"Before I was pregnant a normal day was a highly scheduled day. I managed the education section in a local gallery and museum, working mainly with early childhood groups. Work was a constant flow of programs and planning ahead. I had a diary with colour coded entries for work and social appointments. I ate lunches out at the local Japanese or took a quiche back to my desk. I went to openings after hours and often took work home. In the evenings K (my fiancé) would meet me and sometimes we’d head out for dinner and a movie, or I’d catch up with friends for a coffee in town, or go to yoga or printmaking classes.
Now that Saskia is 7 months old I feel as though we’ve found a lovely gentle rhythm. She sleeps with us, so generally we’ll be woken with little pokes or happy chatter around 7am. After some cuddles I’ll leave the two of them in bed and head upstairs for a tiny bit of quiet time to start the day. I eat my muesli, check a few blogs or write emails, and prepare lunches. I really appreciate this time to myself and think it helps to make me feel organised and ready for the day ahead. K will bring the Little One upstairs just in time to drink his smoothie and run out the door for the bus. Saskia and I will play or read books until it’s time for a morning nap. Once she’s down I have my first cup of tea for the day (oh so good) and use the rest of the time to do the washing, potter in the garden, get the ‘outing bag’ ready, do some sewing, write a blog post or bake.
Things started to fall into place around the time that Saskia started napping more regularly and consistently (around 6 months). While there is a pattern to our days, it doesn't feel highly scheduled. We make plans that can be adjusted to the kind of day we’re having.
These days I aim for one outing a day! Sometimes it’s a walk down to the park and local oppie, a playdate with another mama, a trip to Bunnings and the bigger oppie up the road, a picnic by the lake, the grocery run, or day out with JanMa (my Mum). I think we’re lucky to live in Canberra as there are so many beautiful open spaces to explore as well as many magnificent national institutions which offer (often free!) programs for children – even for babies as young as Saskia. We’ve been to the newly established National Arboretum, ‘A little look at art’ program at the National Gallery of Art, and we’re hoping to make it to ‘Giggle and Wiggle’ at our local library soon. I love attending these sorts of programs with Saskia. It makes me feel as though we are connected to our community. We often join up with my lovely friend, Kelly, and her daughter, Tilly (who is the same age as Saskia). They are always a bit of fun. The girls check each other out, swipe each other’s toys, and chat in baby language, and Kelly and I will discuss all things babies and plan our little business (stay tuned!).
I always try to make it home in time for the afternoon nap as I know this one will often be a lovely big one (up to 2 hours). This is when I eat lunch and try to put my feet up. If I’m feeling virtuous I might even prepare a little bit of the dinner. Once Saskia is up I give her the magic basket to explore – and usually around this time her Grandfather (my dad) will pop in to ‘drop the paper off’ after school.
When the key turns in the lock at about 5.30pm, Saskia will rock excitedly and beam like crazy when her Papa walks in. I love it. Her smiles for her Papa are the most beautiful. There’s something very special between the two of them. K plays and showers with Saskia while I prepare the dinner, and once she’s sleeping soundly we eat and talk about our days. At night I’m exhausted, so the most I can manage it a little bit of quilting or blogging. I always go to bed looking forward to the next day. I love being able to say that.
The surprising thing about becoming a mama is how refreshing it is. And how natural it has become to slow down and be in the moment. Finding immense joy in the small things, such as spending 20 minutes on the floor stacking blocks, lying in bed after a nap ‘chatting’ nonsensically, noticing where the winter sun falls in our living space upstairs, watching little fingers inspect Japanese maple leaves in the garden. I feel like I am more aware of really experiencing these seemingly ordinary, but oh so precious moments. It’s been surprisingly easy to do away with checklists and prioritise ‘being’ over ‘doing’.
I feel like the hardest part of being a mama is accepting that it is inevitable that my child will suffer. I know that sounds awful, but suffering is part of life. It breaks my heart, in a way I have never known, that a preschool-aged Saskia might cry over not being invited to play at recess, that she might be called nasty names, that one day she may have her teenage heart broken. I wish I could protect her from all harm and sorrow, but I know this is not possible, and nor is it healthy or constructive. Before becoming a mama I had never really had cause to think too deeply about this, but as soon as you hold your baby in your arms, the desire to protect is so strong.
Having a strong, happy, loving and honest relationship helps me parent well. As with the birth, K and I have approached parenting as a team. We know the importance of supporting one another. I love that K understands that sometimes I just need a sleep in, or that the washing needs to be hung out. We share household chores, and K changes just as many nappies as I do. More than that though, I want Saskia to grow up knowing what a loving and genuine relationship looks like."
claire blogs at oscarlucinda.