One year on.
Isaac is one. One year old. I can't really believe it. Although he is certainly a one year old; walking and chatting and laughing and playing. Crying when he doesn't get his way, getting frustrated with his limited communication capabilities. Tantrums have started, I know they will only get more intense over the next year or two especially. My love for this little boy knows no bounds, but the hard days still overwhelm me. The sickening, anxious dread is still fairly constant. The fear of public places lessens when I'm with people I trust but I can still barely take Isaac for a walk to the end of our street by myself, let alone any further. Trying to hone in on the exact source and reason for this anxiety is something I'm working really hard on with my psychiatrist and psychologist.
My mind is a cruel place. It sends shadows over perfect days, brings tears for seemingly no reason, makes me angry, confused, frustrated and conflicted. I feel like sometimes I have lost all confidence in my ability to be a good mother, to ever want more children, to ever feel like I once felt about family life. I never imagined that I would only want one child (something I'm still not entirely sure about). I never imagined I would be so scared all the time about every tiny little thing. I was so incredibly unprepared for the emotional upheaval, the sleeplessness, the fact that I don't just instinctively know what to do when he is sick, the fact that I get angry with him for repeatedly doing the same thing over and over when I ask him not to (I know he doesn't understand). I didn't think I would have to research and ask questions and rely on people so much. I rely on my Mum so heavily. I really hope Isaac relies on me when he's older. I want to be there for him the way my Mum is for me.
The struggle some days feels like I am right back where I started. Right back to those dark days where I just don't want to do it. I just don't want the responsibility, the overwhelming feelings that I literally can't put into words. There is no way to describe how difficult it truly is to have such strong emotions when it comes to motherhood. Often incredibly conflicting ones. I literally want to be with Isaac all the time, and then at the exact same time he can be driving me crazy and I wish someone would look after him for a couple of hours. As soon as he is away with my Mum, or my Auntie or anyone for that matter, I miss him like crazy. I want photo updates as often as possible. He never leaves my mind. I try to enjoy the down time, I try to rationalise with myself that he needs to be around other people as well as me - I will be going back to work part-time soon and I want that transition to be as easy as possible for both of us and I've had the foresight to realise that I need practice. We both need practice. Leaving your child in someone else's care is so incredibly challenging, no matter how much you trust the people. We have been doing orientation sessions at the childcare he is enrolled in as of this week and I have been so close to tears during the times I am there with him, let alone how I'm going to feel when I am supposed to leave him. Isaac is a fairly confident baby. He toddles off and looks around, plays with the toys and is interested by the other babies - he always comes back looking for me though, with a slightly panicked look on his face and a grizzle. Sometimes he just needs to see me and he is then distracted enough to continue playing, other times he has needed a cuddle. Soon I am meant to leave. He will look for me and I won't be there. I know he will be fine. I know it is good for him in so many ways. I know that we need this time to prepare for more separation, but this is literally the hardest part of my mothering journey so far. Knowing that our family needs extra income and that we need to be able to save for Isaac's future and our own is a daunting fact of life for most families today. I am lucky to have been able to have as much time out of work as I have thanks to my incredibly hard working husband. Even though I know that everything I am doing is for the best for Isaac, it doesn't make it any easier.
Family is the most important thing in my life. My family and Reid's family are the most incredible, loving, supportive people - we are truly so lucky to be surrounded by them all. Isaac gets to grow up being so loved. Not everybody has that and I couldn't be more grateful. We lean on them a lot. We have our village, we use our village, we take comfort in the fact that we are able to count on our village. I worry so much about the mother I feel like I should be, the mother I feel like I never will be - why can't I focus on the mother I am? The mother who loves her son so much, the mother who isn't ashamed to admit when she struggles and needs some help so she can be as healthy and as happy for her son as possible. The mother who tries so hard to be perfect, even though she knows that doesn't exist. The mother who makes mistakes. The mother who is able to comfort her son when nobody else can. The mother who gets frustrated - the mother who is willing to ADMIT that she gets frustrated. The mother who wants to share the real journey, the unpolished, raw, emotional journey that it is. I don't think enough of us do this. Social media is so dangerous as people post their highlight reel and comparing becomes almost inevitable. The lack of honesty and the fear of judgment is such a real concern. In this day and age we should be able to talk about our feelings without being called attention-seekers or any other negative connotation that comes with emotional honesty. Sometimes I feel like these posts get repetitive, but it's when I feel extra emotional that I want to write. I should probably write in a diary again rather than a public space, but that's the whole stigma I'm trying to get rid of - it's OK to tell people how you feel. There are days when I feel so much joy to have my beautiful son, husband and our families and friends, I am grateful for every second - even when I feel like complete crap I am grateful. I never, ever would want to sound ungrateful for Isaac because it simply isn't the case. I have a wonderful life, but that doesn't mean I have to feel happy all the time. I am starting to babble... my emotional capacity is stretched to the limit right now, thinking about my future and how intricately that is entwined with Isaac's future feels so overwhelming to me right now, wanting the absolute best for him and coming to the realisation that sometimes, I won't know what that is. All I can do is keep doing my best and seeking support and advice when I need it. I truly feel for people who don't have someone to turn to, someone to rant to, someone to ask to please help out, someone to lean on. I want to make sure Isaac never feels that way. He will always have me. I will always be here. I will love him more and more every day. I know he will need me less as he gets older, I struggle with that concept but know it's reality. At least I can take comfort in the fact that he will know I'm here. His Mum is here. My Mum has set an incredible example of this for me, it is my life's mission to do the same thing for my son.