So we’re expecting our second child any time now. Our first is 2.5 years old now, and it seems simultaneously like yesterday and a million years ago that I was writing this blog about her. Now we’re expecting her little brother, and I can hardly believe we’re going to put ourselves through all this again! They say boys are better sleepers, right…? And at least this time the breastfeeding let down pain won’t come as a nasty surprise, and chances are labour won’t be 44 hours and result in a ventouse delivery with episiotomy. So I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to enjoy this little man more easily, more confidently, and quicker than with our first. I suffered a little from some blues after the birth, and sleep deprivation compounded it, so I’ll know to look out for that too. And the midwives are on high alert to look for tongue tie again this time & support me with feeding if he does have it, too.
The only thing in not happy about us my own family. Somehow, my mum, who I asked to look after our toddler when we go into hospital for the delivery, got totally confused & lost what’s left of her mind & booked a holiday to the Galapagos Islands, leaving 2 days before my due date, and returning a week after. Apparently this is my fault, too, because I asked my mum to bring her holiday forward from the originally suggested departure date of a week after my due date. Baffling. I’m just grateful that my partner’s family are considerably more thoughtful & are coming over from Ireland instead, and that we have a very maternal childminder who is desperate to help. My mum still refuses to try to understand why I’m upset, and my dad & sisters think I’m being dramatic & over-emotional (as usual). I’ve given up hoping for apologies from any of them; if something doesn’t make sense to them personally, then it simply doesn’t make sense – these people have no idea what empathy is. Oh well, it’s not the first time my family have disappointed me since I started my own family, & nor will it be the last.
All this stress has made me think about how close modern families are, emotionally and physically, from their wider families. Not so long ago, everyone would live in the same town, on the same street even, and helping out with kids for siblings, cousins, even neighbours, was the norm. Our society now with its emphasis on working families paying for childcare, social mobility & being culturally less altruistic & community-minded I think, means families like us – for whom the nearest member of immediate family is a 2 hour drive away – are much more commonplace. We’ve raised our little girl just the two of us, with occasional visits from grandparents. And one of my sisters has only visited her niece twice. The woman is a stranger to her.
In some ways this isn’t so bad – my family would have more opportunities to drive us both crazy if they lived closer – but I think about what our little girl misses out on, having a very narrow range of people & ages in her life. I grew up seeing grandparents annually, and it wasn’t until we moved into the same town as my mum’s parents when I was eleven that I finally got to have a proper relationship with my Nan. It was something we both cherished.
Tell me about your family’s role in your lives – would you like to see more, or less, of them? Has our society changed? Thanks for reading.