It’s Mandela Day here in South Africa, a day when we’re all encouraged to spend 67 minutes to help make South Africa and the world a better place. I will be striving to do that for the next 67 DAYS as a part of #CarseatFullstop, so while it would obviously be great to go volunteer my time somewhere, at least I sort of feel like I’m making a difference. So instead, for Mandela Day, I want to look at the 6 or 7 ways my life has changed since Harley came into this world.
Motherhood is a big deal, and certainly changes a lot. It’s why I write about baby stuff, and parenting, and motherhood, and a whole host of other topics. Motherhood has changed me in some ways – I am even more sensitive to certain issues and current events, and I spend a good portion of my day singing The Itsy Bitsy Spider instead of watching hilariously graphic YouTube videos. But, that doesn’t mean I’m not still the same person that I always was.
Awesome friend of this blog, Cassey Toi sent me a great link yesterday. The writer talks about how she isn’t a shadow of her former self, she’s still in there. And no, maybe she doesn’t go out drinking the way she used to, but she’s also in her 30s now. This bit in particular resonated for me:
Back when I was pregnant, I wrote about sex. At the time, things were a bit weird and awkward. My libido was pretty much normal, and physically I was enjoying sex more than ever thanks to increased blood flow below the waist. However, Dean and I were both struggling with some psychological issues with sexy time – it was weird that my orgasm would give Harley the same chemicals to her brain as it does to mine, and Dean didn’t like that proximity of his member to the tiny baby inside me. I was worried that this was a taste of what was to come. Were we going to develop a madonna/whore complex together, making future intimacy impossible?
Since Harley has been born, things have changed, obviously. I am way, way more tired than I ever imagined that I would be. I knew that a baby would be tiring, but it’s exhausting in a whole other way. You see, it’s not just sleep deprivation. In fact, Harley is mostly sleeping through the night, only waking up once or twice for quick feeds and then back to sleep. However, after a day of bouncing, singing, reading, changing nappies, nursing and whatever else, I am pretty much shattered. When the little on goes down for the night, I’m not far behind on getting into bed. I hardly ever even read before sleep, and finding time for intimacy is more tricky, but not impossible.
Today, Dean and I are celebrating our anniversary. Four years ago, we got married. Nine years ago, we started dating. It’s hard to believe how many years we’ve been together. On the one hand, it has gone so fast. On the other, I can’t imagine my life without him. Nine years of seeing his face and he still makes me smile. Nine years on, and my life is so much better for having him as my partner. Having a baby certainly has changed things, though.
The early days were hard. Like, really hard. Dean was an amazing partner to have; he focused on taking care of me so that I could take care of Harley. He took two weeks off for paternity leave, helping me figure things out when we brought Harley home from the hospital. He cooked us dinner, cleaned the house and generally just did everything to help and pamper me so that I could take care of the baby when she was still so new. But then he had to go back to work, and we had to find a new routine.
I was and still am quite lucky – Dean managed to take two weeks off work to be at home while we figure things out with her. It’s always great to have him around, but it has been particularly helpful now. Having an extra pair of hands means that dishes get done, food gets cooked, and there’s the ability to tag out when baby stuff gets too much. We have been able to figure this whole parenting thing out together, and it’s been fantastic (in between the frustration and joy highs and lows).
I’m sure there will be more ups and downs – that’s what this journey is all about. However, I’ve loved the way that parenting already has brought us so much closer together. I already loved Dean, obviously, but watching him make faces at our little girl makes me melt. But there’s something even more that has made me feel closer to him than ever, and has made such a difference as a wife and mother.