As delighted as I was to have become a finalist, watching the banter on Twitter about the approaching Britmums Live blogging conference and the included award ceremony had the opposite effect than it probably should have done. I didn’t feel part of the community involved with Britmums Live, exactly the opposite, I felt like the one stood by the door holding a watermelon gawping (if you have never seen the film Dirty Dancing, to be honest, this metaphor is going to be utterly wasted on you).
With your first child it’s fine to be fastidious with every aspect of their lives, from having ear phones strapped to your belly playing Beethoven (yes I did this) in order to better grow a cultured foetus, to showing a 6 month old flash cards in the hope it will give them an edge over their competition peers. With the second child you’re happy if everyone is dressed and fed and you convince yourself that the older one is passing on all the wisdom you attempted to impart in them to their younger sibling. By the time you’ve reached your third child, a good day constitutes not having misplaced any of them and not having had the neighbours report the screaming coming from next door to social services. Little do they know that it is you screaming, not your children.
Becoming a mother is an assault on every one of your senses, it’s an exercise in surviving mental torture and has a learning curve that puts a banana to shame. Yet, at the same time I learnt so much about such specialised things that, if you pitted my knowledge against the general public’s on the same subject and you would have to concede that I, in the context of the wider world, was a childcare expert, and really that’s something that more mothers should learn to be proud of (Gina Ford, eat your heart out).
I don’t get unwell very often, I feel grotty an awful lot though. It’s a side effect of staying up too late, getting up too early and being surrounded by small humans leaking germs at me all the time. I don’t get can’t-get-up-out-of-bed sick, because I just can’t. At least I can’t Monday to Friday, because someone has to be vertical and vaguely compos mentis to look after Dominic.
They say that life changing events change you for the better. But nothing healthy or good has emerged from coming so close to losing Dominic. It has broken me and scarred me. It just made me so very sad, so very scared and so very lonely. But finding my way out and learning to accept that I could never have my ignorance back, that once you have felt the pain of saying goodbye you can never win back the peace that other parents seem to take for granted all around you has become part of my journey. It’s something that has woven itself into the way I see the world, see my family and ultimately see myself. It is part of everything, so it is undoubtedly part of my normal daily life.