Before becoming a mum I thought motherhood was a great big jolly. I imagined maternity leave would be one long holiday punctuated with coffee or beer garden dates with plenty of time to make a start on that novel. What a deluded idiot I was…
Those dreams I had of spending the summer in the garden topping up my tan while the baby slept indoors were dashed when I realised my baby did not like sleeping unless he was on me, being driven around in the car or pushed in the pram. We spent most of the summer in the car park at the Costa drive-thru with the air con on. I did not get a tan.
Here are a few more misconceptions I had about maternity leave:
1. There would be loads of time to catch up with friends
With my favourite people scattered all over the country I thought maternity leave would be the perfect opportunity to spend quality time with them as taking a baby on a road trip would be a peace of cake. Yeah, driving hundreds of miles on three hours of broken sleep with your most treasured possession in the car is never a good idea. And after factoring in the time it takes to load and unload all the paraphernalia needed by a small person the notion of just ‘popping’ to visit someone becomes rather exhausting. Thank goodness for WhatsApp.
2. I’d fill rainy days watching movies, box sets and reading
Hahahahahaha I suppose I did watch a few box sets. By ‘watch’ I mean looked at the images as it’s hard to hear dialogue over a screaming baby. And as for reading, by the time I got to bed those precious few hours were spent sleeping.
3. It’d be easy to get fit
My naïve pre-baby self thought that because babies don’t do a lot I’d be able to fill those hours when mine slept with exercise, healthy meal prep and giving myself home spa treatments. As previously mentioned my baby didn’t really sleep… I was too exhausted to exercise, Dominos delivers and the last time I did any serious self-grooming Trump was still most known as another way to say fart. I didn’t get fit. I did get fat.
4. Summer days would be spent outdoors
I love the sun on my skin and gazing at blue skies and was so looking forward to cruising in my two seater convertible with the baby by my side. Or lounging in my hammock with the baby in a shade tent next to me. Turns out babies don’t really like the heat and it can be dangerous if they get too hot so I spent most of the summer searching for air con and the sports car had to go anyway because the pram wouldn’t fit in the boot.
5. Meals would be lovingly cooked from scratch
When my son was about six weeks old I managed to cook a roast in time for my husband’s return from work. This was achieved while wearing the baby and took four times as long as it would pre-baby because of the frequent stops to change nappies, feed, wee, settle…
6. It’d be really easy to get shit done
Nothing is simple when there is a baby in the picture. Doing anything with a newborn is like taking part in a game show where the rules change every five minutes, you can only use one hand and there’s a ticking time bomb that may go off at any moment which you have to drop everything for to diffuse.
But before you know it you’re back at work, the role you put on your LinkedIn and get actual money for, and you can enjoy a hot coffee, eat your lunch with two hands while seated and, best of all, wee whenever you need it and without an audience.
I’m currently on maternity leave with my second baby. That’s two under two and I know enough to not have any expectations now. As long as we’re all fed, dressed and happy then I’m winning.
Leanne is Mum to two boys born exactly 19 months apart who exhaust and delight her in equal measure. She’s a lover of chocolate and Prosecco and a distant admirer of sleep.
Image credit: Leanne Simons