At precisely this time six months ago Herbert Manthorpe came into my life.
Bloomin’ Nora, how on earth can that be possible?
To commemorate this auspicious occasion I thought I ought to get my butt in gear and write a blog post that’s been brewing for a while about some of the amazing things that he’s taught me in that ridiculously short space of time.
I knew that motherhood would change pretty much everything, but I didn’t know precisely how. I also didn’t know whether I was going to like it or not, whether I’d be ‘good’ at it or what kind of mother I was going to end up being.
No-one does before it happens. They might think they do but, in that case, I imagine they’re often surprised that their reality turns out quite different.
So let’s get straight into it, here are the top six things that Herbert Manthorpe has taught me to date:
#1 Patience is now my virtue
This is a huge shocker. I’ve never been known for having much patience. Once I’ve decided I want something then I tend to want it NOW (Veruca Salt anyone?).
But, with Herbert, I seem to be able to summon up an almost limitless supply of patience – or, at least, all that’s required to get us past whatever challenge we’re facing at any particular time.
Yes, of course it would be a heck of a lot more convenient for me if he went to sleep on the dot of 7pm and didn’t make a peep until 7am but, shock horror, he didn’t get that memo and I’m bizarrely ok with spending several hours getting him to sleep most nights.
What I don’t know yet is whether this new capacity for patience will extend to other areas of my life…..the evidence based on the frequency of my impulse buying of baby stash prompted by Instagram ads makes me think this is doubtful. But stranger things have happened.
#2 My intuition is strong and to be trusted
There is more advice out there about mothering than I’ve had hot dinners and, unsurprisingly, this really confuses those of us who tend to like doing our research.
Herbert has taught me that, in relation to him particularly but also generally, my intuition is strong and to be trusted.
For example, he lost 14% of his birth weight in 5 days. If I hadn’t have trusted my intuition that he was ok and that we were going to find a way to sort it out then I’d have almost certainly given up on breastfeeding. That wouldn’t have been the end of the world but I’m bloody glad I didn’t.
#3 Projection is often pointless
I’m a planner and a problem solver. I like to think ahead and work out a plan of action to get me to where I want to be.
But with Herbert, a lot of projecting ahead seems to be quite pointless and just diverts me from tuning in to what he needs right here and now.
A much better strategy is to know that we’ll either work it out along the way or even just when we get there. And most of the time we don’t know where ‘there’ is anyway.
Connected to this, I’m also realising there’s a big temptation to rush children towards their next milestone. I’m not sure whether that’s due to excitement, the need to have something to do/work on or a desire to feel like you/they are performing – whatever’s driving it, it’s invariably parent-led rather than baby-led.
I’ve realised that I can trust Herbert and he can lead the way.
#5 I must be better looking than I thought
This is a really weird one but I’m just going to be honest.
People say that Herbert is a good looking boy. I obviously think so but I’m insanely biased.
On almost a daily basis, people also say that he looks a lot like me. This photographic comparison suggests they might be right….
Ergo…….either I must be better looking than I thought or I just look like a baby boy!
Either way, I’m honoured.
#6 I was meant to do this
I obviously hoped I would like him and like being his mother. We’d both have been a bit screwed if I hadn’t because he doesn’t have a backup parent option. (Before he was born I often wondered if I’d love him as much as I love Rocky. I can confirm I do. Plus a bit extra. But please don’t tell Rocky.)
But pretty quickly I realised that not only did I love being his mother, but that I really liked parenting on my own and that I’m actually very well suited to doing it this way.
This may sound a bit bonkers, but I almost feel like my life has worked out the way it has so that I would end up having a baby on my own. Perhaps, even, I’ve subconsciously made some choices that have caused it to play out this way.
People seem to find it difficult to digest that I don’t feel like I’ve chosen a very hard path. I might spend 20 minutes waxing lyrical about how much I’m enjoying being Herbert’s mummy and people will still then cock their heads with an expression of sympathy and say “But it must be really hard”.
Their perception of my experience is that it must be hard. The reality of my experience is that it’s not. Feel free to choose which one you believe to be my truth but I reckon I’m a pretty reliable source on that one.
It turns out, for me, this wasn’t plan B. It was plan A* all along.
As you might be able to tell by now, my experience of motherhood to date has been exceptional. Without any doubt the best six months of my life. And (out of respect for myself, for Herbert and for any mums-to-be who I might meet or who might read this) I refuse to apologise for that or dumb it down.
I also know that the one thing that’s guaranteed in parenthood (and life!) is that things will change. And that’s why I’m banking everything I’m feeling right now because it’s unlikely to stay this way for long.
I will gladly and proudly take credit for 50% of our positive experience because I know that I’ve consciously chosen a mindset of gratitude and calm. And, yes, I do think it helps that I’ve become a mother older than most (there is genuinely nothing that I’m more interested in at the moment than being with my son – because for many years I doubted whether I’d ever be able to say the words ‘my son’) and that I’ve very consciously chosen to put myself in this position.
The other 50% is nothing to do with me, it’s sheer circumstantial luck – I had a healthy pregnancy, a positive birth experience, a good recovery, a healthy (once we dealt with a minor tongue tie issue) baby and Herbert’s nature is generally calm and content.
Herbert, I consider it a pleasure and a privilege to be the one that gets to do even the most mundane/inconvenient/gross things for you (albeit I look forward to that day that you can wipe your own bum).
Thank you for everything you’ve taught me so far and I’m open and ready to keep on learning.
To keep me on my toes, I’m seriously thinking about dabbling with getting back into some work so if you’re interested in talking to me about coaching together then just drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.