On The Brink Of Maternity Non-Leave

Well, this one won’t be a July baby, that’s now been settled.

I’m officially overdue.  Just two days, but that’s more than I’ve gone before with one early-arrival and a bang-on-timer.  Just sitting, waiting.  Well, apart from the eight times I just climbed the stairs to ever so gently threaten the small girl with banishment to the dreaded cot if she didn’t promptly go to sleep in her bed.

I’m facing facts.  With two small ones at home there’s not going to be any ‘maternity leave’ as many have come to know it.  And most likely no with-baby coffees,  no post-baby yoga, no bring-baby massage.  There will be helping hands, extra support and the much-welcome two week paternity leave we are really hoping my husband can make the most of, but beyond that it’ll be baby working to slot into our family’s life as playschool drop-offs and terrible-two-tantrums will realistically set the rhythm of every day.

It’s an exciting time, but a daunting one too as I try to get to grips with how I’ll manage the tiredness and keep up with feeding everyone (21 meals a week people, twenty one!, and that’s not counting the avalanche of snacks required to keep toddler moods on an even-keel) – all on top of the blood, sweat and tears required to keep a house on the right side of ‘acceptable’ when small people spend the majority of their day attempting to make the place look like two angry orangutans have been given the run of the place.

But really, deep down and buried within the fatigue, that’s just how I’ll want it to be, because the mayhem is all part of it.  At this stage anyhow, four years in.  It’s weirdly become part of the charm of our lives’ new, post-children reality.  Family life – messy, barely manageable and unpredictable – in all it’s glory.

So, suffice to say, the idea of nesting hasn’t really been on my radar.  I’ve washed the baby stuff, hung a few pictures that were causing a safety hazard in the hall and…  Yes.  That’s about the sum of it.  Oh no!  I lie.  I also purchased and put up a lamp shade in the spare room.  Yay me!  But that’s about it.


Some pictures hung, baby stuff washed and prepped… As good as it gets

Apart from that there’s been cleaning – but there’s always cleaning.  In fact, every time I hoover the rug in the sitting room or clean the glass sliding door of little finger marks I think with great satisfaction; ‘That’s another job done until after bubba arrives’.  Then, with no arrival to date, I just end up doing it again.  Two days later.  (Sigh – the sheer drudgery of housework is oppressive in the extreme).

The one thing I am doing is reading more.  It’s like I now have an excuse to kick back and indulge in reading my book at any time of the day.  This is often while being asked to search for very specific lego pieces or breaking up a squabble – but it’s been SO good, this dip-diving into a good book pre 9pm.  And I shouldn’t even really need an excuse!  I mean, aren’t I the boss around here?  But I do, because us Mamas often feel we need to be ‘on’ all day, every day – we need to be playing, we need to be moving, we need to be doing for others and we come last.

But how bad can it be for our little ones to see that Mama needs time too – time where they need to (attempt to) entertain themselves, time for her own interests, time to just sit and be quiet and read for pleasure?

It so happens I’m reading John McGahern’s The Barracks for the first time, where he astutely describes Elizabeth’s need to validate her role as wife and stepmother by being ‘of use’ and constantly ‘doing’.  This was 1960s Ireland!  But so many of us still carry this ridiculous notion around on our backs.  Particularly full-time, at-home parents, where our ‘doing’ is the only way we feel we can prove our contribution to family life is worth one less pay cheque.

Monkey, be gone!  I’m carrying enough extra weight right now.

Could it be possible that the idea of ‘nesting’ now evolve from the archaic idea of washing windows, painting walls and re-tiling the ensuite to snuggling into the feathers, sitting on the egg and enjoying the view from the tree?  Especially for those of us on the brink of maternity non-leave, it could only do us all a heap of good.



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