Before our baby arrived, we spent a lot of time thinking and talking about the type of parents we thought we would be, and wanted to be.
It’s safe to say we both doubted ourselves. At times we thought we might be clueless, or somehow fall short. Looking back, I think this meant that we were already better parents than we realised. It’s probably healthy to be self-critical as you embark on the most important job you’ll ever do.
Sam is only eight months old, so there’s a long way to go yet. But I’ve been thinking about the job we’ve done so far, because the end of an era is looming – I return to work this month. I’ve cut my hours down slightly and I’ll be working four days a week.
So it’s the end of our uninterrupted mum-and-baby time together, and the beginning of juggling work with motherhood. Maybe I’ll talk to you a bit more about how I’m feeling about that, but for the time being I’m focusing on enjoying the last couple of weeks of maternity leave.
A whole eight months old
The personality traits he’s showing already make us proud. He’s smiley, calm (unless hungry or tired), curious, wilful and determined. The words other people most often use to describe him are “content” or “chilled-out.”
He’s strong, and seems to like exploring, discovering and doing things for himself. When we went to the Yorkshire Dales recently for my husband’s birthday, an elderly couple took one look at Sam and declared that he would be the “next Bear Grylls.”
He doesn’t particularly like sitting up, but he does like chewing bag straps and looking at his hands. He loves puréed chicken curry, but clamps his lips shut at the sight of scrambled egg.
His second tooth is on the way, he’s crawling and can pull himself up to standing. I take him swimming and to music and craft classes.
What kind of parents are we?
I feel I can say with confidence that – so far at least – we’re good parents. Sam is our number one priority, and we surround him with love and security. We work together and make decisions together.
Recently Hallmark got in touch asking me to nominate someone special to receive a gift box – and it had to be my husband.
My OH gets up in the night if he needs to, and first thing in the morning. He rushes to pick Sam up and hug him as soon as he gets home after work. He does his share of feeding, playing and nappy changing.
He does all these things without being asked to, or expecting praise. He calls himself ‘well-trained’, but he’s not – he just does it because he loves us.
He works so hard – in his job, on our house renovation and now as a dad. He doesn’t often treat himself and doesn’t want expensive things.
I know this does not make him some kind of Man-God – he does what dads should do – but it is worth commenting on because, unfortunately in the 21st century, some men still don’t pull their weight and do regard parenting as primarily a job for mums.
He’s going to look after Sam one day a week while I’m at work. He usually works weekends, so while I regret we won’t have that typical weekend family time, I’m happy for him and Sam that they’ll get this weekly one-on-one time with each other.
When I asked him how he was planning to spend his days with Sam, he said he’d go to a museum, or to the beach. Slightly unrealistic, you might reasonably say, to do those things every week, but the fact he wants to show his son these places and that he’s thoroughly excited about doing so makes him a brilliant dad already.
So, along with the night away (the three of us – he wouldn’t have it any other way) at The Fountaine Inn in the Dales, the gift box – with cards, a balloon, fancy wrapping and a cake – went to him.
All these items are available in Tesco, where Hallmark cards are now being stocked too – including Tesco in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. So if there’s a special occasion coming up, you can pick up everything you need with your weekly shop.
If you’re a parent, how did you find the first few months of your baby’s life?
Do you have any advice for us for the future, or for me as I return to work?