trusting eyes for a moment and get completly overwhelmed with awe, laugh at her chortles, fill up with joy as she grips my finger, tried to keep hold of her legs as she wees all over me and wondered if it was too early for wine…. Once we were both cleansed it was almost 6am but I decided to see if I could get her to sleep again…..
6am: I swaddle her up burrito style and lay her down next to me on the bed. Eyes like saucers. I half shut my eyes. Perhaps if she thought I was asleep…. She squirmed. She cooed. I gave her her dummy, she spat it out, I held it in place, she shook it away. After a few minutes SHE FELL ASLEEP. I couldn’t believe it, I shut my eyes…then she woke up. I gave up. It was THE DAY.
Just looking at that one hour of my day I am struck by HOW MUCH STUFF I DID! There’s loads there. Not just physically, but mentally, look at all the THINKING I did!!! wow It’s practically a PHD!! Pre baby a similar scenario could’ve been described in a single sentence: ‘Woke up in dark needing the loo, stuck nose out of duvet, decided it was too cold so I went back to sleep’ But with parentdom there is just so much MORE. Nothing prepared me for the relentlessness, the intensity. The responsibility sits heavy in my heart. It is the hardest job in the world and yet there are no instructions, there are no holidays and no weekends. And then there is also one other immense truth that I wasn’t ready for and that is the love. The Love. So raw and massive it is almost tangible, it seems to grow bigger each day. It is actually utterly terrifying it is so all consuming a thing. Unlike some women I didn’t get a rush of love when Rue was first born. In retrospect I think I was in shock. But then gradually, each day the love has grown and grown until I feel like when she smiles at me, my heart might genuinely explode with joy. It is wild and savage, horrendous, exhausting, beautiful and intense. It’s shattering. I didn’t know love like that existed. But it does, it does, it does. Experiencing it somehow, crazily, makes the world make just a little bit more sense. I am so grateful to be experiencing it. I try not to worry about the future. Try to be present, try to speak my truth and know that today, I did not ‘do nothing’.