‘Regrets I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention…’. In the words of good old Frank Sinatra, no matter how hard we try to do motherhood our own way, it’s inevitable that we’ll look back as our babies turn into toddlers, and our toddlers into schoolkids, and face some regrets. Here’s Rachel Tompkins with a rundown of her top mum shoulda-woulda-couldas…
Not organising your baby photos properly
Laugh you not, I entered motherhood with intentions of keeping baby photographs on my computer, arranged into orderly files and labelled by month and year, with which to create annual photobooks. Then the whirlwind of having a baby struck and I took lots of photographs, hell yeah, the man in my local camera shop will attest to that (Mark – if you want his first name, because I was in there so much I’ll never forget it!).
But organising them on the computer? It was a miracle if I could even find my laptop during some of those early, sleep-deprived days. Let alone remember the password to get into it! I did somehow manage to make one photobook though (for Father’s Day if I remember correctly).
But then baby two came along and it was well into the sixth month that I realised I hadn’t even taken the SLR camera out of the box it had been in when we had moved house (two years earlier!). Cue panicked hasty picture-taking of second-born child. And as for ordering them all into files on my computer, I think we’re still looking for the camera lead….
Waking your baby up in the morning
I know, I know – what on earth was I thinking? With baby number one I dabbled with Gina Ford (don’t judge me please – I didn’t know what I was doing!). And so after months of getting my baby to sleep to an acceptable hour in the morning, I would actually wake him up as instructed by ‘the book!’ Now I’ve got a 5-year-old and a 1-year-old to content with, the thought of waking a child up in the morning just because a book tells you to makes me want to slap myself around the face. You live and learn, right…?
Not taking time to recover from the birth
My first birth was neither quick nor easy. I won’t bore/terrify you with the details but it resulted in lots of blood and lots of stitches. I needed two blood transfusions afterwards and had to be practically winched into the car when I was finally allowed home. So what did I do less than a week later? Host a dinner party for six of our friends of course. It was in the diary and a premature baby certainly wasn’t going to stop me whipping up a quick lasagne. Who cares if I couldn’t actually sit down on our wooden dining room chairs or if I fell asleep by 9pm whilst feeding the baby? Seriously, why the hell I didn’t re-arrange I’ll never know!
Worrying about everything
When will my baby sleep through? Will he take a bottle when I stop breast-feeding? Is he eating enough? I could go on, believe me. No matter how quickly and easily you take to motherhood, it’s inevitable that your list of worries will seem practically unending some days. It was only after having baby number two that I realised how much I worried about with baby number one. And part of me felt cross with myself; for wasting so much time and energy on it. Because experience teaches you that all babies sleep through eventually, and most things really do work themselves out in the end. You just have to dig deep sometimes and remind yourself that.
Doing too much
When I became a mum for the first time one of the biggest shocks to the system was suddenly being at home every day. I’d never not ‘worked’, so whilst I was on maternity leave being a mum was my full-time job. And I embarked upon it with the rigour of a CEO taking on a new multi-million pound business (not that I’ve ever been in that position obvs!) – making lists of groups to join, classes to enrol on, people to meet for coffee. I signed up for Babyswim, Hullaballoo, Baby Massage, Baby Yoga, Buggy Fit… you name it I did it. I look back on driving back from Babyswim with a hungry, screaming baby in the back of the car, and wonder why on earth I didn’t just do a bit less; just sit at home some days cuddling my baby and savouring those precious moments. Because before you know it you’re packing a five-year-old boy off to school and wondering where the time (not to mention energy and money) went.