mothers

New Year, not so new mum... by Rebecca Johnstone

My baby is already 13 months old, and I realise in that time I feel lucky to have published 13 blog posts. In fact, I don’t think I have published 13 blog posts.

This blog has been an expression of so many versions of me since circa 2007. Yes - that long! But when I became a mum I decided I didn’t want to be a mummy blogger. Not because I think there is anything wrong with being a mummy blogger - on the contrary. I love reading the ups and downs of other mums’ experiences. It’s just that I wanted to keep that part of myself private and just for me. For me and my diary and my baby and my husband.

I didn’t want to share any photographs of my babe in the bath or half dressed or asleep. I wanted - needed - to keep those precious moments just between the three of us. And I have, and I still do.

But.

(There’s always a but).

While I don’t necessarily want to share all those private moments, the problem is that those moments have become every moment and all the things I have to say now are about being a mum.

Some of those things I do want to share; think it’s imperative to share - mainly with other mums, especially the mums-to-be who might right this second be peeing on their stick of fate as I type this (or more likely they’ll be waiting for morning because everyone knows that the best time, obviously) - you get the idea.

It is like I’ve joined a special club or clique and there’s definitely no going back.

The places I used to go and then write about, the endless afternoons of experimental poetry and the Spring-time 100-day projects - none of that exists anymore because my mind is a mum-shaped vacuum containing vital information such as where did I put the new tube of Bonjela I know I definitely bought (didn’t I?), what time is lunch expected on the highchair and where did I last see that blue and white stripy sock Jack tossed aside an hour ago because it’s too cold to go out without it?

My brain has cut the cord on the information it doesn’t need, instead lighting up like a runway as I try to remember the crucial minutiae of my mum-life through the fog. Like I never used to need to take a list with me to the supermarket. Now I need a list to remind me to go to the supermarket.

These aren’t complaints or cries for help.

They are simple facts.

I am a mum and my priority in life is no longer myself or my art or my hobbies (cue hysterical laughter - hobbies!), or my house being perfectly clean or even conversing with my husband (for which I’m sure he’s imminently delighted.)

I’m also running my design business to what constitutes more than full-time hours 90% of the time, but the festive break has given me the space to think about other things, such as my stagnant writing life (hello long-forgotten fiction manuscripts…) and how I need to make some changes to be the best mum I can be.

So I may as well document some of this journey here. It’s the not-so-new me this fine New Year.

Today has been a difficult day in the top three of difficult days.

My almost-toddler is not quite walking yet so some would say I’ve got it easy, but he’s not far off. He’s hungry for attention as well as food and it’s taking up all my energy to fulfill his needs. Scrap that, it’s Saturday ffs - it’s taken both of us all our energy today to fulfill his needs.

There have been 5 minor bumps to the head as floors have been crawled, furniture cruised and obstacles not very eloquently traversed. As I tried to soothe him and we settled down with a book, he squirmed away from me so fiercely, he cut his lip on the book.

It’s been the kind of day when you feel like a helpless failure as a parent, as every few minutes a hysterical cry has threatened to bring the ceiling down.

On a day like today it’s helpful to recognise and inwardly reward myself for any task completed, never mind a writing task, so this blog post is now written proof of my day, or my existence.

I also managed:

to have a shower AND clean my teeth

to make and serve homemade soup *smug face* (but not for long as I got quite a lot of it spat back in my face, and I don’t mean from my husband…)

a family walk with the pram (in an attempt to induce sleep)

And now I’ve written 880 words documenting my experience for posterity. Another achievement!

I would very much like to take this opportunity to apologise to any readers of this blog who are not in the slightest bit interested in my motherhood journey. I get it. I was the same pre-babe. But what can I do about that now? I’m a mother. This is my journey. This is just the start.

Next time: did I mention I’ve recently turned to whisky?

That Day, That Day, Again, Again the 13th April - 5 years ago by daintydora

This day 5 years ago - 13th April 2010 - my mum had a brain hemorrhage and spent a month in hospital. Amazingly, she lived. Every day is a gift and more than anything; that day, that day, brought it home to me how precious life is as moments slip between fingers into the cracks of memory.

On the first year anniversary of that day, 13th April, we spent the day out in the West End of Glasgow. Here's an extract of what I wrote then in a blog post called 'West End Day':

Had a fun day out in the West End yesterday with the madre. It was a year to the day since... and we wanted to make it special.
Was it a coincidence that browsing through a box of old postcards in a vintage shop I found a bundle of Marine Art Poster postcards and I knew before I saw it there was going to be one depicting the very ship that began my mother's journey from the place of her birth to the rest of her life?
The Cunard line ship that brought home my Mother and my Nana from South Africa in 1946 – the Samaria. The one I researched for hours online and described in my prose for 'the family saga' with a searing accuracy? I was stunned and elated to secure that postcard.
This discovery sparked a recounting of remembered events and experiences, all entirely pertinent to the plot at hand. Had I known that the Samaria had in fact been chopped up for match wood at the end of its useful life? No.
How many matches – 500,000? 500,000,000? A billion? How many stories did that ship have the pleasure (or the pain) of igniting in its lifetime? How many lives did it unwittingly touch?
And then: a gift for me.
An original copy of Tamara De Lempicka's 'Girl with Gloves’.
When I was studying Higher Art I was obsessed with chiaroscuro and the artists that painted or drew in that technique (still am.)
My mum said that day it was a gift of "a beautiful woman, from a beautiful woman, to a beautiful woman."

Girl with Gloves - Tamara de Lempicka

Art Deco elegance, that careful poise, the coy but somehow sad tipping of the wide-brimmed hat. The enduring sage of her dress that sometimes appears emerald, other times dampened chartreuse. She is herself a Pandora of possible - and impossible - interpretations and from now on she will be my muse. My lady luck with the joyous curls and sharp gloves concealing vixen-talons.

What a wonderful, wild-weathered whisper of a day. How I never thought we would have another 5 years together of chatter and laughing and bickering and dancing. But we did and we have. Here's to the next 5, 10, 15, 20, 25...

It was significant. Today is significant. Every day is significant.

PS. And today there was cake! A Victoria sponge with fresh cream and jam!