My maternity leave ends today. Bam! Just like that. No longer will life be entirely divided into feed/play/sleep intervals.
It’s been ten months since our little boy Harry was born. Ten months since I started learning how to be a mum.
But it’s time to go back to work and see what happens on ‘the other side’. But before that, I wanted to share some of the best things I have learned since becoming a mum for the first time.
1. Babies bring families together.
A new baby has an amazing ability to unite and heal; they personify vulnerability, beauty, hope, innocence, joy and wonder all at once. Family, including extended family, move front of mind. You see them more. Many times I’ve watched in complicit awe as a room full of grown-ups has become mesmerised by Harry doing little more than rub his eyes.
2. Hello, library.
Before Harry, my last recorded visit to a community library was circa 1992. Rediscovering libraries through our local branch has been one of my favourite things about maternity leave. Libraries are THE BEST. (Plus, these days, they text or email three days before the books are due. Lifesaver!)
3. Goals become smaller, dreams are greater.
Days are filled to the brim with achieving tiny goals – feeding, sleeping, changing, washing. But dreams become bigger. There’s a compelling feeling to make the world (and yourself) better.
4. Neighbours mean much more.
Confession: I used to avoid speaking to my neighbours. I was too busy/pregnant/tired/shy. Imagine how bloody terrible I felt the day Harry came home from hospital and there were cards and presents from the same people I had tried to avoid? Now, it’s often the chat with the lady across the street that has cheered me up on those really bad days.
5. I met myself in the raw.
Motherhood has helped me shed a skin – a really old, smelly skin that saw me quick to reprimand and judge myself, and probably others. The many hours spent on my own – during the day, feeding in the small hours, changing nappies or settling Harry has been enlightening. Learning to love my own company has brought some really powerful insights.
6. There is a YouTube/online video tutorial FOR EVERYTHING.
Here’s just some of the stuff I’ve looked at: How to breastfeed lying down, What happens at a Tressillian centre. How to use Velcro rollers, How to burp a colicky baby, How to use concealer, How to make spinach filo pie (without the damn filo folding in on itself), How many [more] calories you can consume while breastfeeding, How to arrange a freezer (SO YOU CAN FIND THINGS WITHOUT THEM FALLING OUT AND WAKING THE BABY YOU TOOK THREE HOURS TO GET TO SLEEP).