Coming to terms with being a (work-at-home) mum

It’s been ages since I’ve last posted. Things have been ramping up over at Aide de Camp once I sorted out the whole “being a mum” thing. (Just kidding – I’m still working things out but I’ve since learnt how to deal with much less sleep and much more juggling).

I’ve missed crafting, design and make-up a whole ton but I’ve had to prioritize family over work over fun-on-the-side and so the blog naturally gave way to the more important things in life.

Now that things are settling down, I’m back! Along the way, I’ll be posting up on some weekend projects I’ve done just to keep the creative juices flowing (and sometimes out of necessity – see a post on fabric chair slipcovers coming up).

Thank you to everyone who still visits this site and leaves words of encouragement or little thank yous for my previous DIY posts. My heart has always been with sharing on this blog but I couldn’t get to it any earlier.

Now back to the title of this post… Since having a baby, I’ve been struck with many realisations that I never thought I’d experience in this lifetime. Before we had this little one, I always thought of having a kid as the five to six year old stage where we would be doing crafting or cooking together but I never had any inkling of what baby care in the first one or two years would look like. (I thought I did from the moments I had caring for my brother who is ten years younger than I am, but clearly I didn’t remember much!)

baby Z

How he sleeps with his leg up, I have no idea.

In the first place, I still can’t believe I’m a mum. Neither can my relatives, nor people who meet me for the first time (they think I’m still a student based on my small frame and baby face I suppose?). It’s been 9 months or so and it still hasn’t sunken in.

It occurred to me that I’ve always seen mums as people who are perhaps older, more mature, wiser, more nurturing and ones who have the answers to everything from cooking recipes to the best way to get something clean – oh my goodness, basically the typical, traditional stereotypes of a mum. (And to be fair, my mum and my mum-in-law always seem to have the answers to everything!)

When I had baby Z (or so my husband likes to call him), I didn’t know how to wash things properly; I didn’t know how to cook many dishes; I still felt like going out to play; I didn’t feel like the sacrificial, ever-loving, ever-knowing type of mum that I thought all women magically morph into. I struggled with the idea of bringing baby Z to childcare so I could work more, and struggled with the guilt of not being able to spend as much time with him as possible.

baby z and laundry

Baby Z playing around while I fold the laundry

I’ll admit – prior to this, I never had any in-depth conversations with other mums and so my impression of mums was stuck in the stone ages. Since his birth, I’ve had many more conversations with fellow mums around my age – from how to get our babies to sleep better at night to our ideal work arrangements and the list goes on. I subscribed to newsletters from all types of motherhood and baby sites and suddenly I entered this whole new realm and became an “insider”.

In this new dimension (which pre-parents have yet to cross into – why didn’t anyone tell us more about this new dimension?!), I found out that mums go through many similar rites of passages. From the shock that nursing could be so challenging and even painful, to exchanging knowing nods and never-ending conversations involving words and phrases such as “mastasis”, “Ferber”, “Gina Ford”, “pick-up-put-down”, and the list goes on.

In school and work there are usually best practices that lead to results in a pretty straight-forward manner – use the best study techniques and score As; the best way to craft a sales pitch and clinch that deal. But for babies? WOW. There are so many ways suggested on how to get a baby to sleep better, eat better, play better, develop better… And there are so many different camps on each theory *tears hair out*.

And even better – for some methods that everyone swears by, it doesn’t seem to work for our own child. And each time it works and you think you’ve got it figured out, it doesn’t work in just the same amount of time and we’re left wondering again.

I’ve become somewhat of a crazy person (my husband probably bears witness to this), where I’ve read through thick books with a highlighter in one night (I don’t recall ever studying with this type of fervour before), tried implementing techniques, only to find another argument against the technique online, deciding it doesn’t work with baby Z, thinking about burning those books and winging it based on my new-found motherly instincts, only to run back to those books a week later because I’m at my wits end. And I know I’m not the only one out there (hi friends!).

baby Z in his highchair

Four… the average number of times he still wakes up each night?

Working from home has had its challenges. From trying to stay disciplined and work when your baby is giggling and all you want to do is to join him to play, to trying not to make him upset every time you walk by him and he wants you to pick him up for a cuddle, all while managing household needs at the same time. But I know this arrangement works best for this season and I’m just so grateful to even be able to work from home and to be able to see him more often.

My rambling could go on forever but it has to stop somewhere (at least on this blog it has to). Thank you if you’ve even read this far!

My heart, utmost respect and awe goes out to all mothers and more so grandmothers. I don’t know how you did it, raising kids from day one and weathering all the trials and challenges, making sacrifices probably till your last breath, but you did. Honestly. All mums should have an award just for being a mum.

Now that I’ve gotten all this off my chest, I’d just like to say that I’m excited to be sharing my little projects with you again. I hope they provide you with some inspiration and joy to kick off your weekends in time to come!

Love, Michele.

p/s If you enjoyed photos of the little one, feel free to follow me on Instagram (@ngmichele) as I’ll be posting more frequently there. :)

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