Sunday marked the official end of the professional cricket season….HURRAH! Hang out the bunting and pass the trumpet. There was the usual shindig at the club – dinner, speeches, awards, speeches, bubbly, speeches. It was a really lovely evening actually, but the event itself will soon pass into the fug of the twelve previous ones in my memory. What will stay with me, however, is the context…my personal experience of attending it as a Mother and how it compares with the previous two also attended (sort of) as a Mother.
Year One. Baby was barely 8 weeks old.
I didn’t officially attend this one. I was supposed to be just the lift to the venue for my husband and his plus one (his brother) but in the end I went to the drinks reception. My husband has been bursting with pride since our son was born – I’m sure one day he’ll just go pop – and so this grown-up, black tie event was deemed the perfect opportunity to show off his newborn baby.
We were late…because we had an 8 week old baby to bring, and I probably stayed for about half an hour before heading home for another feed. We were fairly well rested at that time, our baby pre-6 months was very settled (bar a couple of sleep regressions) and I remember returning home partly wishing I could stay out. I never believed that I would be able to stay out anywhere ever again though… at that time I hadn’t left my baby’s side and I was also in my first year groove of anxiety and, in particular, catastrophizing. So roll on year 2 and guess what?
Year Two – our inbetween baby & toddler was 14 months old
I was going! But we were in an unsettled patch. Teeth, language, and walking were all jostling for attention – bedtimes were a nightmare, night-times were a nightmare and we hadn’t had a full and uninterrupted night’s sleep for 3 months. So I was tired, but I was looking forward to it all the same in that vague, optimistic way one does when there’s an evening out on the cards but you’re shattered.
Now, all we had to do was get him to bed before we left. Um, we failed. We left him awake with my Mother and we were late, again. And we were anxious, oh wait AGAIN. I was still feeding our son and I really wasn’t sure how my Mother was going to get him to sleep without me there.
Well she actually had some success, there was some sleep…and then there wasn’t, there was some cuddling, book reading, shushing, rocking and Crufts-watching until it became very clear that my milk and I were required at home.
I remember driving home feeling frustrated, upset, a failure and with the overwhelming sense that this was how it was always, always going to be. I trooped upstairs to an unusually upset son, shed my little black dress, fed him and we all fell asleep for a few hours.
Remembering all this during another unsettled phase led me to write a post about it which you can read here. Rereading it now I feel quite sorry for me! I remember those patches and that evening so well and I also really remember the lovely little light shed from Radio 4 and their timely broadcasting of ‘All Things Pass’.
Year Three (Sunday) – toddler is over two
Once again we were going, but that Lao Tzu was not wrong was he! This time I went upstairs after tea time and got ready…I came down to kiss bye bye to my son who stroked my dress and got sweetly giggly at me and his Daddy all dressed up. We left him reading books with my Mother-in-law and cruised off in the Getz (!) with the radio playing loudly and the amazing moon just rising. We were not late and we were not anxious.
We trotted back home at about 2am, accidentally woke the sleeping son up, resettled him quickly then fell into bed exhausted but still happily chattering about our evening. Our clever toddler gave us a lie-in, calling out to us from his cot with his signature wake-up song (Bob the Builder) at 9am the next morning. All in all a success to outstrip the previous two by a country mile.
Who knows what next year will bring, but for now let me bask in this feeling! My son is still everything to me but as he’s grown I’ve grown – in happiness, confidence, knowledge and I’ve made some alterations and additions to my identity. He needs me but in different ways as he gets older. I need to be there for him and with him, but I need me too.
So if you’re in one of those unsettled patches where maybe you think you’re never going to sleep again or maybe you need to find you again or maybe it all just feels a bit much… I hope this post helps a bit.