I haven’t really done my normal post of the year. The sort where I look back on the one that has gone before and then my hopes for the one ahead of me.
I mean, my hopes for the one ahead of me usually consist of lose weight, master that no-makeup makeup look, write a book, finish the house, be happy. And these all still apply – though some are slightly more optimistic than others.
But this year is a really big year for us. It’s the year that our family drastically changes. And we get to meet our daughter, or our sister, depending on which one of us you are.
I still very much feel like she is my little secret at the moment. It’s clear she’s there, that I’m pregnant, and that I’m having a baby, but we’re still in that stage where we’re carving out this new relationship. A bit like that song lyric: “Nobody knows it, but you’ve got a secret smile, and you use it only for me.” She’s still so secret. Even to me.
She’s leaving this stage behind and soon her kicks and movements will be easier to share. And I’ll watch my stomach change shape with her swirls and rolls. And that makes it all feel very real. She’ll stop being this familiar stranger and then she’ll be in my arms. And my heart will have to show how capable it is in doubling in love, because the love I feel for Bill consumes me.
I can’t believe I’m at that point where the things I used to dream of have come true. I don’t know if that says more about my dreams – maybe they are simple? – or more about me. But this is all I have ever wanted and it honestly felt like, once upon a time, it wasn’t going to happen for me.
Two years ago I had started out life as a single mother and I was terrified of what lay ahead. I didn’t really know what to expect tomorrow, let alone in the coming weeks. And I was trying my best. I wanted to be this amazing mother, who brought magic to my son’s childhood. I wanted to be a provider for us, to not need help. I wanted love so desperately. And my heart ached at the thought of losing this person I had fallen hopelessly for. And I was also wary because of voices in my head, opinions, and the thought of moving too fast and getting hurt.
That was 2014.
And little did I know that, towards the end of that year, he’d move in. Into our home. And into our hearts.
Last year, we started the process of adding Mark to the mortgage. I remember the endless appointments. The half-days we took off. The excitement of it all. And working out how much we could afford to take out to start renovation work. It’s hard to believe we started all of this a year ago, and we’re only just done structurally. And yet we have so much work to do ourselves, but that’s the fun part I suppose. Making it our own.
Last year was so fast-paced. We went away a lot. For little trips and mini breaks, because we had our own secret. We knew we wanted a baby of our own and so we didn’t want to let time pass us by. I remember our anniversary trip, our voyage onboard Anthem of the Seas, our trip to CBeebies Land, our caravan stay in Wales, mine and Mark’s holiday to Venice, and finally our final family holiday as a family of three, one that I never wrote about as I was secretly pregnant at the time and very sick.
As well as making the most of our time together, we were constantly planning and doing work on the house, or making changes. It felt like we never stopped sometimes. I was doing all of these things, and all of this work, and the energy I had back then is foreign to me now.
It occurs to me, sat here on my lunchbreak, with sore, tired eyes (I’m so tired – I really wish I could have a cat-nap), that I have spent a lot of my life as a mother on this fast-track. I haven’t stopped for so long. I’ve always been trying to cling on and make the best of myself. And in the process I have utterly tortured myself for all of the wrong reasons.
I’ve berated myself for not being there enough. For failing a relationship and watching my son’s family fall apart. I didn’t think I was worthy of anything new, so when love came my way I put myself down, I built a wall up, and I waited for it to all fall down. I looked in the mirror and decided I didn’t look right. I wasn’t good enough. I looked at the internet and it seemed to agree with me. There were mothers everywhere, with pretty smiles and whole families. And I didn’t feel like I compared.
I still get to the point now where I am worried what people think. What you think. When my troll decides to say something unkind. Or when someone says something and I can’t work out the tone. When I have to explain my family situation every five minutes. Whether that’s medically at a midwife appointment. Or on the phone when I changed insurance details. Or when someone calls Mark ‘Daddy’ and we never know what to say.
I know that life as a stay-at-home mother is not a grass-is-greener alternative. But I am looking forward to it. I am looking forward to my nine months of taking life at a different pace. One set by my children. Not by work. Not by having to do it all and have it all.
So really, that is what this year is going to be. It’s going to be my chance to focus on one thing. Not three. But me. Focus on me. And the mother and person that I am. Have time to see what happens to a baby day-to-day, once they pass eight weeks. Oh William, how much I have missed of your wonderful life. And how much I would love to go back and change that.
But this year is the year that I will give to you. I will be there to see you grow. I will be there to collect you from pre-school. I will make time for you. And you won’t have to ask me if today is a Mama Day anymore. I won’t have to rush you. I won’t have to kick us out of bed in the morning. We can play. You can show me things. And I can watch you turn four. I can watch you start your first day at school. And I can make it up to you by doing my best.
And being there for your sister. And appreciating the moments I have. And for being the mother I really hoped I’d be. If even for just those nine months.
And I don’t know what will happen. I don’t know how it will plan out. And I’m expecting hard days. I’m expecting to cry when I see my post-pregnancy body in a full-length mirror. I’m expecting to feel lonely sometimes. Or feel frustrated in others.
And I still want to lose weight, master that no-makeup makeup look, write a book, and finish the house.
And maybe I will.
But mainly, at the risk of sounding like a Beauty Pageant contestant, I just want to be happy.
I want to be happy and I want a chance at doing what I dreamed of long before I became a mother.
And I have to keep reminding myself that, once upon a time, I used to dream of this life I live now.
Don’t waste it.