I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart)

It’s been a while since I have updated this blog. Life has been ticking along as usual on a personal level, while all around the world appears to be collapsing in on itself, and I haven’t really had much to say for myself. A lot of Mumblogs out there seem to have a theme or a ‘thing’ and I don’t really know what mine is or would even be. I got an email the other day offering to help me develop my ‘brand’. After sniggering and deleting the email, I wondered how much help you need to develop food smeared trousers, eyebags and absent mindeness. That said, I did have a quick sift through this blog, and so far it seems to largely be me musing on where politics and motherhood meet. Which is hardly a laugh a minute. Perhaps I need some new material? Oh well, afraid I am not going to be deviating today.

The past couple of weeks have been quite busy with work, family, and also council meetings and business. At a meeting of the full council a couple of weeks ago we were ‘debating’ a motion on Hate Crime, specifically ensuring that condemnation of post Brexit racism and racist abuse generally is on record, and looking at how to pro-actively tackle this. I was very keen to speak on this, at is something I feel passionately about, and all week I thought to myself: I’ll write my speech when Jonathan has his nap. HA! Obviously that didn’t happen. Life admin and nap refusal got in the way, and when it came to it on the day of the meeting I stuck CBeebies on, scribbled some half-formed thoughts on a scrap of paper and just went for it. Similarly, last week when speaking on a motion about the future of Milton Keynes, and the ‘renaissance’ of the city centre, the area I represent; I scribbled down some thoughts about half an hour before we went into the meeting, not having had time at any point before. Turns out, if you speak from the heart it doesn’t matter if you haven’t prepared days in advance, you’ll probably do an OK job.

I made my speech about Central Milton Keynes, felt it went well and sat down happy to get some applause. I then instantly realised that my left boob (always the lefties huh) had quite dramatically leaked and there was a big wet patch on my dress! If anyone had noticed they were too polite to say anything, but I couldn’t help but think hashtag mum problems.

I guess I could have turned that story into an amusing post but SUCKS TO BE YOU. Because it actually set me off thinking about how I have spent 18 months trying to compartmentalise all these parts of my life. Being a Mum, being at work, being a councillor. But they aren’t separate at all. A few people came up to me after my speech last week to say they had thought it was good. OK I’m not going to win an oratory prize, and we are talking about ‘connecting’ with councillors and people in the audience who are interested in municipal affairs. Essentially I am the Leslie Knope of Milton Keynes. I accept this. (Not a humblebrag, I have a point, I’m getting to it, I swear)Where was I? Ah yes:  It seemed the thing that had connected with people was the bit where I talked about walking around the area with my son, and what it will look like to him in the future. Leaky bosoms, and total lack of preparation aside, I carry Jonathan with me into that council chamber. I care about what we are doing more than I did before, because of him.

Of course I don’t mean life only has this deep *meaning* you can only understand if you have borne children, I guess I was just never really prepared for how much it would change everything. I’ve spent a lot of the past year feeling like motherhood was making me worse at some of the other things I care about. I wasn’t doing a good enough job because I was too busy battling tiredness, absent mindedness, lack of time. When I was struggling to feel on top of things, it felt like I wasn’t doing any of them well enough, including the Mum stuff. Maybe, in spite of all of those challenges, it has made me better, knocked some of the cynicism out of me, opened my heart.

Next time I just need to remember to pack breast pads.

What I know now

This blog post is partly inspired by the @tattooedtealady Instagram challenge from a week or so ago, which asked what you wish you had known before becoming a Mum. I’m going to do a list because everyone loves lists. Well, I love them anyway. Also because I feel like I spend half my life counting now, since Jonathan developed an obsession with reciting the numbers one to ten. Seriously, the other day I woke him up from a mega nap by whispering ‘Eight’ to him, and he sat bolt upright, grinned and shouted ‘NINE!’. My child is weird. Eight is definitely his favourite though, so on that note:

8 Things I wish I had known before I became responsible for my Tiny Human:

  1. You will find your child endlessly fascinating and your capacity to talk about them will be limitless. You will say you won’t do this, but you will. Someone will tell you about something super interesting they did at work, or an amusing anecdote from the pub, and you will reply with something along the lines of ‘Jonathan can say keys. We went to the park. He climbed up the slide. Look! Here are some photos!’.
  2. Breastfeeding will not ‘save you money’ if you buy every sodding thing you see a cooler mum than you wearing on Instagram. I was so bad for shopping during late night cluster feeds. Things I have seen on Instagram and now own: Saltwater sandals, a cloud mobile, a Peter Pan print for the nursery, half of the Mere Souer store, a Mama bracelet, Mama chain, and probably a bunch of other things I have since forgotten.
  3. You can function on a lot less sleep than you think you can. Yes it is shit. Yes you are allowed to moan. Yes, your fantasies about king size beds will change from anything vaguely X-Rated to something more like Sleeping Beauty minus the bit where that dolt turns up and wakes you up. BUT you will manage. Some days will be better than others, but don’t beat yourself up about the laundry, the dust, the fact you ate biscuits and cold toast and nothing else all day. You’re still standing, your kid is still alive. You conquered today!
  4. Baby fingernails grow at a rate incompatible with what a total ballache cutting them is.
  5. Toddlers like to put things in places they are not supposed to go. Last month we left about 2 hours late for a trip to Stratford Upon Avon because the car keys were nowhere to be found. Eventually I found them at the bottom of the bin. Thanks kiddo.
  6. You will develop STRONG FEELINGS about CBeebies shows and presenters. Some of these will be very negative. I have shared many an early morning rant with some Mum friends about whiny Bing Bunny before the caffeine has hit my bloodstream. I’ve also not been able to get over the fact that Andy looks like Fatima Whitbread since someone pointed this out to me. Hey Duggee and Sarah & Duck on the other hand get a big thumbs up. Also Teletubbies is obviously made by some creepy child hypnotist who I officially love because it means I can drink my tea while it is still hot before I get dragged into the IKEA circus tent yet again.
  7. I refer you to point 6. You will do most if not all of the things you told yourself you wouldn’t do. Stick your child in front of the TV for five minutes peace? Check. Do stupid baby talk in an annoying voice? Check. Pile up the annoying noisy plastic toys while the beautiful wooden ones gather dust? Check. Let them play with the remote/your phone/your keys? Check. If you don’t do any of these things well done, you are a stronger woman than I.
  8. Your child will have an innate sense of when you are at breaking point, and lift you straight back up again. When you are more exhausted than you ever thought you could be after weeks of cluster feeding, there comes that first smile. When you have spent all afternoon dealing with tooth related whinging and toddler tantrums, there they are snuggling into your chest and saying ‘Mummeee’. You’ll wonder what the hell you have let yourself in for half the time, but my goodness your heart will be full.