I’ve not written in a while. It’s hard to find the time when you have a tiny human (quite literally) snapping and wailing at your heels. Sonny is a big ball of energy – shrieking, laughing, crying, torturing the long-suffering cat. His only words ‘maaaama’ and ‘ooooh’. I’m dizzy in love with him though. I think I could gaze for hours at his perfect crystal blue eyes, his outrageous dark lashes, his chubby wrists, even his squidged up nose when he’s completely overwhelmed by his emotions.
After a fairly peaceful period of relative normality, January hit us hard. Sonny picked up a nasty tummy bug, but took it like a (little) man and fairly nonchalantly vommed as he toddled around grinning. We were equally bemused and horrified at this unexpected turn of events. Sonny, meanwhile, wasn’t that bothered by his bodily functions. While keeping an avid eye on his temperature, we put it down to a common childhood illness.
Unfortunately, the next morning, my poor husband announced he wasn’t feeling the best. This usually means my beloved needs to lie down for a few hours. This time though, it was more serious. It seemed the tummy bug had jumped ship from Sonny to Andrew. He took to bed and moaned a lot while making regular trips to the bathroom. I sighed, thinking another bad case of man illness. I got on with the day’s tasks but I started to feel a bit ropey around 7pm that evening. I swayed up the stairs and declared I was about to die.
Yes, I was also succumbing to whatever it was that had taken over the Gordon household. I climbed into our bed, feeling rubbish, riding the waves of nausea. Times like this, you need a few bathrooms. Still, even though we were feeling horrible, I felt grateful for the fact that Sonny was OK. That he was clambering on us and smacking us on the face as we were horizontal, wishing we had a magical fairy godmother to look after our darling child until we were both better.
Parenthood is the craziest, most magical thing that has ever happened to me. I’m incredibly grateful to have a son who brings me so much joy. He has completely changed my life. Becoming a parent awakens something in you. For me, I want to step up, be a great parent, the type that he will want to become in the future. Becoming a mum has awakened something else inside me, the need to emerge from the person I’ve hidden behind for too long, the weak, scared, insecure girl. I feel the best I’ve felt in a long, long time. I care so much less about other people’s opinions and it’s very liberating. I’m ready to live and it’s about time.
I’ve just over a week to go before I enter the next decade of my life. I’m excited, overwhelmed, trepidatious but ultimately happy with my lot. The past two years of my life have taught me a lot about myself, what I’m willing to accept and what I’m not. I have a very low tolerance for drama, I’m wholly committed to becoming the best version of myself and also committed to my incredible family, my refuge, my rock.
Regrets, I’ve got a few, but they’ve all led me to where I am at this moment. I’ve always believed that ‘everything is happening perfectly’. I wish I knew what I know now in my early 30’s. I’ve been irresponsible, foolish with my heart, reckless with money but now, (you’d hope), I feel grown-up, properly grown-up. I don’t have the stamina of my youth, I go to bed early, suffer awful hangovers, and have various physical ailments but some days I feel giddy with excitement, I want to get dressed up and hit the town, I want to buy that over-priced dress, I want to laugh and giggle ’til my belly hurts.
I might be almost 40 but in many ways, I feel my life is just beginning. I’ve already got what I wanted, a family. But, there are still things I want to achieve for me. I finally freed myself of the shackles of an office job and I’m self-employed as a writer and social media manager. I love and need flexibility in my career. Family is everything and so it goes that everything revolves around family.
However, if I could have a word with my younger self, this is what I’d do…
Learned to drive.
I’ve probably taken well over 100 lessons over the years but have never quite mastered it. I’ve started and stopped, for a variety of reasons – money, confidence, and frustration. I know driving will give me the independence I crave but I fear I’m not ‘cut out’ to drive. It’s so important, especially when you’re a mum. Thankfully my hubby can drive but I’d like the freedom of being able to jump into a car and get to where I want to go without having to depend on a lift or public transport. Maybe 2020 will be my year to get in the driving seat…
I’m lucky to have seen a little of the world with my husband but there’s much more I want to see. Yes, financial constraints and work commitments have played their part but travelling is so good for the soul. I love blue skies, feeling the sun on my skin, sinking my toes into the sand, immersing myself into a new culture. As an independent and adventurous soul, seeing more of the world is on my bucket list.
Loved myself more.
It’s taken a while. I wouldn’t say I’m quite there but I’m getting there. I’m a decent person, I’m not perfect. I’m lucky to have some incredible women in my life, if you’re reading, you know who you are. I’ve doubted myself, agonised over things I’ve done or said. But, I know I’m good. I’m kind, loyal and a good listener. I wish I could go back in time and hug the teenager, the 20-something, tell her I was good enough. My mum has always told me I was special but I felt unworthy of such an adjective. I feel worthy now.
Started a family earlier.
I didn’t get pregnant until I was 38. But truth be told, I never felt that maternal urge. My close friends getting pregnant awakened a yearning in me, a yearning that was unfamiliar but strong. Thankfully, I got pregnant easily and delivered a perfect little boy on June 18, 2018. Sonny has changed my life beyond recognition. I get it now, the sacrifice, the exhaustion, the paralysing fear that comes with being a mum. It’s also the most life-affirming experience of my life. Sonny brings me so much joy, more than I thought I’d ever experience. I’m so grateful to him for allowing me to experience the greatest love of all. It’s humbling and so wonderful. I’d love a brother or sister, as crazy as that would be. I don’t think I’m done just yet.
Worked for myself earlier.
I’ve been a slave to a wage for so long. It’s the most soul-destroying thing to be in a job where you feel powerless. I’ve fantasised about becoming self-employed, about getting paid to do something I loved. It’s so important, you spend so much of your life working. It’s so pointless to do something every day that you have no passion for, it’s a waste of a life. Yes, I know there are bills, there are dependents, but it will change your life if you look forward to doing your job.
Been better with money.
I think I have the shopping gene if there is such a thing. I’ve always been a lover of beautiful things. I’ve never really felt that guilt that you should feel after you’ve spent an extortionate amount on a handbag or dress. Yes, it’s important to look and feel good. My husband who is a financial advisor is horrified at what I spend my money on (sometimes I am too), but I’m impulsive and I do get a thrill from buying beautiful things. Yes, I need to reign in my spending as we’re saving for a new home. But maybe next year will be my year to be sensible. Hmmm.
Overall, it’s been a great decade. I met my husband, had a baby and started a new career. I’m looking forward to my 40’s. It still feels a bit surreal but I’ll get used to it. On December 21, I’ll turn 40 and celebrate with my family and friends. I can’t wait.
Thank you for reading and I hope you’ll join me as I becoming a 40-something!
Being a mum comes with pressure. You are responsible for nurturing and shaping another human being’s life. It’s a huge responsibility and one that comes with endless sacrifice. There’s no medal for motherhood. It’s the hardest job you’ll ever do.
It doesn’t help that in this digital age, we are constantly being bombarded with saccharine images of motherhood being ‘perfect’. On Instagram, we see cleverly composed, perfectly lit images of beautiful nurseries and supposedly ‘candid’ shots of a mother with perfect makeup and hair and a spotless, beaming baby. It’s enough to make you feel entirely inadequate. As an Instagram user, I have on occasion been guilty of some of the aforementioned ‘fake news’. No, my dear son isn’t always pink-cheeked with shiny hair. A lot of the time he’s covered in food, his hair unkempt, his face contorted with frustration. Most of the time, my hair is scraped back, my pale face make-up free, dark circles under my eyes, my sweater stained from Sonny wiping his streaming nose. However, as a brand new bleary-eyed mum, I felt compelled to take endless snaps of my tiny baby. I even bought Sonny cute clothes, specifically for Instagram posts. I’d sweat buckets trying to get him in the right pose. It was far, far too much.
No, my dear son isn’t always pink-cheeked with shiny hair.
I didn’t even realise that I was putting myself under ridiculous pressure until a good friend suggested I take a break from social media. I was anxious, depleted, exhausted, feeling like I had to show the world that I was coping – when I really wasn’t. I felt guilty for feeling overwhelmed when so many other mums seemed to have it together. I felt I shouldn’t complain, ‘you’ve only one’, some would say, ‘what if you had two or three?’. I’d take unhelpful anecdotal advice with a pinch of salt – ‘I know my baby best’, I’d say inwardly.
Being a mum is no easy task
The early days of being a new mum were incredibly testing. I’d never even changed a nappy before Sonny was born. There is so much to learn and you question absolutely everything. I catastrophized constantly, scared myself to death with horror stories I’d read online. I was afraid to sleep, needing the constant reassurance of Sonny’s soft, even breathing. I was in a state of high alert, drinking far too much coffee, drinking wine to take the edge off, eating rubbish. It was only a matter of time before I crashed. This was my reality. Now, I can look back on the first year of Sonny’s life and acknowledge it was really difficult (it still is) but I got through it.
Motherhood has utterly changed me as a person and I’m so grateful that I got pregnant easily, at 38. Sonny was planned but I’d no clue as to what to expect. I’d enjoyed my 30’s, I was completely cushioned from the wrecking ball through your life which comes with having a child. I don’t even recognise the woman I was before Sonny. Now, I’m very much living in the present. I cherish those moments where Sonny buries his head in my neck as I’m climbing the stairs to put him to bed. I live for his adorable laugh, his toothy grin. I feel like I wouldn’t even make sense without him now.
I don’t even recognise the woman I was before Sonny.
Becoming a parent has changed my career trajectory too. I was made redundant shortly after returning to work from maternity leave. I now work for The Mummy MOT, a service that provides a specialist postnatal examination for mums after natural and C-section deliveries. It’s so important for me to do work that is fulfilling having spent most of my career in sedentary jobs, working to pay the bills and have a few nights out. Sometimes I feel like I wasted a lot of years, but I know that every second of my life has led to where I am right now and I’m in a great place.
Self-care is key
I had a Mummy MOT, a specialist postnatal examination about a year after Sonny was born. It was empowering and it made me realise just how amazing my body is. I’m also really lucky to work with some amazing brands that I believe in. As a parent with responsibility, I feel accountable for what I consume and what products I use. I’m ashamed when I think of all the non-biodegradable baby wipes I’ve used because they’re cheap or just convenient. I’ve recently started using Natracare baby wipes which are made with organic cotton. Not only do they smell lovely – they’re saturated with organic chamomile, apricot, and sweet almond oil – they’re so much gentler on Sonny’s bottom. I also love their cleansing make-up remover wipes. Although I’m much better than I used to be at taking off my make-up, sometimes I can’t be bothered with lotion, so these wipes are a super quick way of cleaning my skin before collapsing into bed. I love Natracare’s ethos of providing women with a viable, eco-friendly alternative to pads, panty liners, and wipes. Using this brand, I feel a bit less guilty, and that’s a big plus for me.
As a parent with responsibility, I feel accountable for what I consume and what products I use.
A conversation with a lovely neighbour led me to start meditating and deciding on what I want from life. I’m unapologetically ambitious and driven. I know what I want and I’m undeterred by what some people may think. Meditation has really helped me, and while I let it slide sometimes, I know that spending just 20 minutes in the morning, being mindful and expressing gratitude, sets me up for the day. I’m also working out three times a week, another thing to make me feel good about myself.
Taking a break from social media was the best thing I’ve ever done, and it also had a domino effect, encouraging me to focus inward and be sensitive to my own needs. You have got to look after yourself if you are going to look after someone else. It’s that simple.
You’re doing amazing, mamma
I’m approaching my 40th birthday, excited for the future. In some ways, I feel like my life is just beginning. I’m doing great a job of being a mum – and so are you.
If eating was an Olympic sport I’d win gold several times over. I’ve never been sporty, I’ve never had the coordination skills. I was always the last to be picked in netball at school, seeing a ball hurtling at me as something to dodge. My spatial awareness is awful, which probably explains why at almost 40, I still haven’t got my driving license.
That said, I do find watching women’s athletics quite thrilling. There’s a certain pleasure that comes from wearing your slobbiest tracksuit bottoms and hoody watching supreme female athletes throw themselves at various tortuous obstacles. OK. I’m just a bit envious of their taut, goddess bodies but there’s some entertainment observing their scowls when they don’t quite meet their expectations. Women, no matter how supremely skilled, how much they are admired, are so hard on themselves.
It’s the same as motherhood. We’ll always second guess ourselves, always compare ourselves to the ‘perfect’ Insta mum. It’s mostly bull. As a mum who uses social media in her career, I do hope I offer a real side of motherhood. While I follow beautiful accounts, I know they’re not real. They are carefully thought out, composed, editing software used. Motherhood is really difficult. It’s not all chubby pink-cheeked babies grinning in their pristine outfits. Every day is a marathon. Every day is beset with hurdles, sprints to stop your toddler from getting in the washing machine, hauling laundry up and down the stairs. Wiping up poo, regurgitated food, wiping streaming noses and big, heavy tears.
Every day is your eyes on the prize, getting your baby or toddler to bed and putting your feet up with your reward, a hot cuppa and chocolate bar or a big glass of red wine. That’s your medal, for getting through another day of motherhood relatively unscathed, ready to face another race the next day. Yes, mammas, it takes hard work, it takes grit, it takes patience, it takes determination. You know though, you’ll get there in the end. You’ll cross the line knowing you’ve given it your absolute best.
There will be so much to savour along the way. Watching your child totter into their first day of school, their double-digit birthday, their formal or even going to university. Parenthood is for the long haul. It’s a marathon and the only way you’re going to get through it is with fierce discipline and blinkered vision.
Keep going mamma, you’re a winner, every day. Oh, and you did awesome Katarina Johnson-Thompson. Enjoy basking in your glory. You deserve it.
Having a baby changes everything, including your most important relationships. Such a seismic event will make many of those relationships stronger, and sometimes, weaker. Yes, becoming a mum can be a really lonely, isolating time but if you have a supportive, loving tribe around you, you will flourish.
Being a mother is so overwhelming. Other mums understand the daily struggle. You don’t have to put on a front. Your mum friends won’t judge you if you haven’t managed to shower that day, brush your hair, or your house is upside down. Your mum friends are the first people you’ll turn to with feverish questions about any strange spots on your baby’s skin, the non-stop wailing, weird coloured poop. It’s a massive comfort to know that your best friends have your back when you’re feeling crap.
This September, I’ve been championing Mummy Social, an app that supports and encourages mums to be brave and get social with other local mums. Sadly, maternal loneliness takes a lot of us by surprise and Mummy Social wants all mums to know they are not alone. It can do you and your little one(s) – or not so little one(s) the world of good to get outside into the daylight and meet other mums who are on the motherhood journey too. Coffee is the holy grail when you’re a sleep-deprived mum.
I’m very lucky to have close friends who are also amazing mums. It does feel like you’re on this incredible, crazy journey together. I recently had a cinema date with a close mummy friend, minus the cinema. We ended up chatting for hours over wine and it was brilliant fun. It’s so important to feel that connection with another human being and sharing motherhood makes it all the more special. It’s quite surreal to watch your mini-me playing with your good friend’s mini-me.
It might be the end of September but it is definitely not the end of getting social! Mums supporting mums make the journey of motherhood a happier, healthier, easier and less lonely one. Maternal loneliness is real, it is all too common and we need to keep talking about it and do our bit to help.
As author Douglas Pagels says: “A friend is one of the nicest things you can have and one of the nicest things you can be.” Amen to that.
Download the Mummy Social app and if it’s something you’d like to get involved with, drop them a DM!
I’m very passionate about shining a light on the wonderful homegrown entrepreneurs and creatives we have in Northern Ireland. This week, I’m featuring Kate & Moon, a unique children & nursery decor brand run by talented Belfast-based couple Sarah Wright (32) and Paul Anthony (36). I recently ordered a Humpback Whale Plush Toy (below) which has taken pride of place in Sonny’s nursery. I was so pleased with the quality and thrilled to be able to find somewhere local that I can buy adorable toys, cushions, shelves, and blankets. Needless to say, Mr Whale is incredibly soft and cuddly and will be Sonny’s BFF for a very long time – and mine.
Having a whale of a time…
A one-stop shop for all things nursery.
Sarah is a teacher by trade, and Paul is a computer programmer. Paul looks after the website and the technical side of things while Sarah, in her own words “takes care of pretty much everything else”. She says: “We decided to set up an online business in May this year. Paul has always been a whizz kid on the computer while I love finding beautiful products and of course, shopping! So, we decided to join forces and build something online together. We aim to build a brand that focuses on curating beautiful products for new and existing mums, and make Kate & Moon a one-stop-shop for all things nursery decor.
The importance of the personal touch.
“As we are based in Northern Ireland we can get goods quicker to local customers than online retailers. Plus, we find, when you order online, you often have no idea of who the seller is, or what the quality of the product is going to be like. We pride ourselves on ensuring that when you receive your purchase, it is beautifully packaged. We want our customers to relish the experience of ordering right through to receiving. We think a personal touch is so important. Knowing who is behind a business always helps too.”
Kate & Moon is enjoying an influx of customers through social media and visual platforms such as Instagram. Sarah says: “We have a loyal network of local women who also helped us get started. The Mummy & Me Market were so helpful. The business community in Northern Ireland for women is wonderful, and we couldn’t be more grateful to those people who have helped us get things off the ground. In the run-up to Christmas and the new year, we also plan on doing a few other local markets.”
You can follow Kate & Moon’s journey on Instagram (@kateandmoon) and see when wonderful new items are added. So, what are you waiting for? Show some love and give Kate & Moon a visit and support our amazing local entrepreneurs. This business is set to soar.
I’m on the red-eye shift as I cradle my nine-week-old son with one arm as he sleepily gulps his warm milk, pausing at times to make appreciative sighs before hungrily going back for more. With his ravenous appetite sated (for at least two hours I hope), he melts back into my now aching arm, drifting off to a satisfying slumber. I gaze in a trance-like state at his pink, perfect face, happy that he’s content before realising that I need to burp him. I gently sit my squirming baby on my lap with his back as straight as he’ll allow and proceed to rub and pat until I hear the glorious sound of a burp. He grimaces and squeals, deeply irritated at not being able to allowed to remain asleep. But he’s totally reliant on me to help him with his bodily functions until he’s old enough to burp and fart for himself.
I wrote this almost a year to the day ago. It seems crazy, starting a blog when your baby is just nine-weeks-old and yet, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. I spent most of my twenties and thirties aimless, wanting more but not doing more. It’s the definition of madness to keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. Life gets in the way, you think, you get a job that pays the bills but it’s soul-destroying. You’re terrified of change. I’ve always wanted to start a blog and a long time ago I did. I published my first blog, excited to put my voice out there. I’ve always loved writing and I knew I was good at it. I got a horrible message straight away. I have my suspicions who it was but it was enough to knock me off course. Why would anyone want to read about what I had to say? I had no self- belief, my self-esteem had been battered by jobs, by men. I kept getting the same results.
Nothing changes if nothing changes. It’s beautifully simple. Life is simple, it is us that makes it complicated. Losing my job earlier this year has been the best thing to ever happen me. Once I got over the initial terror of not having a monthly income, I quite liked having days to myself – especially as a first-time mum – and no, they’re not really days to yourself. Getting to grips with being a new parent is tough. Your life is flipped upside down. You are exhausted, thrilled, frustrated, hopeless, happy, sad. It’s utterly life-changing and you know your life has changed for the better. Becoming a mum has changed me, from my core. I don’t sweat the small stuff, I hate drama and negativity. I spend my days enjoying life, enjoying Sonny’s many expressions, his funny sounds, holding him tight, kissing his soft pink cheek (that smells so good). Yes, he is annoying too. My living room constantly looks like I’ve been ransacked. Sonny delights in emptying drawers, cupboards, the bins. He screams and cries and it’s so, so hard. But there are also moments when you think your heart will burst.
Blogging for me is therapy. It’s a chance to sit down when Sonny is in bed and write about how I’m feeling. It has also opened up my world so much. I’ve been so lucky to meet some incredible, energetic and positive people. I’ve met blogger, author of Mumboss and beautiful mamma of two boys, Vicki Psarias aka Honest Mum. I’ve worked with some amazing baby brands such as Baby & More, Babease, Beaux Baby Boutique, and Kate & Moon. I got to experience the new Center Parcs in Longford with my family. I’ve blogged about first aid, sleep training and lately, meditation and self-care. So many opportunities are still coming my way and it’s all thanks to my blog.
Becoming a mum is undoubtedly the best thing to ever happen me. It’s so fulfilling, shaping a new life. It’s so joyful, seeing your son collapse in giggles because of you. If you are still reading, I am so happy for your company and I hope you will continue to follow my journey as my baby becomes a little boy. Maybe I can even inspire you to start writing or to think outside the box that you have created. Life is short, why would you want to spend it pleasing people, or working for the cash machine? I’m so grateful and lucky that I’m where I’m at. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. No, life is not perfect, I am not perfect – I’m human after all. But, it’s pretty close.