When I decided to write this post - despite having a few idea of my own - I decided to involve others. I asked both mummy friends and family members what their thoughts were on being a mum. This post will about my mummy experiences to date, with a few of their thoughts thrown in.
One of the ladies I asked said something quite poignant, "Nothing anyone says can prepare you for motherhood, it's like being on a never ending rollercoaster." I certainly couldn't agree more.
Everything from the cuddles to the tantrums makes parenting a completely unique experience, with twists and turns and ups and down. Personally, I think that it's the combination of all these things that makes it so much fun to be a mum.
Here are a few things that I have learnt about being a mum.
"Me Time" No Longer Exists
One mum's jesting reply to my question about the best mummy things was, "toddler nap time". Due to R having a seemingly never-ending stream of energy, I very rarely experience these. She could give the Duracell bunny a run for his money in terms of the amount of time she can last. Thanks to this, there is never a dull moment in our house.
Most parents whose child has one of these elusive naps, will probably tell you this is as close as it gets to "me time". Even popping for a wee, or trying to take a shower is no longer a private experience.
When R was little, I was able to leave her in the cot or baby seat for a couple of minutes to pop to the bathroom. Now, at just over two years old, she is independent and highly skilled at opening doors. No where is safe! In recent times, I have often spent my showers with a happy, squealing, splashing daughter in there with me. It's made especially hard to say, "no" to her when she always asks so sweetly to join me.
I have accepted - at least for the next few years - that I will have to settle for limited me time, and cherish the times my hubby is home. As much as I can, I utilise those times to have a child-free soak in the bath, with a face-mask, calming music and - of course -nice warm bubbly water.
You Will Always Be Covered In Something
This can be embarrassing, and disgusting but also kind of funny. I cannot count the amount of times I have left the house wearing some kind of baby bodily fluid without realising. I remember one instance, when I took R to meet John for lunch, and - despite believing I had cleaned everything up properly - I made it all the way to town with baby puke in my hair. I was mortified.
Unfortunately, there is not a day (even now!) that goes by without something ending up on me or my clothes thanks to my wonderful daughter. Her latest trick is to pretend she's being all cute trying to cuddle me, either around my neck or my legs. She then proceeds to subtly wipe her hands on my top or trousers. If you ask her what she's doing, she'll tell you she has dirty or sticky hands. At times like this, I'm not sure whether to be cross or laugh.
Your Humour and Discipline Sides Will Always Be In Conflict
There are so many occasions since R began properly learning, copying and repeating things, that we have had to deal with the conflicting emotions of having to tell her off but wanting to laugh at what she's done.
One of my earliest memories of this, is when we started to introduce R to solid foods. After 6 months of being exclusively breastfed, she was not impressed by these funny tastes and textures we were producing for her. The first mouthful of saliva covered veg was spat into her hand and launched into mummy's face. Needless to say, daddy thought this was absolutely hilarious, and even I couldn't help but be amused by the look of utter disgust on R's face. Despite this, the simple fact of the matter is, we had to let her know that it was naughty to throw food, so we had to put on our stern parent faces and tell her, "no".
It didn't stop there however! Time after time we have both had to hold in our smiles and our laughter in order to be responsible parents. That doesn't mean that we don't have a proper giggle together after R's in bed though.
Messy Floors Mean My Child Is Having Fun
Our daughter is what we affectionately refer to as a, 'toddler tornado'. You can follow the path of destruction she leaves from her bedroom, through the house and out into the garden. Whether it's a dummy and a toy here; a discarded, half empty bottle there; or crumbs from the snack she insisted she needed; there is always something (some days everything) strewn across the floor, stairs, sofa, patio and grass.
Part of being a mum means that I spend a large percentage of my time cleaning up in the wake of my darling daughter. Mostly I try and do a little at a time. Some days I wait until she's in bed and then end up almost having to do an entire spring clean. I may not enjoy or like the mess, but for me, it means I know she's had fun. So I let it happen.
You Will Never Experience A Love Quite Like This
A friend of mine who is also a pregnant mother to a toddler, said, "my favourite thing is the complete, loyal, undying love from the little person you created." which I have to say is my favourite thing too.
R is a complete daddy's girl. I love the relationship she has with John, which has grown steadily stronger since the early days of daddy chatting to his daughter inside mummy's baby bump.
She may be a daddy's girl, but R and I also have an amazing bond, evident in the adorable kisses she gives me for no reason, and the cuddles and snuggles I get throughout the day.
There are so many moments where - despite the occasional tantrum - I realise again and again how much love I have for her and she for me.
Having More Than One Child Changes Everything (Again)
This is something I have yet to fully experience. For R and me at the moment, it's about the interaction with the baby in mummy's tummy.
At the tender age of two, R has only a little understanding of what is happening. She talks about mummy's tummy getting really big and Baby growing. She loves to cuddle my bump and give her baby sister kisses. My belly often gets fed bits of R's dinner as she wants to share it with her sister. Baby also gets to join in all of R's toy tea parties. She has so far attended all of my prenatal appointments and loves to tell the doctor, midwife or anyone who will listen, all about her baby sister. R is also fabulous when it comes to checking her baby sister is ok. She often will use her toy doctors kit to listen to baby, and make sure everything is well.
Her favourite way of getting out of having to go to sleep at night is to tell me, "Mummy, Baby is awake, can I talk to her please?" For me, it is important that she doesn't get jealous, and I actively encourage her to interact with her sister so I can't say, "no" to her! Besides, it is one of the cutest things ever. I'm hoping that all of these gorgeous things that R currently does will continue after Baby #2 is born!
I have not yet had the pleasure of seeing her interact with her baby sister -other than through the bump - so I asked a friend (who has recently had her second child) about her experience. She said, "I think it's nice to see them interacting with each other. E is so gentle with his baby sister and he seems interested in what she is doing and wants to hold her." She went on to say, "He loves her!".
I can't wait until our second little one arrives and R gets to be in adorable photos just like E and H!
This Is The Hardest Job - But Also The Most Rewarding
I'll start this section with something a friend said... "To any new mum (or mum-to-be) I'd say, 'No one is right - only you know yourself and your baby. Do what feels right for you and what works for you. Every child is different and (from experience) there is no right and wrong way.'"
The best video I think I have seen in a long time is the "Toughest Job In The World" job interview montage which was posted by an American card company in the lead up to Mother's Day a couple of years ago. If you haven't already seen it, (where have you been?) make sure you click the link and go and watch it now.
What the video says is so true. Motherhood is 24/7. It is feeding; and changing; and bathing; and teaching; and supporting. It's late nights; and early mornings. It's midnight feeds; and midday tantrums. It's being told to 'find your own way', but still being judged by others. Sometimes, motherhood can be lonely. As a mother, you will feel exhausted, and occasionally, you will cry.
You know what though? It's also fantastic. It's smiles; and laughter; and kisses; and cuddles; and holding hands. It's seeing their first smile, watching their first roll and their first crawl. It's experiencing their first steps and hearing their first word.
Finally - and for me, most rewarding - motherhood is hearing your child say, "I love you" for the first, second, third and infinite time. There is nothing in the world that will match how those simple words make you feel.