I giggle when I think back to pre-Imani days. “I’m tired,” I would say. Coming home from my eight hour job, having my thirty minute lunch break, unlimited toilet breaks and then having a long hot shower and a completely uninterrupted 8-9 hour sleep at […]
I feel quite vulnerable and self-conscious posting these photos and this article today. I feel so passionately about women being madly in love with their bodies, while at the same time fearing that I am coming across as self-important, vain, attention-seeking and whatever other insults […]
For a very long time, my family has found it extremely hilarious and entertaining how punctual, organised and time-aware I am. Where my brothers and mum are relaxed and keen believers of ‘going with the flow’, I am the stark opposite.
I would rather be an hour early somewhere than on time or – GOD FORBID – five minutes late. If a party starts at seven, I am there at seven. If I have been invited to a dinner out at six thirty, you can guarantee that I will be there at six (quarter to six). When Pete assures me that everyone else will be there at least twenty minutes late, he still showers and jumps in the car with me to be wherever we need to be very, very early.
I have zero idea where it comes from, but that’s just me. I have always been punctual and I have always been a (very) early riser. The hours between 4.30am and 6am are my favourite of the day. (Having said that, waking up at 6am is preferred as I need all the sleep I can get at the moment, but I digress.)
A friend of mine asked me the other day, “Do you find it hard getting out of the house with Hunter?” and I was honestly able to answer, “Nope!” She then went on to compare me with a friend of hers who also has a little one who she swears can’t get out of the house before midday. Another friend of mine, also with a little one, said to me a few months ago, “I have no idea how you got out with Hunter when he was so little, I can barely make it out before the afternoon!”
I hadn’t thought anything of it – Hunter and I were just doing our thing.
Every single baby and mother and parent and child is different. I have had mornings (and afternoons and nights) where I cannot wrangle Hunter, I cannot coax him to do anything. And on those days, he and I don’t get out of the house until HE is ready and I can handle him.
But hey, if I can pass on even ONE handy tip that can help a mama get to her caffeine sooner then it is totally worth it.
- Pack your nappy bag.
I can’t tell you how simple and helpful it is to pack your little one’s bag the night before. Whether you have a newborn, a six month old or a toddler, preparing everything you will need for the next day will save you a lot of stress in the morning. Here are my ‘must-haves’ for Hunter’s day bag:
- Nappy pouch with a change mat, three spare nappies and nappy bin bags
- Wipes. All the wipes. I have a Huggies wipe pouch that I then purchase bulk refills for
- Spare formula. Hunter is formula-fed so I always make sure that I have spare portions with me. There are a number of formula dispensers on the market – I have an Avent one that holds three separate portions
- Water for Hunter and I. I always make sure I have a litre bottle of water for me and to make another bottle if he needs one. I also pack a bottle of water for Hunter
- FOOD. Hunter is on solids now and, like his mama, the little man loves his food. I pack a small lunchbox with breadsticks, avocado sandwich, rusks, rice puffs, cut up fruit, etc.
- Spare change of clothes – in case of any accidents!
- Bibs – because you always need bibs
- Toys. I always pack some blocks, some teething rattles and whatever other toy he is fixated on at the moment.
- Spare dummies. I cannot tell you the number of Hunter’s dummies that I am sure litter the streets and shopping centres of Sydney
- And then for me: book, wallet, sunglasses, phone, lip balm, hair elastics and keys
2. Check the weather
This may sound silly, but it is something that I do every night. Not only does it help me plan what I am doing with Hunter the next day but it also helps me plan what to wear, what Hunter is going to wear and also if I need to pack anything extra in his day bag (like an umbrella, a hat, etc.). Now again, all of that may sound like a silly idea, but there are days when I just have no idea what to wear; or days when I will come out of the shower and want to wear something in particular only to realise that it is in the washing machine and then Im just naked, confused and Hunter is getting all restless because he knows we are going out.
3. YOUTUBE IS YOUR FRIEND
Now I realise that not everyone may like their children watching television, and some may be totally against it! That is totally fine and I completely admire you! Just before I hop in the shower, I connect my laptop to the television, head to YouTube and put on either “Disco Food Party”, “Sparkabilities” or “Baby Einstein”. By that stage of our morning, Hunter has eaten breakfast, had a bottle and is playing with his toys on his playmat on the floor. These videos are educational (besides the Disco one) and Hunter loves them! He doesn’t sit there blankly watching the television, instead he plays with his toys and tends to listen to the videos rather than watching them. When I get out of the shower and am doing my hair and makeup, I have a clear view of Hunter and these videos simply help keep him THAT much more distracted so I am able to make myself feel nice for the day ahead. Like I said, not everyone will agree with this method and there are some mornings when Hunter doesn’t need that extra stimulation. But for me, it allows me to have those brief five minutes to myself to brush my teeth, tame my hair and brush some mascara onto my tired eyes.
It’s all well and good to get your little one out of the house for the morning, but what is the point if you are frazzled, feeling pressured, putting yourself through unnecessary stress and feel like absolute shit! Hunter normally wakes up at about 5.30am, so by the time 7.30am-8am rolls around, he is ready for another nap. This has been his routine for about a month and a half now, and it works for us! When he goes down for his nap is when I like to start my day properly. I make myself a coffee. I make myself breakfast. I put The Today Show on. I open my book. I sit. Hunter is awake for most of the day after that so I allow myself that time when he is napping of a morning to be selfish. There may be dishes that need washing, clothes that need folding, vacuuming that needs doing but I ignore all of that and do exactly what makes ME happy.
5. Trial and error, baby!
Each and every day, Hunter is different. Like yesterday he decided that he wouldn’t have his morning nap. Cool. But then this morning, he went down from 6.15 until 7.30. There are mornings that I have cried, that he has screamed, that my mum has had to come over; there are other mornings where he is happy, and content, and I am caffeinated and showered. It’s all trial and error.
I have a new tribe.
Hunter has brought with him a whole new way of life, an entirely new lifestyle and, rather unexpectedly, some of the most beautiful friendships with the most incredible women.
One of us is a champion breastfeeder. One of us couldn’t stand breastfeeding. One of us desperately wanted to breastfeed but it was making their child sick. One of us mix feeds. And another of us wasn’t physically able to breastfeed.
Our children are different ages, though all under eighteen months. Each of us have a different mothering style with one big thing in common – we do whatever feels right for us. None of us judge.
A couple of our kids sleep through the night. A couple of the others still end up in our beds. Some have teeth, others don’t. Some can sit up, others can’t. One can crawl, another rolls.
One is at day-care full time. A couple are looked after by their grandparents a couple of times a week. Some are with us all day, every day.
Each of us come from very different backgrounds; each of us have incredibly different conception, pregnancy and birth stories and experiences. We are different ages, we have different beliefs, different cultures, different circumstances; and although that is the case, each of these women are my people.
Every time I spend time with these incredible women I am left awestruck. I always learn something new about each and every one of them, both as a mother and as their own person. Each of them are creative in their own ways and talk with such passion that it always leaves me inspired and grateful and unable to comprehend how I got so lucky to be in their company. One is into art and interior design, one knows everything there is to know about babies (seriously, she knows everything), a couple have truly incredible careers that they have worked exceptionally hard for.
I am writing this today because I am filled with such gratitude towards these women. Hunter and I had a particularly rough night last night and an even tougher morning this morning. We were up all night and then actually UP at 4am, screaming. For three hours. I burst into tears and felt like a failure because exhaustion and hormones are so real right now. When I finally bundled Hunter into the car to get him out of the house, my mind went to the women who comprise my tribe. I thought of the countless conversations we have had; we share stories, we share ideas, we share woes and worries we have for ourselves and for our beautiful children. More importantly though, we build each other up and reassure one another of anything and everything we need reassuring of, we never judge one another (or other parents and humans for that matter), we understand one another when we said, “It’s been a really hard fucking day”. Every single one of us is bringing up our child differently to one another and every single one of us is doing a perfect job, and we are always sure to let each other know.
From each of these women I have learned resilience, patience and perspective. I have been taught things about my own son from each of these wonderful creatures. I have been inspired to write, to create, to forge my own path, to be more fierce, to be myself. I have so much to thank these women for, most of which they won’t realised they even helped me with and through.
Mamas, your tribe will find you, and you them. Until then, you have me. I’m your tribe; Hunter and I will always be your people.
The last couple of weeks have been pretty smooth sailing, really. There have been no major screaming sessions, little man is sleeping well and, even when Pete went away for four days and Hunter and I both had the flu we both managed just fine. On the home, baby and mama front, we’re killing it at the moment.
But me? Leah Cwikel? Not so much.
I am loving being Hunter’s mother. It is the best thing that I have ever done, and he is the best thing to ever happen to me. In the last week or so he has stood up by himself while holding onto the lounge, he has discovered a new, huge, loud laugh that he loves to show off, he is playing with his toys and starting to chew on things and he has a plethora of new sounds that he is rather proud of. I love the challenges that each new day can bring. I love motherhood in its entirety.
What I have come to realise is that being ‘a mother’ makes up the majority of my identity now. And, like I said, I love being a mother, but it has been a really big adjustment. And the adjusting just keeps on coming (and coming, and coming).
Hunter and I having the flue for most of last week meant that we were couch-bound and all cabin fever-y. That is never good for anyone’s mood. With very little energy and no motivation to speak of, my self esteem took a bit of a beating and my mind wandered. Will I ever be myself again? Will I discover a new identity that includes being a mother and being the woman I want to be?
Other mamas will know the mad rush that takes place as soon as your little human goes to sleep. You run around like a crazy person fuelled by too much caffeine; the dishes the laundry, the vacuuming, crunching through the piece of cold toast that you forgot about from an hour and a half ago. By the time you have caught up with everything that needs doing, Bub is awake again and ready to be fed and cuddled and entertained.
I have really big dreams, hopes and goals for The (Oblivious) New Mama. There are so many things I want to odder and feel and write about but I have no idea how to marry them together into one cohesive brand. Its a bit of a catch-22 situation I find myself in: I wouldn’t have this website and these dreams if it weren’t for hunter, but loving Hunter and looking after him leaves me very little time to work on those dreams. It is this reality that I have been struggling with.
Yesterday I made a batch of cookie dough while Hunter was asleep. The cookies were meant to be sold to the cafe. For some reason, even though I used the exit same recipe that I always use, yesterday it just didn’t work. The dough was wet and sticky and uncooperative and no matter how much more flour I added, it just seemed to make it worse. I threw out the entire (double) batch, wasting my ingredients and my time. No sooner had I closed the lid of the bin that Hunter woke up again.
I was defeated, deflated and sad.
The batch of cookies weighing down the rest of the rubbish in the bin felt like my dreams. I felt really sorry for myself and I started to feel like I was failing Hunter. And then those thoughts snowballed (probably helped by the flu and lack of sleep). I started thinking about the fact that for the first time in my life I am completely reliant on my partner for not only my wellbeing, but my child’s. I have no savings of my own and no income right now that if anything happened that saw our circumstances change, I wouldn’t be able to look after Hunter. Now, I realise how dramatic that sounds and that there are so many moving pieces and it is in no way as simple as that, but that is where my mind went.
I so desperately want to be able to work from home. I want to be able to write and bake cookies and turn this humble website into something really special. And whenever I look at Hunter, I realise exactly why I want that. I want to be around for school pick-up. I don’t want to work for anyone but myself. I want to create a business that I am proud of and that I can use to help other mamas.
The dream is there, it’s just the patience that I need to exercise to achieve it that is missing. Because this venture is still in its infancy, it feels like a failure. But now that my flu has subsided (somewhat) and I have regained some kind of energy and motivation, I know that these things take time. The (Oblivious) New Mama is my future and I have so much faith in it. Instead of imagining what would happen in the worst case scenario, I am going to do my best to focus on the amazing opportunity that I have at the moment and do my best not to waste it. I have an incredibly supportive partner and, when Hunter is asleep, I have the time to put the work in to make my dreams a reality.
There are things in the pipeline already. There are clients that I have lined up for cookies and whatnot. And slowly but surely, and with some serious scheduling and multiple to-do lists, I know that everything will come together. This stage, the beginning stages of this website and this business will be something that I look back on one day. This moment will be a memory all too soon.
I may not be this positive or have this clarity tomorrow, but I have realised to just go with it when I feel it.
(And just on the down low, I have written just over 10,000 words of my novel.)
Guaranteed, at least once a day someone will come up to me and ask me, “So is he a good baby?” I cannot tell you how sick of that question I am – not just because I get asked it so often, but because when […]