When I had my daughter nearly three years ago some wise person said to me, “It’s the hardest job you’ll love doing.” Damn straight. In the last three years I’ve been pulled from pillar to sleepless post in a non-stop juggling act between my desire to work, write and make a living and the relentless needs of a small human who I adore (most of the time!). A human that reaches for cuddles when both my arms are laden with shopping bags. A human that can toddle into my bed at any hour regardless of whether Momo’s eyes are open or not. A human that asks me to change the ABCKids show on the iPad even though it’s mere centimetres from her reach… while I stand metres away in another room stirring or blitzing some nutritious meal over the stove to feed her…so, you know…she keeps growing and stuff.
In the last three years I’ve lost more than the sight of my toes. I’ve forgotten how to put myself first. It’s such an easy thing to forget when your entire being is set to keeping someone else alive and happy. But enough about my husband…Seriously though, right now, at this moment in my life, my own needs and plans come second to what my child needs. And that’s just the way it goes. That’s parenting. That’s what I signed up for. And I’m good with that.
But amongst all this parenting, working and running a home there has to be some time for me. Just a little bit that I can eek out to focus just on me and my disintegrated abs, my tuck shop arms and my gluteus-jellious. Of course there’s time. There’s 28 minutes.
Are those 28 minutes the same every day? No. Do I actually get 28 minutes every day? No. Can I get through a 28-minute workout uninterrupted every day? No. But sometimes I can. Sometimes my child blissfully sleeps until 7am and I’m all-alone with Sam…
(sorry, got distracted, where was I …)
Oh yeah. Progress not perfection.
I have had a lifetime of perfecting the art of being too hard on myself. If I can’t make something perfect then I don’t make it at all. If it seems too hard then I don’t start. If I’m not instantly gratified then I give up.
Then I had my daughter. And perfect plans had to make way for ‘just get it done’.
Like many new mothers I was all set to pop my new baby at boobs café and feed away. Unfortunately, also like many mothers, it was not so easy. (If you want, you can take a side trip and read more about this story here.) After three months of negotiating feeding with my new CEO I decided to express bottle-feed 100% of the time. (As I type this I can hear the collective inhale of breath from experienced mothers, right around the 28 village). For the uninitiated expressing breast milk means attaching your boobs to suckers in much the same way that cows are milked. In fact, it’s exactly the same way. I’d express 4-6 times a day and my happy baby girl was fed liquid gold at every feed. When I started to express I had no set idea for how long I would keep it up. I mean, it’s an onerous thing. You can’t really move around while you’re expressing and when you have a new baby and …you know…a life…your days become suddenly truncated. You go nowhere. Except to feed and if you’re lucky to wash and to sleep.
I kept up this cow-milking routine for three whole months. Three months man! That’s a long time when your world has already been turned upside down with a new member of the family. If someone had told me before my baby was born that I’d be express bottle feeding for three months I would have said no way, and made a sharp right turn into Formula Street (which we did too, don’t worry about that!).
But because I just got on with it I had no fear. No real disappointment of what I wasn’t doing (breast-feeding) and instead I focussed on what I was doing. I was feeding my baby with food I made myself. Actually. Made. Myself. So fucking clever! Once I’d made the switch from struggle town breast-feeding to easy street expressing, life became simpler. It was routine. We both knew what to expect and I knew what my days would bring.
I think 28 is like that. Once I made the mental switch to ‘just do it’, my 28 minutes became part of my expected daily routine, along with cooking and meal planning.
When I think about it, becoming a mother has taught me a lot about focusing on what I CAN do. I got pregnant five times before my daughter finally made it through at the end of my very happy and healthy sixth pregnancy (you can read more about that story here). During those few years of recurrent miscarriages I found myself focusing on what I could do and not on what I couldn’t. Fortunately for me, I could get pregnant. So…we kept getting pregnant. But I couldn’t control the outcome. Try as you might no amount of herbs, acupuncture or wishful thinking can change a medical certainty. Things just don’t work that way, at least not for me. I’m not religious but I do have faith.
Faith that everything happens just as it should. And I can focus on that.
Nothing is ever going to go 100% to plan because that’s life… and we always need wine…well I do! And that’s OK. On 28 I can do that too.