What he’s teaching me…

My little peanut is almost eight months old. I can’t believe it! He’s nearly been out in the world for longer than he was inside me growing. At times these eight months have seemed like a life sentence (sorry Jenson, but it’s true!) with sleep deprivation, inexplicable crying and endless rounds of nursery rhymes and distraction techniques to soothe him. But at times I look back and think “how can he already be two thirds of his way through his first year?!”.

One thing is for sure – he’s my biggest teacher. One I didn’t know I needed and couldn’t have planned for when he made his appearance known to me.

I was lying in bed yesterday morning, looking at my sweet boy as he slept next to me and I thought of all the things he’s teaching me…and here are the three things that spring to mind most keenly.

Patience

Oh I’ve had to be patient so often with my little one in these first eight months. When he’s up at 5:30 on most days and I want to shout to the heavens “why will my baby not sleep past daybreak?!?”. When he’s crying and I can do nothing to settle him. When I’m feeling a bit under the weather but have to bring it for him. When I cook a lovely meal for him only to have it rejected. When he wanted to be held in my arms to sleep for the first six months of his life.

Patience, he’s teaching me to have a bucketful of patience.

I’m sure there will come a day when I snap at him, yell with frustration and scream to who-knows-what about what a difficult life it is to be a parent, but for now I feel like my little guy is teaching me slowly what it means to have patience. The importance of taking a deep breath, the ability to look at the bright side of things I’m finding challenging (never have my days been so long with the early starts!), the joy of having him which makes up for all the inconveniences of parenthood.

He’s teaching me to go with the flow and let go of every notion of control I had before.

Presence

I’ve always been a planner. I’m first in line (or maybe a high second place) to plan my sister’s wedding when she meets Mr Right. I know where I’d like to be in 3 years time. I’m always looking ahead.

Too much sometimes.

And I quickly discovered that my little boy is the medicinal tonic to my future focus. He calls me to stay firmly in the present with him. Especially when I’m on my phone – how he hates it when I’m glued to the screen!

He drags me firmly into the land of now as we explore the world around us. Time speeds past as we examine our reflections in a doorknob, splash around in the bath, laugh at games we play together. When we’re together, there’s no thoughts of work or relationships or anything other than being with him.

And it’s beautiful.

Sometimes it’s frustrating too (see above for the patience he’s building in me!) as I want to gallop away to plan future stuff. But for the most part, being called to be present with him is a reprieve from how I’ve learnt to (dis)function and it’s brought so much peace to my life.

Some people pay hundreds of pounds on a retreat and in yoga or meditation classes to learn how to stay present…but I’m learning it from my baby who seems to be a natural, my own little mindfulness guru.

A different path

Becoming a mum has shown me what is truly important in life – my family, having a job that stretches me, being able to travel and explore this world. But it has also thrown so much up in the air for me as I question how I can contribute more, how I can leave this world in a better state for my boy and those who are growing up with him.

I can’t just go to work and return to be with him. It’s not my path to just do my job and return home to pour everything into my son. I feel the call to contribute more.

The weight of responsibility of being his mum has made me discover the responsibility of being a citizen of the world and has started me questioning what this means to me. Whether it’s playing a part in reforming local government and politics, the medical system, the environment or the education system, I feel something developing. A path just out of sight beyond my vision that I know I’m going to tread at some point in the future.

He has shifted my priorities and shown me a new path I never thought possible.


So here’s to my boy as he’s on the cusp of eight months old. I can’t imagine my life without him.

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Love is…

As I’m lying here awake next to my sleeping son, Jenson, curled around him at the most awkward angle so he can sleep soundly I’ve been thinking about love.

Pre-Jenson, loves was so simple. Well, not simple, but less complicated, less selfless, less of a daily choice. With hours of free time at my disposal and having so much more sleep, it was also more resourced. My capacity to give and show my love to others was greater. But things are different now and my love for others and myself looks different.

When I started to write about my new relationship with love, listing the attributes it holds, I noticed that it started out sounding like part of the bible that I remember from my childhood:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

I suppose this is describing a perfect love. One which, being an imperfect human, I do not reach. Because I can be so easily angered these days and my patience is quite often threadbare-thin when I’ve been up since 4am with a wide-awake baby.

But it does describe the love I call upon as a parent more than the love I needed before. I have more patience, I let go of the times Jenson screams for no apparent reason, I keep on going with rocking him and singing to him even when he keeps crying, I beam at him when he wakes me up at 4:30am, I put him first.

But what about my love for Gregg, my husband? With this all encompassing motherly love, I’ve felt my love for him and for other people be squeezed out. Not enough love left to give when it’s supposed to (or at least that’s what I thought) be a never ending source. It’s not that I don’t love him, but I have less love to give.

What’s going on with that?! I mean, I know I love him and I love other people but I feel so drained and empty from all the love I give Jenson. As I’ve shared before, sometimes even reaching out to give my husband a cuddle or a kiss seems too much because I’m so worn down from pouring all my love onto a little human who doesn’t like to be put down by himself, doesn’t want to sleep away from my arms and loves to be sung to, treasured and interacted with for a large proportion of the day…

The old Amy would have said that I just needed time to replenish myself. Space to blog instead of snatching moments when my husband has him at the weekend or he’s asleep in my arms. Time to process and be kind to myself. A nice long bath by myself with a good book. But that’s not practical at the moment.

And if we lived closer to our families or close friends, it would be possible to get some time just as a couple. It’s the price we pay for living in a city we love, far away from family.

We could ask friends in Brighton but Jenson is so demanding (sorry Jenson if you read this when you’re older – it’s true! You are a demanding little pickle!) that it doesn’t seem easy to ask that of others. An hour looking after Jenson is an hour of actively bouncing him, singing, stopping him cry…although it could be an hour of him playing calmly under his activity gym – it’s so unpredictable.

I know this is a phase in early parenthood which will pass. Too soon I’ll be thinking back to and missing the moments when Jenson would sleep in my arms. And along with the tiredness and strain, it is true that I’ve found a very new and beautiful love that I never knew I had inside me.

It’s just more complicated, that’s all.