I refer to my time before having kids as ‘’my other life’’. It was a stark contrast to my life now. I worked in the crazyfastpaced advertising industry at some of the top agencies in the world. I was very fortunate, especially as through my work I got to live in some amazing places including New York City, Miami’s South Beach and Amsterdam.
For my 20s and early 30’s work was my life, we worked hard and played hard together. After work, I tottered around in heels and designer jeans, sipping cosmos in trendy bars, travelling to exotic places for holidays and spoiling myself with luxuries like weekly manicures and regular pedicures. I was flush with my cash and had no clue how much milk or bread or regular items cost. It was fun, but obviously fun can only last so long.
By my late 30’s I was tired and desperate for children. A year after marriage we embarked on a painful, gruelling fertility treatment journey which left us both physically and mentally drained. Thankfully we were lucky ones we were blessed with healthy twin girls. I spent my maternity leave carefully reading books about how to stay fit (I really didn’t have a clue..) and all the wonderful things that happen when you become a parent.
We chose not to find out the sex of the babies, so one book kindly told me to buy everything in white. What a crazy idea that was. I spent ages carefully finding lovely white vests, babygros, cardigans etc. Carefully washed and folded them all away, only to be hardly ever used. They might as well have told me to buy only brown clothes! We were extremely lucky with a relatively easy pregnancy and birth. We lived in Amsterdam and were very well looked after by the Dutch healthcare system. We even had the benefit of a nurse at home with us for the first 10 days. Everything seemed fine.
Then bam. She left us. And reality hit in.
They cried and cried and cried. We were tired. The books had been no use at all. We didn’t even have time to pick them up and check if what we were doing was right. Quite frankly we didn’t have a clue what we were doing. Friends started to talk about ‘’colic’’ and ‘’reflux’’ we didn’t even know what those things were! They didn’t teach me any of that in my beautiful pregnancy yoga classes. They just taught me how to breath during birth, which was a fat lot of use in a csection.
We soon discovered the joy of the ’’witching hour’’. Every single parent seems to know about the ‘’witching hour’’ but not one single book mentions it. The witching hour started to creep earlier and earlier in the day. The colic and the reflux was so awful they could never lie down. We started moaning that they just want to be held all the time looking back on this now I feel sad, they were so tiny and helpless and one day in the near future they will only want to hang out with their friends and not even talk to us.
I look back and wish we had had the energy to treasure those moments of just lying with them in our arms. I have one memory of eating something that was supposed to constitute dinner it was a bowl of dry pasta with some peas on it. I ate it standing up using my left hand as for some reason my daughter would only be held in my right. Another night we had bought pizzas to put in the oven thinking this would be an easy way to get a meal. We were so tired neither of us could properly read the cooking instructions we absolutely cremated it but my husband still ate it. That was a low point!
Four years on, the girls are a joy (most days!), they don’t cry (quite) as much, but we still have a form of witching hour it’s usually around 4pm for us. I’ve taught myself to be a full time stay at home mum on a budget and to be proud! It’s not easy. I now know how much everything costs, everywhere mostly the price of coffee in various cafes and which cafe has the best deal on. I know all the toddler groups and the local bus times.
My bosses are pretty tough they are very demanding and usually don’t allow me to stop for a rest or sit down, they have the energy to keep going and going, even when I want to stop. This bit reminds me of my past life! I’ve swapped heels for flats, cosmos for coffee, bars for playgrounds and tropical adventures for Cornwall. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
A Guest Blog from Cheryl Crowley
Cheryl is a full time stay-at-home mum to twin girls, she spends her day’s trying to stay sane and calm – on a stay-at-home mum’s salary!
When the kids are happily at pre-school, she enjoys hiking in the countryside, yoga and cleaning (well, she does the cleaning, not necessarily enjoying it!). With the family, she enjoys spending time in Cornwall or at home doing baking and crafts with the girls. She also runs a monthly craft group for little ones in Charlton Kings. In her former life, she lived in far away places working at advertising agencies and enjoying cocktails after work.