AUGUST 7, 2017 BY FRANKI DAMMONE
Weirdly, having a one year old feels very different to having a baby who is months old. I instantly feel like my teeny babe has graduated to a little lady and I’m not sure I’m ready for that. All of a sudden, I can’t believe that she is mine all over again. It took me a year to get used to Malala being my baby and I’m sure it will take me another to get used to her being my one year old. These past twelve months as her Mama have taught me…
That I am stronger than I ever knew I would need to be. Labour is tough, but I did it (must remember this one for next time round!)
To accept my body like I didn’t before. Having a baby has changed my relationship with my body no doubt. It was home for Ma to grow until she was ready, it fed her in her first months of living, it helps me in being the best mama I can. I am grateful for my body like I wasn’t in the past. I don’t analyse or inspect it, I rarely compare or zoom-in, it’s hard to explain but really, I’m utterly amazed at how little old me is able to support even-teenier precious Ma.
That even having a baby doesn’t make you feel like a grown up. I’m not sure when it will finally sink in that I am a mother and I have a real life child. I sometimes catch myself in the mirror carrying Ma on my hip and have to double take. I’m definitely non the wiser since becoming a parent, but I think i’m happy about that.
To be thankful for my parents love. There have been countless times when I’ve been doing something with Ma, even a mundane task like changing a nappy, and I’ve imagined my mum doing the same for me. All the little things that you do as a mother are a gentle reminder that someone once did them for you. I’d never thought of those things before. So, thank you mum for changing my nappies – I do appreciate it you know.
That my friends are amazing. And I love you all so much. Thank you for being patient with me when I don’t text back, thanks for the gestures, the visits, the love. Malala is one lucky girl to be surrounded by so many loving and wicked-cool aunties and uncs (and so am I.)
That finding Mama friends is important. I didn’t join an NCT group because I was adamant that I didn’t need ‘mum friends,’ I love my friends and thought that would be enough. After having Malala, I did question whether I’d made a wrong decision. The idea of being put into a group with people because you’re pregnant and local to one another didn’t sit right with me, it doesn’t sound so genuine when you say it like that. I can see now why these groups are a great idea and how life-long friendships come from them. You do need someone to hang with mid-week, to chat baby stuff to, to drink coffee and eat cake with. Even when you think you don’t. I’ve loved making mama friends this year and when you hold out for the right ones, they’re not ‘mama friends,’ they’re just friends.
That being tired leads to being stressed and being stressed leads to being tired. I’ve learnt that stress can get the better of me and if it does, it doesn’t matter (even though it never feels like that at the time). Being a parent is tiring and stressful and sometimes both of those things together. I’m still trying not to take it personally when i’m either, or worse both, of those things. Things don’t have to be perfect. Ed really doesn’t mind and Ma has no idea, I must try to remember that.
That having a baby changes everything. Holidays, weekends, parties, they are all different. Another thing that I was adamant wouldn’t happen, but it does. And I’m cool with that now. Being the first of your friends to have a baby can be hard in that respect, no body wants to be the ones to leave the pub at what always seems to be that pivotal moment of crossover between civilised daytime drinking and spontaneous all night fun. Ed and I are great at allowing each other time out but it’s much harder to have that time just the two of us now, and that can be testing.
That I am becoming more like my mum as each day passes. I often find myself thinking, doing or saying things and then quietly smiling to myself when I realise where it’s come from. Particularly those things that I never understood as a child, like those plastic washing bowls that go inside the sink – why have I bought one of those, they don’t make sense! I guess that’s not such a bad thing after all.
That Ed really is my other half. It’s hard to explain the effect that a baby has on your relationship. Together, between the labour ward and the first birthday party, you experience a huge spectrum of emotions and experiences that were alien to you both before. Those moments are so special and personal to the two of you and they shape how you move forwards as partners, as lovers, as parents. There is nobody else that I could face the good, the bad and the ugly (and let’s face it, parts of it are U-G-L-Y) with. I’m a very lucky girl.
That I was happy before but now I am fulfilled. And what a lovely feeling that is.
Oh yeah, and I’ve also learned that I hate washing, ironing, going to Tesco Express with the buggy, emptying the dishwasher, cleaning up food, sweeping the bloody floor and changing nappies too.