14 August 2012

ch-ch-ch-changes

thanks bowie...

anyway, I feel like I need to write all of this down, so bear with me. This post is a collection of lots of different topics all rolled in together, because they all seem to relate a little bit.

First off I wanted to respond to a topic that has been floating around internet land and is a response to Frithas post about the same thing. The issue is anxiety about leaving your baby for the first time, and about being by yourself out there in the world without your little one. This is something I feel I've also constantly struggled with since becoming a mother.

I used to be really shy, and I hated going anywhere by myself or having to ask strangers things or strike up conversations. But then I went to Uni and I forced myself not to be shy, and it helped, it really did. Especially with the nature of my course, where I would be approaching members of the public, inviting myself into peoples homes and lives in order to make photographs and stories of them. Looking back I can't believe how I ever managed to do that?! But it worked, and I felt confident in myself and happy. Then I got pregnant and was catapulted into this world which I knew nothing about, nor anyone else going through the same thing. I left uni, I left my friends behind and I embarked on this journey. Then I moved to Bristol to live with Rob, and I forced myself to be confident and to go out and meet people. And again I'm so glad I did because even though I don't have that many friends in Bristol I'm glad I went out and made some. But as time has gone on I think I've become more and more self conscious and shy again. As we've moved house and to a different area, and a few of my friends have moved away I feel like I need to start making some new friends, but I don't think I have the confidence to do so. Also at the stage Theo is at whenever we go out I spend the majority of my time chasing him around and that leaves little time for socializing and getting to know new people. So I feel I'm in a little bit of a dead end situation.

I think one of the reasons I don't feel confident about meeting new people, is because I'm not even really sure who I am anymore. Having a baby is such a strange reality, because you seem to lose your previous identity so quickly, and are just seen as a mother. My life revolves around Theo, our routine, what I talk about, what I think about and sometimes I can't even remember what I used to talk about with non-baby friends or what interests me. For a time I've been perfectly happy to let myself be engrossed in this new role, and I love it, but after 18 months of just being a 'mummy' I kind of feel a little lost. I've talked recently about being stuck in a rut, where I know something needs to change, and I need to push myself, but I just can't. It all seems like too much effort, and I'd rather hide away inside.

Going back to Frithas post where she mentions that Wilf is her shield to the world, and I totally agree. I feel more confident when I'm with Theo, because I can always talk to him, or about him to other people, whereas when it's just me by myself, I feel exposed and naked. People won't know I'm a mum, I won't have that to talk about, and I'll have to find other ways of creating conversations. That scares me! I don't know what to talk about because I don't know what I'm interested in, or who I am anymore! But I know now that after 18 months it's time to change, and maybe to let go of the dependence I have on Theo.

Because that's it. When thinking about being alone and going out by myself, it's not really about how much I think Theo will miss or need me, it's more about how I will need and miss him. I can't let go! He is fine without me!

This also brings me to breastfeeding. Over the past six months I've been umming and aahing about stopping feeding, but just carried on because it's the easiest way out, and I do enjoy it still. But recently I have been getting frustrated with it, and Theo is becoming a bit of a monster about it. He climbs on top of me, pulls my top and and tries to get at them quite often. This was fine when I knew he needed the milk, but I know that he doesn't, and more often than not he just wants the attention of it. I feel like I'm getting lazy with him, and rather than getting up and doing something with him or distracting him, I will just let him feed so I can get a few more moments of quiet. I know that it may seem like I'm denying him of something he wants, but I know it's just habit and a bit of boredom that makes him want it, because if we are out of the house most of the day he doesn't ever ask for it as he's too occupied to think about it. So I feel as though it may be time to stop. Also he is still feeding to sleep at night, and I really would like to be able to be confident in leaving him with other people to put him to sleep.

But I know part of the reason that I haven't wanted to stop is because there is a part of me that doesn't want to let go of feeding him, or of my baby. It feels as though stopping nursing is admitting that he's not my little baby anymore! But I also want to feel like Theo wants me and my attention for something other than my boobs. I'm scared that he won't love me if I'm not feeding him, that's weird right?

So anyway, this has all come to a head because of this weekend. This weekend is Greenman festival, where I've been a few times with my friends, once when I was pregnant! They are all going again this year, and I've really wanted to go. At first we were going to try and go as a family, but that is a lot of money to spend for Rob and I both to get tickets, and to something that Rob isn't particularly bothered about going to. Then we decided not to go, then to go, then not to go again. But it's still been in the back of my head the whole summer. I want to go, I want to go. Festivals and music have been something that we as a friendship group have always done together, and especially now as we hardly get to see each other, festivals are a great way of getting together. I was extremely jealous when they all announced they were going, and sad that I couldn't join them, and that slowly I'd start not going to anything with them anymore. I started to think that I could go with Theo by myself, and hang out with my friends too, but actually the sheer amount of work that would be involved in that wouldn't be worth it. Rob suggested that I should go by myself and that he would look after Theo by himself for the weekend. But that was out of the question. I can't go anywhere without Theo.

But then I started to think, actually maybe the route of all these things is that I need to let go a little bit. I need to go and have a break (a real break) with my oldest, dearest friends in the world, the ones who know me, and know the old me, and make me feel relaxed and happy, and go see some amazing music and be at a festival. All of these things make me happy beyond belief, and I think for once I really really need to do this. I need to push myself to let go of my anxiety of leaving Theo, trust that Rob can cope on his own, and trust that Theo will be fine without me, and still love me when I get home.
He's 18 months now, people leave their children for stretches of time way before that, and they are fine. I know this will make me feel better. I think also in order to stop feeding Theo, I need to go away, because I don't have the will power to stop on my own.

So with a lovely tax rebate, and a cheap ticket from ebay, I'm going, from Friday to Monday, on my own to a festival....

wish me luck!

but p.s I'm still scared about leaving him, I know tears will be shed (mine) and I will miss him like crazy, but I need to do this!

5 comments :

  1. Yay! Go go go! It will be wonderful for you and I am excited for you, xxx

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  2. I think you'll have a great time. I've always wanted to go to Green Man.

    I haven't yet left Arlo overnight, I can imagine that being quite weird but good at the same time. But I have left him for nights out and long days that turn into nights out. Sounds a bit harsh, but I actually find it quite easy not to really think about him too much and just have a good time, it's usually only when I get home and see him that I realise I've missed him. It's healthy, it makes me realise how much I love and miss him, but I also get to fully enjoy my 'time off'. Being the only one of your friends with a child, as we are, I think it's always going to feel weird and take a bit of effort to live both lifestyles... I'm not sure if I've quite found a comfortable balance yet.

    Also wanted to say be prepared that you might need to pack a manual expresser or figure out how to hand express. Might not be a problem but you don't want it to catch you out if it is!

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    Replies
    1. Aw thanks for the helpful words, yeh it is really hard trying to find a balance! I'm sure once I'm there it will be alright and I'll be a bit too distracted to think about him too much!

      Also thanks for the advice, it did cross my mind yesterday actually, might have to dig out my manual pump to take! Don't want any leakage!

      X

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  3. Abi, go for it!
    It will be hard to start off with, but it will do all 3 of you good. You, because you can get out and be 'you' whatever that means now, and have fun with your friends. Of course you'll miss theo, that is natural but a healthy feeling. Rob will enjoy his time alone with theo to look after him in his way, without you looking over his shoulder. (i'm only assuming you do this because i know i do!!) It might also be a little harder than Rob expected too, but that will also be good. He will appreciate you even more! And theo will be fine too, he will miss you but enjoy one to one time with his daddy. And at the end of it you will realise that you all survived and even if rob had to bribe him with treats, or put him to bed at funny times nothing bad happened and you can go away again!
    In fact it might even be a good idea if you're feeling brave to try weaning him at the same time. With rob putting him to bed and no you to feed him it might be good to start a different routine that ends with sometime else rather than you feeding him to sleep. I don't know, that might be asking too much, only an idea. You must do what is right for your family...
    Anyway have fun and look forward to hearing about it. The first time i left Stanley overnight waving to the boys on the doorstep as i walked to get the train i started to bawl it...but a few hours later and a couple of beers and i felt good and happy!
    good luck! xoxo

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  4. oh my gosh I only just saw this! and then the above post, well done you! Actually your post and Sarah's comment made me cry for some reason! I really think you needed this break, a year and a half with no time to yourself is a long long time. I can see myself being exactly the same though! xx

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