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Christmas break

It has felt like a long time since I’ve had so long off. Well, in reality I’ve been on the go for months rather than weeks at a time. Being a full-time student and part-time worker has left me less than a full-time mum. There is guilt that goes along with that, but I know that I’m doing the right thing for us now, and I hope, for the future.

I had a whole three weeks off (minus two days at work) over Christmas 2013 and New Year 2014. It was fantastic!

Christmas street party

Christmas street party with my beautiful boy.

My baby really enjoyed having his mummy, and for five days mummy and daddy, around for playtimes and cuddles and general fun and laughter. I baked a lot. I had Henry help me eat all the cakes. We made a gingerbread house and homemade mince pies and pavlova and banoffee pie and probably 4 or 5 batches of cupcakes.

We told stories of Santa, and left out one of said mince pies, a carrot and a glass of milk for him on Christmas Eve.

He rode the train with daddy!

He rode the train with daddy!

 

On Christmas day, Henry woke up and said, ‘Merry Christmas, daddy. Merry Christmas, mummy’ and opened his stocking presents from Santa wrapped up in his duvet in his bed. He was so excited about the crayons and pencils and colouring books and cookie cutters I’d filled his stocking with. He couldn’t believe his eyes when he walked into the living room as saw a huge pile of presents, all neatly wrapped up, and a chalkboard easel ready for him to play with.

Presents for my sweet.

Presents for my sweet.

He has done lots of drawings already. Lots of squiggles that he tells us are trains, or rockets, or tractors. He also got a Peppa Pig spaceship. That was a successful gift. There was also his ‘main’ present; a Buzz Lightyear action figure. The proper one that looks just like the movies. It’s wings have lights on the ends and it has karate-chop action too. Henry’s daddy and I were very impressed. £25 worth of impressed. We now have a two-year-old who excitedly runs around saying ‘to infinity, and beyond!’, when he’s not singing Jingle Bells or Happy Birthday. I feel he’s a little confused about these different events.

My little artist.

My little artist.

We went on to have a lovely meal and evening at the in-laws. It was fantastic. We all ended up in onesies (2013, the year of the adult onesie…) and ate until we had to roll out of the door and into our beds, all sleeping like babies. If babies slept well, that is.

And now I’m back to work. Back to uni. Back to only seeing my baby evenings and weekends. I look forward to summer now. I cuddle him and don’t ever want to put him down. He’s so lovely, and perfect, and squishy and when he laughs, I laugh and feel so warm and happy.

The gingerbread house, demolished on Christmas day.

The gingerbread house, demolished on Christmas day.

It’ll be worth it, I keep telling myself.

At least I truly appreciate how special he is. When I see him, and he smiles and says “it’s mummy!” I feel like the best person in the world.

Such is being a mother.

This is happiness.

This is happiness.

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It feels like another life

Looking back on early photos is a very strange experience. Henry has changed so much in the last year that it feels like a lifetime ago. I remember back then, when he used to cry or laugh but no words would come out. I remember when we got really excited because he smiled for the first time. I remember these things as if they are fuzzy, like a memory that has been blurred with time. Although it has only been 17 months, things have changed so quickly that I have barely noticed the days whizzing by.

It is very strange to have a life so well documented, through photographs and blogging. Never before has a generation had such easy access to computers and cameras and other methods of capturing moments. Go back a few years and you’re lucky if you got one posed portrait. Go back a few more years and it was only the ridiculously wealthy that could afford a sitting with a portrait artist. But now, every moment is stolen, and edited, and posted…

My little baby isn’t a little baby anymore. He’s a little boy. He’s grown and grown and taught himself so much and he impresses me every single day with a new word or new skill.

I feel sad that it has gone so quickly, and I feel sad that I have missed so much of it, but being at work is important and more to the point, necessary. I wish I had the funds to be a SAHM at least until Henry goes to school, but alas, it is not to be. But at the same time, I am so proud of Henry and all he has acheived so far. When people moan about wanting their babies to stay babies forever, half of me understands. The other half, though, wants to tell them how annoying and ridiculous they are being – the alternative to growing up is not growing up and that is every parents’ worst nightmare. Nobody wants that.

So, my baby, my big boy, I will watch him grow with a smile on my face. I feel a twinge of sadness when I read the past posts of this blog, but then I remember, I was there with him, enjoying it at the time.

Henry's Mother the early days

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Being Away From Him

It seems like the running theme of my blog, and certainly of my life at the moment. It is the struggle to balance quality time with my son and the time I put in trying to develop a quality career.

I wish I could clone myself, multiple times, to fit in all the things I want to do. Not only do, but do now. That’s the problem with being young. There’s a sense of urgency about everything. I can’t shake the feeling that wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, I’m missing out on something somewhere else.

The grass is always greener, because all I can see is my own shadow.

I think about my son’s laugh, his squishy thighs and his arms that reach out for me. I think about him whenever I’m away from him, and I hope he knows that he comes first. That I am doing all this other stuff because I need to and I want him to be proud of me, but he is always top of my priorities.

And I can’t imagine the parallel universe in which I don’t race home to see him and give him a cuddle and laugh with him. It simply doesn’t bare thinking about.

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Mind the Child

I’ve officially returned to work now. Henry has adapted so well, I don’t even know what I was worrying about. When I go to pick him up, it’s almost as if he’s having too much fun to leave. He crawls around with a cheeky grin on his face – as per usual – and he’s busy chatting away to his childminder.

It makes it so much easier for me to go to work knowing he is doing just fine. I do love being back at work. I’m a working woman. I want to contribute to society, to feel like I have my own life beyond cleaning poop and counting out scoopfuls of formula, and to be able to support my family financially.

And then I’ll come home and be the best mother I can possibly be. And I will give him lots of cuddles and chat to Henry about his day. I will make the most of the weekend; take him swimming, to the park, to soft play, to the zoo and the library and the beach. He’s one well-loved baby. Being apart for a short time will only enhance our relationship, I’m sure of it.

Besides, who wouldn’t want to come home to this:

 

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Odd Feelings

You know that strange feeling you get when you wear your watch on the wrong wrist, when you buckle your belt in the opposite direction, or brush your teeth with the other hand? That’s what it’s like to return to work after having a baby. It’s the same work as before, the job hasn’t changed, but everything feels different.

It’s the first taste of my former life, the first since the whirlwind that is Henry came and swept my life away and turned it into something new.

I do love it, but it’s still something I will have to get used to. I know that Henry doesn’t really approve of my employment currently. He would definitely prefer it if I stay by his side constantly to play, feed and clean him. However, he does need to learn to cope without me for a short while, and I know he is going to be just fine.

It won’t be long before he’s saying ‘no, mummy, I want to stay here’ when horrible mummy tries to come and take him away from all the fun he’s having!

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Keeping In Touch: First Day of Work

I had my first day back at work yesterday since having Henry. It was really hard to say goodbye in the morning, but once I was there, I had a great day. I missed Henry, of course I did, but when you’re busy it doesn’t feel as long as eight hours plus travel. It feels like two minutes, so it wasn’t as terribly awful as some people had built it up to be. I actually quite enjoyed it. I love my job, which is more than most people can say, and it was nice to have a break. I don’t feel guilty saying it, because after a day at work, I can come home and be a better parent to Henry as I’ve missed him so much. I want to play with him and cuddle him and change his nappy and feed him and do all the things I missed out on doing that day.

My other half did an amazing job being at home on his day off too. Not only did he keep Henry clean, dry, well fed, interested and happy, he also kept the house tidy, managed to take Henry out and even rearranged the furniture to make it more baby-safe. I think I’m marrying a superdad. He’s brilliant. Oh, and he cooked dinner (which was delicious!) and bought ice-cream for dessert. I could really get used to this. Maybe being a working mum isn’t so bad…

Besides, there is nothing better than walking in the door in the evening and seeing your baby playing happily on his daddy’s lap, smiling and laughing. Then he turns when he sees you and gives you the biggest grin in the world. In that moment, it’s perfect.

I wouldn’t change a thing.

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Big Boy in His Own Room

We’ve done it. We’ve built up enough courage to move Henry’s cotbed into his own room. To be fair, it looks pretty nice in there, and I wouldn’t mind it if I was put in there to sleep. But we shall see how it goes.

I’m hoping that, as he has been waking during the night for comfort not for food (although the two are more intertwined than you would believe), he may just start to sleep through.

He won’t have his daddy’s snoring to wake him up either. Recommended length of time in mummy and daddy’s bedroom is six months. He’s about five months and three weeks so it’s near enough for us. I am going to work tomorrow for the first time in over six months too. I am looking forward to it, but I don’t want to leave Henry. I’ve said it before, but I really think someone should invent a cloning machine for a person in my position. I love working, and I love my current job. I also love spending time with my son. I’m not crazy about housework but I love having the spare time to do what needs to be done. It really is a balancing act. If you’ve figured it out then I’d love to hear from you.

But as I start to check on him less and less in his new room (I’ve had to resist the urge to go and put my hand infront of his little face to feel his breath) I think we will all get a better night’s sleep. But again, we have to wait and see if it has the desired effect. I’m hoping we don’t wake him up as much as his room is right at the end of the corridor, instead of next to the living room where we stay up after he’s gone to sleep. He should get a good night this way.

Until he starts teething anyway.

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Sunshine and Warm Weather Work

Henry was a winter baby. Ever since he was born, I have always been worrying about whether he is warm enough and if he needs an extra blanket or two. Today, for the first time since he was born, I went out without being loaded down by coats, gloves, blankets and hats. It was lovely and sunny: not bad for ‘just about March’ weather. I had bought a little pot of baby suncream (factor 50) to carry in the nappy bag for days out this summer. It was very odd worrying about sunburn rather than temperature.

I can’t wait until the weather allows for trips to the beach and days in the park. Although, with the warmer weather comes spring, and spring means I’m just that little bit closer to that time I have to go back to work. I want to go, for myself and for Henry and our family, but I don’t. It will be good for me to have time to pursue what I want in life. I still want a career and my own funds and a feeling of self-worth. But leaving Henry is going to be so hard. It makes me upset just thinking about it. I will never again have this much time to spend with Henry, and it’s sad. I just have to make the most of it.

On the plus side, a bit of adult conversation will be quite welcome. Also, it will make me appreciate just how much I love spending time with Henry.

He was so well-behaved today. I went for a coffee with friends and pottering around town in the shops. He only moaned a little, towards the end when he got tired. Other than that, he was fantastic. It makes it so much easier to go out when I know he’s going to be good for me. There’s nothing worse than pushing around a pushchair with a screaming baby in it. It’s so stressful when you want to make them comfortable straight away, but you’re in a queue or paying for something. Three-month-olds don’t understand the words ‘hang on a minute’. When hunger strikes…