A Diary of Motherhood: Week Eleven

This Diary of Motherhood is a series of weekly letters to my first baby, my little son who I call Baby Bird. I know not everyone wants to read about the highs and lows of motherhood so you can read non-baby related posts about travelwritingfreelancing or Amsterdam instead. Alternatively read one of my short stories or check out some book reviews and recommendations.

Dear Baby Bird,

This was the first week where you weren't the centre of attention. I know that sounds awful, but it had surprisingly positive effects on me and therefore, our family. It's not that anyone or anything else became the focal point, it was more a case of letting other things occupy my brain space. You see for the last ten weeks it's like a ticker tape has been running around the outside of my head: YOU ARE NOW A MUM. YOU HAVE A BABY. YOU ARE NOW A MUM. YOU HAVE A BABY. As a result of this, I've stayed on a sort of high alert, never letting my guard down, struggling to sleep for more than a few hours at a time (even without you waking me), constantly running through never ending To Do Lists in my brain and forever adding to a list called Things I Still Haven't Done.

But this week the ticker tape slowed down, like a train pulling into a station. At the station it picked up some other passengers and when it left to continue it's journey it ran something like this YOU ARE A MUM. YOU HAVE A BABY. YOU ARE ALSO A WRITER, A FRIEND, A DAUGHTER AND A GIRLFRIEND. YOU LIKE READING, LISTENING TO MUSIC AND SPENDING TIME WITH PEOPLE YOU CARE ABOUT. YOU ARE A MUM. YOU HAVE A BABY. YOU ARE ALSO A WRITER, A FRIEND, A DAUGHTER AND A GIRLFRIEND. YOU LIKE READING, LISTENING TO MUSIC AND SPENDING TIME WITH PEOPLE YOU CARE ABOUT. And so on.

Even though the ticker tape has got longer and my identity has consciously stretched further, it's actually a lighter, speedier ticker tape. It now seems to float around in my mind rather than pulling it tight like a belt.

You see, this week I started working again. Not for long - five hours on Tuesday - but it was significant because we left you with a babysitter in order for me to do so. After two false starts leaving the house (I couldn't find my phone and then I left without my bank card) I walked down the street away from you and the house with a definite bounce in my step; I was thrilled at the idea of working on something for more than 30 minutes. But when I sat down in the coffee shop on the corner of my street. my laptop open and my coffee and a slice of lemon cake in front of me (surrounded by a small army of others in exactly the same position), I felt indescribably lost. It was guilt mixed with sadness mixed with loneliness mixed with confusion mixed with a huge bag of second thoughts. I decided to let this mish-mash of emotions wash over me, sip on my coffee, shove a huge chunk of cake in my mouth, and then I got to work.

I did more in those four hours than I have ever done in four hours. Thank you Baby Bird for teaching me how to be efficient and productive with my time in a way I would never have figured out by myself. 

Filled with the satisfaction and pride of having completed a small handful of work tasks and putting 3000 words of new stories down on paper, Wednesday and Thursday felt like lighter days and I didn't want to get my laptop out when you were napping. Instead I kept you in my arms and watched you sleep, occasionally drifting off myself. There will come a day when we won't be able to do that any more so I'm glad I can now soak up these moments without feeling guilty about the work or writing I could be doing instead.

Also this week I started dreaming again. Literally. Although you're still waking at least twice in the nights for food or a cuddle or just to let us know you're still alive, I'm managing to sleep better in the few hours in between, so much so that I've started to dream again. The dreams are wonderfully odd and seem to have no bearing on what's going on in our day-to-day life, but sometimes they're the best kind of dreams.

But enough about me. No matter how much I have changed in the last seven days, you will always out-do me.

This week I noticed your arm movements are more controlled and directed. You are also using those long, chubby fingers of yours to hold onto things when they magically land in your palm. One day soon you're going to put these two things together and go out and grab what you want. I am both dreading and willing for this to happen.

This week you started making different noises. I heard high pitch squeaks you'd not made before. I listened to you have a conversation with your father that involved nothing but the sound "oooh", and I was amazed at how you grunt, groan, giggle and gurgle at the toys we put in front of you. You seem to have so much to say; I can't wait.

This week, at our second session of Mother & Baby Yoga, you lasted more than an hour on your back. As someone who seems to get bored of a viewpoint or position in less than thirty minutes, this was a small breakthrough and it meant I didn't have to do some of the harder squatting and lunging exercises holding you so thank you for that as I didn't have to spend the two days that followed unable to walk up stairs or sit down without grimacing like I did last week.

This week you started placing your hand on my arm as I change you and keeping it there. If that simple  and possibly accidental act fills my heart up with happiness, what exactly is it going to feel like when you reach for me when you're sad, squeeze me back when I hug you, or finally have words in which to tell me everything you want to say? 

Your not-really-sleep-deprived-but-definitely-still-a-bit-tired, aching-from-all-those-squats-even-without-a-7kg-weight, 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.
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