the hardest part of babyhood


Right now I’m in the hard stage of babyhood. It’s only taken me four babies to realise that for me, the 6-9month mark is the most challenging.

Marigold is expanding and exploring; gone are the slow, sleepy days when she would snooze in the bouncer or sling. Now, eyes wide and arms outstretched, she’s woken and she’s ready to go.

I’m doing my best to guide her along, all the while keeping up with everyone and everything else. My daily workload has increased significantly over the past few weeks; I’m preparing more food, subsequently washing more pumpkin-stained clothes, soothing sore gums with breastmilk and carrying her on my hip because frustrated squawks as she tries (and fails) to crawl is one of life’s more agitating soundtracks.

Sometimes I wonder what it must look like from the outside; it’s definitely loud and tiring, slightly chaotic and somewhat joyous, too. I think I most resemble one of the mums in a Shirley Hughes picture book. Or the slightly dishevelled family in the ramshackle house of Peepo.

A fortnight ago, at Marigold’s most recent check-up, I was chatting to my GP about how full my days are. So full! I recalled a high-school friend telling me that her mum was often up at 1am mopping the floor. At the time I couldn’t fathom why she would do that. But now? I wholeheartedly comprehend why she would mop the floor at 1am. Sometimes I’m up at midnight so I can get a few things done without interruption; a beeswax candle flickering on the table and a cup of tea nearby means it’s not so bad. The quiet is good, too.

And so to the GP I mentioned that I “should” be doing so much more than I am, to which she replied: “Should only makes you feel like you’ve failed.” And she’s so right. Because telling myself that “I should be doing that” and “I should have worked harder to get this done by school pick-up” is a pointless and emotionally detrimental conversation to have.

And yet I still have them!

And so in this full-to-the-brim period where I regularly sport squashed banana on my neck and spend far too much time scrubbing stains at the laundry sink, I’m amazed at the fact that I’m four kids into this business and there’s still stuff that puzzles me. Every day there’s something new! And yet here I am, more willing than ever to listen and learn.

They say four kids is easier than three and to that I say: CORRECT! Three is an almighty juggle yet when you get to four you’re a more relaxed, take-it-as-it-comes kind of mum. The little things don’t bother you because you don’t have the time, energy or inclination to be bothered by them.

So here I am, dishevelled yet less bothered, tired and happy and learning to remove “should” from my vocabulary.