Tagged: working mom

Just the two of us…

On Wednesday, B’s nursery was closed for an inset day and T had to go back to work, so I took the day off and we had a little one on one time.

We went to the Museum of London Docklands where he had a great time wandering around the exhibits, and playing in the children’s area. It’s amazing to find out about the city we live in, and it’s all free!

The children’s area is fantastic with lots of interactive play areas and we didn’t do the half of it because he spent the entire allotted time in soft play!

We went next door and shared a pizza and garlic bread at Pizza Pilgrims, where they give kids some stickers to keep them occupied. He enjoyed sticking them all over the place whilst swigging water and munching garlic bread, and the staff made a fuss of him whilst mama had a cheeky rosé. He loved it!

And we went to the Crossrail gardens where he enjoyed running about and shouting “Hello!” at a bird in a tree for half an hour.

We had a wonderful day. It’s so much fun to see the world through a child’s eyes. And it was all free apart from the pizza! It was lovely to spend time together and he still had a great time playing, even though it was just the two of us most of the time.

I don’t doubt there will be times in his life where he asks why he doesn’t have a sibling and maybe even asks if we can have one. But for now, he loves his dog brother and he loves his parents, and this mama enjoyed the fact that we could spend a precious day together, just the two of us. 💕

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A meditation on wooden toys

Or: Feelings when your 21 year old scribbles on the £90 “open ended play” wobbel board (my gift to him on his first birthday).

When this happens to your natural wobbel and it doesn’t come off…

– It doesn’t affect usage – it still functions perfectly as a wobbly board and slide and baby doll rocker and toy car ramp and…

– It’s one of a kind! Personalised by its owner. (Yes, the kid owns it… I don’t!)

– It will probably have more “personalisations” before the kid is done with it. And whilst it’s not encouraged, it’s okay.

The world keeps turning.

My child is healthy and happy.

I’m grateful I live in a place where we don’t have to worry about most of the things that negatively affect the world’s children today. My child isn’t living in poverty or fleeing war or suffering abuse or neglect.

I understand we buy these beautiful (and expensive) things for our children and it’s disappointing when they scribble on them, and I had a moment of, “Oh no!”

But… I was someone who was told I’d never have a child naturally, so I’m just grateful I get to have my child scribble and for that scribble to be preserved for posterity.

For the lost babies, and for the never-borns, and for the parents without children and for the never-parents with spaces in their hearts where babies should be, I dedicate this wobbel. To me it’s perfect. 🌈❤️

Taming the inner parental tiger

We are on holiday. It’s B’s first ever summer holiday, at 20 months. He had seen a beach before, but it was in Wales and it was freezing so I don’t think it counts.

Of course for our first week (thankfully, I guess, only half a week) we had some pretty bad weather. It’s a total first world problem but was a bit frustrating when we have waited the whole year almost to have a proper holiday! We did go to see my best friend but this is our first one as a family. But the place we are staying is very child friendly – we found it after it was marketed as a child friendly holiday. It could be worse.

One thing I found funny is how I spotted a mixed race couple early on. I suppose we always identify with others. I clocked them early on and they’re the same races we are. Although she is totally skinny and doesn’t look like she could have had a baby, and their baby is younger than our toddler! I also realised this holiday how I need to lose a bit of chub, but half board food isn’t conducive to that!

Anyway I noticed they are always out without the baby! And I just thought that seemed a bit sad. She’s posing by the pool in her bikini and it just struck me as odd because I’ve seen them more times without the baby than with the baby. As it’s a child friendly resort there’s a crèche and lots of kid activities, but their kid isn’t even a toddler yet from what I can see. Each to their own but I can’t imagine why you’d come on holiday with the baby and then not spend time with the baby, but maybe some people just don’t really want or like spending time with their kids.

It got me to thinking also because there is a friend of a friend who lives where we do. Our mutual friends introduced us but I just didn’t get a good feeling about them and I didn’t really try and befriend them or anything. It turns out they spend every night in the pub getting drunk and their kid just has to sit in the pushchair (and he’s old enough to walk, older than B) and they shout at him to shut up if he ever wants to get out. I saw her dragging him along the road the other morning and it just seems like she hates being a parent. She told our mutual friend he wasn’t planned and she’s depressed being a mother and they didn’t want a kid. It makes me sad and it makes me wonder how bad something has to be or appear before someone intervenes.

And then we are on holiday and to make up for the bad weather they put on a kids disco. And it’s just so cute – B was shy the first time but he got into it and then when we went back again he was straight in there, dancing his little heart out.

B is tiny for his age. I’m kind of short so maybe it’s me. For a while he was first percentile and then last time we went to the doctor I asked if he was okay and the doctor said he was absolutely fine, just small overall (though the child has a monster sized head!). He’s 20 months now and wears size 9-12 months a lot of the time.

So during the dancing all the little kids and B are following the dancers at the front, and it’s just really cute. But there’s this one kid who’s been there every time. I am not a good judge of age but I think he’s maybe 7 or 8. The kids dancing are mainly 1-5 or 6 I’d say. He’s like double the size of them and much larger than B.

The little sh*t (as I took to referring to him as) was running around at high speed weaving in and out of the toddlers dancing. It was just so annoying and disrespectful especially as the guides (grown ups who work in the crèche I think) were showing them the moves at the front. He just kept running at high speed in and out of them and right by all the toddlers.

His parents didn’t give a toss. They were too busy fussing over his little sister. And I thought, wow. This event has been put on specifically to entertain kids and this little idiot is running in and out and then ended up recruiting other bigger boys to do the same, so there’s a little disco of toddlers with big boys running in and out of it in a dangerous (in my opinion) way. And the parents do nothing to stop it.

This all makes me realise that there are such different types of parents. Maybe we are overly attentive. (But then he is our one and only after infertility/loss and he’s still a tiny toddler.) Some parents just take it for granted and I guess if you haven’t been through a struggle to have kids maybe you do. Some, like our local mum, seem to hate having kids. And some, like the parents of the little sh*t, don’t care what their kids are doing. Some, like the bikini poser, come on holiday to NOT spend time with their baby.

I don’t really know what I’m trying to say here. Maybe I just think it’s sad that some kids aren’t cherished like I believe all kids should be. I am definitely not perfect and I’m not trying to be judgy but I guess I am. It’s hard when you struggled to have a child to see people who don’t seem to show their child love, who neglect their kids or who raise them to be inconsiderate little sh*ts.

Of course the little sh*t on our third visit to the disco actually ran directly into B and knocked him over. Cue two fierce looking adults bearing down on the boy (who is really just a little boy… I get that, which is why I didn’t push him over myself). T asked him if he realised he had knocked over the baby and that he should apologise. And I said to him to please not run near the babies. He looked scared, and stopped for a bit, and then resumed.

His mother didn’t even look up. (T and I debated whether you can even say something to other parents and we decided you can’t.)

On the plus side, B absolutely loved the kids disco. We got some decent weather this week and we’ve had a busy week of swimming, beach, even mountain biking. It’s been fun. And in infertility and baby loss awareness month, I’m aware of how lucky we are. Just need to work on making sure B always knows how much he is loved, and raise him not to be a little sh*t!

Zumba!

Don’t worry, I haven’t turned into an exercise nut. My local friend was a member and we realised if we went in on a joint membership we could save a bunch of money. So I joined the local club which is pretty much the only one I’m ever likely to go to, because it’s right by my house (well, like five minutes walk).

As far as I can tell, Zumba is like aerobics but with more Latin American music… and some slightly sexier dance moves (none of which I can actually do).

The thing is, it’s really quite fun! I’m terrible at it. I used to do some dancing as a kid and I was bad at it then. Turns out I’m just as bad at it now. But the fun thing is, nobody cares! You just keep moving and laugh a bit and sweat a lot. It’s all good.

I feel like it helps my friend, who’s the one recovering from cancer, because she put on a lot of weight during treatment and she has to try and lose it before they’ll operate further. (She needs a double mastectomy – pretty gruelling surgery.) It motivates me to go with someone else. And she’s a good friend so we laugh at each other.

The ongoing joke is about ACTIVEWEAR. If you haven’t seen this video you should take a watch.

It makes us a bit hysterical and is a long running joke between the local ladies I’m friends with. I feel lucky I’m finally in a position where I have a bunch of lovely local friends to joke around with! I used to feel really lonely and now somehow it’s worked out that I have mates who live nearby. It’s pretty cool.

I haven’t lost any weight but it does make me feel like I’m doing something at least! Maybe I need to stop eating so much cake! But that would be sad.

I actually have unlimited classes through my membership so that’s really cool. However they fall at 7 or 8 in the evening and that is nursery pickup / childcare time. I’ve always done way more of the pickups and historically B wanted me as we were still breastfeeding. We still are, but he’s now 20 months and he is less bothered about having it instantly (he’s still a boob monster though) so I’m thinking I could probably delay it a bit. It’s more whether T can get back from work on time. And also I still feel like I want to spend every part of my day that’s not at work, with B! But I think it’s good for mums to have something they do and it’s not for very long. With walking there and back plus a little bit of chat, it’s only just over an hour, which doesn’t seem that bad.

Anyway to demonstrate my commitment to activewear here’s a photo I took the other night of my Zumba outfit…

I think that pretty much sums up my attitude to exercise! 😂

Oh and here’s what I ate afterwards:

Maybe that’s where I’m going wrong?

Oh well, life’s too short!

We are off on holiday next week. Greece! A five star resort. I’m very excited. Don’t think I’ve been to Greece or a five star resort in like forever. We usually do more self catering or city breaks so it’s very exciting. I can’t wait to be off work for a while. We will have just over a week and it feels GREAT.

At least if I’m gonna be chubby, I may as well be brown and chubby, amirite?!

Post natal weight gain

Firstly, may I offer the usual apologies for not blogging and being A Very Bad Person At Keeping In Touch. I just seem not to get round to it lately. And sometimes I just think I have nothing to say. I’m happy. I’m leading my own happy little mediocre life. Nothing too exciting or blogworthy.

Here’s something I’ve been wondering a while: Have any of you breastfeeding mothers actually put on weight whilst breastfeeding?

Everyone goes on about how it burns All The Calories and “the weight just dropped off!”

See, that happened to me when I first gave birth. (I had a lot of fluid and an entire human I got rid of, weight wise.)

But now, 20 months on I find myself thinking I feel a bit stodgy. I didn’t weigh myself for ages – like I stopped with the obsessive weighing whilst pregnant and then I only restarted through curiosity a few months or so ago.

And I am feeling not my fighting weight.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m happy. Maybe it’s happy weight. But honestly I feel like I’d like to drop some and then I’d be totally happy, rather than happy and fat.

I’m a whole 20kg+ from my low weight. And maybe 15ish from my ideal weight. I could even cope with losing 10-12 kg. Right now I just feel a bit blubbery. I would rather not feel the overhang (though I guess the c section may leave a perma-shelf) and I would just feel better in myself if I could drop a dress size. I don’t need to be skinny. I’d just like to be more myself and less “chubby mum”.

Right now I’m about a UK dress size 12, which isn’t awful – which is why I don’t spend my time hiding away and I still enjoy eating. But I’m short (160cm / 5’2″ and a bit) so really that’s a bit chubby for a shorty. Yes a lot of it is boobage which will maybe go when B weans (20 months and counting) but a fair amount is stomach and I used to have a waist. I used to have arms I didn’t mind getting out!

Another thing I’ve been wondering is that I was told to take an asthma inhaler every day. It’s steroids – Fostair – a preventer as I had really bad hayfever and kept wheezing. I feel fine now, but they want me to take it. I finally connected the dots when I read about Jameela Jamil saying how she put on 20 pounds with asthma meds. And I realised I took steroids for immune therapy and put on a load of weight too.

The internet is kind of in disagreement about whether steroids actually make you put on weight. And I’ve found breastfeeding gives me a bigger appetite anyway. And… I’m happy and haven’t been watching my weight or doing a lot of exercise. And my recent vegetarianism maybe hasn’t helped, as I probably had some high protein low carb meals when I ate meat. (I wasn’t a particularly healthy meat eater anyway – I only liked processed meat you couldn’t tell was meat.)

So I did a few things. I took up Zumba. (It’s ridiculous but one of my very good friends, the one recovering from cancer, is a fan and we go together). I have tried (and probably failed) not to give myself such a free pass on eating. And I stopped taking the steroid inhaler, which I’ll probably get in trouble for but I know I’ve actually put on like 2 kg since I was told to take it every day a couple of months ago. And I haven’t had any asthma symptoms after hayfever season.

I won’t do any crash dieting at least until B weans. Right now we don’t have any immediate plans. We’d like to go until 2, and fortunately T is super supportive of bf and cosleeping, otherwise we probably wouldn’t have any sleep!

Anyway, I know my worth isn’t measured in kg. I feel generally fine about myself, and very happy and grateful for the life I have, and the chance to be a mother. I’d do it all over again even if you told me I could never be thin again. It’s more of a musing really. I hope I can lose a bit of the chub, but if it doesn’t happen I’m not going to hate myself for it. That would only drive me to chocolate, anyway!

A cow I met recently. Confirmed my decision not to eat them!

Can working mothers have it all?

My friend sent me this article in the Times about how working mothers can’t seem to have it all. You can read it here. (You have to register but you don’t have to pay anything.)

So I’m torn between: Yes, it’s hard being a working parent and – Seriously women, get a f&*$ing grip!!!!! I think most of these women having meltdowns seem like they are probably the kind of women who get stressed at having more than one project on at work. And I think those who struggled to have a much-wanted child ultimately have a different take on parenthood than those who take it for granted.

I think the key things are:

  1. Have one child, not multiple children, if you think you can’t cope with more than one thing at once, or will have difficulty affording it, or it will compromise your time management. (We have one because it would be extremely difficult to have another and I never wanted more than one, precisely because I don’t want to have to divide my time between multiples!)
  2. Set boundaries with your work and make sure that you aren’t working late / at home every night. I used to do a lot of out of hours work and now I don’t. And I started doing that way before I had a baby. I just stopped allowing people to expect I would be online at all times. If it’s out of hours and urgent then people have to call me. I do work late / out of hours on occasion but day to day I don’t. In my old job I’d answer emails on holiday. Two jobs ago I stopped doing that. I put an out of office on and I say unless you SMS me then it’s not urgent and I’ll respond when I return, and you can expect a delayed response because I’m literally not going to check my work phone more than once a day when I’m on holiday.

I agree that school hours and working hours don’t really seem to coincide. We’ve not reached that stage yet but I imagine you have to sort out some sort of wrap around care. Also I think it makes sense for one partner (doesn’t have to be the mother) to be slightly less driven in their career. I guess women are used to being that one. But there needs to be someone who can leave work if the kid gets sick etc. I think actually men can be more penalised than women for leaving at contracted times. I think women overall have a tougher time in the workplace but they are actually expected to be the caregivers etc. Swings and roundabouts.

Since becoming a mother I’ve definitely noticed that there seem to be different “types”… A lot of the women aren’t at a particularly senior level when they leave to have kids, and they take a lot of time off, and they aren’t that into the job when they come back. It’s annoying when people make assumptions about you when you have kids – that you won’t be interested in progression – but also it’s true for a lot of women, so I dunno what the answer is.

Really I think what would be most sensible would be to reset everyone’s expectations around what constitutes a normal working day. Corporations have gotten used to workers doing about 20% – 200% of their contracted hours for the same amount of pay. That’s what needs to stop. You need to be able to work your contracted hours: 9-5 or 9-6 with a full one hour lunchbreak and for that not to be considered slacking.

I went to a talk a while back by the European VP for Twitter, who wrote a new manifesto for work. I think it’s really good (and realised I already ascribed to most of it, hurrah!).

Source: Eat Sleep Work Repeat

We all – whether mothers or not – need to stop putting up with being treated like $%£& for work, and start being happier! Easier said than done maybe, but just turning off your work phone at the weekends is a start…

First goodbyes

B’s favourite teacher left nursery (daycare) yesterday. It’s a big thing because she’s the first person B really took a shine to. He started nursery as a tiny little 4 month old and so back then he didn’t really have a preference, other than me.

Miss J doesn’t even teach the littles – she teaches preschool! I don’t know how he decided he loves her but he did. She’s a black lady with bleached blonde cropped hair so I don’t think it’s because she looks like me! He’d hold out his arms whenever she went past, and as he got older he would follow her around and insist on sitting with her.

I decided we better show her how much we are going to miss her. But I’m also working full time and I don’t ever seem to be organised enough!

I ordered a cushion cover online that was personalised. It said: “It takes a big heart to help shape little minds.” And it said Thank you from B.

Her last day was Friday and I had a team meeting across town so I couldn’t be there for the leaving tea they were throwing her. But Thursday pm and the cushion still hadn’t arrived! I had a cushion but no cover!

I was supposed to be all day Friday across town in the office but I decided to work from home in the morning. The vendor assured me it would arrive before 12 and I had to be leaving by 1…

I started panicking a bit and thinking if it doesn’t arrive I won’t be happy to give her generic stuff, so I’ll try and do something. We bought her some nice flowers and chocolates and a card. But it didn’t seem enough!

So before my conference call I decided to whip this up. I still had gold fabric paint from my various Christmas craft projects, and I remembered I had a spare jute bag because I had made a personalised pre-wedding bag for T’s sister’s wedding.

Usually when I make these bags I spend a while considering the pattern and take lots of care over it… but this time I had about 20 mins before my conference call started, and I knew it would take a few hours for the paint to dry, so I needed to get it done as quickly as possible.

Here’s the result… It has her initial monogram and it even has a hidden heart with B’s initial.

And what should turn up at 11ish but the cushion cover… so we were able to give her a nice bag of gifts. When I took it to nursery she was really touched especially when I showed her the heart and his initial, and the personalised cushion. She gave me lots of hugs and said she would really miss him.

We will really miss her, too.

The loneliness of the long distance mama

(Title apologies to Alan Sillitoe)

Readers, I’ve been feeling morose lately. I’m not quite sure why. I’m fairly sure it’s hormonal and maybe to do with those crazy chemicals rushing around my body, or work being a bit full on and then easing off, or breastfeeding slowing down a bit… or something.

In one way I’m my usual deliriously happy self. B is an absolute joy. I can’t believe I still have him, and get to be his mama, and all that stuff. I mean it’s like a little injection of happiness to every single day.

It’s not that I’m particularly unhappy with life. It’s just that now and again I feel a bit morose and this week happens to be it. Maybe it’s that the weekend went too fast, because we went to see both sets of grandparents and didn’t really get much downtime with just our little family.

Maybe it’s the work thing. Work’s going really well. I feel lucky to have landed a boss who I get on really well with and I mainly enjoy the work. But the gigantic bid I was working on hasn’t transpired yet and my boss wants me to go back to a day job (a decent job I can’t complain about – I’ve just been very full on with the bid for months and months and it takes up a lot of energy, so it feels a bit of an anticlimax to be tailing off that…)

I definitely think social media has something to do with it. I recently took a break from a big adoption group I’m very involved in. It’s something I keep meaning to write about but never seem to have the emotional energy. I’ve mentioned before that I kind of ebb and flow with it. Which makes me sound ambivalent but really it’s not that – it’s about self care and realising you can’t be on high emotional alert all the time.

The big adoption story in the news is something that those not in adoptionland probably aren’t aware of, but something that has been weighing heavily on my mind. And very upsetting to many transracial adoptees.

A couple of white adoptive mothers drove a car off a cliff, killing their six black adopted children. It transpired they had been somewhat evasive of CPS and concerns had been raised in multiple states. And one of the mothers had already been convicted of hurting one of the little girls who’d been beaten black and blue over the edge of a bathtub. Who does that to a child?

Moreover, one of the children was Devonte Hart, whose picture went viral when he was pictured crying and hugging a policeman. Anyone who knows anything about racial justice would notice the peculiarity of a black boy hugging a white policeman for the cameras – egged on by his white adoptive parents.

The more facts that come out about this story, the more hurt and triggers are piled up. As transracial adoptees we know that the narrative is heavily skewed in favour of white adoptive parents. And so much of the time that is manifested in benefit of the doubt and excuse making. It is upsetting because of the sheer amount of loss these young adoptees had. And to end their lives at the hands of those who called themselves their parents; the people who were meant to love them.

And the fact that there are many injustices still being perpetuated against adoptees, such as access to basic medical records and original birth certificates.

I guess you could say over time I’ve become awoken to these injustices. Part of me wishes I’d just stayed blissfully ignorant.

So – self care and social media. I’ve tried to take breaks but I find that it can be somewhat addictive. If I’m trying to stay away, I tend to hang out more in the Disney groups because how horrible can people be when it comes to Disney?! (It turns out you still do get mean people in all groups… sad!)

Mum groups can be one of the worst. I think I’ve mentioned before that I have felt really at odds since I went back to work and most of the mums I knew didn’t. It’s a lonely path to tread.

Mum groups online are kind of vicious. Even the ones that are meant to be non-judgemental and supportive. They have reams of nice supportive comments and then you’ll get the odd mean one, and depending on the day I find that can get me down (even though I don’t tend to post on them very often – I only try and comment supportively now and again). But anything based around an ideology, like motherhood is… well, it can be taxing.

Breastfed vs formula fed

Gentle parenting vs Cry It Out

Working mums vs SAHMs vs part time working mums

Only children vs sibling groups

It’s like everything mum related is shrouded in judgement. And maybe you join online groups looking for likeminded people because there aren’t that many in real life, but then they end up making you feel all heckled and I just wonder sometimes if it’s worth it.

Real life is another story. I do have some working mum friends because we have met other working mums through nursery (daycare). And it’s nice to see them because it makes me feel a bit less of an odd one out for working. The sad thing is, I think the SAHMs think I’m somehow competing with them or something when really I would have preferred not to go back to work! It kind of blows my mind I’ve been back for almost a year when if I’d had maternity leave like most people in the UK do, I would only just have gone back.

My NCT (antenatal) group makes me wonder as well. Out of seven mums in the only one to have gone back to work full time, and I feel like a completely odd one out. And I wonder if there’s any point in keeping on that friendship / contact when I usually end up feeling pretty negative about it.

An example (feel free to skip as I’m just venting here):

Before Christmas they wanted to have a meet up, and so I offered to book somewhere for a Christmas dinner, and we’d get the babies all dressed up and so on. They all agreed. Then when we had agreed a date, I got the details of the local pub and because it was Christmas they wanted us to pre-order, and give a deposit. Out of six other couples who had agreed, only two sent through the deposit and the other four just didn’t say anything. Nothing (on a whatsapp group). In the end I cancelled it. They didn’t even apologise. Just ignored it. In the end, the three couples who had agreed to meet had a meet up, plus one other couple. The others didn’t bother.

So now it’s April and they decided we should meet up. One of the girls (SAHM who quit her job after the baby was born and has got super involved in all the local baby stuff) decided to organise it. And found various non child friendly places. Bear in mind this involves seven kids. I found a place with a kids play area and high chairs and instead she decided we would go to a pub and the kids would just sit on our laps or whatever, and we would go for Sunday roast at the only time they have available… 11:30.

Then she says we all have to pre order and pay a deposit. Sound familiar? And of course everyone replies and says yes sure. That’s fine.

Just writing this out makes me feel super petty and ridiculous. I mean I shouldn’t even care. But I said it to T and he said he could understand why I’d feel upset. I mean the same people literally didn’t bother replying to me over the Christmas thing that they asked me to organise, and yet they’re falling over themselves to say yes to this arrangement of eating a roast on a Sunday morning. So strange.

I think maybe I’m just overly emotional lately because I don’t know what. (Hormones? Periods? I have to say I’m not happy about the Return of the Blob. It’s extremely unedifying.)

Also I had a health check at work because someone didn’t show up and the Health Champion guy really wanted someone to do it, so I did it. And I got weighed for the first time in forever and realised that I’m overweight and by way more than I want to be – 10kg minimum, and I suppose that sent me down a slight rabbit hole I had been avoiding. I finally dropped the habit of daily weighing when I was pregnant (after a slightly unhelpful obsession since my teens) and so getting back to that has mainly annoyed and upset me.

And I do wonder how much of it’s to do with breastfeeding. I have long thought it has an effect on mood. B is still nursing but less often now. Usually morning and night and I have one pumping session in between. So I’m sure that affects me. I know that pumping always made me kind of depressed and now he’s able to go longer between feeds even at the weekends, perhaps that’s depressing my mood a bit. (Don’t get me wrong. We still have fun. It’s impossible not to smile when you see a one year old’s joy on a swing.) Maybe I just need to ground myself more and try and rationalise it when I feel a bit low.

In the run of bad news, a close friend found out her husband of many years had cheated on her for the second time. I met up with her for a girly day and I just felt so sad for her. Two of my friends are battling cancer. One terminal. The world just seems kind of shitty some days.

Finally I guess I’m just feeling a bit run down and missing something. Maybe that’s it. Hay fever season is coming upon us and I feel a bit worse for wear. And I think often when you’ve been working hard and you suddenly ease up, that’s when it hits you. I feel kind of sad sometimes that I have to work and so I don’t get to see as much of my family as I’d like. I have such a wonderful time at the weekend that it maybe hits me hard when I have to go back to work on a Monday.

I don’t know what I’m hoping to accomplish with this post. I suppose catharsis.

I think what I mean to say is that I could have everything I ever wanted – and I do – but I still have down days sometimes, and today is one of them.

But right now I’m lying in bed – our superking sized giant mattress – and next to me is my little snorting baby-who’s-now-a-toddler, and further down the bed is my big boy Dog who’s turning five tomorrow, and on the other side is my partner T, my best friend, who I too often take for granted. And we are in my absolute dream apartment. I love it, with its little terrace, and summer is coming so we can spend more time outside and it’ll be lovely.

Today I have the blues but tomorrow is one step closer to the weekend…

Multiple identities: motherhood, adoption, work – and a dilemma

I never seem to manage to make the time to blog much any more, and that’s a perfect microcosm of how it feels to be a working mother – there’s never enough time for anything. Which is crazy, because I have a million unwritten blog posts swirling in my head. Many of which are about the strange hinterland that is being a working mum (mom!) after years of infertility.

First things first: I am so grateful to be here. I still do a double take every single day when I wake up next to my beautiful boy and I realise that somehow, after all the struggle, I am a mother. How did this happen?, swirls through my mind every day. I thank all those people silently who helped that dream become a reality. And I don’t easily forget all the years where it didn’t seem possible.

Second things second: Being a mother after infertility is a strange thing to be… I feel like it’s almost a different thing from being a “normal” mother. I don’t think we post infertiles ever really forget the deep grief and fear, the joy-pain of pregnancy after loss, the hoping and wishing that something will go right after so many wrongs. My overwhelming emotion most of the time is deep joy and gratitude that I have managed to have this experience of carrying and giving birth to a human being… my first known biological relative.

Which brings me to the third point: Having a child after being adopted [in a closed adoption] is a huge thing. It’s monumental. Having a child after having been transracially, transnationally adopted – if you weren’t, you can’t even begin to comprehend the profundity of it. I couldn’t, before it happened to me, despite that person being me.

To look into my baby’s face and recognise my own – to feel that deep kinship, to feel joined to someone else when it has never happened before in my living memory – it’s the most gut wrenching joy-pain you can imagine. To realise what I lost as a baby. To realise what I’ve gained through having my baby. To realise my birth culture and language is lost to me and I can’t pass it on to him… To realise that matters – even despite the joy. To live in that complexity where joy can coexist with grief and loss.*

Of course – I don’t want to put that on him. He has no responsibility other than being my baby doing babyish things and hopefully drawing as much joy out of life as a baby can inhale. And yet – he is everything.

(*I already knew what I’d gained – prevailing adoption narratives always focus more on gain than loss. I can be happy and adopted and have suffered deep loss all at the same time. That’s adoption complexity for you.)

Fourthly: After so many other “Not like the other” categories, Working Mother has to be the most stark. I genuinely never knew that the battle lines of Motherhood were so entrenched. And none more than Stay At Home Mother vs Working Mother. I never wanted to be caught up in these battles, any more than I wanted to define myself by Crunchy Mom vs Gina Ford Mom, or Breastfeeding Mum vs Fed is Best Mum – and yet, if there’s one thing mothers seem to like doing, it’s defining themselves as a Mum Type. (I’m Haphazard, Intuitive Mum… completely disorganised and completely in love. That’s all really.) I realise in so many spaces I don’t really fit in. And the (relative) loss of my antenatal buddies – who fell by the wayside as soon as I went back to work – felt like a rejection of the old school kind. (And that’s not even to get into the whiteness of motherhood… and how that makes a transracial adoptee feel. A complex subject for another day!)

And yet, I think we’ve settled into our own niche. I’ve found mum friends – some of whom will probably last and some of whom probably won’t. Quite honestly, it’s hard to cultivate friendships when you work full time and other mums seem to have endless pools of time to do Mum things and they use their weekends to catch up with their husbands… My baby is at nursery during the week and so even if I’m working from home, I can’t really meet mum friends, because why would I want to go and spend time with someone else’s baby when mine is in daycare? Like I said, it’s a strange hinterland and we find our own way.

I have made some Mum buddies whose kids go to our nursery – their kids are a bit older, because I had to go back to work so soon. But it’s good because we have more in common. (I’m the terrible one feeding my child Ella’s Kitchen premade pouches instead of developing a varied baby menu and posting pictures of tot cuisine to our whatsapp groups. Our working mums group is a safe space for all of us who’ve ended up rushing across town all sweaty to grab our babies at the last possible minute. No Lingo Tots or prosecco in the play park for us!)

The thing is, I wish I could join those other mums. I’d love to be a stay at home mum, for even a time, and I find myself wondering whether it’s possible to have it all, and I’m pretty sure it isn’t – something has got to give. For working mums, it’s missing out on all the mundane stuff that our SAHM friends take for granted. The idea I might not see my child’s first steps.

Which brings me to: The Dilemma.

I’m doing not too badly in my job. Weirdly… It always makes me a little nervous when things are going well because I’m primed to feel like something is bound to go wrong. But I’ve managed to develop a great working relationship with my boss (the one I wasn’t happy that my old boss – who I love in a work platonic way – put in place). We seem to be quite symbiotic and complementary and work well as a team. And I am lucky that what I’m doing right now means I have the flexibility to work from home a fair amount and to continue breastfeeding/ pumping. (11 months next week. How did that happen?!) It’s important to me that I am able to do that. And coincidentally, I also get paid more than I ever did before, and my working hours are more reasonable. I honestly don’t know how that happened. I like to think it’s my karmic reward for putting up with so much **** in my old job!

Let’s not beat around the bush – I’m the main breadwinner. By a lot. I get paid almost double what T gets paid. We were lucky enough to have an offer accepted on our dream flat this year and it’s my salary that enabled us to get the mortgage (plus a fair bit of help from my parents with the deposit). So I need to work to continue to provide for our family. T is an awesome partner as he’s much more organised than I am and he figures out everything we need to do domestically. I just have one job – to earn the money. (Well, and to feed B!) Doing what I do helps keep us afloat. And getting promoted, earning more and doing well would help us reach our sweet spot (pay off debts and mortgage) sooner.

So…

Our company is having a leadership summit in January, and I received an invitation. It’s a long way away – a transatlantic flight away. It goes on for four days plus travel. And only approved people get invited.

I got an invitation. It’s a big deal.

I asked my big boss if there was a mistake. (Surely not me!) My manager wasn’t sure either… She said our big boss had to approve all names so I must have been invited, but maybe not.

I emailed him to check there hadn’t been an error.

He called me. No error. I’m invited. “As a member of the leadership team.” Of course! (I’m like the most junior person in the team. They’re all one or two grades above me, or in his case, four!)

And when is this conference? Smack bang over my baby’s very first birthday.

Oh.

He told me, You don’t have to come. Let me know and if you don’t want to, I’ll give your space to Andy. (Andy is another relatively junior member of the team. Hopefully not as well regarded as me.)

All the global leadership will be there… It’ll be a great networking opportunity. All expenses paid.

And… It’s my baby’s first birthday.

T says, He won’t know. We can move it a couple of days and celebrate then. I say, But I’ll know. I’d be on the other side of the world when my baby turns one.

My manager has asked me to work on a big piece of work over that time anyway, so the decision may yet be taken out of my hands, but the summit probably takes priority – if I want to go.

Every few minutes I change my mind about what is an obvious decision. And it comes back to my multiple identities and how the “obvious” answer changes according to which identity I’m cloaking myself in at the time. I am a mother. I am a working mother. I’m an adoptee whose baby is the most important person in the world to me. I am a mother after loss who realises how precious those small mundane things are. I am a transnational, transracial adoptee who finally made a family. I’m someone who was cut off from her roots who invests a huge amount emotionally in birthdays because they are the only link to my past.

I am all those things and I am my baby’s mother and I am a great worker and I want to do well so I can provide for him and make him safe, keep a roof over his head, keep him happy.

But he is not me. B is not me. He is himself, and he’s wonderful and joyous and giggly and amazing and cute. He doesn’t need to be anything for me, but I need to be everything for him.

How do we ever resolve our multiple identities? How do we decide what is best?

I don’t know if we ever can, but I’m going to have to try…

I keep meaning to post but…

…sometimes I can’t find the words. And Facebook is such an instant kind of interaction whereas blogging has some sort of responsibility associated with it, to have a subject or theme rather than just stream of consciousness rambling… (although anyone who’s followed my blog for a while will be used to that!). 

I guess it’s a bit hard to think of pithy subjects for blog posts when there’s such a lot going on in the world. And I have a lot of other outlets for discussing that, and others have done it far more justice than I ever could, so I’ll just say I’m saddened and kind of scared with what’s going on right now. It makes me wonder if one day in future we will look back on these days and think they were peace time. I hope that isn’t the case. 

We all have a responsibility to speak out. As a transracial adoptee I feel my “foreignness” more than most people, and I’m astounded and saddened by what is happening in America now.


In other news…

B turned seven months old! I can’t believe my baby is over half a year old. It’s gone by so quickly. I’m sure this happens to every parent but I feel like this time I’m sort of at peak love with him. Although probably next month I’ll think I love him even more. He’s at a great age now where he gives a fair amount of feedback, smiling and giggling, and he’s almost confident at sitting up (only falling over occasionally and slowly) and trying to crawl (but only succeeding in moving backwards, generally under the sofa). He’s tried food but doesn’t like it much. Which means: We’ve now reached seven months of breastfeeding!

One of my biggest surprises about this entire journey is how much I’ve enjoyed breastfeeding. I started out thinking I’d probably end up doing formula, because my body manages to cock up everything else, but for some reason I seem to be made to nurse my baby. 

It’s an amazing feeling to think that my milk has nourished him to seven months. And he’s really pretty healthy. He’s quite big for his age – we know other babies who are a few months older and he doesn’t look significantly smaller. And aside from the occasional snotty nose and nursery bug, he’s been really well. 


Also as an adoptee who wasn’t breastfed, I feel that it’s a very healing thing to be able to nurse my own biological baby. That’s not to say I wish I’d been breastfed. I really find that difficult as a concept from an adoption standpoint. We have had many discussions about it in adoption groups – suffice to say that pretty much all the adoptees were against it and all the people supporting it were adoptive parents. It’s a very emotive subject for adoptees and led to me deciding to leave my local LLL group. (I really support breastfeeding but adoptive breastfeeding is something else. I understand different people have different views and I can only speak for mine as an adult transracial adoptee, that it is deeply taboo in our community.) It’s a shame as we have had such a good breastfeeding experience and I was thinking of becoming a peer supporter. But still – we are still enjoying it and will probably end up doing the extended breastfeeding unless he decides to wean himself earlier! I’m not particularly worried as I guess most 15 year olds aren’t into it!

We are starting to wean B, but we are a bit lacksadaisical about it. We wanted to do baby led weaning, but he really isn’t very interested in food, so we’ve ended up doing some mush as well. I have to say I’m grossed out by mush. Especially banana. I hate bananas but it turns out babies love them. B doesn’t seem averse although he never voluntarily goes for food. He’ll eat mush offered to him on a spoon but stuff in his hand he just waves around. Apart from the baby chocolate biscuit. He’s clearly a man after my own heart. 

We decided to hold a naming ceremony. I guess really we would have had a christening but neither of us is religious and so it felt like it would be a bit hypocritical. We wanted to mark B’s entrance to the world somehow… I guess it’s a natural inclination to want some sort of significance to it. Anyway I was going to do it myself and then thought about it and how I’d probably turn to mush and start crying, so I found a humanist celebrant who’s going to do it. Quite excited as we’ve been to humanist weddings in the past and they are really nice and personal. Anyway will have to write more about that on another post!

We are finally completing on our new house! Wow, it’s been an insanely long wait. We first made an offer that was accepted back in April. It’s been a bit frustrating – like what are they actually doing? – but feels amazing to think we will get our dream home this week! I actually feel a little sad for our lovely tiny current flat, but we are keeping it and hope to rent it out. I would love for us to keep it for B so he has some security for when he’s older, but we shall see. The new place isn’t actually a house but another flat very nearby – it’s just that it has a terrace so we will have some outside space, and it has two bedrooms so B can have one of his own! And a slightly bigger living room so he can actually learn to crawl! So exciting. It’s funny when I see people’s homes outside London and they are massive! We have low expectations for space here! I absolutely love London though and can’t really see us moving until much much later. Maybe when we retire to Disney World!

We have booked B’s first Disney trip! Before I was pregnant we went to Disneyland Paris each year during the Christmas season, and last year was the first time we missed it as I was heavily pregnant at Christmas. We decided because we both have our “big” birthdays this year (don’t mention it!) and it’ll be B’s first Christmas that we would go all out. We always go past the Disneyland hotel and sometimes even pop in for a drink or dinner. Well we have booked a posh room there with a park view! So excited. Now to find some good outfits for B…!

Stuff is actually going okay at work. The funny thing is, I made a decision to try and get on with The Woman (my new manager) and actually we’ve been getting on really well. She went on holiday and left me in charge of a piece of work and I caned it (up till 3am one night finishing it!) so I think she appreciated that I was pretty good even though I’m working from home most of the time. So although it’s hard work, I do tend to enjoy working hard periodically. I like that I have other days when I have hardly anything! Anyway it’s sort of nice to be able to take pride in my work!

My sister had her baby! I now have another niece. She was absolutely tiny weeny (a bit over 6lbs) and she’s super skinny… I don’t think B was ever that tiny! She ended up having a really similar experience to mine – ending in an unplanned caesarean. On the flip side she doesn’t really seem super happy about it – I think it has all gotten on top of her. I may have mentioned before she is quite highly strung… So I think the whole thing has traumatised her. I’m hoping that it’s going to pass and she won’t end up having postnatal depression – although I can see it happening. Luckily baby is fine and hopefully with a period of adjustment my sister will get into the swing of things. 

I was finally a bridesmaid! They do say, “Three times a bridesmaid, never a bride!” So I kind of thought seeing as I’ve been a bride, maybe never a bridesmaid. Anyway it was such a fun day. Our bridesmaid crew was just the three of us and it was a great experience. I mean really all you have to do is turn up and have your hair and makeup done and wear a dress. It was kind of great. I even managed to nurse in the bridesmaid dress although it was a bit of a “wap ’em out” situation. Also I almost gave people an eyeful during the ceilidh dancing when the boob tube part of the dress came fully down! Fortunately I had some fabric over my boobs but there is no time during Strip the Willow (energetic Scottish country dancing, lots of spinning) to correct it. Ha! It was wonderful to see my friend so happy and to get married to the perfect guy for her. (I take full credit for persuading her to do internet dating!)

I think that’s about up to date with the news. Oh aside from the fact that I woke up today with what feels like horrendous whiplash. How did that happen?! Who knows. I’ve barely been able to move my head all day. I’m in agony. I’ve been taking painkillers in between pumping and feeding (as B is at nursery I have a safe-ish gap) but I am in massive pain. I don’t know how to do make it go away. I have a feeling it’s from side sleeping (co sleeping and feeding during the night) as I tend to get a sore back, but usually that’s manageable lower back pain rather than crippling under neck pain. I had a sports massage which helped a bit but ow!

I guess there was too much good news so I had to have a bit of pain mixed in!