One of the great things about blogging is community. My guest blogger today is Elske, and she and I have been following each other’s blogs for a long time now – mutual fans you can say.
Elske is a software developer by day, freelance writer by night, but her main job is being mummy to 21 month old Elisabeth. Her blog (elskenewman.com) focuses on her life as a first time mum and life in general. Her lifelong dream to become a successful writer.
In today’s guest post, Elske writes about her experiences when Elisabeth was first born.
About four years ago I went to the cinema with a colleague. This particular time we were going to see ‘The Young Victoria’, a film about the first few years of Queen Victoria’s rule and her romance with Prince Albert. Very much my kind of film.
While we were waiting for the film to start, we caught up on the work gossip and what was happening in our home lives. Because we were both very busy at work we had lots to talk about, and we initially didn’t notice that the film hadn’t started yet, it was late.
When the film finally started, we both stared at the big screen for a few seconds…..then looked at each other…….this was not ‘The Young Victoria’……we had gone to the wrong screen…….unbelievable………..what to do? We quickly decided we would stick with the one we had mistakenly selected…..which was ‘Marley and me’………a film about a dog, not quite the same genre.
It turned out to be quite a funny film, I enjoyed, but it wasn’t until I watched the film again after having Elisabeth that I noticed a particular line. When Jenny Grogan (played by Jennifer Aniston) is having a particularly difficult day with her baby, she asks her husband (John Grogan, played by Owen Wilson) why nobody told them it was going to be so hard. His reply was: ‘They did, you just didn’t listen.’
This is very true for a lot of parents. You are given advice repeatedly:
your life will change dramatically,
you’ll be tired beyond belief
every task you performed pre-baby without thinking about it will become 10 times harder be proud of yourself if you manage to get up in the morning and get dressed.
Yet, you are still shocked when it happens.
I know I was. My sister had a baby 18 months before I did. I stayed with them for a few days when my nephew was only two weeks old and I saw them struggle through these early days. But even so, I didn’t realize the enormity of the task of looking after a baby until it happened.
The first day my husband went back to work, I didn’t get dressed until an hour or so before he got back home. Getting dressed was the only thing I did other than caring for Elisabeth. The second day I unloaded the dishwasher. I clearly remember feeling frustrated with myself as I saw my exhausted husband clean up the kitchen, cook me dinner, and tidy up without a single complaint. I knew he appreciated how tired I was from nursing, getting up during the night and generally just looking after our little girl. However, I felt like a failure.
It was a big relief when my sister told me that she didn’t do any housework for months after my nephew was born it. Knowing that my sister, who is an amazingly strong woman, had gone through the same thing made me relax a little. I wasn’t failing miserably (even though it felt like it), I was doing my job, which was (and still is) looking after Elisabeth. Everything else could wait.
After a few weeks we settled into a routine. I occasionally managed to get out, although it was quite depressing to tell my husband that we did lots. Then I started listing what we had achieved, and all we had done was gone to the shops around the corner. The first night we had dinner at the table together felt like a huge achievement. I don’t think my husband realizes how much he supported me by not expecting me to do anything more than make sure Elisabeth was ok. Not once did he look disappointed when he came home and saw from the state of the kitchen how bad our day had been.
During those first few fragile weeks, I felt like the whole world was expecting me to have a lovely time with this wonderful little creature we had created, and I felt bad because I wasn’t enjoying her as much as I thought I should. Every mother I met seemed more capable, confident, and happier. However, these confident looking mothers will tell you they had the exact same difficulties. You just hadn’t noticed because you were too tired to pay attention.
Now here is the truth, I love my daughter more than life itself, but having a baby is hard, very hard, and there is no shame in admitting this. Happy parenting everyone!