#MumdayMonday is back with a Q+A from the lovely Nina Pandit from mummyandnina.com . A 25 year old mother of two boys, Nina is British-Asian and started her blog to counter that all-too-familiar feeling many of us can relate to that when we become a mother, we somehow stop being ourselves. When the rest of us were partying and sleeping our way through university, she had already given birth to her eldest son “out of wedlock”, a fact that she responds to with “sorry, not sorry”. Her younger son is now two, and in her blog she honestly and thoughtfully explores the reality of parenting two small children, especially when your life has not followed the path expected by your culture. Go and have a read to find out more about this young woman (that sounds so patronising, doesn’t it?…!) who is wise beyond her years (check out her tip on “side-stepping the tantrum” – I’m all over it!)…
What did you find hardest about becoming a mum the first time around?
Nobody knew I was in a relationship at the time, so keeping my pregnancy a secret for 5 months (I didn’t show until 6 months) was possibly the hardest aspect of being pregnant. I remember feeling very excited and then almost instantly guilty for being so confused. I spent hours questioning whether I was strong enough for my baby. In retrospect I’m not sure how I did it, but I did. Parents have this ability to cope and I suppose that’s all that matters.
Were the difficulties the same or different the second time?
Second time round was so different. Those afternoon naps and hours of aimless comparisons between fruit and foetal size were replace with running around after an energetic toddler and having fingers stuffed up your nose and in your ears. Towards the end of my pregnancy I cherished the chaos, it kept me busy when I was overdue.
What is the best thing about having two children?
If one is being difficult you can go and hang out with the other. It’s a graceful side step to actually parenting the tantrum. “If you want to join the party, you have to be happy” is our motto – and who wants to miss a party?
What advice would you now give to yourself when you were pregnant for the second time?
Know when to ask for help. Just because another mother appears to be handling herself, it doesn’t mean you have to. The challenge is after the baby is born so rest as much as you can. It’s ok to say I can’t do this without a nap.
How has having two children changed your relationship with your husband?
My boys are intense. They take my emotions for a joyride and I love that about them; but it leaves us both feeling exhausted. So we end up spending most of our time together watching television rather than actually talking to each other. Conversations become an exchange of information, like who would be doing the pick-up or what was for dinner. Life takes over and we become so engrossed in our routine we aren’t really appreciating each other. We recently took a weekend break away and we realised we missed having kid-free fun together. And we’ve vowed to do it more often.
Has it changed your relationship with your extended family at all? If so, how?
I don’t have as much time to keep in touch with people from the extended family as I would like to, which is a shame. But I’m a huge believer that those relationships that are worth it stand the test of time. I can go years without speaking to some people and it’s as though nothing has changed. Those are the relationships I value the most. My kids are great at keeping in touch with people and I leave most of the family relations stuff to them. They use Siri on my phone to call our family members which works well because the family want to speak to them not me. I’ve been demoted since having children.
How do you deal with the inevitable comment “One of each, are you done now?”
It’s funny because my youngest is actually a boy (he sports a man/boy bun at the minute) but most people assume he’s a girl (yup, I did that too – sorry. Please insert embarrassed monkey emoji). So I get that question more often then not. On the flip side I’ve been told that I shouldn’t have anymore children because I’ll never have a girl and shouldn’t bother trying. Or people volunteer stories of how they knew someone that had 10 boys because they wanted a girl. That postnatal period can be the most emotionally vulnerable time in your life. The first few weeks of having my second baby I was so upset by it all and felt a bit broken; like my womb was broken. I didn’t realise my womb was blue with a moustache and only produced boys (but thanks for the heads up). I mulled it over and only recently did I come to the conclusion that the only opinions that mattered to me were my husband and my sons’. I am content with my boys. They’re good kids. We’re go-with-the-flow kind of people, if we have another that’s great: regardless of gender. If we don’t we won’t be unhappy.
When you look back, is there anything at any point in parenthood that you wish you had done differently?
Parenting is a journey and I don’t really wish to change anything; I’m grateful for who it has made me. But my eldest told me that I was an evil step-mother that shouts a lot and tells everyone to do chores. Perhaps that’s an indicator that I shout too much and get worked up over the finer detail. ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff’ is a bit of advice I picked up along the way. I’m yet to use it.
Is there anything that makes you think “Yeah, we smashed that!”
My eldest was playing with his trains and the youngest came up behind him, wrapped his arms around his neck and gave his big brother a kiss on his head. We’d hit a parental jackpot – they both have a friend for life.