Nakedness Dens and Food

My life with four little boys

My Womb-Now-Redundant Crisis

So. That was September then*.

(*Yes. I’m well aware that a large part of October has also been and gone, but when I first drafted this post it was only the 1st so I thought I’d push on through with the same opener in much the same way that I stick to the whole “no dear, I have NO idea where blanket has gone. Let’s have a look…” line whilst taking part in a fake search for said blanket and simultaneously watching it go round in the washing machine out of the corner of my eye. Anyway…)

Now, two significant things happened during last month. I had a birthday. Which happens every year. I know. But I turned 35. Which is half of 70. Which means I can no longer pretend to basically be late 20s (which everyone knows that’s what you basically ARE when you’re only 32 or 33). It means instead that I’m definitely nearing the top of the hill signposted “middle aged” from which the only way is over the top. The other thing that happened was that baby boy turned 1 and with it, suddenly became much more of a toddler than a babe in arms. He is most definitely walking, climbing, pouting, eating, tantruming* (*made up word alert), teasing, defying, exploring, objecting and loving with great professionalism.

This combined ageing process has forced me to come to terms with the fact that not only are we all getting older, but that with it one season of my life is giving way to the next. I have to admit that I am no longer baby making, baby carrying, baby birthing and baby nursing. I no longer need the crib, the pram, the steriliser, the books on weaning, the breast feeding support line, the muslin squares (although if I was “one of those mums” I would probably use those to make jam…), the baby gym, the tiny vests, the nursing light or the local birth centre in my address book. I have moved on to the next stage. I don’t “do” having babies any more. Now don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely definitely got no desire to have any more of the little munchkins. But equally, moving on is harder to do than I expected it to be. In fact, as much as I am relieved to gain some extra storage space in the house, the only way I have been able to come to terms with getting rid of maternity and baby items no longer required is to sell a lot of them to raise money for a new bed for son number one. Giving a defined purpose to the exercise, one focussed on the children I already have, makes the realisation that I’ll never have any more somehow easier to cope with. And trust me. I really AM done. But still…. It’s kind of sad.

Being faced with this new stage of my life has not only made me feel a little older (perhaps it’s the link between youth and fertility…) it has also forced me to reflect on who I am if I’m not having babies. Yes I know it sounds dramatic. I am after all still looking after my babies – all four of them. And that I anticipate will never stop (My dad is still looking after me 35 years on!). But the looking after and nurturing stuff does start to look different over time. And so this is where I am now. Right in the middle of my womb-now-redundant crisis.

baby thought

I’m very fortunate to have been a stay at home mum for the last few years (fortunate for me I hasten to add as it is what I wanted. I appreciate that for others it would not be classed as so fortunate! Hey, we all do mumming differently.), which only makes this all the harder. With nothing else demanding my time so much of my identity has been wrapped up in having my babies and looking after them that I’ve kind of forgotten who I am when I’m not having them! Plus, it may have taken me four attempts, and whilst I might not be winning any one-of-those-mums medals, I nevertheless finally feel that I’m not too shabby at it – or at least I’ve made my peace with the bits that I struggle with. So what if I can’t do anything else?! What if I’m no good at anything other than HAVING BABIES?! I’m being serious. Whilst I am incredibly grateful to my female ancestors for fighting to achieve a more balanced society (yes more, not totally balanced… but that’s a subject matter for another post…) with opportunities for women to embrace many more roles than “wife” and “mother”, at the risk of sounding like a traitor to my sex, I’m really not sure any longer what other roles I can operate in with any degree of confidence. Just as I feel I’m finding my feet with this one, it appears I am moving on. Not from children obviously. But from the baby thing.

Here I am at 35 then, feeling like I need an appointment with my school career’s advisor! Because I definitely do NOT want to be one of those women who stalk their children into adulthood because they don’t have enough going on in their own lives, or because they don’t know how to function without their children as the main event. Even as a contented SAHM I know there HAS to be more to my life than my children. And thinking about it, I owe it to my future daughter-in-laws (Yep. Whizzing past the huge assumptions in that statement but you’ll get where I’m going with this…) to model to my sons that there IS more to a woman’s life than having babies and staying at home with them. Maybe not right now. Maybe not even next year. But eventually, sometime in the not too distant future, I am going to want to embrace some new opportunities. New, non-womb related opportunities! Indeed for the LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY I’m going to HAVE to. Otherwise you may as well dress me in black and hang a sign around my neck which reads “WOMB NOW REDUNDANT. PERMANENT PERIOD OF MOURNING IN PROGRESS”. And you most definitely run the risk of finding me weeping into the baby clothes in Debenhams looking at women with baby bumps through melancholic stares.

And that is just about where my reflections have got me. No great conclusions. Just the deep seated, gut wrenching knowledge that one season of my life is coming to an end. Not with any great sense of immediacy. But certainly with a direction of travel that is definitely gaining pace. And I feel completely de-skilled right now to even attempt a new one. Nappies? I’ll change them. Sleep training? I’ve got it. Sort of. Toddler group politics? Well, still working on that one to be honest but much better at navigating it than I used to be. And I don’t have any great answers right now to what the next season looks like. But all joking aside, I guess what I do recognise is that I AM embarking on a period of mourning. And like all grieving processes it’s going to take time. I’m confident I’ll get there. Just as I managed the change from baby-less season to babies-coming-out-of-my-ears season. Eventually. I WILL find those new doors to walk through. I WILL pick up old hobbies again (which people close to me will either be heartened to hear or be running scared, depending on if they’ve HEARD my guitar playing!) and I WILL both remember and add to my skill set. After immersing myself in the world of so many little boys I’m thinking UN peace keeper could be a door to push… or prison guard perhaps… No, that gives the wrong impression of my parenting style… perhaps teacher, nurse, sports coach, chauffeur or PA give a better one… ahem! But whatever it looks likes and whatever it offers, until I fully acclimatise to this new season, if you happen to see me out and about at the shops crying into a rack of baby clothes, please gently escort me to the nearest HE college open day… or give me a slap… or possibly both!

See you on the front line somewhere… but definitely NOT casually browsing a display of cots and booties…

Helen -x-


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