Putting the Mamma into Dee: Creating a Career out of Motherhood

I’ve had jobs I’ve enjoyed, I’ve had jobs that I’ve been good at and I’ve had jobs where I’ve met some wonderful people but I’ve never really considered myself as having a career. The jobs that I’ve done have all played an important part in my journey but they have felt like a means to an end, until now.  For the first time, I feel like I’ve found my career, it’s just come in the unexpected package of motherhood.  What’s slightly ironic for me in this realisation is that, before now, I’d never really considered motherhood as being a career.  I don’t know whether that’s because I associate careers with something that you ‘go out’ and do or whether motherhood doesn’t follow the trajectory of other careers but all I can say is I’ve finally found something that fits, something that challenges me every day and something that provides fulfilment and meaning.

I looked on child rearing not only as a work of love but as a profession that was fully as interesting and challenging as any honourable profession in the world and one that demanded the best I could bring to it ~ Rose Kennedy

Now while this new career comes with some significantly different and relentless working conditions and there’s no such thing as sick leave, weekends or promotional opportunities there’s some undeniably appealing rewards that no other job has been able to provide.

Every day I get the opportunity to watch a human being develop and grow. Whether it’s watching the fascination of my son learning the feel of new textures, the furrowed brow that appears when that board book didn’t taste quite as good as he thought it would or the wide-eyed amazement that appears whenever a new sound is heard, there’s a certain je ne sais quoi about watching someone experience the world for the very first time.  And while the responsibility of holding someone’s well-being in the palm of your hand is incredibly overwhelming, the ability to spend my day nurturing and caring for another person is both enriching and fulfilling. Plus, I get to do something that I love every day.

On the lighthearted side of things, I never get that Sunday Sinking Feeling – you know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach come Sunday evening when there’s no hiding from the fact that in a few short hours the weekend will be over and the Monday morning alarm is going to sound. Now while I attribute that to the fact that I don’t dread my current working situation in any way, shape or form it could also be that this role is 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Admittedly not all of those days are poised with the same level of patience, good humour or grace as others but the job satisfaction far outweighs the demanding hours. Plus, the wardrobe requirements are definitely more comfortable and economical, although I do miss the pretty shoes….

Don’t get me wrong, not every day is full of sunshine and roses. We have our down days too but without fail at the end of each day the slate is wiped clean and every morning my team, or is it boss (I’m not so sure some days), gives me a big, beautiful smile that lets me know that the work that I do is valued.

I don’t know where this quote comes from but it makes me smile and reminds me that motherhood, just like anything else in life, is best accompanied by a sense of humour:

It’s so hard to get anything done when you have a baby hanging off your boob at least 8 hours a day. Breastfeeding is a full-time job where you are on call 24 hours a day, you have to come in even when you’re tired or sick, you never get a day off, you don’t get paid, and the boss constantly gives you shit ~ Unknown

As I start out on this exciting and challenging new career I can’t help but wonder what will be waiting for me down the track and I can’t wait to find out.

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Finding Joy in the Most Unexpected of Places

The highlight of my week has been watching my little man finding immense joy in the smallest and most random of things. I can’t describe how deeply satisfying it was to watch him laugh with hysterics (complete with squeals of delight) at the sound of his Dad reading words from the ever-exciting ‘My Big Farm Book’. It was one of those moments that you couldn’t create even if you tried. There was just the right combination of intonation, colourful pictures and mood which made words like ‘combine harvester’, ‘horse’ and ‘pumpkin’ (to name a few) absolutely hysterical! And the sound, there’s no other word but heavenly (not that I’m biased or anything).  I’ve always been one to enjoy the odd giggle or two (or ten) and admittedly I too often find humour where others perhaps do not. So it’s at times like this that there is no denying that this is my son, not that there was really any doubt.

I was so excited when we hit the 5-6 week mark and all the books informed me that the first smiles were on their way.  I wholeheartedly threw myself into doing my best Bert and Ernie giggle after, well, pretty much everything from ‘This Little Piggie’ to ‘Round and Round the Garden’.  It was while giggling after one such episode that it dawned on me that I was in fact teaching my son to smile and to laugh. It was the first time I had actually felt that I was deliberately imparting something onto my child. Hopefully it wasn’t the last!

Children learn to smile from their parents ~ Shinichi Suzuki

Now, thanks to my son, we’re discovering all the hidden nooks and crannies where there are giggles to be had. From watching ‘Mummy wobbling her head around like a dashboard ornament’ (as my husband so aptly described it) to the ever-amusing game of ‘A-Tissue’ (with real or fake sneezes). It’s been absolutely delightful to see the wonders of the world through my sons eyes and so much fun helping him find joy in the most unexpected of places.

Images from Microsoft Office Images

To Educate or Not to Educate: Could Parents Be Better Off Not Knowing the Benefits of Breastfeeding?

A good friend of mine posted a blog on her site about a new voice in the ongoing breastfeeding debate suggesting that there should be less promotion and education about breastfeeding because it’s making mothers who choose not to breastfeed feel guilty.

Now I’m always a bit wary about how involved I get in the breastfeeding debate because, as I’ve come to realise, the choice of whether to breastfeed or not is one that has as many different sides as there are voices to express them. There are certainly indisputable facts about breastfeeding but there is also no ‘one size fits all approach’ and I think that this sometimes gets forgotten in the heat of debate. Having said that, this particular argument has weaseled its way into my head, nestled itself quite firmly and as this is a blog for the musings of a new Mum, here goes….

I find the argument suggesting that less education will lead to better outcomes mildly alarming. To suggest that new developments in any field should be kept hidden away in the dark recesses of the laboratories in which they were discovered baffles me somewhat. After all,

What’s the point of research if the findings aren’t going to be shared?

I admit that my decision to breastfeed started out as a largely uneducated decision in the sense that I didn’t go out purposefully seeking the ‘pros and cons’ so that I could make a balanced decision.  In actual fact, I didn’t really think about it all, I just assumed that I would.  As I progressed through my pregnancy and started to come across more information about breastfeeding, my position became: Of course I’ll breastfeed if I can.

And there are a myriad of different reasons why breastfeeding is just not a reality for some Mums. I’ve met Mums whose babies couldn’t latch successfully, Mums who have suffered through cracked and bleeding nipples to a point where they just couldn’t bear it any longer, Mums who have had to return to work and their supply has only lasted for so long, Mums who were losing so much weight through breastfeeding it was posing other health concerns (for real!) and Mums who just preferred not to. These are all individual choices that have been made in the context of individual experience – and what’s wrong with that? Absolutely nothing!

How and what to feed our children is a decision that all parents have the right to make for themselves

But the suggestion that promoting the benefits of breastfeeding could cause harm is a little hard for me to get my head around. While breastfeeding may not be everyone’s decision (by choice or by circumstance) there’s no disputing that breast milk is the No.1 source of nutrition for babies. Or at least I didn’t think this was disputed.  I was surprised when I read an article in The Australian last year that revealed that 26% of the 28,000 parents who completed the 2010 Australian National Infant Feeding Survey believed that formula was just as good for their baby as breast milk. And it was because of this belief that these parents had either decided to discontinue breastfeeding or to not start in the first place.  To my mind, this finding suggests that there is certainly a place for the promotion of breastfeeding, but that’s just me.

My breastfeeding education started in our antenatal classes and for me it not only solidified my decision but it also drove home to me how amazing the human body is.  Of all the weird and wonderful tidbits that I learnt throughout my pregnancy, the benefits of breastfeeding were some of the most intriguing and interesting.  I would have thought that even if breastfeeding wasn’t an option there would still be room for appreciation. In that spirit, here are my Top 5 things I’ve learned about breastfeeding and why I personally think breast milk is just a little bit magical:

  1. Squeezing breast milk into an infant’s eye can clear up conjunctivitis.  Of course, anyone who’s actually tried to squirt breast milk with any kind of aim or accuracy knows just how unlikely it is that much would actually make it into the eye but amazing nonetheless.
  2. A mother passes her immunity to her baby through her breast milk. So for the first 3 months, when a baby has no immunity of their own, they’re protected against whatever their mother is immune to – come on that’s a little bit like magic right?
  3. Breast milk supply will naturally adjust to the needs of the baby from one feed to the next. So in the height of summer when bub is extra thirsty there will be higher levels of water in the milk to quench their thirst and likewise, when they’re feeling especially ravenous there will be a higher fat content to dull those nasty hunger pains. This is definitely one of my favourites!
  4. The skin on skin contact a baby experiences with its mother during breastfeeding acts as a temperature control device.  If bub is feeling cold the mother will warm them up and vice versa if they’re feeling hot the mother will cool them down.  What’s really nice about this one is that it also works with Dad, although obviously not during breastfeeding!
  5. Breast milk is custom-made to meet the exact and ever changing needs of the individual baby and these changes just happen naturally without needing to ask.

At the end of the day, no matter what decision you might come to, surely having access to all the facts has got to be more help than hindrance?

But what do you think – to educate or not to educate?

If you’re interested in reading one woman’s thoughts on the effects of media on the modern-day mother check out MUMmedia

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Burps, Bums and Boobs: The Language of a New Parent

I had to laugh when I caught up with a friend of mine for the first time since having a baby when she commented:

‘isn’t it funny how your conversations now revolve around the colour of poos and the amount of nappy changes in a day?’

And it’s true. I giggle just thinking about the fact that I’ve emailed my husband at work to report on the contents of nappies. I would never have believed that I would discuss the bowel movements of another person with such openness and regularity and consider it normal…well somewhat normal anyway. Added to the fact that I don’t think I’ve ever discussed any part of my body as much as I now talk about breasts and there is always something to say about feeding, weight, length and sleeping (just to name a few) at catch ups with other Mums.

I always had a lot to say before becoming a parent but for the life of me I can’t remember what I used to talk about – an alarming realisation that I made when I caught up with my old work friends. I realised fairly early on in the piece that while there was definitely genuine interest in how my son was doing and they wanted to know what it was like being a Mum, there were limits and apparently the gory details of nappy and feeding habits were not an entirely welcome addition to our lunch time conversation. And I can completely understand. Under what other circumstances is it considered acceptable (or palatable) to talk about the inner workings of someone else’s digestive system over a meal? But I just couldn’t think of anything else to talk about…babies that is, not bowels!

Conversation has always come easily for me and I don’t generally have to think too hard to find something to talk about, but it really did hit me that I actually need to give this some thought these days. Like a lot of other Mums-to-be, I remember when I was pregnant, thinking

“I’m not going to be one of those Mums who can only talk about her baby!”

Now when I think about it, I realise of course that’s what I’m going to talk about and why wouldn’t I? Let’s face it, my entire day happily revolves around this little human being who is so delightful, charming and challenging and it’s his antics and development, in all it’s glory, that come to the fore when posed with the question ‘How are things going with you?’ And yes, I have become desensitised to the wonders of poo and vomit as it plays such a significant role in my new routine… although I do hope that doesn’t last forever!

Having said that, I am fast realising how important it is going to be to maintain some connection with my former self so that I don’t completely lose her in this wonderful transformation. Surely there’s still a little room left for the old Dee in the exciting world of Burps, Bums and Boobs?

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A New Blogger’s Quandry

So I’m a newbie in the world of blogging and so far I have to say I’m having a lot of fun. It’s been great to dust the cobwebs off of my inner dialogue and so interesting to read what other people have been brave enough to put out there for the masses – thank you!

I’m especially taken with how spoilt for choice you are when it comes to themes and appearances – a little too spoilt though perhaps? I created this blog less than 1 week ago and I think I’ve probably test-driven about 15 different themes (if not a few more) – I like different things about different themes and it’s so hard to decide on just 1! Never mind the fact that, at this rate, I’ll spend more time playing around with the look and feel of the blog rather than the actual writing of the blog.

I’d love to know how people have made their choice about which theme to go with!

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net