Well, if anyone follows me on Twitter, they will know that Baby Girl Brown finally made an appearance on Friday 9 April, and is now Emily Grace Brown. I will be blogging more about the birth and first few days another time – no gory details though, the squeamish among you will be pleased to hear. This post, however, is about today specifically.
My husband’s paternity leave ended yesterday, so technically today is the first day where I had both children by myself. Now, I say technically because my husband does actually work from home with flexible hours, so it was cheating a little. Alright, a lot. But it has taught me one or two things.
The morning started off fairly badly – I was tired and stressed from a not-so-good night with Emily and found it a struggle to get going. This wasn’t helped by both children needing my undivided attention pretty much simultaneously, and my only thoughts ran along the lines of “Oh no, I am never going to manage this, please can we just all stay in bed?” That’s where Daddy comes back in and saves the day, taking care of Daniel so I could feed Emily. He also calmed me down and saved me from crawling back under the duvet. I just found the whole idea of taking care of two children and myself and doing household jobs and writing and a million other things (which this morning seemed both imperative and immediate) completely overwhelming. Why this should be so, I have little idea. I used to be a nursery nurse – I had responsibility for lots of small children at once as well as supervising two or three staff and keeping records. The difference, I guess, is that these are my children. However much I cared for the children at nursery, they could never be as infinitely precious to me as Daniel and Emily, and the pressure to look after the nursery children pales in comparison to the responsibility I have been given for these two. Also, I don’t get to hand Daniel and Emily back at the end of the day!
In summary then, I started the day with high expectations of myself on which I had failed before I even got out of bed. I foresaw days filled with screaming children, me dwindling away to nothing as I ran round after them, the house getting gradually more and more squalid, husband fading away from starvation because I couldn’t get near the kitchen to cook anything…you get the picture. By half ten, things were looking up. I had a shower, and by half eleven all three of us were dressed and had had some breakfast. And it was nearly time for lunch already…(cue start of hysteria returning – deep breaths, deep breaths).
This afternoon, I managed to gain some control over the house, the children were both happy, fed and comfortable and I had a more realistic perspective on what I could achieve and what my priorities were. I say again, this is mostly due to the safety net I had of my husband being in the house, just a shout away if need be. I already had a great deal of respect for anyone raising children on their own – this has increased tenfold and also encompasses anyone whose partner does not work from home – the majority of the population I imagine! I do realise, in between feeling frazzled, how lucky I am. I have friends who I can call on at any time, even if it’s just for a coffee out of the house. I have an unbelievably strong support network on Twitter – I can’t say enough how much it means to put a couple of tweets up and receive back (often within minutes) replies confirming that I am actually a normal human being feeling normal things. I have family – not exactly nearby but close enough that they would be here within the hour and send me back to bed with a cup of tea while taking over everything. And I have an amazing husband who I can only describe as my lifeline. So that’s one thing that my first day of going solo(ish) has taught me – to appreciate how lucky I am.
The other thing I’ve learned – which I will almost certainly need to re-learn and re-learn until the children are putting me in a retirement home – is that I need to get a grip and put things into perspective. I am not going to achieve superhuman standards, simply because I am not superhuman (I know, I find it hard to believe too). Today for me was about keeping the children safe and happy and getting some control over the house again. Once I realised that and put the other things aside, I achieved it and have a great big tick on my to-do list. Now, I’m sitting in a tidy house (well ok, the floors need hoovering. Give me a break eh?), having done two meals, with two happy children and a happy husband, and I’m even getting time to write a blog post. I think I will be going to bed (early!) a happy girl, and we’ll see what tomorrow’s going solo-ish brings.