Looking back at the first few weeks after having my son, I’ve concluded that there are two initial stages…
First, there’s ‘Just surviving’, followed by ‘Small victories’
This is something that I’m sure all new parents will be familiar with. The former is self-explanatory. The latter is all about recognising those small achievements each day that help you get up the next morning and not just hide under the duvet, secretly hoping that someone else will look after the baby so that you can get some sleep (ok, I still do this
most of the time occasionally).
Parallel Baby Universe
In pre-child days, these tiny accomplishments would be sneered at as the everyday mundane tasks that don’t even get a mention in conversation. But when your universe is transformed into baby-central, where if you’re lucky, you may have one hand free to make a quick brew (which then goes cold) before little one kicks off, managing these boring jobs becomes something to be celebrated.
One step at a time
One of my first such achievements was managing the fastest shower imaginable without little F crying. In time this progressed to being able to wash and dry my hair as well. Ok, so he might have cried a little and I may have used the hairdryer as a soothing white noise sound, but it was still progress.
I’m far from a domestic goddess but in the early days, if I was able to put a clothes wash on and stem the overflow of the washing basket, I was happy. If I could go one step further and hang the washing out, possibly even drying and folding it all in the same day, it was ground-breaking.
It never takes long for my thoughts to turn to food but for weeks I’d only managed to make and eat bowls of cereal during the day, living the rest of the time off chocolate biscuits and cereal bars until my husband was home from work to make an actual meal. I longed to cook properly. To prep ingredients and fry, grill or roast was the stuff of dreams.
One day an opportunity presented itself for me to make a small leap towards that ambition. I’d been for a walk with F in his pram and once home, he stayed asleep – not a common occurrence. I’d had it in my head that it would be good to make a healthy hearty soup with some vegetables that we had left over. Knowing I was on borrowed time until the noisy one woke up, I grabbed said ingredients from the fridge and chopped them with the stealth and silence of a marine on a secret op. Quietly removing a pan from the cupboard, I tensed every sinew as the kettle boiled for the stock in case it was a sound too far. Still, F slept.
Into the pan went the butter and the vegetables quietly sizzled until soft, then I added the stock and brought it to a barely audible boil. I even managed to tidy up while the soup did its thing, just in time for the little man to stir.Ok, so I may have chickened out of blitzing the soup with a stick blender just at that moment – that would have been a noise too far – but I’d done it. I’d created a dish from scratch using raw ingredients for the first time in weeks. Not only that, but it was a healthy soup and there was enough to see me through the week for lunch. If I ever had a spare hand to heat it up, that is…
It may have been a most basic of tasks back in the real world (and my old life!) but put into the context of this existence where your main priority is to constantly see to your baby’s every need, it was practically climbing Mount Everest. So new parents, I call upon you to celebrate the mundane and congratulate the basics. After all, it’s these small victories that might just get you through.