Motherhood on Mother’s Day

I intended to write this post on Mother’s Day. Almost a week ago. Somewhere after the morning coffee (brought to me in bed by my wonderful husband, Felix), second morning coffee, banana pancake breakfast (also provided by Felix), maybe I was going to write it in baby’s morning nap (strictly from 9.30am to 10.00am). But, instead, I knitted a few rows of the cardigan I’ve been working on for three months.

At ten, I woke Elsie with a breastfeed. She clawed at my chest, leaving tiny, bleeding cuts on me. But she ate well, and the cuts are nothing compared to the fights we used to have during feeding sessions. 

I try not to think of my days as being a series of naps and time-between-naps but that’s what they are.

A friend with a two-year-old recently consoled me, saying she still longs for her son’s naptimes despite the fact he’s dropped them altogether.

Entertaining a strong but immobile baby is physically and intellectually exhausting. She can stand with assistance and loves to do so. But she’s eight kilograms and very stubborn, so my arm muscles are getting bigger and stronger, possibly at the expense of my brain muscles.

Sometimes the only way to make her happy is to carry her around the house, showing her potplants. Sometimes she’s happy to merely sit and terrorize the dog, which is fine until the dog inevitably gets sick of having her ears pulled and slinks away to the safety of her box.

Other times she’s content to lay, naked on the floor, playing with her feet and requiring emergency widdle cleanups every ten minutes or so. Many times the easiest option is to sing. The greater the enthusiasm, the longer the period of contentment. Luckily, Elsie can’t identify the difference between joviality and manic overexertion.

There were minimal tears at the next nap, and I ate lunch – I think? I sat down to write. Here, Elsie woke up screaming. I achieved the small victory of putting her back to sleep without feeding her. Exhilarating but also exhausting so I made a third cup of coffee and sat on the balcony, staring out to sea and playing yay-boo. The topic: my new life as a person with slush for brains and dried banana on everything and dried vomit on everything else as well as some of the banana things. A Venn diagram with concerning overlap.

At 2.30pm I woke her again with another breastfeed. This time she was still half asleep, so no scratching.

At some time, later that afternoon, we went for a long walk and I took pictures of pieces of nature, as is my wont. Somehow, through the bodily fluids, screams and tears, laughter and total mental annihilation, I manage – with the help of possibly the world’s most supportive male partner – to carve out small scraps of time to do the things I love. The things that make me feel like me and not a squishy milk jug with limbs.

I love my sweet baby. I love being her mother. I love our new, blurry life. But, sometimes, little me moments are the glue holding my battered body and mind together. Thank goodness for beautiful flowers

At six months old, my motherhood is starting to look more normal. Elsie sleeps all night long sometimes – four times – and I’m starting to wake up in smaller puddles of milk.

Boob-pain and the early-rising Swedish summer sun are now the main reasons I wake in the night, rather than the screaming that used to pepper our slumber.

I am getting more and more confident leaving the house alone with Elsie, and less scared leaving the house entirely by myself.

There have been some unexpected and unwelcome parts of motherhood, but all in all, my life as the mother of a daughter is far more yay than boo.

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Lily Ray
Lily Ray

Journalist, photographer, traveller and knitter. Mother to a small but demanding infant, Lily's life is messy but generally lovely. She has a lot of thoughts. Here is where she puts them.

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