This time last year, as 2014 was drawing to a close, I did not have high hopes for 2015. In fact, I distinctly remember telling several people I had already written it off. The reason? I was expecting a baby.
I know, I know. I should have been brimming with excitement at the anticipation of such a wonderful, joyous occasion… but here’s the catch. I’d been there before. Two years and four months before. That first time around – expecting my son – I was so excited, so happy, so desperate to hold my baby in my arms… but once he was finally born, the reality of the post-birth healing, sleep deprivation, constant feeding and loss of my old life slammed me in the face and threatened to floor me. Then there was the crying. Oh God, the endless crying. My baby boy suffered so terribly from colic that he would scream for hours on end. It was draining; I felt like a bad mother – that I wasn’t good enough. I was to-the-bones tired and yet had to carry on – day and night – when all I wanted to do was curl up under a 10-tog duvet and close my eyes.
Don’t get me wrong – I was so very grateful and relieved my baby boy had been born safely and that he was healthy. But the actual parenting bit? It was so much harder than I’d expected.
Second time round? Well. I decided to expect the worst and if there were any rays of sunshine through the sleep-deprived fog, it would be a nice, balmy little bonus.
And a strange thing happened.
My daughter was born in March and my little family had the most wonderful year.
Yes, it has been hard. Yes, I am tired. Yes, sometimes I feel like banging my head against the wall when I’ve had to say ‘Be gentle’ to my son for the 76th time that day. Yes, I am fed up of scraping bits of broccoli off the floor and discovering that I’ve knelt in a splatter of Weetabix/porridge/avocado again (bloody weaning). Yes, sometimes I’d love a weekend off.
But wow, the joy in our house. The love and the laughter and the noise. Just wow.
It helps that, as a second-time mum, I am so much more relaxed. I now have the confidence to raise my baby my way, as opposed to worrying I’m doing it wrong according to this or that book.
It also helps that my baby girl was a peaceful newborn and remains, for the most part, happy. Oh yes. She is smiley and calm and utterly chilled out with the world and her place in it.
But it is also down to someone else.
My funny, clever, sensitive little boy has simply shone in his role of Big Bro.
The baby cries? He hands over his favourite toy. She coughs? He pats her back. He has helped teach her to wave, clap and blow raspberries. I feared he would never stop bouncing up and down with excitement when she started to crawl. He has one-way conversations with her, and she smiles and laughs along with him as if she understands every word. He tells her he loves her. All the time.
OK, OK… so
every now and then many times a day I’ll leave her happily playing with her toys and, on returning 20 seconds later, she will have been shoved over, a bewildered look on her face, with no toy in sight. But he’s only three. We’ll get there.
One other amazing thing has happened this year – so incredible it should technically class as a miracle: I have managed to carve out a little time for me.
I started running again. I started writing this blog. I have crossed the finish line of two 10K races in not-too-shabby times.
I’ve been beating myself up a bit recently for my lack of running, but you know what? I have realised I need to feel proud of everything I have achieved in my running shoes this year.
After all… 2015?
It was supposed to be a write-off.
Happy New Year!