Having a baby and keeping this journal has prompted me to explore the plethora of parenting blogs that exist in various corners of the Internet. Before Devin was born, I ploughed through all manner of pregnancy and parenting books and magazines. I have also been stalking around birth and baby forums pretty much since I discovered I was pregnant.
I have read some pretty insightful, funny, honest and reservedly sweet things.
I have also read an immense amount of gushy crap.
Perhaps I don’t possess this special Mummy Gene that apparently gets switched on as soon as the baby makes its dramatic exit from the womb. Perhaps deep inside my heart is actually just a solid chunk of ice.
Because sometimes, I just don’t get it.
One thing that I read a lot is along the lines of ‘cleaning the house can wait, spend all your time with your baby’.
And, look, I appreciate the sentiment. I was all set to take it on board and screw the housework and hold my baby and never let go.
Shockingly, people cannot survive on cuteness and newborn smell alone. At some point, food needs to be purchased. Dishes need to be washed. Clothes need to be washed. If you’re using cloth nappies, they need to be washed (that’s just not even close to being negotiable).
At some point, you have to put the baby down and do things.
(Unless, of course, you’re fortunate enough to be able to afford meal deliveries, house maids and nappy service, as all the baby magazines love to recommend. Thanks for that helpful advice, ‘experts’.)
Leaving my baby to sleep and play on his own or in the capable hands of his dad so I could do some housework did not kill me. Or the baby. Often, I will leave the dishes for a time when Devin is awake so that he can sit in his chair and watch me while playing with his spoons and cups.
Sometimes, I leave him (safely) in a room to play by himself while I tend to other jobs.
Sometimes, I leave him (safely) to cry by himself when I need to use the toilet or shower, or to answer the door or brush my hair or finish what I’m eating or to, you know, do anything that an adult human needs to do.
I am a mother, yes, and my life has been drastically altered by my son. I love him so much that my chest hurts. Sometimes I want to just hold him forever so he won’t ever need to vocalise that cry that cuts straight through me.
But I am not just a mother. Whether it’s for something I need to do, or something I want to do to help me feel that I am maintaining some of my previous identity, sometimes I need to be separate from my baby.
I’m Devin’s mum, and I’m Liss, and I can be both at once, but I can’t ever just be one.