Rachel Tompkins sends a virtual high-five to her unexpected supporting cast…
Anyone who said being a mum isn’t tough is lying. Of course, there are a million, trillion ways in which it’s the most amazing, life-changing thing ever, but also, no matter how much you enjoy it/feel it comes naturally/love every second, there will be those moments when you do struggle, and are forced to admit you need help. Some of us are lucky enough to have supportive other-halves and mums who we turn to in our time of need (God only know what I’d have done without mine), but sometimes help comes in the unlikeliest places. It’s only since having my boys that I’ve realised how many unsung heroes have helped me along the way. Here’s a grateful high-five to you all!
Resist the urge to snigger at the age-old ‘who do they look like – the postman? jokes. I can assure you, they don’t! But in all seriousness, there are some days when you’re stuck in the house all day with a newborn/poorly child and the postman is the only human contact you have until nightfall. Throw into the mix a postman like mine who instead of loudly ringing the doorbell if he’s got a parcel, tucks it away somewhere safe for me to retrieve later = total gold dust! It means no woken baby and no hauling yourself and baby to the Post Office sorting office. RESULT!
The elderly next-door neighbour
When we first moved from London to the ‘burbs’ I was gutted to say goodbye to so many wonderful friends who were neighbours too. But then I met our new next-door neighbour. OK, so she’s older than the combined ages of me, my husband and both of our children, but she’s just about the best neighbour you could wish for – especially when you’ve got a newborn. With vigilance of a one-woman neighbourhood watch unit, she ensures I feel safe even when I’m home alone with the boys. Then there’s the cakes. There’s nothing like the smell, or taste, of a fresh piece of ginger cake delivered by hand on a bone china plate, to get you through a long day.
Add into the mix her unwavering memory which ensures I never put the wrong bin out on bin day, and the day she presented my eldest with a game of ‘Go Bounce’ when we were housebound with illness, and she really is worth her weight in gold.
My dad, or ‘Pappy’ as my boys now call him, has always been a brilliant dad. When we were younger he didn’t change nappies or do night feeds – things were different back then (well they were in our house anyway!). But since I’ve had my boys and Dad has semi-retired, he’s become a literal godsend. Popping in when I’m cooking dinner and playing footie with the boys, racing over with his ladder when the smoke alarm battery was going and the high-pitched ‘bleep’ threatened to wake two sleeping babies, and helping ‘Santa’ to erect the wooden playhouse in the garden in sub-zero temperatures – he’s like Supernanny and DIY SOS all rolled into one! And knowing that he never had any boys of his own makes it that little bit extra special to watch the close relationship he’s got with mine.
When you’re young you practically kill each other on a daily basis, when you grow up and leave home you become great friends. So how come they’re such unsung heroes of motherhood you may ask? Who else would drive you home from hospital post-birth and cook you and your hubby dinner? Who would crawl on all-fours across your bedroom floor to rock the Moses basket next to your bed – thus giving you another precious hour of sleep? Then there’s the sleepovers he/she invites your eldest to which involve foregoing a night out on the town for hours of Umizoomi, Playmobil and chocolate buttons. Not to mention scouring St Petersburg for the superhero Russian Doll set, because any others just wouldn’t do! It’s enough to make you feel guilty for all those years of sibling rivalry…
The baby-group leader
When you’re in bed by 9pm, and fighting to keep your eyes open (and your shit together) when you are awake, your social life seems a thing of the past. Which is why your regular baby music group/sing and sign class/swimming lesson is such a lifeline. There’s something about the familiarity of that friendly face at the door, and the utter joy you feel when they hand you a hot cuppa and a piece of home-made tiffin that makes it the social highlight of the week. Admittedly you might never have more than a 5-second snatched conversation over the din of Wheels On The Bus, but even that’s an achievement some days!