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Those cute kids must have a good lookin’ mama…
(Thanks to my wonderful hubby who designed the mySquiggles banner for me. If you’re interested in his work check out his tech blog at conceptualadvantage.com)
My toddler’s imagination seems to have burst into life overnight. Suddenly she has discovered that any object can be whatever you want it to be, if you just pretend. She likes to use the word “pretend” as well, just to make sure we aren’t confused. This morning she said, “I’m just going to the pretend shops with my pretend baby to get some pretend garlic bread. Is that ok my pretend Mummy?” I was amused until she got to the “pretend Mummy” bit!
I remember playing pretend like this when I was a little girl. There are a lot of advantages to being a fabricated mother. Pretend mums get to change pretend nappies that don’t smell. Pretend mums get to burp pretend babies that don’t spit up. Pretend mums effortlessly cook delicious meals that everyone eats. And they don’t have to clean up the pretend dishes afterwards. Pretend mums are perfect and have perfect babies in perfect homes.
I’m a real Mum. Despite my best efforts the house is untidy, my toddler is a strong-willed pocket rocket, and dinner is whatever I could throw together while juggling a fussy baby. But I wouldn’t trade it. While being a mother is more challenging than I anticipated, it’s also better than I imagined. Real mums get real laughs and real love a real lot.
I have to say though… tomorrow I think I’ll take a pretend holiday with all the pretend money I earn being a full-time mum!
Recently my daughter and I were dancing around the lounge room happily together. Just as I thought about what a lovely moment it was, the happy bubble burst. My two year old came over to me, put her hands on my stomach and said, “Stop wobbling!”
I vaguely remember having a flat stomach. That was two kids ago and things will never be the same again! But I do know they will improve with time and exercise, so I decided to go back to my postnatal physio class.
Both kids come with me to class, and while I do situps with baby boy on my lap, my toddler works out beside me! I feel great doing something for myself. I can be so busy trying to be ‘all things to all people’ that it’s easy to neglect me. I know that prioritising myself and my wellbeing is a good example to set for my kids. They will never learn to look after their bodies and value themselves if I don’t model it for them.
I still have a way to go with my jelly belly. I haven’t made it out of maternity shorts yet, and at the park last week I got stuck on the slide! I just remind myself that I grew a whole human being inside me not that long ago. I’m not a big woman, and that’s a big deal.
(NB: this is a very tired looking me at 37 weeks. It takes a while to bounce back from a belly that protrudes like this! I didn’t give birth until 41wks…)
My baby boy really hasn’t grown well since birth. (It’s only a half sized footy in the lower pic!) During his first 4 months of life we have had to have him weighed weekly or fortnightly to monitor his weight gain, and I have done my darnedest to boost my milk supply. Mums hear the message loud and clear that “breast is best” so it’s hard not to feel guilty about going to Plan B.
For me Plan B is a combination of breast and bottle feeding, using either formula or expressed milk. After only two weeks of topping up his feeds he is looking better, seeming more settled, and pulling a much weightier number on the scales. In fact, over the last two weeks he gained more than the six weeks prior to that combined!
As I give my little boy a bottle at home, I feel bad that I haven’t been able to feed him entirely myself. When I give him a bottle out I feel much worse though. Other mothers give me that look and I wish for a sign that says, “I gave my baby breastmilk before this bottle!” Despite how I feel in my heart about going to Plan B, my head tells me that I have made a good choice on my child’s behalf. He is healthier and happier, and that is what is important.
I have put a lot of time, effort and thought into my son’s physical development. I have tried different strategies and sought the counsel of friends and professionals all in a bid to do the best job I can at providing for my baby. But it strikes me that his overall development involves so much more than just his physical growth. I wonder if I will approach his mental, emotional and spiritual development in similar ways. I wonder if they will receive the same attention from others. And perhaps hardest of all, I wonder if I will always be able to prioritise my child’s needs over my own feelings.