(Today’s Author is Charlotte from MWM South Hams)
Running Music with Mummy classes will be the beginning of new journey in my life, one I have discovered because of my children. We have loved going to classes together, it is something we’ve looked forward to and has given us many happy memories and, in a way, shaped their childhood so far. I’m really looking forward to enabling other families to enjoy the positive experience we’ve had through going to Music with Mummy and Jolly Babies sessions. As a parent I have found it important to focus on and invest in the activities and places we find enjoyable as it is what gives me the strength to get through the more difficult times, because raising children can be difficult and my journey to be being a parent was a long one.
My husband and I spent many years trying to start a family and it was a heart-breaking time. After years of fertility treatment and disappointment we followed the adoption process and were approved. Weeks after that we found out that I had fallen pregnant naturally. All our dreams have come true, we have a happy, healthy son. When he arrived we were stunned, both by the fact that we had our own child and by the fact that being a parent is difficult! Nothing had prepared us for the extreme tiredness, the constant guilt about whether we were doing it right or not, the enormous changes to our everyday life, routine, friendships and feelings towards each other. There wasn’t a single area of our lives that remained unchanged by the amazing and very demanding small person that now ruled our existence.
When he was nine months old I fell pregnant again. We were reeling, still finding our feet as parents and we had won the lottery again! Our daughter arrived very quickly at home. If we’d thought it was hard being parents already then being parents to a newborn baby and a toddler was something else. Nearly two years later, I still don’t think I’m on top of it. All those years of longing, endless months of disappointment, hospital appointments, injections, side effects, friends gradually having families of their own and happy pictures of their babies on Facebook, followed by appointments with social workers, workshops, agonising over whether adopting was the right thing for us, intensive questioning of our families, lifestyle, commitment, ability to parent…and finally we have our perfect family. So why is it that I don’t enjoy it all the time? Can’t I call on those memories and feelings at any given moment to make myself feel better?
My friend wrote a book, The Happiness Equation by Nick Powdthavee. (Follow the link to find out more about him and his work.) In it he says research shows that having children doesn’t make you happier than before you were a parent and evidence has shown that parents become less happy in the first five years. When his research was published many people were offended by the idea. Even as someone who now has everything I ever dreamed of and more, I regularly have days when I am completely burnt out and driven to my limit. Being a parent changed my life beyond anything I could have dared to imagine. Before I was a parent, I saw my friends and family having the same struggles I have now but I chose what to notice and it wasn’t the hard bits, it was the special bits that, now I am a parent, I don’t pay enough attention to. I keep a One Second Every Day video diary now, it helps me to reflect and, even on a really bad day, there is usually something worth catching, a moment I don’t want to forget. It’s too easy to forget the lovely moment when my son said to my Mum “I love you Grandma, you are my diamond” and remember the meltdown that followed a couple of hours later because he wanted cheese on toast for tea but we didn’t know that, because we’re not telepathic, and had made scrambled egg, which is what he asked for (but really because he was tired).
My children give me sense of purpose I was lacking before and I have experienced depths of feeling with them that I didn’t know existed. I am truly grateful that I am now a parent but that doesn’t make the difficult times easier. I am not floating on a cloud of relief that sees me through. I look for the bright stars of the happy moments, in the rich navy sky of everyday life, complete with wee on the carpet, meltdowns in public, sleepless nights and endless laundry. I can’t imagine a world without them but I love it when they’ve finally gone to bed and I have a couple of hours to just be me again. I also love that my journey has led me to this point, where not only do I have the family I always wanted but also allows me to work at doing something I find meaningful and worthwhile. I hope the families that I run groups for will find their own bright stars and wonderful moments to remember through coming to my sessions.
Charlotte x x x