Last week, Ayda Grace, blew out her first birthday candle (with a little help from mummy and papa, of course). It’s been a rollercoaster ride since her birth to her first birthday. Not only was it a milestone her for but for me too. Here are some nuggets of wisdom I’ve gathered on this arduous but amazingly fulfilling journey.
NO MATTER HOW MANY BOOKS…
All the parenting wisdom you’ll find in books can either be your path to enlightenment or drive you insane. It’s probably going to be the latter. Parenthood is like learning to ride a bike or figuring out the right amount of salt to add to a dish. It’s an essential learning curve you can’t skip by drowning yourself in a book. A mother’s instinct is an actual thing, and I’d recommend trusting that over a book any day.
SUPERMOMS SLEEP TOO
Want to know the secret to being a super mom? It’s not ancient Chinese tea, it’s not a prohibitively expensive supplement, it’s sleep. Sleep, something we do for nine hours every day, is suddenly chopped in half when you become a parent. Sometimes stealing a wink while waiting for the kettle to boil can feel like a daycation at the Ritz. Becoming a martyr is an easy trope to slip into when you’re a new mother. Your child deserves an attentive parent – give them what they deserve by grabbing a few Zs.
PLOTTING TO KILL
Co-parenting sounds fantastic on paper but it continues to be a wonky see-saw in real life. While my husband supported and helped me the best he could, that’s all he did. Helped. Motherhood comes with a need to control your baby’s schedule and also a desperation to let your partner take over the wheel. In the early months, I recall rocking my wailing baby in the dead of the night while my husband slept through it all. During that period, I would regularly “plot to kill” him. Dark times.
TIME IS YOUR MOST PRECIOUS GIFT
Baby’s first tooth. Baby’s first smile. Baby’s first burp. These are mini milestones that may only invite a raised eyebrow from a stranger, but any new parent will agree that they warrant a gold medal each. Blink and your baby’s off on their first day of school and you’ll wonder where the time went. Cherish every second and immerse yourself in the magical moments of motherhood, both good and challenging.
FASHION – THEM
Before and immediately after my little girl was born, I was obsessed with all the gorgeous dresses I bought her. She looked cuter than a button in every single one of them, but once the camera lens flashed and the picture was taken, it was leggings and onesies all the way. Babies, like kids and adults, love being comfortable. I’d hate to deprive my little girl of that for the sake of a cool aesthetic.
IT’S OKAY TO WANT TO WORK
I’m a small business owner and multitasking has become second nature to me over the years. Before Ayda Grace came around, my communications agency was my baby. In the past, SOCIATE has kept me up until the wee hours of the morning and demanded all my attention and energy – just like a baby would. Contrary to popular opinion, being a working mother will make you a better parent. I immerse myself in the corporate world during the day whilst zipping home to have some bite-sized fun with my little one. Give yourself permission to be a working mother.
YOU SURVIVED WITHOUT…
You can drive yourself into bankruptcy buying all the fancy schmancy parenting gadgets on the market. When dealing with baby chores, I think about what my mum would do. Keep things simple by approaching the nitty gritty of motherhood like your mother did. Why invest in a special thermometer to test the bathwater when an elbow would do just fine? Steer clear of consumerism and go analog.
FASHION – YOU
Let’s get one thing clear. The average mother is not Kim Kardashian. She may make rolling around with her kids look effortless in bodycon tights, but that’s a long stretch for the everyday mother. Sure, I never deny myself the opportunity to glam up, but I’ve gradually learned that shorts and sneakers are a better outfit choice for baby play group than my tightest pair of jeans. The last thing you want is to lose out on quality time with your child because you’re too busy dodging a nip slip.
My head became a bubbling cauldron of thoughts I’m not proud of after midnight, during the first few months after my baby was born. My skull was a cocktail of paranoia, anxiety, stress, and frustration that I eventually learned to control. These thoughts were fueled by severe sleep deprivation and would wrap their fingers around my neck the later the clock crept into the night. But then, a new day would roll in and the sun would shine (bless Dubai for that), and those menacing thoughts would crawl back into their cave, well, at least during daylight hours.
THE HARDEST JOB EVER
Becoming a mother presses play on a never-ending game of mental ping pong. Your mind is permanently dashing from one thought to another – all while being seasoned with mum guilt, concerns about your child’s well being, and societal expectations. During the first year, getting a moment to yourself is more precious than all the diamonds in the world. It’s a luxury you rarely get to enjoy, though. As a working mother, there’s the added layer of running my own business, managing my team and clients, while also trying to give my child all the attention she demands.