On my fridge door there is a fridge-magnet, bought for me as a joke by a friend who knows me well (smiley emoji!). In big, bold letters it reads –
Where There is Tea, There is Hope!
Now, for those of you who might think that gin is the real mother’s ruin; or those who sit down with a sigh and a glass of red after a hard day’s parenting; or even those among you who prefer a good, strong espresso to give you that little extra oomph! when the day seems too long, please forgive me when I confess, slightly abashed, that tea has long been my tipple of choice!
There is a history to this; a story of parenting that many of you might recognise; a story of parenting a toddler, in this case my eldest son, who cried and cried and cried, and I mean HE CRIED!, for virtually the whole of his first six months with us. Did I mention that he cried?
As a first time mum, knowing very little about caring for babies, I was already overwhelmed with this tiny, newborn baby with a shock of red hair that I brought home from hospital with me. He was long and weighed 8lbs 7ozs. The labour had been a long one, induced, with some nasty stitches to ‘patch things up’ afterwards. Those were the days when an icy compress from the duty nurse’s freezer was the only thing worth having!
I was already overwhelmed with this tiny newborn baby who was completely dependent on me for everything! Up until this point the best part about pregnancy had been the maternity leave!
The holiday was now well-and-truly over!
Now, if you have read any of my previous blogs you will know that my two boys are now teenagers, close to full-on adulthood, and that I adore them. I have always adored them. They are my world! But, the truth is, parenthood is really, really hard; quite possibly the hardest job I have ever had the pleasure to do.
I didn’t know any difference at the time as I had no other children to compare him to, and my baby boy slept for virtually the whole of the first eight weeks or so. But, as the waking hours grew longer, so too did the crying hours. This baby certainly knew how to cry!
I tried absolutely everything. I nursed him. I cuddled him. I entertained him. I rocked him. I played him music. I swaddled him. He had a wind up baby swing; a baby gym; a bouncy chair, a music box with projecting pictures; a blackout blind. I talked to him, sang to him, bounced him
on my knee, changed his nappy and burped him….
My mum came to stay for a while, to help and support me. His dad strapped him to his back in a carrier and went on long walks in the forest and by the sea to give me a break from the crying.
The Health Visitor visited; I took all her advice, and still he cried.
In the end we were referred to the hospital to check there were no health problems. There weren’t. (I didn’t want there to be!)
Now when the words ‘high maintenance’ came to mind in the past, my very first thought certainly hadn’t been ‘baby.’
I’m pretty sure most mums will nod their heads in understanding when I say that I literally did not have any time for…well, me!
I couldn’t even drink a cup of tea before it was too cold to enjoy it!
…and this simple act became my marker for things getting better!
Yes, we can laugh about it now, but back then, as time progressed and my baby began to grow up, (he did stop crying eventually, although it took a long time), if I could manage to drink a hot cup of tea in the time I had for me, then this was progress.
Those days are behind us now of course, but the memory lingers on, and after a long, hard day, a sit down and a hot cup of tea can still feel like a warm hug, and a comforting friend.
What comforts you in darker moments?