By Courtney Jones
My baby is 4 months old already.
My eldest is almost 3. What? Where is time going? Why are my babies growing so quickly? I never understood just how quickly time will go.
Although, time doesn’t move much slower than at 2am when you’ve had very little or no sleep and you have no idea how to settle the baby that just won’t sleep, no matter what you do. But, then they do sleep. Eventually.
Some days fly by with ease and full of love and happiness. Then there are the slow days, the ones that feel like you need more coffee (even after 4 cups), the ones that feel like your husbands home time is not getting any closer, the ones that feel hard. Really, hard. I’ve felt all this and a whole lot more. But, what I’ve learnt is that it has to be this way. The days have to be long, challenging and full of love. Children have a lot to achieve in one day. Somehow we have to keep up, and adult. To be 100% honest, there days that I do not want to do that. But I do, because they are my babies and they’ll never need me more or probably love me more than they do in these moments. I just have to look for the magic. It’s always there. You’ll never hear a sound as perfectly euphoric as your child’s laughter. There is an adventure or lesson in everything babies and children do. I’m not the first to say that you only need to follow a small child around to find magic in the world. One of my son’s favourite things to do is collect the egg from his one laying chook on a daily basis. Each day he cradles that egg and brings it to me with such pride and amazement.
I look at him and his baby sister, and feel the same. Pride and amazement. I’m amazed at how much they can learn in any one given day. I’m amazed at what fulfils them. Love. Connection. A hug, a kiss, a tickle fight, a game of hide and seek or peek-a-boo, a conversation about an imaginary fox. I just jumped into the spaceship drawn on a chalkboard to fly to the moon. That 30 seconds of my time filled my son’s cup and I had the joy of feeling the love and connection between us grow.
I burst with pride as they show me what they know, as they grow their personalities. I love watching them interact with other children. I adore watching them with their dad, nothing fills my heart more.
I am so grateful for everything they teach me. I had no idea how much children teach adults. But we have to listen to them. Really listen to what they’re saying, what they’re doing and what they’re telling us. They have so much wisdom.
With learning comes growth and transformation. With growth and transformation comes questioning. Lots of it in my experience. After having each of my children, I have found myself in a state of confusion whilst I try to find myself in my new world. I completely underestimated the effect that would have. I didn’t think it would happen with such intensity after number two. Thought I had it sorted.
I was wrong. So wrong.
I feel like I’m being pulled in all sorts of directions. I don’t know which path to take. I am presenting with these choices daily and I don’t always make the right decision. I do choose housework over playing with my son. Enter mum guilt. I do play with my children instead of cleaning my house. Enter wife guilt. That’s what I’ve learnt. Doesn’t matter what you choose, you’ll feel guilt somewhere. But it’s ok to feel that because you can’t be your family’s everything all of the time.
Right now I feel I am being pulled in the direction of supporting other mums, growing the love amongst mums, kicking the judgement to the curb, and helping mums look after themselves. I have no doubt that if we want the best lives for our children, we MUST look after ourselves. In every sense. Judgement and comparisons can be a huge detriment to our health and our parenting. Part of looking after ourselves as mother’s is to ditch the judgement on other parents because it’s really none of our business how our friends parent their children and to stop comparing our children and the job we are doing raising them to others. Women are good at putting on a show. What you see may be a completely different story to what’s really going on. Supporting each other instead will make everyone feel better and that will only have a positive effect on our babies. That’s what we need for our babies – positive, happy and healthy mums.
My son is almost three and I can’t put into words how much he and his sister have taught me about life, and about myself.
Don’t feel guilty for leaving your kids with a family member or friend whilst you do something for yourself. Even if that is mopping the floor because it’s making you twitch.
Don’t feel guilty for losing your shit and crying in your car because it’s too hard today. It may happen more often than you want to admit and that’s ok. Vulnerability is a very big part of motherhood. I’m learning to accept that.
Every mother knows love, guilt, strength and vulnerability. Embrace it. Look after yourself. Watch and listen to your babies – what are they trying to teach you in this moment? The way we act on what they are teaching and telling us can change their world.
Then chase them until they collapse in a laughing mess. Your only regret will be not wearing a sports bra.