I’m sitting at a table for one in a kitchen cafe attached to a garden centre.
Yes, that’s right people. A garden centre.
It’s Friday and I have brought myself out for brunch. The table I am at is looking out on to fields. There’s a reserved sign in front of me for someone else to nab this spot from 12.45. So I’ll just stay here until then yes? I’m opposite a man wearing noise cancelling headphones, going through paperwork.
I have just literally told the waitress who brought over my veggie full english ‘Hello, oooh that looks lovely, hey I am out for the first time for a full day on my own in 10 months’. She’s defo chalked me up as mental.
Because tis true; in almost 10 months I haven’t had what one would classically call a ‘day off’. Some people who I glare at, think that being on maternity leave is a holiday – HAHAHAHAHAHAHA – **FALLS OFF CHAIR AND IS HOISTED UP AGAIN BY GARDEN CENTRE PEOPLE**.
It’s categorically not. And I never thought it would be, or in fact wanted it to be. Being a parent is the most demanding and challenging role I have ever had. It forces me to think way ahead than I would in my actual job, I am constantly problem solving, calculating things, researching and adapting to new schedules. Some days I don’t shower until just before bed, some days I am covered in porridge and sick up. And I pop to the shops like that. Some days I rock it, other days I feel like a failure.
But, I love it. Truly I do.
However, our set up is odd. Husband John is essentially freelance at what he does and his job takes him quite frequently out of the country, sometimes with little notice. The longest stint I have done on my own with baby, with no help at all, is 16 nights and by the end of that even though immensely proud of myself, I resembled a varuca.
Now some of you will know that concurrently with the early months of baby life, we were also doing a house extension and we moved back home to a liveable but unfinished house mid November when baby was 6 months old. And John was soon heavily involved in running the project. He worked his balls off.
To an extent becoming a parent is all about hitting the ground running, sure. But doing it solo because of various circumstances is next level.
When one of you is freelance there is no real set weekend. While my NCT pals all look forward to the Saturdays and Sundays to roll in, our Saturdays and Sundays just blend in to any other day. And this is something I have struggled with big time. Having no regular reprieve to look forward to, no designated family time while John digs away at making sure we are financially secure and that his career continues to develop and thrive. Me as primary caregiver, 7 days a week.
But that is a whole other subject. And here is a mini blog about how we are working at changing our approach to that because it just wasn’t working. I had a meltdown. We talked it through. We have a work in progress plan in place. It’s exciting, it’s better.
A woman’s identity can become very conflicted when motherhood begins. I am someone used to managing a team of adults, getting results, putting marketing plans together and presenting to senior management. That has been my life, my identity, for the last 12 years. I’m good at my actual job (Head of Marketing, MTV) but putting that part of you on hold whether temporarily or indefinitely is WEIRD.
Aside from mum stuff, I have been blogging obvs, hello. And also writing for the IVF clinic that helped us create Elodie. And these little outlets, this activity, is helping to keep me…well, me. When I get feedback on my writing or something I put on Instagram, it almost replaces some of the community aspects of work work. I’m not talking about collecting likes and follows and all that shit. I’m talking about real people writing back to me. Actual real life stuff.
I love to write. I love it even more if it’s of some use or comfort to someone else. I’ve started to see that success is not only indicated by the monthly pay cheque or positive performance reviews or promotions. It’s an inner feeling, an authentic inner triumph that is just yours because of something genuinely good you did, for yourself, for one person, for many. Hark at me. I sound like a bleeding political party campaign.
Anywaaaaay. I am now pretty full up from brunch and a caramel slice and the waitress has switched the reserved sign on my table to 1.30pm. She’s got my back.
Next on the agenda is a wander around the garden centre, plant and veggie buying and a 2.30pm appointment with an Ayurvedic doctor to look at my diet and lifestyle – oh the irony given what I have just inhaled.
The man with the headphones is still opposite me. I wonder if he is feeling awks about still occupying his table. Probs not eh?
I bought some plants and pots for home from the Garden Centre. First thing I ask the last at the till? ‘Ok, how do I not kill them?’. So one needs to go in our en suite because it needs humidity (the Prayer Plant) and the others just no direct sunlight. Water once a week. Ok, I’ve GOT THIS.
I meet an Ayurvedic doctor for a two hour diet and lifestyle consultation. I loved it. Actually hearing out loud how i’m ‘looking after myself’ or more to the point how i’m not, was rather eye opening. No sometimes I don’t eat lunch. How do I relax you ask? HAHAHAHAHAHA.
I need to somehow make some regular space in my life for just me, days like today, even just half days, even just minutes every day. So that’s one to bring up indoors and try and carve out. She’s going to write up my notes and send me them over the weekend so I might update this blog then with more info.
Basically a more balanced me is going to be better for everyone. Leave the mum guilt at the door.
I’ve had lovely updates during the day from hubs about how he is getting on, basically rocking it. Baby has laughed, slept, fed. She’s been out for coffee with daddy and visited one set of grandparents. It’s reassuring and needed, for all of us.
Now to head home to catch bath and bedtime.