I was pushing my daughter on a swing this morning when another parent asked:
‘What’s your secret? How can you have one child, another on the way and still look so calm?’
I laughed it off and made some quip about exhaustion robbing me of all facial expressions, but actually I feel anything but calm. In fact, I’d say I’m pretty much in a constant state of sheer panic. I’m 34 weeks pregnant and all I can think of is everything that needs to be done. I’m not talking about things like de-junking the nursery, or locating the missing pram wheel in the loft, or making a patchwork quilt (I made one for my daughter so definitely need to make one for my son).
No, I’m talking about the things I want to do with my daughter before bub arrives. Things we do every summer – like strawberry picking and going to the zoo, and new things I know she’ll love – like visiting the local funfair and painting pottery at a café.
Of course, I know life won’t stop when this baby makes his appearance but, let’s face it, the summer will go rapidly downhill for my toddler when he does, because newborns can be pretty dull, especially for a three-year-old who is used to days, weeks, years revolving around her. Plus, I can’t imagine I’ll feel much like going on epic day-trips or spontaneous adventures – or anywhere very exciting at all – whilst surviving on a couple of hours’ sleep and half a packet of chocolate digestives (OK, two packets, but who’s counting?).
So I started writing a list – a pre-baby bucket list of things we’ll do together between now and baby eviction day. But, as I wrote this list, I realised that I wasn’t panicking because I didn’t want my daughter to miss out on doing those things. I was panicking because I didn’t want her to miss out on doing them with me. Just me. Once baby comes there’ll always be another child in my heart and thoughts that even when my daughter and I are having quality one-on-one time we won’t be alone. And then I feel totally irrationally guilty that my son will never experience the unadulterated love and attention of being an only child like my daughter has for the last three and half years.
So, whilst I might look calm on the surface, underneath I’m just coming to terms with the fact that preparing for the practicalities of having two children is the easy part. It’s navigating the emotions that come with becoming a mum to more than one that really needs my attention.