A story about Work

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Tools of my trade(s)

My heart sinks when people ask me what it is that I do. I really, really struggle with the question. I want to tell them I am a writer – because I AM a writer – but I am also the Mother of two children whom I parent full-time and that I had within two years of each other, so the conversation generally goes a little something like this:

New Acquaintance: So what do you do, Hannah?

Me: I’m a writer.

New Acquaintance: Oooo that sounds interesting. What do you write?

Me: I’m writing a book.

New Acquaintance: Oh really?! When will I be able to read it?

Me: PROBABLY NEVER BECAUSE MY CHILDREN ARE TIME-SUCKING VAMPIRES WHO HAVE NO RESPECT FOR MY CRAFT.

To summarise; it’s complicated.

Get ready for a good old ROFL here chaps – I genuinely didn’t realise when I fell pregnant with Big Savage that I would be putting my writing career on the back burner. When I thought about life with a baby I visualised myself sat at my laptop, brimming with creativity, tapping out the book at lightning speed whilst an angelic child napped peacefully in a moses basket beside me. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA. More. Fool. Me. It turns out that full-time parenting and creativity aren’t necessarily cohesive. How do you quantify the worth of something that is not measured in monetary reward? Again; it’s complicated. When the thing you call ‘work’ comes with no guaranteed paycheque, and yet requires hours of your dedicated time, it becomes the thing that is least prioritised. It becomes a bit of an indulgence. It goes well and truly on the back burner. Being a parent, being Mummy takes centre stage. And rightly so, I suppose.

Yet, here I must confess that there have been many occasions in the last two years where I’ve found myself wishing I had a ‘proper’ job. A normal 9-5 job, that pays real money and that has clear, set working hours. Where I could have a conversation with an adult, or maybe just focus on a task in blissful silence. Drink a cup of tea that hasn’t been in the microwave 3 times. Engage my brain on subjects other than Thomas and his Friends or whether the baby gets enough sensory time. (Probably not – she’s number two after all) Heck – maybe even be praised for my contribution to the work place. Because it is no mean feat raising kids. (Particularly when you do this full time) I take my hat off to every single one of my fellow parents – solidarity, man. It is full on, it is relentless, there are no scheduled breaks. There is no family HR department to report to when the person you are parenting is being a dick. (Which is quite often when you have a 2.5 year old.) There is no bonus for commitment and excellence. (I use the word excellence in a very loose sense here.) Your shift patterns are, frankly, bonkers. Whilst Dad of Savages is out earning the money that pays our mortgage, I’m nurturing and disciplining and playing and organising and shopping and wrangling and adjudicating and washing and cooking and washing some more. There are times when I will feel as though I have literally not stopped all day, where I feel like a hamster in a wheel going round and round and round, and yet when Dad of Savages walks through the door and asks me what my day has consisted of, I can’t really put my finger on what it is I’ve achieved. Those are the days when I feel as though my brain, the brain I used to get a Masters in Creative Writing, is slowly dripping out of my ears. Because, actually, as a Stay At Home Mother I find myself to be quite a rare breed. I’m part of a generation who are both parents and career women. The two things going hand-in-hand; no longer putting their working lives to one side as soon as they become parents. And this is bloody marvellous. It’s just that it doesn’t work as succintly as that for me. Because the ‘job’ I’m going back to post-babies isn’t clearly defined by set working hours and a salary.

But then, the grass is always greener on the other side, isn’t it? I know full well that juggling a job and parenting is no picnic. That there is an emotional tug of war for parents between the demands of home life and office life. That switching from ‘mummy/daddy mode’ to ‘work mode’ is complex. That despite it being the 21st Century, work is rarely flexible enough for parents. And as a consequence of this, doing nursery runs and school runs and finding childcare that works emotionally and financially is a huge ball ache. I don’t have to do any of that. I’m not conflicted by whether I’m missing important milestones, or that my career is suffering because I want or need to spend more time at home.

And here’s the crux of the matter: I could be better at being a writer. I could carve out more time. I could get up (even) earlier. I could stay up later to write. There are approximately 50 million women (disclaimer: no actual maths/statistics behind that statement) doing what I do. Parenting and working ‘freelance’. They’re juggling a ton of responsibility and making it work. Making it pay their bills. I’m not making it pay my bills just yet…but one day I hope I will. In essence, I need to get better at juggling.

And so I swing back round to that question again:

What do you do, Hannah?

I am a full time, stay at home parent. I am a writer. I often feel like I’m not really doing either of those jobs very well. And yet I have achieved. I’ve kept two kids alive today. I’ll do the same again tomorrow and the day after that. (Fingers and toes crossed and with a good following wind) Hopefully at some point in all of that I might find a bit of time to write a few paragraphs. Then later I might find a bit more time to re-write them. And I’ll probably look back at this time in my life in future years and realise how short it was. How important it was. It might be ten years before I have a manuscript worth reading, it might not. It might be ten years before someone pays me actual money for something I’ve written, it might not.

I think the point I’m labouring to make here is that money does not define achievement. And that’s a little nugget of wisdom that I’ll be trying to hold on to more firmly. Particularly during times of awkward small talk with new aquaintances…

 

 

 

 

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A story about the Healing Nature of Baby Number 2

I’m sitting here typing this in bed, with Tiny Savage lying next to me. She’s cutting a top tooth and is determined not to sleep in her own bed whilst she does this. And although tomorrow I will moan to Dad of Savages about the baby ending up in our bed again, secretly (or perhaps not-so-secretly) I love having her snuggled up next to me. I love that she feels safe and settled here by my side. I love the little snuffly noises she makes as she shifts into a deep sleep. I love the warmth of her solid, little body next to mine. I spent the first 3 months of her life co-sleeping with her like this; close and safe. And, until the pesky 4 month sleep regression reared it’s ugly head, we both slept like that proverbial baby. That time for me was pretty magical, because it helped lay to rest a lot of the demons I had carried around with me since the birth of her big brother. The early days, weeks and months of his life were a whole different kettle of fish; fraught with anxiety and horrendous sleep deprivation. And, although I’m sure we did some, I don’t remember much snuggling. I don’t remember feeling safe together. What I do remember is feeling panicky and terrified and out of my depth. I remember being afraid to co-sleep with him for fear of hurting him. I remember being so tired that I would expereince vertigo, where it felt as though the floor was moving under my feet like the hull of a ship on water. I have a clear image in my head of going to a Christmas party with a big group of friends when Big Savage was about 3 weeks old. I remember looking around the room, filled with people I loved all having a good time, and feeling as though I was sealed off from them behind glass. New motherhood, for me, was absolutely nothing like I had imagined or hoped.

But it did get easier. It did get better. And now, with the benefit of hindsight, I realise that this is an experience shared to some degree by all new parents. How could it not be? Nobody really hits the ground running with a first baby. It’s so completely and utterly life changing. It turns everything you thought you knew on it’s head, and you have to learn how to live in a brave new parenting world. For me it was a bit of an uphill struggle to find my feet as a Mother; it took me a really long time to trust my parenting instincts and to know that, as far as Big Savage was concerned, I was everything he could ever want or need, without my needing to be perfect.

With Tiny Savage’s arrival into the World I began to process everything I had been through as a first time Mother – all the lessons I had learned and the wisdom I had acquired from that rocky start. The confidence I had gained and the trust I had learnt to have in myself. We have eased into our relationship with one another like old friends. She knows me and I know her. I don’t worry about whether I’m ‘getting it right’, only that I’m doing what feels right for us. And – oh my god – has it been a liberating experience. It also helps that Tiny is also an absolute joy of a baby. She smiles all day long. She gets handed around from person to person and never bats an eyelid. She happily entertains herself whilst I deal with the seemingly endless demands of her toddler brother. She worships Big Savage and fans the flames of his ego with her unfettered attention. She’s curious and strong and vocal and willful and oh so happy. She is a woman who knows her own mind and has already decided that napping is not for her. She keeps Dad of Savages and I on our toes with her love of night feeds and she likes to grab handfuls of Big Savage’s hair in her freakishly iron grip. She is quite something.

So, thank you Tiny Savage, you little belter, for helping me to throw off the shackles of my self doubt. Thank you for making it easy to be your Mum. Thank you for showing me that I’ve got this parenting lark pegged, just in my own, unique way. Thank you for holding your own against the force of nature that is your brother. Thank you for being a ray of sunshine.

Thank you for being you.

(Now if you could just get that tooth through, please)

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The Tiniest of the Savages. And a carrot.

A story about Being a Human Climbing Frame

Recently I was talking to one of my oldest friends who also happens to have two very small children. When I asked her how she was feeling, she said ‘over-touched’ and I knew straight away exactly what she meant. When you have young children you basically get touched ALL THE TIME. Often this is wonderful and magical – like when you’re breastfeeding a sleepy baby for whom the boob is literally everything, or when your toddler flings themselves into your arms for a mega-cuddle. Those things are delightful and welcome. Less delightful is the continual probing of sticky/snotty/muddy fingers or the use of my body as a trampoline/launch pad/donkey ride. Big Savage likes to stick his hand down my top and have a good fondle when he is tired/emotional/bored – and consequentially this happens, without ceromony, at all times of the night and day. Tiny Savage likes to massage my boob skin between her fingers as she feeds – which is basically just a more intimate version of a chinese burn. At 4am this particular practice has seen me reaching for a pillow to scream into. But, the truth is, when you are the centre of someone’s universe (and particularly when that someone can’t move unaided) your body is not your own. At the moment I feel as though mine is essentially a climbing frame for the toddler and a vending machine for the baby. This might not sound like much to complain about – and I guess it’s what I signed up for – but when you consider that 14 out of 24 hours in the day are spent in the company of my kids, seven days a week, then that’s a lot of hands-on time. So – having been poked and grabbed and tugged and tickled and fed from and climbed all day long – when Dad of Savages walks through the door I am ready for everyone to just get the hell off me. Including him. HELLO HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP.

It’s at times like this that you simply need to call a Time Out and take a moment to remember that you are an actual person. A person who requires a modicum of personal space. Actually, I’m not terribly good at this, so it’s usually only when I’m just about ready to book myself a one-way ticket to anywhere other than my own house, that I have to admit I *might* need to have a bit of RnR. After a pretty major wobble last weekend it was suggested to me by Dad of Savages that I might want to go somewhere where the rest of my family were not. And that’s just what I did. I took myself off for two hours. Alone. 120 minutes, all by myself, without anyone touching me or needing me or demanding something from me or feeding from me. And it was literally amazing. I actually coudn’t remember the last time I’d been alone with my own thoughts (and a double G&T). But just that tiny little slice of headspace was enough to make me feel like a grown up. Someone who has interesting thoughts and opinions (realtively speaking). It doesn’t sound like much, and I guess it isn’t. But, when you’re a stay at home parent with two kids under 3, two hours in the corner of the pub with a G&T is tantamount to a 3-day spa break. (Actually, that might be the single most ridiculous thing I have ever typed, there is NO substitute for a 3-day spa break.)

I think I’d been in the front door approximately 0.43 seconds before Big Savage was demanding to be ‘coddled’ (or cuddled in layman’s terms) and Tiny Savage’s eyes were welling up with the sheer relief of realising The Milk had returned. But – somewhat predictably – after my short hiatus from parenting I was full of renewed vigour for my little Savages, and was happily offering up my body for donkey rides, gymnastic routines and general fondling. And it probably didn’t hurt that I had the buzz of a cheeky afternoon gin to take the edge off.

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GAME ON

A story about Responsibility

When I was pregnant with Big Savage I dutifully applied myself to understanding what was happening to my body as I grew him. I downloaded not one, but two apps that tracked the minutiae of his development from microscopic bundle of cells to 7lb baby. I attended midwife appointments and NHS classes and NCT classes. I researched buggies and car seats and gro bags and bath thermometers and resuable nappies and cot beds and snooze pods and dream sheep and probably hundreds more products – aiming to be as prepared as possible for the arrival of my baby. And I suppose, on paper, I was prepared. I had dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s. But, when you’re waiting for a baby to arrive, ‘preparation’ is just academic.

I remember so vividly the cold fear that surged through me as I watched Dad of Savages walking out the door of the maternity ward at the end of visiting hours on the day Big Savage was born. I felt like a weak swimmer, paddling out into dark water. This tiny, red bundle of baby boy in a clear plastic box next to my bed belonged to me, but I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that it would probably be sensible for an adult to be present. There’s nothing quite so sobering as realising this is it now; no more daydreaming and planning and buying nice stuff off the internet. Shit just got real, mama.

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A plastic box FULL of responsibilty
Because, although it’s no mean feat, keeping a kid alive on a day-to-day basis is comparatively easy. What keeps me up at night, what sometimes feels like a weight pressing down on my chest, is the responsibilty of raising Big and Tiny Savage. I very quickly came to realise that all the lovingly curated baby stuff in the world can’t give you the skills needed to help form a person’s personality – to guide them towards their full potential, to teach them what is right, wrong, appropriate, funny, moral and trustworthy. There isn’t an app that demonstrates how to teach your child to be good and kind and conscientious and how to like themselves. Or one that will gift them with confidence and show them how to be comfortable in their own skin and proud of themselves and generous towards others. Blinking heck, if there was, I’d pay seriously big bucks for it. Because when it comes to responsibilities, there are few bigger than growing a human and sending them out into the World to be their own person. Sitting in that hospital bed with my son on that first night all I could think was: I can’t believe I’ve been allowed to do this.

I eventually learnt to cope with the responsiblity of being a parent by accepting that I was never going to be perfect. There are always going to be days when I feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants. Days when I shout too much. Days when I’m tired and grumpy and let Cbeebies do the lion’s work. Days when I’m counting down the minutes until bedtime. But then there are also the days where I feel as though I’ve put my best foot forward, that I’ve done a relatively good job. Days that have been filled with kisses and cuddles and laughter and warm, fuzzy feelings (In between the tantrums, at least).

I’ve learnt to appreciate the weight of the responsibility I carry around; because it helps to remind me, even when I feel as though life is going to hell in a handcart, how very, very lucky I am.

 

 

A story about Time

Once I was chugging around the streets of Southampton with Big Savage in the pram, desperately willing him to go down for a nap when an older lady stopped me on the street. Newborns are like catnip or really powerful magnets – if you have one, people are attracted to it – which is both wonderful and socially awkward all at the same time. Especially when you are sleep deprived and questioning why you ever thought motherhood would be the right thing for you. This particular kind soul peered into my pram, cooed, complimented and chucked Big Savage’s cheek. Then she laid her hand on my arm, looked me hard in the eye and said ‘I know you’re very tired, but try to enjoy him, he will be grown up before you know it.’ And I stood there all rictus grin, nodding and blinking back hot tears. Not whistful, thank-you-kind-stranger-lady-with-your-words-of-insightful-wisdom tears, but angry, holy-hell-you-can-have-him-if-you-think-this-is-all-so-bloody-great tears. Because – obviously –  you can’t tell a nice, kind, old lady that you were awake most of the night and you don’t know which way is up and that you’d thank her to mind her own bloody business.

That lady toddled off on her errands never to be seen again, but, clearly, she had been there, seen it and bought herself the t-shirt, because I sit here typing 2 years later knowing she was exactly right. Big Savage is hardly ‘grown up’ but he is 28 months worth of high voltage toddler, stringing together sentences and leaping off furniture with the wild abandon of someone who has no concept of their own mortality. He’s all long legs and willfulness and there’s really nothing left of the tiny, sleepless baby I was pushing around all those months ago. Already that part of my life has passed by in an indefinable haze of steep, steep learning curves and tiredness and frustration and crazily intense love. When I think back over the last two and a bit years, huge swathes of Big Savage’s life are basically a vague, haze-y miasma. I mean, they’d have to be, because somewhere in that passage of time I decided it was a good idea to have ANOTHER baby. In order to do that, I must have surpressed a hell of a lot of shit. But then I suppose that is just how life works. You put one foot in front of the other. You get through this day and you move onto the next. You just keep moving forward.

The thing is, it’s not always easy to be thankful for the time you have been given when you’re already ten minutes late for Toddler Group but your son is dancing around naked from the waist down, having removed his shoes, trousers and own nappy in the two minutes it took you to put the baby’s pram suit on.

It’s very hard to remember you are #blessed when you are wiping a shitty bottom for the fourth time that morning. When there are raisins in the DVD player. When your toddler finds a biro and decides to ‘do a picture mummy’ on the sofa/wall/television. When you find a lump of masticated sandwich in the last mouthful of your coffee (cheers for that).

But time marches on, with or without us, as my wise friend on the street was trying to tell me all those moons ago. And you can guarantee that twenty years from now Dad of Savages and I will be sitting here saying ‘Do you remember that time Big drew a picture on the new armchair? Oh bless him though’ and having a good old LOL. Because, luckily, our old friend time is also a great healer. And this is the stuff that memories are made of.

I can predict that I will almost certainly turn into one of those ladies who, should I be lucky enough to reach a grand old age, peers into prams and urges new parents to savour their tiny, demanding humans. Because this is what happens (cue Elton John) in the circle of life; you live it, you earn your stripes, you try to pass on some wisdom. And if those tired parents want to give me the metaphorical finger, that’s perfectly ok too. It will just be my turn.

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Chaos-maker (and growing up too fast)

A story about having a Home Birth a.k.a that time I almost had a baby at playgroup

There are worse places to be when you are in labour than a playgroup. For starters there is a wealth of experience in the room; every single person there has been through it in some form – quite a few of them on multiple occasions – therefore empathy levels are off the chain. In my case there were not one, but two practising midwives present. Check and check. And, let’s not forget, there are a multitude of soft, wipe-clean surfaces on which you could quite comfortably squeeze out a baby with minimal fuss. The glaringly obvious downside is that you are surrounded by a hoard of extremely loud, maruading children – including your own – which is not exactly conducive to a zen state. There’s also possibly something to be said here about violation of health and safety regulations, but y’know,  minor details.

It wasn’t my intention to labour at a playgroup. I mean, I’m not a masochist. I had just gone into full denial that what I was experiencing that morning was proper labour. It started as a few twinges as I walked up the road with Big Savage in the pushchair, progressing over the next hour to full blown contractions. And even though I had been warned that my 2nd labour could progress quickly, I was still doggedly attempting to facilitate Big Savage’s colouring-in of a farm yard scene, when I should have been calling the Labour Line and strapping on my tens machine. It took a very good friend to literally take me in hand and march me out the door, where I waddled behind Big Savage’s pushchair stopping every four steps to have a contraction. (The pram actually came in handy for bracing.) Before eventually being rescued from the side of the road by Dad of Savages with the car. Thank GOD, because I was quite close to deciding to lie down on the pavement and have the baby outside the MOT Garage.

Having made it back home, I had a panicky 15 minutes where I was alone in the house whilst Dad of Savages whisked Big off to the childminders. Followed by another panicky 15 minutes after he returned, and before the Midwife arrived, where I clung to the towel rail in the bathroom and shouted ‘WHERE IS THE MIDWIFE? WHERE IS THE MIDWIFE????’ with Dad of Savages getting increasingly flustered trying to line and fill a birthing pool at speed. But once Judy, my lovely midwife, was safely in the house I have to tell you the experience of home birthing was amazing. And I don’t mean this in a smug, look-at-me-aren’t-I clever type of way. I just mean that, despite a few misgivings (see the list below), it turned out to be absolutely the right choice for me for my second labour. I loved the fact that I didn’t have to make any dashes to the hospital and that the hospital essentially came to me. Being in my own familiar space was both a touch abstract (birth pool in the dining room) but also incredibly reassuring. I didn’t have to worry whether there’d be a birth pool available if I wanted to use one for pain relief. The midwives who came out to me were incredible and they had no other commitments, they were just there with me, giving gentle support and encouragement. The whole thing was pretty damn calm and peaceful (relatively speaking). And Tiny Savage entered the world a speedy 1 hour 45 minutes after I left playgroup.Result.

For those of you reading this thinking ‘well, bully for you’, I know that I am very lucky to have had a low risk pregnancy, and having had one successful vaginal delivery already meant I was able to feel fairly confident that everything would go according to plan. If I had experienced complications or wanted/needed pain relief stronger than gas and air it would have meant being taken to the hospital by ambulance. Home birth is not for everyone. In fact, it took me a long time to decide it might be something that could work for me. As illustrated below:

A list of concerns related to Home Birth

  1. Where will I put my existing child? Actually this was the reason we chose a home birth in the end. Because, with no family on the doorstep, if push (heh) came to shove and there was no childcare available for Big Savage then we knew we always had the option to stick him in front of cbeebies with a multipack of Pombear and hope he didn’t notice there was a baby being born in the next room. LOLZ. Forunately this did not come to pass. I think it’s safe to say we dodged a bullet there.
  2. Will the neighbours hear me? This was a very genuine concern. We live in a small Victorian terrace house. We hear our neighbours and I’m sure our neighbours hear us. And although we’re lucky enough to have great neighbours, I did not want them to hear me mooing like a cow as the baby crowned. Nor did I want to censor myself because I was worried they would hear me mooing like a cow when the baby crowned. Every midwife I saw told me when the time came I would not care and, of course, they were right because: pushing baby out of vagina = bigger problems. In the end Larry from next door confirmed he had heard some suspicious noises but just assumed it was some particularly rambunctious telly.
  3. Mess! This was another major concern. Part of the beauty of labouring at a maternity hospital is that it’s the NHS’ (God Bless You) job to clean up the mess. And when you’ve just given birth you don’t want an industrial cleaning job on your hands. But, do you know what? It wasn’t messy. The birthing pool we hired came with a liner that catches all the gunk. You pump the water out, lift out the liner and pop it in the bin, deflate the pool and that’s pretty much it. The midwives take all the afterbirth stuff, we had a tarp for the floor provided by the birth pool people. I bought a couple of shower curtains from Poundland just in case we needed to cover other soft furnishings. And an hour after Tiny Savage was born the pool was back in the box and we were all sat on the sofa. Win.
  4.  Logistics! Actually this was something I hadn’t considered… so consequently there was a low moment right after Tiny Savage had been born and the cord had been cut where I ended up lying on my cold, hard, wooden dining room floor to deliver my placenta and have my foof examined for tears. Not the comfiest location. But logistically there wasn’t really anywhere else to do it. I wasn’t about to walk upstairs to the bed with the cord dangling between my legs and we have the world’s smallest sofa (2 seats. I know, right? Don’t get me started – that is a WHOLE other story) but I’d only thought as far as the actual giving birth stuff. Luckily for me I didn’t need any stitches the second time round so I was off the floor fairly swiftly – however in hindsight I might have benefitted from thinking through ALL the stages of the birth and planning accordingly. (NB: Had I needed stitches, I’m sure the very brilliant midwives would have made me more comfortable.)
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Shit just got real: Big Savage meets Tiny Savage

So to summarise, if I were to have another baby (HA HA HA HA HA HA), would I choose a homebirth? In a heartbeat. If you’re considering it, would I recommend it? In a heartbeat. You might prefer to do a little more of the hard graft in the comfort of your own home, though, rather than at playgroup. Just a suggestion.

 

A story about bracing for change

When I decided it was time to procreate, I was absolutely adamant that having a kid wasn’t going to change one iota of my life. Yes I wanted to have a baby but, when that happened, I was not going to be defined by the fact I was someone’s Mother. I remember spouting on a fairly regular basis after I’d had one too many gin and tonics that no fictional child of mine was going to change me tra la la la la.

Then, when Big Savage was about 5 months old I woke up one day, looked around at my life and didn’t really recognise any of it. I was dragging my saggy maternity jeans up every 5 seconds because my ‘normal’ clothes didn’t fit me. A perpetual stink of baby sick seemed to follow me around. My hair was falling out in clumps. Dad of Savages and I barely seemed to have time in the day to talk to each other and anyway we were so tired that all the words that seemed to come out of our mouths were either banal or baby gibberish. I felt devoid of personality. I wasn’t sad, per se. What I felt was completely disconnected from the real world, from my real life. And that is what they can’t teach you in an NCT class: after you have a baby you have to learn to be a new version of yourself, because life as you knew it simply doesn’t exist anymore. What childless me didn’t understand was there is no way to be exactly the same person you were before you pushed a baby out. And that’s not because you have to hand over your personality at the threshold of Motherhood, it’s more that the axis of life shifts when you cross it. It’s a complex role being a Mother – it comes with a fuck-ton of raging, feral hormones. It imposes restrictions (like it or not) on your social life and forces you to juggle your working life. Or give it up, if you’re like me. It’s essentially putting on a pair of responsibility handcuffs that you must wear for life. And at the same time it’s also mind bogglingly immense – there is no way to describe the feeling of holding a creature that you made with your own body. You reach new depths of love you never thought possible. Your focus shifts 100% from yourself to someone else – and I suppose that’s the crux of it – after all of this has happened – what’s left for you?

I think what I experienced in the first few months of Big Savage’s life was a bit of a mourning period for all the things I didn’t know I was going to miss: not just the obvious things like sleep, non-puke-smelling clothes, lazy saturday mornings and impromptu nights out – but little tiny things too, like being able to walk out the door with your phone and keys and purse and fuck all else. And a big part of it was mourning the relationship I had with Dad of Savages before we had a child together – as strange as this might sound. There is no doubt that having Big Savage was absolutely the making of us as a couple and as people; we grew up, we truly learnt what team work was, our lives became fused together in an irreperable yet wonderful way, we were united in a mutual love for something other than each other. But on the flipside, having a child together was like someone coming along and driving a massive literal and metaphorical wedge between us.You’re so busy holding a baby, you don’t hold each other anymore, and, if you’re anything like me, you find yourself harbouring deep, deep unpsoken resesntments towards your partner for somehow *miraculously* being able to sleep through a baby fully losing it’s shit at 3am in the morning. FFS.

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Rictus grin, baby, shark (Standard)

I did eventually get my mojo back – and perversely this happened for me after I handed over a tiny portion of the responsibilty for Big Savage to someone else. When he was about 10 months old we found a lovely childminder to send him to once a week for a few hours, and I did a little bit of something in that time that was just for me. Quite a lot of the time that something was sitting on the sofa doing sweet FA – but that was enough to set a change in motion. Little by little I started to feel like ‘myself’ again. I reconciled the old me with the new me. I ‘mail merged’ them – so to speak. (Retro tech ref, kids.) I stopped clinging to the vestige of my old life, because I saw that the new one I had made was exhausting, emotionally draining, and indescribably wonderful. Even if it did smell a little bit of sick.

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We are fam-i-ly – all together now!

And having climbed back onto the bandwagon of life, of course, Tiny Savage has come crashing into the world.

But this time I’m braced for the change.

 

 

 

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