Sunday, 15 November 2015

A great wife or a great mum?


When I was young I was told you have to choose which you want to be - a great mum or a great wife because you cannot be both all of the time, whilst I was growing up I had very much decided that being a great mum and a mediocre wife was the obvious choice. My partner is an adult and my child is an infant and as such the decision to give more energy and attention to the infant made more sense, I mean adults do not require twenty-four hour attention and diligence. 


Then I turned 19, I got married and all of that began to blur. 

For starters I was told I was sterile and if I, by any miracle was to conceive the pregnancy would never carry to term or one of us wouldn't survive birth and as such it was quietly decided between us that children wouldn't be a part of our future unless we changed our minds and doctors gave an all clear. So I didn't have to think about picking what role I would be better at. I was, by default, allowed to be a wife (although for the first year or so I was a shitty wife) and choosing wasn't an issue. 

However, life has its own plans and there ain't diddly squat us lowly fuckers can do about it, and a lovely incredible thing happened - I got a little bit pregnant, then a lot pregnant, then hella pregnant and then not pregnant at all and was totes a mum. 

I became a mummy to a son and my husband became a daddy. We were parents.  

Parents. Like actual parents to a tiny little human being. He has everything we have just really little versions, like he has a tiny little heart and miniature fingers, he has fingerprints but they are just really small so if he was to commit a crime they would be like "hey, this is a really small criminal" not that he would be a criminal, he can't even walk.... anyway. 

All of a sudden, we had a new member of the gang. Our third musketeer and life was pretty awesome. Sleepless and very out of sync but awesome as fuck. 

After the first six months our new little friend wasn't so new and he began sleep through the night, he started solid foods and tried to chat with us. Now that I was sleeping more and could sometimes switch my brain off, I was more lucid and not so exhausted and this made me realise my husband had taken a back seat when it came to my undivided attention. Although he hadn't really said anything to highlight it other than the occasional "I miss spending time with you" and "you're always tired" I realised it was really hurting him but he loved our son so much that losing me to motherhood (and in turn a bit of himself) was something he had decided was okay. 

But it wasn't okay; not to me. 

I had let myself become "just a mum". I had forgotten the person that made me a mum and before that a wife, underneath piles of laundry and nappies and 4am feeds. We still spent a lot of time together but it was punctuated with feeds, fussing/settling, changing and me always falling asleep. We weren't arguing about anything and everything like everyone says you do after a baby is born but sometimes things were a little too quiet and screens became a little too occupying. We were still all over each other like a rash but you never really fully switch off the sonic hearing you acquire upon becoming parents so full mental attention was hard. I'm a clean freak but because I was so tired, a shower would be okay to skip another day than is really necessary (or hygienic) so I wouldn't want to snuggle too close in fear of blinding and stunning my lovely husband, my nails went unpainted and became ever shorter; a far cry from the nails I usually sported, even as I was in labour (hot pink glitter fade, if anyone is interested). I've never been one for makeup and actual clothes if I'm at home, shorts and vests, big T-shirts; anything that can be used as pyjamas but isn't actually pyjamas is fair game to me, but even that was replaced with ugly support bandages, ill-fitting tops that were easy to nurse in and long loungewear to hide my legs. I became more and more covered as my pregnancy/mummy body was unsightly in my own eyes, I was cut, sore, bruised, asymmetrical, too skinny and untoned. I'm not a particularly shallow or vain person but my body wasn't mine anymore. It was a nursing and caring machine that looked unfamiliar and foreign and that hurts like a motherfucker. I was proud of my body for what it had done and was doing but... I just wasn't comfortable in my own skin and that made it hard. None of my clothes fit quite right and I wasn't confident I'd be able to wear my heels with a baby carrier, I was body lost. 

But... I wasn't going to let myself drown in that, I had down days (weeks) but I worked my ass off to try and help myself find me and start loving me. 

I made sure I showered when I scheduled, instead of when I had become a matter of biological warfare. I took care in eating more and when I stopped nursing I drank all the fucking coffee and energy drinks when I wasn't allowed to, all the motherfucking coffee ever. Fuck yes. Caffffffiiiine, bitches. 

I stretched and toned myself up. Things like kegels and squats while your brushing your teeth and walking really help. 

I bought new clothes to wear, things that fitted and suited my new body, I'm skinny but my legs take up most of my body so I bought new skinny jeans. I got a bunch of cute vests and soft shirts. I chose makeup looks that I liked and my husband bought me new makeup. Little things like new underwear make you feels so much better, I remember not fitting properly into my favourite set it was so disheartening but trying on new, super soft, colourful t-shirt bra and microfibre undies counters it. I may have absolutely no cleavage and ass but these are soft, comfy and fun. Painting my nails was something I would take a whole afternoon doing but it's amazing what you can do in 15 minutes with a good nail polish layered with a glitter polish, that shit ain't going nowhere for days, do the washing up all you what that sparkly fucker is staying put. 

With help from my husband, I found me again. Moni, not Mummy or Munchkin (my nickname), I found Moni. 

Then I set about rescuing my husband from under the pile of motherhood I had abandoned him under. We bought back date night, every 6th we dress up a little, we take it in turn to cook or we get a takeaway, we watch movies and leave our phones alone. I lifted my 'No Flowers' ban and I started buying Raj presents. Once a routine for my little behbeh had been established I made time for me and my husband. In the evening, at seven, once little mister is in bed and that is that; I have a "cry it out" policy, unless I can tell something is wrong (you become very intuitive to the different cries your baby has) he can fuss until he falls back to sleep, please don't think that this was easy - it took so much support from my husband and at times a firm "don't go" to get our little boy to realise that once he is in his cot - he isn't coming out until it's morning. This meant that after seven the house was grown ups- all the toys went away, I mean completely away and out of sight. The coffee table goes into the far corner and the sofa bed gets made. The curtains are closed and the baby gate is left open. Peppa Pig is switched off and I freshen up. It's amazing what brushing your hair, changing your top, washing you face and a bit of tinted lip balm does. 

All day I am a mummy- I play on the floor with my baby boy, chase him around the house, tickle his little feet and read to him. I feed my little boy, change his nappy, wash his chubby little hands and face after snack time and in general be his mummy but once he is in bed, I am a wife. 

I love being Raj's wife, we have so much in common and share so many things that it is easy being together. We listen to music together, like just play song after song for hours. We watch movies and TV together because we share humour and interests. Both of us think that going to bed at the same time is important and being on our phones for similar times is crucial, unless the other is busy and it isn't distracting us from giving them attention. We have different facets to our relationship, now we know that we are really just mates. 90% of the time we are best friends- we joke, play, fight, tease, poke fun and annoy each other like you would your best friend in year 11, this is why we work so well because when know what we are when we say stuff. If your mate said "you're a dickhead" you would laugh and reply with a similar phrase but if your spouse was to say it you would be hurt, we know that when we called each other names and ask weird questions we are best mates, we have our own made-up language and inside jokes. But there are times when we are husband and wife, things like when we need to sort out bills or we need to do the adulting we are husband and wife. Like if Raj is on his meriod, I'll be like "you're being really snappy and mean for no reason and it is upsetting me" and he will be like "I'm so sorry, just a bit meh at the moment, I love you"; but I can't think of many instances that this happens so it's like 4% of the time. The the last 6% of our relationship is the parent bit. We consult each other on everything when it comes to parenting our child. From what snacks and meals he should be eating to what toys and activities would be beneficial for him. If Raj is around I will ask simple things like "Raspberry or Apple fruit bake?", it is so mundane and small but it includes his input. He is part of it. He matters. I made sure even when I was pregnant that I included him as much as I could, even when professionals would ignore him. As much as pregnancy is mainly a female experience, becoming a parent is a joint venture, people. Just as much as I was becoming a mother, my husband was becoming a father but time and time again during checkups and appointments he was disregarded, even when I would say thing to try and include him, he would, at most, get a glance and I felt that it was wholly unfair, as a result it made me want to include him in all decisions. The phrase "it takes two" is banded around when it comes to dads after the baby is born but during pregnancy there is no support for fathers-to-be. Their wives are changing, their lives are never going to be that same again and they are going to be responsible for this tiny little human that they are expected to love when they meet them but they aren't supported emotionally. No one prepares them for what is to come. No one tells them that it is going to be the biggest rollercoaster you will ever get on but it will be amazing and hard in equal measure. 

My husband and I, are very lucky in that now we understand each other and are very patient with one another that is why becoming parents wasn't an ordeal. We aren't very good at arguing, we have never had a screaming match, we have never sworn or cursed at each other. When something is wrong we go quiet for a few hours or a day and talk about it- we sit down and chat about it until it is resolved, and if it isn't we do it all again until it is. We ask each other things like "are you ready to talk about what is bothering you?" and wait for one another to be ready to be apologised to, just because you want to say sorry doesn't mean the other person is ready to hear it. We are each other's biggest fans and supporters so we managed to muddle through it together, without all the arguments and tears. But many people aren't - being a parent and maintaining a relationship is hard work, it isn't a walk in the park by any standard but you need to make it as easy as possible for your partner. When something is bothering you talk about it, don't let it fester and then argue. Someone not pulling their weight sit down and discuss it, can't discuss it? Write it down. Find ways that are healthy and productive to get your point across. 

It took me a long time but I realised that I don't have to pick which I am better at. I can be a loving and caring mummy to my lovely little son and a fun, kickass wife to my awesome husband but the key is management; time, chores and such are all doable as long as you prioritise well and manage your time. Sometimes, it's okay to leave the housework half done, that way you won't be tired tonight and you will be able to stay awake past 8pm with your partner. It is okay to say "it's a takeaway night because I am having a lazy day". The world isn't going to end if the dishes wait until tomorrow or the laundry isn't done, but your world might feel a little cold if your spouse feels lonely. It is okay to let my baby play in his bouncer and watch Peppa Pig while eating a rusk for a little bit while we snuggle on the sofa. 

I'm proud of the mum I am and equally proud of the wife I am but it all started with loving me again; learning to do that was a long process but communication and understanding between partners made it easier.

What's your favourite thing about you and your partner?

As always- love,
Monica
             xxx

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