I think a lot of people start on their journey into parenthood and think that having kids won’t change them. Everyone has friends who say, “oh, just wait till you have kids”. I never thought I’d be one of those friends, but I did not anticipate the magnitude of change that I have experienced – it was beyond my comprehension.
Before my first son, I had never changed a nappy. I had made a pact with myself that I wouldn’t change a nappy unless they were my own children. I have no idea why this was a thing for me, but it was. If only parenthood was as simple as changing a nappy – it would be a walk in the park. I find it hard to describe the highs and the lows, the joys and sadness, the struggle with sleep but ability to play until you can’t play no more. I am always trying to balance making sure the boys learn and develop but are also safe – I don’t want Jamie to fall over, but I sort of do so that he knows what to do and how to get back up.
The anxiety that comes with being a parent is totally overwhelming, especially when it’s your first. With second babes you tend to be a bit more relaxed. With our first baby we were definitely not relaxed! I remember staying in the hospital with Rishi, our first, when he was born. I remember feeling relieved we were kept in the hospital for a few days as I didn’t feel my husband and I should just be allowed to just walk out the door with this new human that we had no idea what to do with. On one night we raised the alarm for the midwives when we noticed his willy was white. Turns out there was just some cotton wool stuck to it. Not our finest hour (I blame lack of sleep) but it makes me laugh a lot. Rishi endured a lot of stupid moments from us – nappies on back to front, leakages and nappy malfunctions, me checking his temperature every 5 minutes, baby led weaning fails and much more. But we made it through, we all survived and so Rishi taught me how to mother and to be a mum (two things which are quite different in my eyes). We have had so many firsts together, so many first baby classes, first time in the plane with a baby and all sorts. We had a lot of fun along the way and he can be proud that he toughened us up and prepared us for Jamie.
I’ve written before about the jump from one to two, but I wasn’t concerned about caring for Jamie, I knew I could look after a baby, I knew the basics. Being a mum of two is obviously very different but with Jamie spending most of his time in lockdown, it gave me time to be a mum at home. First time round, I had an incredible time meeting new friends and being so busy, I had this first-time mum social life which is quite a contrast to a lockdown maternity leave. Jamie took me back to my roots and he reminded me that the simplest things really do make me happy. I like singing, dancing, being creative. I love art. I love doing. I love music. I love the joy of bringing a book to life and creating a world of make-believe. I love sitting in the sun and having a picnic. Treasure hunts, garden games and baking. Jamie reminded me that the simplest thing can make you happy. He reminded me of the person I used to be – buried underneath the busy life of a lawyer living in London.
I remember meetings before I left work for maternity leave and my expectations in returning to work – and my whole mindset had shifted, but because it needed to. I, as a person, needed a strike of lightening to make me reassess my priorities. That makes the end of my maternity leave quite a struggle for me as I contemplate the life I am about to return to, versus the one I leave behind. It’s important for me not to lose these valuable lessons in pretending to be someone I am not. To remember, I love to draw, I love to learn and I love to teach.
I am fortunate to have travelled and had adventures all over the world, I work in what some would consider a hard working career – but without a doubt my family is my greatest achievement and what I am the most proud of. It doesn’t mean, I’ve lost myself or I’ve given up on things I love – no, more than that, I found myself. So thank you, Rishi for making me a mummy and thank you Jamie for reminding me who I used to be.