As I am writing this it’s 7.29am on a Friday and I am sitting in my local Starbucks branch (I come here for the free parking, just FYI) with an iced latte. I’m wearing a pair of slouchy leopard print trousers and a white t-shirt that says ‘MOM’ in bright red letters.
My nails are painted five different shades of candy pastel, I have a giant tote bag to one side containing a water bottle, a laptop charger, a bullet journal, a set of 25 coloured pens (three missing) and countless crumbs from snacks so long gone that I have no idea what they ever were or when they were eaten.
There’s a semi-fancy handbag to my left, gifted by an uber cool brand that I’ve had the pleasure of working with recently. It contains a pink card holder engraved with my son’s name, a tube of hand cream, four separate lip products, a tampon, a camera and at least 12 receipts which need to be filed as expenses but hey you know what’s great? Sleeping.
I think, if I’m not mistaken, this is exactly the kind of mum I envisaged becoming.
The first year was intense, the word intense here being the understatement of the year. It was filled with the most heightened emotions imaginable – the initial panics of ‘WHAT THE FUCK HAVE WE DONE!’, the take-your-breath-away aggressive love and need to protect that seems to come from some deep inner pit you never even knew existed, the loneliness which threatens to engulf you whole, the wondering if you’re doing it right, the endless guilt, the warming pride. It is the best and worst rollercoaster life has to offer.
And then you blink your way through the longest days of your existence and suddenly the shortest year ever has swung around and you’re emerging from the fog and starting to realise that hey guess what, the world’s continued to spin and if you kinda squint hard in the mirror you look a bit like the person you were before?
I found life after that first birthday immeasurably easier than it had been before that point – Atti was a late crawler and seeing him with a new sense of freedom and curiosity was just beautiful. There was also this feeling that now that fellow mums were coming off maternity leave and heading back to work, that I was allowed to drop some of the work guilt that had been draped so elegantly across my shoulders.
And, without sounding like one of those bores you’ve probably muted on Facebook, life has only continued to get better and better.
Of course there have been days (or weeks, or months – thank you leap 10*, you were a real kind of special) that have been hard work. They’ve tested me and made me wonder how one single Sunday evening can just go on and on and oh yes, on.
*You can find out more about leaps on the Wonder Weeks app!
But overall things are easier and sunnier than they’ve ever been. I feel like I have found my balance between straddling the working world and the motherhood world, and I also feel like more and more of my old life has crept back in and slotted into the cracks – a hen weekend in Ibiza! Monday yoga classes! Friday lunches and wine with friends!
I sometimes find myself draped over the sofa at 8pm with the noise of Peppa Pig still whirring on the TV and I think about my life before I had a baby – about all the freedom and flexibility I had. About how I could sleep more, travel more, see friends more and work more. I think about how maybe I didn’t appreciate that life as I was living it, and then I let my exhaustion-ruined mind think about whether that life was better or not. And every time, even after a day on my own with a teething-toddler, I think about how there is no comparison, not even slightly.
Life with Atti is more colourful, magical, enriched, full, adventurous and full of character than it has ever been before and I wouldn’t change that for a single second.
He makes me live a more intense life where I feel everything so much more, I feel more alive than I ever have.
He also acts as a constant reminder to put things in perspective. His love for me encourages me to love myself more, and looking after him and watching him grown and learn about the world around him reminds me not to sweat the small stuff. His very existence reminds me how little work stresses matter, of how little I care that a digital stranger might not like me, and that it’s OK to fail every now and then.
This age is also particularly delicious because Atti knows what kisses are cuddles are and bloody loves them. He can also understand and communicate to some level and it’s nice to have a conversation or exchange with him, to learn more about him, and to watch his likes and dislikes and personality start to shine.
So yes… still hard, still intense, some days still feel like they defy physics, but on the whole? It just keeps getting better and better.