Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Sisterhood of Women

There have been many realisations for me since having a baby – things like, I'm stronger than I ever knew! And Wow, you really don't need that much sleep to survive! But one of the greatest revelations for me has been the importance, actually, the ABSOLUTE NECESSITY, of female friendships.

The first three months of being a new mummy were, for me at least, pretty damn hard. Not only was I more traumatised from the whole hospital experience than I thought, I was massively sleep deprived, incredibly anxious (about EVERYTHING), felt pretty inept when it came to knowing why my baby was crying, and perhaps more than anything else, I felt terribly guilty that this experience I'd been longing for was so NOT enjoyable at this point. (Spoiler alert: I did come to find it all very enjoyable). Everyone around me was so loving and supportive, especially my beautiful husband and my wonderful mum. But I needed to know that I wasn't the only new mummy feeling like this. And then I joined Transitions, this wonderful course/mothers' group/ support group for women having their first baby, second baby, seventh baby even! From the very first get-together, I felt an enormous weight had been lifted off my shoulders, just through discovering these other women were going through the same experience as I was. As the weeks went by, we became more and more comfortable with each other, discussing and sharing really personal things about ourselves as women, as wives, as mothers, as friends. I remember looking forward to our Thursday morning get-togethers SOOO much, knowing that I had found a safe, supportive space, with two incredibly special facilitators, where I could unload all of the crap I'd been storing up from the week and feel rejuvenated.

Now, many months later, the course is well and truly over and we have sadly had to say good bye to Jane and Suzanne, two beautiful women who facilitated our course each week. But the seven of us, all strangers a year ago, continue to meet weekly in each other's houses for our dose of mummy solidarity. We have become friends, confidantes, supportive peers in a time of our life where we probably need it the most. Our babies, all born within 2 months of each other, are growing together and becoming little people in their own rights. 

 As we approach that marvellous milestone – our baby's first birthday – I would like to say a heartfelt thanks to the beautiful women in my life who have given me love, strength, understanding, the perfect cuppa tea, much-needed hugs and belly-laughs. It is an honour to stand in the sisterhood of women, of mothers, alongside each and every one of you.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2011 – The Year for Challenging my Baby Brain!

It's the beginning of a brand new year, a time for resolving to do things differently, to do things better. In my case, it's a resolution to do SOMETHING. Particularly, something to do with my brain. You see, as a high school Drama and English teacher, I've always used my brain in a fairly intense way, relying on it for its ability to juggle many things at once (marking, lesson planning, meetings, etc..), its talent for memorising things (a game of Memory, anyone?), its ability to generally help me operate in the world in an articulate way.

And then I had a baby.

Now, I've never been one to subscribe to the baby-brain theory (or placenta-brain, or pregnancy-brain) that says once you've brought a life into the world, you're intelligence faculties simply give up the ghost. But after becoming a mummy for the first time 10 months ago, and being on leave since a few months before that, I now know baby-brain is the real deal - in my case anyway. Let's explore pre-baby and post-baby life in the form of a helpful table:


Excellent photographic memory. I could quote a passage from a novel to you, then tell you which side of the book it was on (ie. left or right) and approximately how far down the page it was located.

Excellent vocabulary. Spelling fanatic. (I get cooler by the minute, huh?)

Tell me a birthday or a phone number once and I'll never forget it.

My mind is a thick, soupy brine that has images, words, ideas, and thoughts all mixed up; sometimes I'm not sure if I'm remembering something that happened, or if I dreamt it, or if it was in a movie I saw.

Vocabu... huh? I'm thinking of a word for that thing you do when you don't remember anything anymore. Starts with an F. Oh, bugger it. I can't remember.

Okay, what's the number for the Thai take-away place we've been ordering from for 5 years? Let's look it up online. 3333 3333. Repeat in head till I get to the phone. 3333 3333. Quick, it's on the way out! Pick up phone, dial 3333 33... oh dammit! Too late!

But you know what? It's not all bad. Actually, this new state of forgetfulness lends a fairly dreamy quality to my life, a dreaminess that helps me forget that I didn't get more than 2 hours sleep in a row last night, or that I was annoyed with someone for some reason that probably didn't really matter anyway. And all the mental space I have now (cue tumbleweed blowing across desert plain), and the energy that used to be utilised in the left-hemisphere of my brain has found its way into other parts of my brain more needed in mummying. Like reflexes. The other day, while making a cake, dearest daughter was playing with the plastic ware on the floor beside me. Over-exuberant in her playing, she began to topple over and without even thinking, I shot my right leg out and caught her. Or multi-tasking. I can be cooking dinner (there's a cooking theme emerging, isn't there?), watching darling daughter play nearby, answer the phone, carry on a conversation with my husband, put on a load of washing AND check my email, all simultaneously.

Perhaps most importantly, I find myself open as a mummy - emotionally, physically, intuitively - able to nurture my daughter and surrender to this phase of my life where incredibly complex, intellectual thought processes don't have much currency.

But it's not over for the old grey matter upstairs just yet. And this blog is all about giving it the occasional workout. It may not be literary, it might not even make complete sense at times. But it's exactly where I'm at as a new mum.