The N Word

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I’ve spoken on this blog in passing before about my desire to keep Alexandra with me for as long as possible. I’m in a hugely privileged position in that we haven’t needed to send her to nursery as yet because I’ve been working from home. Although with each passing month, it gets harder and harder to juggle her increasing needs/mobility and  decreasing amount of naps and I find myself doing less work, we’ve still kept her at home full time.

For the last few weeks, Dylan and I have been discussing the fact maybe she needs some outside stimulation, maybe being at home with me all the time (although obviously we do go out and do things!) isn’t enough, maybe it’s selfish to have her here when I can’t give her my undivided attention which is what she would get from nursery staff. There are lots of different factors to think about and clearly cost is one of them, it seems such a waste to have her in nursery for a morning and then spend half that morning working just to pay for her to be there. But then you can’t be all things to all men as they say, and perhaps trying to spread myself too thin is more crazy than paying strangers to look after my child while I return back to our home for the day?

I think some of it stems from spending so much time away from her in the first three months, almost like I feel I ‘owe’ our relationship and myself that time with her now. Maybe if we’d been together 24/7 in that early bonding time I would have been desperate to get away from her by now! (I mean I still am some afternoons when she’s refused to have a nap!) I hate the whole ‘I didn’t have a child for strangers to look after it’ because that’s just a terrible thing to say when so many families don’t have that choice and both parents need to work to keep a roof over their heads, but I guess the principle is that we both want to spend as much time with Alex as possible and I’m very fortunate that so far that’s meant me being at home 24/7.

Anyway we’ve loosely agreed that we may have a look at some nurseries with the possibility of her going a couple of mornings a week. I know the reality of dropping her there and coming back to an empty house will not be something I relish but maybe if we do go down that road then hopefully I’ll see benefits for Alex in terms of her development and socialisation that will outweigh my negative feelings about it all.

Harriet and Alexandra x

Life Changes

Hanging out under the table, as you do.

Hanging out under the table, as you do.

Life changes so freaking fast, in the blink of an eye everything is completely different and you can barely catch your breath as you think back over all that’s happened and – gulp – all there is to come.

Next Monday I’m heading off to my former town (and to be honest it still feels like home when I go back) to sit in the audience for the mayor making. It’s the seventh year in a row I’ll have been to this particular event. In years 2010 to 2013, I attended as a reporter for one of the weekly papers in the town. I sat on the press bench next to one of the council’s press officers, wrote notes and the next day went into work and compiled a story about the new mayor (and sometimes there were other juicy goings on but this is not the time to get into listing exciting stories I covered!).

By 2014, I had co-founded my own charitable organisation focusing on mental health in the town. Mental health had also become a huge theme in my own life, much bigger than ever before. I had to obtain permission from the nurses on the mental health ward I was staying on at the time to leave for the evening (I was an informal patient meaning I wasn’t sectioned) to go to the meeting. I sat in the audience for the first time, with my boss over on the press desk instead of me. I watched as we were named one of the mayor’s charities for the year. I was hugely pleased but also scared, I was a week into the recovery period following the second of two overdoses and I had no idea how or when I was going to get better and sit on that bench again. Turns out I never would, but for completely different reasons.

In 2015, the event had rolled around again and I was now living in another county, I wasn’t a reporter anymore, I was engaged and I was pregnant. Talk about a whirlwind year. I sat in the public gallery again, for the second time. This time I knew what direction my life was heading in. I set next to Dylan and I felt happy and looked forward to the future.

Next Monday, I’ll be there sat next to Dylan and Alexandra. My life has changed so utterly and completely from those early years on the press bench.

In some ways, it’s sad. I miss running around getting stories. I miss covering elections and debates and people’s life events. I miss talking all day every day to anyone and everyone. But in other ways how can I miss that at all? I get to spend every day with the most precious, beautiful little thing. I get to giggle at every funny thing she does. I get to be someone’s mommy and that’s the best job in the whole world.

So for me next week will be a chance to reflect on all that’s changed over the past couples of years and who knows what I’ll be doing or where I’ll be in the next few?

Harriet and Alexandra x

Home V Work

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Ah, the age old debate. Who has it better? The parent staying at home to cater for baby’s every need and whim, or the poor soul leaving every morning to go and be a real grown up?

We talked about this in our NCT classes, about how it shouldn’t all descend into a ‘well you’re just sat at the computer all day’/’well you’re just playing all day’ argument with both of you claiming the other couldn’t hack what you’re doing. At the time I kind of thought I’d never feel resentful of Dylan getting to go to work. I’m spending time with our baby, bonding, watching them grow, how could I ever feel jealous of someone who’s not doing that. Right? Wrong!

I absolutely love being at home with Alex, my life has changed beyond all comprehension from spending Wednesdays deadlining a paper to spending Wednesdays sat on a mat surrounded by other babies singing songs, banging saucepan lids together and watching puppet shows. In many ways, what I do now is a hundred, million per cent better and more rewarding. But I don’t massively feel like a valuable member of society anymore. Yes I’m raising a baby but before I used to do so much stuff! Now anything I do outside of that (freelance work, volunteering, blogging etc) is crammed into precious seconds when baby’s asleep or, like now, I’m up earlier than the rest of the household on a weekend to get something done.

Most of the time I am simply ‘mom’. Even when I get out of the house to have lunch, or go to the park, or baby sensory everything is still very centred around Alexandra. And I get that it won’t be forever, and she is the most important thing in the world so it’s only right my life is so acutely focused on her. But somehow I’ve lost a bit of me in the process. I was looking at old Instagram pictures of myself the other day, ones from about three years ago. I am constantly at the gym in them or out with friends and in most of the pictures I’m wearing make up, have my hair done (properly, not just thrown up on top of my head), have gel nails and nail varnish on, have clearly thought about my outfit and put jewellery on too. Now I spend most of my days sat in leggings and a top which probably has some form of food and/or sick/snot down it (all Alex’s not mine, you must understand!).

Anyway I’m getting off topic, my point is I feel I’ve lost a little bit of myself in this ‘stay at home’ journey and maybe I’ll get that back at some point (when she goes to school? When she leaves home?) but maybe I’m destined to just be ‘Alexandra’s mom’ forever! Dylan on the other hand (who I think is frigging amazing for going out and supporting us and enabling me to be here with Alex just doing freelance work instead of having to go out the house to work) gets to go and be ‘Dylan the man with the important job who talks about things other than poo and weaning’ which I can’t help but be a tad jealous of.

Not jealous enough that I’d want to swap places (and for what it’s worth I think he’d get insanely bored staying at home after a while!) but jealous enough to think maybe one day a month I should be allowed to get dressed up snazzy and go to his office and answer serious phone calls while he does my role.

Harriet and Alexandra x

Motherhood is…

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I’ve been a mom for eight months now and while I’d never claim to be an expert, I wanted to share my thoughts about motherhood and to share some of the thoughts I have at this time, like a snapshot of my mind to look back on in future.

Motherhood is… looking at someone with snot coming out of their nose, dribble on their chin and breakfast mushed into their hair and thinking they’re the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen.

Motherhood is… worry. Constant worry.

Motherhood is…knowing exactly which stairs creak and avoiding them after putting baby to bed.

Motherhood is… convincing yourself tonight will be different and you’ll totally get loads done in the hours between baby’s bedtime and yours.

Motherhood is… feigning excitement about courgettes.

Motherhood is… using every single pillow in the house to make a safe fortress to stop bumped heads.

Motherhood is… veering wildly between being really excited about the next stages and being gutted they’re not a newborn anymore.

Motherhood is… having no barriers and no dignity.

Motherhood is… going to sleep each night with the jumparoo music playing over and over in your mind.

Motherhood is… the toughest and the best thing you’ve ever done.

Harriet and Alexandra xxx