So I quit my job.

Sometimes when you stand still you take a moment to recognise the beauty in the every day. You notice the sound of birds tweeting, the colours in the sky and the smell of the day ahead of you. Sometimes though, when you stand still, you notice other things. You notice that you’re standing still, for one, and that you’re not moving forward. You notice that actually, you’d quite like to be standing over there, there in the sun and not on a crowded train. You realise you’ve just paid £4 for a coffee that tastes like warmed milk. You realise that you haven’t let go of your phone in over an hour and you’ve been so busy standing still and looking into it you forgot to see the world outside it.
So this week is my last week of work full time. Of being on a pay roll. Of paid holidays, sick pay, pension plan, private healthcare, HR, lawyers. Of having a lunch break, an IT department. Of having a team behind me. From now on its just little old me and my laptop. Except it’s not, not really. My current company has said they want me to continue to work for them, which means I’ll still be essentially doing *some* of the same thing. And people have generally been really supportive and I’ve had offers of work and been plugged into an amazing support network of other working mums in and around Brighton. What could have been a really scary and potentially debilitating move feels more like a giant step forward for me. And I’m excited, I’m ready. I’m ready.
Once I had found a space in my head to accept that I wasn’t going to be the same person as I was before Nives then the decision pretty much made itself. Other things, other people, helped me along - even if they didn’t know they were doing it. My wonderful mother who gave three months of her time to help with Nives and support our little family. My lovely friend Jane who so quietly said to me that she could see how troubled I was becoming just when I spoke about returning to paid work. Sarah, who so inspiringly just said “nope” when her own kid was struggling at her childminders. My wonderful ex colleague and friend Laura who was so brutally honest about what the working day in my role was doing to her. Mostly though, my husband who left me to make the decision myself.
And just to know that there will once again be days when all that stretches ahead is laughing at my crazy girl discovering her belly button and squealing with delight at dogs in the park is just the most incredible thing.

Don't pity me

Writing this note makes me sad. It makes me sad because there’s no reason why I should feel like I need to write this. This, what I am about to write, should be implicitly understood and respected. But it is not. And so here I write - here I scream from the bloody rafters, if you will: being a mother is the best bloody thing I have ever done.
Do not pity me, do not think your life is better than mine because you can still fit into your size ten jeans and you go to sleep each night without mashed banana in your hair. It is not.
Do not assume I want to go on girlie holidays and now am sad I cannot. I can, by the way, but I do not want to. I want to go on holidays with my girl. I want to hold her hands while she feels the sea run over her chubby feet. I want to blow soft raspberries on her pudgy belly under a sun umbrella, hold her close to me in a swimming pool as she flaps with delight. I want to fall asleep in the middle of the day next to her and wake to her beautiful face next to mine, babbling. I’ll take the nappies, the shrieks, the lack of sleep. I’ll take it all fifty times over to have these moments with my girl.
I do not want to go to clubbing. I am 35 and clubbing makes me feel old. Although it’s not an age thing. I haven’t wanted to go clubbing for years. I want to lie in the still night and listen to my girl breathe and snort. I want to feed her in the half light of the moon. You like clubbing, I do not. But it is not as a consequence of being a mother.
Do not assume that my life is easy, do not assume it is hard. It is both. Loving her is easy and, luckily for me, natural. Parenting is hard, harder than anything I have ever done and infinitely more rewarding.
Do ask after her. She exists. Do ask how she is, what is she doing. You’ll see a light come on behind my eyes as I tell you. If you love me, you must love her.
Do continue to ask me out for drinks, meals, plays. Our friendship has not altered and I want to know what is going on in your life. I love you, but don’t pity me.

Friends

People always, always, ask me how my nights are now that I am a new mum. They ask me if my daughter is a ‘good baby’. “Does she sleep through?” They ask, to which the answer is yes, she is a good baby, because all babies are good babies you moron. No baby is bad. And no, of course she doesn’t sleep through. Because she’s a baby for Christ’s sake.
Anyway, in the still early hours, in the half light of our shared room - this room which for now holds my whole new family - I get to thinking. And I’ve been thinking a lot about friendships and love and counting the ways I am grateful for my friends and how different each of my friends are and feeling generally blessed to have all this love in my life to share with this little person.
And this is especially important because the majority of the people I am thinking about and feeling grateful about are women. And I have to say that if I respected the women in my life and the way our friendships formed and were part of my life before, then motherhood has sort of injected a gazillion love hearts into that sentiment, because now I think of my friends and I as a tribe powered by love for each other.
There are friendships that have lain dormant for years but now there is something wonderful which binds us again. These women who send a text or a random bobbly t shirt in the post for no reason other than to be helpful and kind. friendships that have stood the test of years - of former lives and loves and times - and which have had to change form, but have done so.
There are new friends, new mothers like me, who listen past the tears of frustration when my baby’s dictatorial sleep regime grinds me down to a pulp. Who don’t judge but say things like “we’re all in the trenches together”. God, if it wasn’t for these friends my journey so far would be very different indeed.
I want more than anything for my daughter to have these strong friendships too. I want her to be part of a tribe, want her to realise the importance of other women and of caring. This is undoubtedly one of the important lessons I can teach her. I hope.
Teaching her anything of substance however seems a long way off. I’ve taught her how to stroke the cat GENTLY, I think. And to giggle when the teddybear stops walking around the garden and tickles her (why is he walking around the garden?! Why should we walk around the garden LIKE a teddybear? They don’t walk!). She knows she is loved and she trusts me. And it is this, I think, which will be the starting point for all else.