So much to do
We often grow up thinking that life has a certain schedule ahead. Get a job. Get married. Have kids. But the pressure seems to be on Mums to be everything all at once! Be the housewife, take care of the kids, sort out all those ‘little’ things that Mums often do. Like shopping for gifts for family, deciding on the best school/nursery, inviting people over for dinner, planning the next holiday. If you’re a woman, it also means juggling all this with a part-time or full-time job.
I thought this was the way life should be. But I wasn’t coping well with it. I’d thoroughly enjoyed the freedom of going to University and only having to think about myself. I was ecstatic about buying our first house and decorating it just the way we wanted – after years of renting a house we couldn’t change. The next step was inevitably to have a baby. And we were very fortunate that the first time around it happened straight away.
But was I ready? Are we ever ready to take on the responsibility of another life? Pregnancy took it’s toll more than I would have liked. Being heavily pregnant in summer is certainly not fun! Especially when you’re working in a laboratory that’s 28 degrees with no air flow. I had to put my feet in buckets of cold water to keep cool! (Don’t tell my boss – it’s against health & safety).
Here comes the baby
The first few days after my son was born were utter bliss. The hormones did a great job of keeping me in a state of complete serenity. Then everything changed. The responsibility made me feel sick! How do I keep this little one alive?!! When will he stop crying and needing me to hold him?
This was just the beginning of 18 months of a very stressful life. I felt the pressure to attend all these mother and baby groups, even though I didn’t know anyone and felt completely left out each time I went. But it beat being stuck at home!
Returning to work
After 12 months I went back to work as I felt that was about the right age to leave him at nursery. Although he hated being dropped off, I could see how happy he was when I arrived to collect him. So hubby did the dropping off and I did the collecting.
I had a blissful 30 minutes to get ready before heading to work (I know, you’re jealous!). At the time, my colleagues were not so welcoming as I’d returned on reduced hours and was doing less than them, but at a higher band (obviously that degree was irrelevant to them). I hated it. But I loved the tea break minus a baby! Then at 12 I’d race off to collect my little one after he’d had his lunch and was ready for a nap. This nap happened often only in the car and if I was very lucky for maybe 15 minutes after arriving home.
Then I had the whole afternoon with him and I do remember those days fondly. But I also had to squeeze in cleaning, dishes, laundry and planning dinner. With a baby. Hubby had to commute quite far, so he didn’t get home until 6.30pm, so by that time I’d done everything but bath our son. We eventually sat down to eat at 8pm, but which time I was really ready for bed!
Falling off the hamster wheel
That’s the hamster wheel I was on at the time and I thought that was just normal and expected of me. But I had a desire to escape to a desert island and lie drinking cocktails all day long!
The stress took it’s toll on me. After a week off work due to ‘flu’ whilst also looking after my son, the pain was too much. I had a splitting headache and had kept the lights off as they were just too bright. My lovely little one kept climbing in my lap and hugging me and kissing me to make me feel better.
When hubby arrived home, he knew something was wrong. We went straight to the doctors and he sent me straight to A&E with suspected meningitis. It was so frightening. As he took our son home, I was wheeled off to be assessed and when he tried to come back he found I’d been moved to the infectious disease ward with meningitis. I remember the ambulance trip from A&E to the Royal Infirmary and wondering if it was time for me to worry about how long I’d be here. When I arrived in my room a lovely nurse made me some toast and a cup of tea (I don’t know when I’d last eaten and I didn’t like tea!). It was like the food of the Gods!
Then bliss. Peace. Silence. No responsibilities! Just REST!!!
I was put on a drip and had to have lumbar punctures in my spine to test for meningitis (I won’t go into that!). I hated the taste of the hospital food, so my Mum brought food into my room for me. The nurses logged that I wasn’t eating! My lovely little boy came to see me and it really made my day! I had quite a lot of visitors. In the end it was only viral meningitis, so they discharged me. After 4 days.
The world kept spinning
Guess what? The world carried on. My husband coped with our son on his own! The housework was no longer important. Recovery took a couple of weeks. But what I learned has remained ever since. It is not all on me to do everything. I don’t need to conform to societies rules. I am a human!!! Since then, we share the housework. I have days where I just want to rest – and that’s ok! It made me into a more laid back Mum and wife. I appreciate life more than ever, because it could have been so much worse. It doesn’t mean I’ve stayed off that hamster wheel though – unfortunately I’m a glutton for punishment. At home though, things have been much easier ever since. Our relationship was enriched. And I understand how important self-care is.
Do you push yourself so hard that you get run down and fall sick easily? What is your self-care plan? Do you need some reasons to start putting yourself first?
If you’d like to join the juggling mums on facebook, here’s the link