A Diary of Motherhood: Happy Two Years!

Dear Baby Bird 

Two years. Twenty-four months. 104 weeks. 731 days. I can't quite believe it, and yet, at the same time I feel I've lived a million more days in the last two years.

In the last few weeks I've been found myself singing a song I'd long forgotten. By The Brand New Heavies, a soul band that did fairly well in the 1990s, it's called You are the Universe, and it's the chorus' lyrics that I find myself singing, often as soft as a whisper, in your ear.

You are the Universe
And there ain't nothin' you can't do
If you conceive it, you can achieve it
That's why, I believe in you, yes I do.

Because you are my universe. You are the axis I pivot around. You are my hope and my dreams for the future. 

And this is all bloody terrifying. How can someone so small, so ill-equipped to face the world alone, so snotty(!) be in charge of so much of my hope and happiness and other good gooey stuff?

But I'm not thinking about that right now, I'm just thinking about how wonderful feeling this way is, because this is how I expected to feel as a mother. This is what I thought motherhood would be like. This is how I expected to feel the second I became your mother. 

And yet, this is not what happened. Anyone who's followed my motherhood journey will know that it took me a long time to be at peace with motherhood, and even longer for me to realise that this peace isn't always going to be very peaceful!

Thanks to hindsight, I also know I didn't feel this heady way a year ago. There were still so many other feelings and happenings shaping my relationship with you, not least sleep deprivation, exhaustion and post-natal depression and anxiety

As is often the way with huge journeys taken one day at a time, or often one hour at a time, a lot has happened and changed in a year, for both of us.

A year ago, I was still breastfeeding. I was still going to you a least once in the night, every night. I was often taking an afternoon nap with you. I was just starting to adjust from two to three day work weeks. I was finally starting new client and creative projects. I was only just back in a regular exercise routine. I was still relying far too heavily on caffeine and sugar to get me through the hard days. I was still counting down the minutes til bedtime most days and found Monday mornings walking away from your daycare a brutal mix of elation and guilt. 

Over the year that has passed, we've stopped breastfeeding, napping together and mercifully, waking up multiple times in the night, every night. I finally spent a night away from you. Then a weekend. Then both your father and I left you for the night. And you survived. We all survived. 

So much has changed. 

You now sleep through the night more often than not. You nap for an hour or two, and sometimes up to three hours, in one big chunk rather than a scrappy 40 minutes two or three times a day. Nowadays you point to your bed or your room when you are tired.

Now you use words. Real words. Your first was "peekaboo" or "hello" depending on whether someone asks your father or me. (I'm sure it was Hello). And while you don't say as much as other children your age or younger, you have a growing repertoire of things you say, "one more" "da-doo" (thank you) "wow" "diddy" (dizzy - for when you want dad to throw you around!) and "nie-nie" (night night) being some of my favourites. You use Dutch animal sounds and only ever really say goodbye or respond to "kusje" (kiss) requests in this second language of yours. 

And of course you're walking. I actually expected you to walk not long after your first birthday, but you actually took your sweet time and didn't walk unaided for long periods of time until 17 months, something I really worried about at the time but now I see it as inevitable because like all things you have learned, you don't slow down to learn them. So with walking there was no taking each step slowly, one by one. No, you rushed your way through your first steps, literally running before you could walk... So you fell alot more than maybe you should have, but you kept going, at your own unbelievably fast pace, and like most things, you made it work for you. Now you dance, your run, you climb, and you're very close to jumping...

If I was pushed to say what was our biggest challenge this year, I would say food. From the start you've always been reluctant to try new foods and this only got worse once there was a few trusted foods you knew you liked. You would then only eat these foods, and often this range of choices would shrink especially if you were unwell or we were away from home. I think I mentioned previously about our holidays in Sydney and Thailand where your survived on a diet of only watermelon, bananas and bread. I'm cautiously optimistic that you are (very!) slowly coming out of this phase. You are more open to trying new things, both at home and daycare, and in the last few weeks you've started to add maybe a food a week to those you already enjoyed... 

A few weeks ago we had a summer "borrel" (party) at your daycare and it was so different from the one we attended last year. Back then I had to sit next to you as you climbed around in the "baby garden", a closed-off area with soft fake grass that you and other babies crawled around on. This year I sat at a picnic table, a glass of wine in hand, and watched you run around the "big garden", trying to dig your way into the sandpit that was purposefully closed off, all the while leadinng a small band of boys into all corners of the open space. In many ways it was our first time watching you with your peers and I was surprised to see you act as something of a "leader" with your friends. It was you that they called out for, it was you they followed, and most surprisingly of all, and it was you they copied laughing, shouting, running or playing peekaboo with a flag that was hanging against the door. These boys loved hanging out with you, and that made me proud and happy. It was also a reminder that there is still so much we don't know about you... and I am so looking forward to finding it all out.

I feel like this post only touches on a fraction of the things we've experienced, done, seen, and achieved in the last year. There have been so many other big events - we bought our first house and moved into it less than six weeks later, we travelled to Australia (and survived the long-haul flight and jetlag!), we spent Christmas in Iceland, you've been to three family weddings back in the UK - and of course there have been countless other day-to-day hiccups; more teeth including that first set of beastly molars, sleep-training, explosive poos, the delightfully named 'slapped-cheek syndrome' and more colds and sniffles than I can count on two hands.

So know this, Baby Bird. Every day with you is a year's worth of experiences. Every day with you is a monumental journey full of lessons learned and love felt. Every day with you is an accomplishment I am proud of.

You are my Universe. You are the Universe.

And to tie this up neatly with how the post started, I want to share the lyrics that I don't sing to you from that son I mentioned. I just looked them up on the internet, and they are exactly what I feel about and wish for you.

You're the future, and you've come for what is yours
The hidden treasure, locked behind the hidden doors
And the promise of a day that's shiny new
Only a dreamer, could afford this point of view
But you're a driver, not a passenger in life
And if you're ready, you won't have to try 'cause...
You are the Universe
And there ain't nothin' you can't do
If you conceive it, you can achieve it
That's why, I believe in you, yes I do

Your proud, happy, still-tired-but-no-longer-sleep-deprived, will-never-stop-singing-in-your-ear, crazy-in-love mother  x

Frances M. Thompson

Londoner turned wanderer, Frankie is an author, freelance writer and blogger. Currently based in Amsterdam, Frankie was nomadic for two years before starting a family with her Australian partner. Frankie is the author of three short story collections, and is a freelance writer for travel and creative brands. In 2017, she launched WriteNOW Cards, affirmation cards for writers that help build a productive and positive writing practice. When not writing contemporary fiction, Frankie shops for vintage clothes, dances to 70s disco music and chases her two young sons around Amsterdam.
Find Frankie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+.

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