We’ve been clearing out the loft…in order to make space for lego (oh so much lego)…in order to clear space in the nursery for the cot…
It feels like one of those little handheld games you’d get in party bags with the squares you had to move around to make a picture; if one square was in the wrong place you had to mess up all the others to fix it… My head may explode!
Anyway, in addition to making me want to go an play the lottery in the hope of a bigger house, the room jenga led to me discovering my diary from the year Ethan was born. It’s an A5 page-a-day ring bound book, with ridiculously cheerful polka dots on the cover. And it has made me realise that I am totally and utterly neurotic and need to be stopped.
“Don’t be silly, Peta!” I hear you say (one would hope!) “You can’t be that bad?!”
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Exhibit A:
Here we see page upon page of post-it notes. These post-it notes contain quotes and helpful tips from the library of parenting books I read during my pregnancy. All my life I have been convinced that the answer to everything lies in books. If I read enough of them about any particular subject then I will have all the answers to anything that is thrown at me. This academic urge did not leave me during pregnancy… In hindsight, all the books did was convince me that I had to remember all these rules and facts and hints and tips in order to keep my baby safe and happy, and that if I forgot one or two then we were destined to create a terror of a child who would never thrive in the world.
Moving swiftly on to Exhibit B:
Here we have my birth plan, which, as we all know if you’ve read the rest of my blog, is so far from reality that it probably belongs more in a Terry Pratchett novel (although it is significantly less funny and insightful). Reading it now makes me wince at our naiveite. And also makes me want to go around telling all first time mum’s that a birth plan should not be called a birth plan, but a “What I would like to happen if everything goes according to plan, however I recognise that it probably won’t so this will just give the midwives something amusing to read” plan.
And finally, the pinnacle of the insanity, Exhibit C:
This is where it gets actually bonkers. This is a day in the life of Ethan aged 12 days! We have detailed information on which breast he was fed from, for how long, how much expressed milk he was fed, when he slept and for how long, and what other appointments we had that day.
To my shame, this continues every single day, through weaning (where we have scintillating entries concerning hummus, bananas, et al), and my workouts. The final entry is the day he turns 8 months old, when I can only assume that Mark stole the book from me and hid it in the deepest depths of the wardrobe so I would stop recording completely pointless information and stressing myself out.
I honestly am ashamed of the pressure I put on myself. I think I thought that if I wrote down everything that happened, then I could make sure it was all going well and notice for patterns in case it wasn’t. I was completely terrified that I would mess up this newborn someone had handed to me, and that routine and organisation was the way to make sure that we did everything right. I worried so much about everything to do with being a new mum. And I tried to take my list-making from the workplace to the nursery.
When I got pregnant again I would think back to the early days of Ethan and I saw a relaxed, easy time. But I assume that must be those rose-tinted glasses that make you forget how awful labour so that you’ll do it again and the human race won’t go extinct. The woman who charted every feed her son had for 8 months was not relaxed or easy-going. She was clearly trying to find some way to deal with this massive change in every aspect of her life.
I really don’t want to turn into that person again (partly because I would like to hang onto my friends until I come out of the other side of the newborn bubble!). I realise that there will be stress and anxiety arriving with the Hatchling. But there must be ways that I can reduce the effect they have on me, and our family. And one of these ways is for me not to obsess over every little detail. I have managed to keep a human alive, through quite challenging circumstances, for 7 and a half years. So I must be doing something right! There is nothing to suggest that I can’t be a good mum without all these lists.
I don’t want to be clearing the loft out again in 7 years (probably to turn it into some kind of teenage boy den where Ethan can go and smell like a hamster in peace) and find a 2020 page-a-day diary that makes me want to cry into my Rioja.