I had no idea. I suppose before you become a parent, you have no way of knowing, no matter what well intentioned friends may have told you.
There is no getting away from it; this parenthood business is challenging and overwhelming at times. It is relentless, in its mundanity, its demands, its restrictions both socially and financially and that’s before you throw “Mummy guilt” into the mix. (or Daddy guilt for that matter, but I imagine that’s a subtly different beast…I’ll have to ask my husband!)
Becoming a Mum was something I spent my teenage years and throughout my 20’s fiercely ensuring didn’t happen, so it felt cruelly ironic that when my husband and I decided we dearly wished to start a family, things were far less straightforward than we’d assumed.
Four years through our journey, and after having I.U.I. we were delighted to welcome our Son into the family, totally unaware of the challenges that would lie ahead! A friend at the time commented that parenting was the “highest highs and the lowest lows” and I have found that to be the case.
I’ll never forget how daunted I felt the first week my husband went back to work after his paternity leave had finished – now it was totally my responsibility to care for this defenceless youngster solo and I felt so ill-equipped. I am eternally grateful for my sister-in-law’s help and support that week, getting me out of the house and attending my local children’s centre that Monday morning to get Baby weighed at the clinic.
Finding structure to my time was vital in those early weeks, as was the peer support I gained through friendships forged following the NCT antenatal classes we attended. Music with Mummy classes become a hugely important part of this weekly routine. I was lucky enough to have the classes recommended by several friends, in fact we quite took over Carol’s Friday class at Marldon for quite some time! It was a very important part of my week and helped keep me sane, as well as helping my growing Son to develop musically, socially and physically. I treasure those memories, the simplicity of just having me and my little one to focus upon. And I do apologise Carol if we talked too much at times – those snatched opportunities to gossip stopped me losing my marbles!
Two years later and the rollercoaster ride began again with the arrival of our Daughter, our family was complete. If we thought it was challenging before, we naively expected things to be easier the second time around, (We’d done it before right? Experience counts for something surely?) and in some respects it was easier. In many other respects it was much harder – you just can’t rest as much the second time around as the toddler still needs you – having a structured routine of interesting weekly activities became all the more important.
Now, five years through our journey, I find myself in a reflective mood. I am so grateful for the love and support of my husband. We have faced these parenting challenges together and are stronger for it. I have no idea how single parent families cope. Necessity I suppose. I take my hat off to each and every one of you.
I am grateful also for the proximity of my parents. It has been an unexpected part of this parenting journey seeing the joy which my children bring to them. I am sad that we are not able to visit my husband’s family half as often since they live a significant distance away.
I am also very grateful to Carol for her Music with Mummy classes and for her continued inspiration. I’m in a different stage of my parenting journey now and planning, marketing and running my own Music with Mummy classes helps keep me sane. I can’t quite believe I’m nearing the end of my first year already! It gives me a focus separate from my children, something that challenges me, using my musical skills (I’d never have expected to use for ‘work’) and when I’m having a tough-parenting-day, the separate focus helps me keep things in perspective. It’s hard. But it’s totally worth it.
Lou x x x