[published by iVillage here]

"Am I losing my mind? Am I boring? Am I going mental?"

That feeling you get when you first hold your newborn son or daughter and start to bond is unlike anything else.

The weeks and months that follow are an amazing and never-get-back time of your and your partner’s lives. Painful and gory yes, but absolutely beautiful all the same.

You live in a daze of smiles, tears (both good and bad), exhaustion, happiness and love. It’s an emotional roller coaster.

The ‘new baby haze’ can last a long time. When our now 12-month-old baby boy Harry was just a few weeks old I made the decision that I couldn’t go back to work at four months post-partum like I was meant to. The job was to last just another three months after that and I just couldn’t bring myself to leave him that young. My career, something that was so important to me pre-baby, paled into absolute insignificance once he arrived. He became my everything.

I was blissfully happy staying home with him, watching him grow and devouring every development and moment. It wasn’t until he was around nine months old that things started to change.

Being a stay at home mum or dad is a tough gig. And it an be downright isolating, particularly if, like me, you don’t have any stay at home mummy or daddy friends or much family support nearby.

Each day can get a little like ‘Groundhog Day’. When it actually boils down to it, if you had to explain the ins and outs of it to your other half, it would sound silly. “What did you do all day?” your other half says. “Well, I fed Harry, cleaned up, played with him, cleaned up again, did two loads of washing, made lunch, cleaned up, hung out the washing, put away clothes, took Harry for a walk, cleaned up…” repeat repeat repeat…

Pre-baby, my job was a big deal to me and kicking butt in it was my sole focus. Now, I feel like I spend all day every day chasing my tail and accomplishing nothing. Yes, I know my achievements are all there in the eyes and happiness of my child – however, all of these mummy tasks definitely don’t do much to stimulate the brain, and if I’m truly honest that’s left me feeling pretty blergh.

One day a little while ago it dawned on me that I’d spent all day thinking or talking about my child. That was probably the case for consecutive days before that. I had little idea of news and current affairs outside of the parenting world, and will fully admit to being way too obsessed with my baby and his daily routine.

There are those who are completely and utterly content to stay at home with their kids for good. For a while there, I thought that was me. But it’s just not.

Now, I don’t mean any offense to all of the blissfully happy stay at home parents out there – you are super human and absolutely amazing. I admire you so much. But, as someone previously used to working 12-hour days in a high-pressure role, I found myself wondering if the wheels were starting to fall off and my brain was turning to mush. I asked myself:

Am I losing my mind?

Am I boring?

Am I going mental?

Do I have a life?

Am I a terrible mum?

Where did the world go?

As the months went on, my feelings grew and I realised the problem.

I was losing myself in mummy-hood.

Yes, each phase as Harry grows older is still remarkable and amazing. But, it dawned on me that I need more.

So, we made the decision to place Harry in daycare two days a week so I can do some freelance work. And boy, do I try to cram as much into those two days as I can!

Regularly, I feel guilty. Financially, we are lucky that I don’t NEED to work. I don’t HAVE to put him into daycare, so why would I? Well, the answer is, for my sanity. I’m now pregnant with baby number two and eventually, once I spend eight or nine months home with Harry and his new sister, I’ll be looking for part-time work.

Because the fact is, I’m a better mum when my brain is stimulated. The other day I achieved a lot working all day and when I went to get our boy I was happy, fulfilled, itching to see him and happy to play for hours on the floor thinking of nothing except him. I’d had my fill of the ‘other me’ and was content to be 'mum'.

Some may call me selfish. Some may say I’ve got it too good. But I know what makes me happy. And, to some extent, as first time mothers we’re all a little alone in our mummy-hood journey, trying to find what works best for our baby and ourselves and muddling through it the best we can. Here’s to doing what works, and loving every second of it.


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