Tag Archives: Maternal Urge

Grieiving For The Baby I Never Want To Have

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

There is a myriad of reasons why I don’t want another baby.

Primarily I feel complete with the girls and step son I have.  I have no longing for another child, no brooding urge that I’m having to suppress.  I don’t want to have another baby.  I am happy.  More than happy.  My family feels complete.

Even  if it was financially viable, even if we weren’t a family of five in a two bedroom house, I wouldn’t want another baby.

Even if I had nearly died during my last pregnancy.  Even if the constant hospital visits hadn’t taken a toll on mine and my daughter’s mental health.  Even if I hadn’t had two months of constant agonising contractions.  If my pregnancy had been healthy and normal, I still wouldn’t want another baby.

Nothing in me wants another baby.

I am comfortable with the decision we have made.  I don’t regret it for a second.

But I feel like I’m in mourning.

Photo credit One_Life

Photo credit One_Life

The whole “Biological Clock” thing is so weird.  It shouldn’t impact me.  I had my first daughter at 27 after one attempt to get pregnant.  I had my second daughter at thirty after zero attempts to get pregnant.  I’m super fertile.  I’m also thirty one and don’t want anymore children so why would that be something that is bothering me?

I don’t want another baby.  Now.

But what if that changed?  What if in, say, ten years we are really successful?  I’m selling loads of books, topping best seller lists, we have a house where our children all get their own rooms and their own spaces, they’re doing well in school, they’re having violin or piano lessons, dance lessons, art lessons, football lessons.  I’m not struggling at the end of the month, I’m not mentally calculating whether the council tax bill will mean we can’t buy the weekly shop.  All our hard work has paid off and we are able to provide our children with the lives we so desperately want them to have…

Will I regret my choice?

Will that little girl (I say girl because I just assume I make girls now) who’s never had a chance to live be missed?  Will that little girl who we would love with such ferocious desperation if she did accidentally make her way into the world leave a huge hole in our hearts because she’s not there?  Baby Boo wasn’t planned and we couldn’t afford her, we were a family of four in a two bedroom house.  We weren’t planning a baby and yet now the idea of this world existing without her in it is horrifying.  Baby Boo needs to exist.  She needs to be here and without her all our lives would be worse.

What if in ten years I realise I gave up my chance to create another one of these amazing little girls because I didn’t have faith in myself to sell the books I work so hard on, and didn’t want to put myself through a few months of pain?  I would go through that pain a thousand times over for Boo.  I would put myself to the brink of death right now to ensure she gets to be with us.  Nothing about her life gives me a hesitation of regret.

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Photo credit Gris Guerra

Does the world need me to have another baby like it needs Boo?

Do I need to have another baby like I need Boo?

I don’t want one.  I really don’t want one.

I can’t put myself or my children through that again.  Promising my little girl I’d be picking her up from school then disappearing in an ambulance and not seeing her for days at a time whilst she had no idea why or when I was coming home was too much.  She was devastated.  Putting my body through that has left a lasting impact to this day that genuinely makes us fear for my life.

My life is complete with the children I have.

I don’t want another baby and have taken steps to ensure it doesn’t happen.

But what if I’m just trying to convince myself?  Would I have these worries if I was absolutely certain in my decision?

I’m glad I’ve got contraception in place.  I don’t want another surprise.  I don’t want to make a stupid choice in a moment of panic.  I don’t want another baby.

But the world will never get to meet her.  I’ll never get to meet her.  She gets no shot at life.

And my girls are amazing.  They’re perfect.  So she would be too.  She would have been incredible.

So I grieve for her.  Because she will never come to be.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

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Big Girls Don’t Keep

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

There’s a very beautiful and famous poem that speaks to me deeply by Ruth Hulbert Hamilton; “Babies Don’t Keep”.

Mother, O Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I’ve grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,
Lullabye, rockabye, lullabye loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo

The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo
Look! Aren’t his eyes the most wonderful hue?
Lullabye, rockaby lullabye loo.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

 

As a mother to a four month old baby I find myself regularly holding this girl close and treasuring these days, I know they won’t last.  Soon she will be weaning and not depend on me so strongly.  She’ll be walking and exploring the world where I don’t take her.  She’ll be off to school and living a life I don’t know every second of.

But then there’s my big girl.  My Rose.

Miss Rose has just turned 4 years old.  She is weaned, she walks, she talks, she goes on sleepovers, she goes to school.  She swims without floats, she rides her bike, she is learning to read and write.

For her birthday she was bought so many awesome presents.  She got Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn and Super Girl dolls.  She got  Shopkins and My Little Ponies.  She got piles of dinosaurs and loads of art supplies.  She is surrounded by awesome things to play with, and she is getting better every day at entertaining herself.  She needs me less and less… and less…

Photo credit Unsplash

Photo credit Unsplash

Yesterday two things happened that reminded me how much my little girl still needs me.

In the morning we did some crafting.  In a house full of dirty laundry and chaos we decided that our time was better spent on a project.  Together we used a cardboard box, paint, glitter and cotton wool balls to build a rainbow adventure playground for her My Little Ponies to play in.  We got covered in paint and had a wonderful time.  She was thrilled.  She was happy.  She told me I’m her best friend.

Later in the day she went for her regular session at nursery.  When the school rang part way into the afternoon my stomach turned, what had happened?  Her teacher asked if I could go in early to pick her up as she had had a bit of an emotional crash, she is prone to extreme highs and lows in her mood like I am, and was in hysterics.  She needed her mummy.

I picked her up in my arms and held her tight whilst she cried.  She told me she missed me and she was tired and sad.

Babies don’t keep, they grow so fast.  Soon they’re off and gone, so rock them and hold them and love the time you’ve got whilst they need you.

But big girls don’t keep either.  One day spending a morning painting an old box with her mum won’t fill Rose with joy.  One day the idea of crying for her mum when she’s low at school will fill Rose with horror.  One day she will be big and grown for real, and she won’t rely on me or crave time with me in the same way.

Photo credit Jill111

Photo credit Jill111

Going to sleep last night she cuddled into me, held me tight, and told me she loves me.  We lay down together in the dark and snuggled up.  Me and my little girl.

We are on a countdown now.  It won’t be long.  Our days are numbered.

We won’t spend our days playing.  She won’t go to sleep with cuddles.  She won’t cry for me when she’s sad.  Each day counts.  Each day with my little girl that goes is a day she is closer to be grown, and one day less I get.

So quiet down cobwebs and dust go to sleep, I’m cuddling my daughter, and big girls don’t keep.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

What Do They Need?

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

I don’t like to think of myself as a selfish parent, I try to do the best by my children, both biological and step, and I try to put their needs first.  However, I am aware that I also focus on my own needs, and what I need my children to be for me as well as what I need to be for them.

The Boy and I have one child each from our previous marriages, Miss Rose and Z, and one child together, Baby B.

Z is a very self sufficient little boy.  He doesn’t require much emotional input from the adults in his life as he is perfectly secure and doesn’t need the reassurance of his value.  He’s happy in himself.  In turn, The Boy doesn’t need reassurance that he’s valued as a parent, and doesn’t expect Z to boost his parenting ego or be anything for him.  The Boy focusses his parenting on what the child needs him to be.

Rose is a very emotionally needy little girl.  She’s a bleeding heart.  Everything about her screams “LOVE ME!”.  She is incredibly empathetic and finds pain in others to be very distressing, but also finds happiness in others to be intoxicating.  She will throw herself with her whole heart into anything someone else loves in the desperate hope they will see her as a kindred spirit and love her for it.  The Boy loves Liverpool, so Rose is passionate about Liverpool.  I, in turn, am emotionally needy of her.  I need the her to be for me what I am for her; the promise that we are loved and valued.

Photo credit Unsplash

Photo credit Unsplash

If for some reason The Boy is asleep in our bed without me there, he just stays in bed alone.  If I am asleep in our bed without The Boy there, the first thing I do when I head up to bed is steal Rose from her bed and put her in with me.  She doesn’t need to be there, she’s happily asleep in her own bed, but I need her with me.  I feel safe with her there.

We both understand our own biological children.  Z gets obsessed with what he’s obsessed with, because it speaks to him.  Rose gets obsessed with what someone else is obsessed with, because it gives her a way to connect.  Z doesn’t mind if nobody else understand him, as long as they accept him and leave him be.  Rose needs other people to understand her so they can love her, because she needs love.

The Boy’s parenting style crosses over well into parenting Miss Rose.  He is what she needs him to be.  She needs him to embrace her involvement in the things he loves, so he celebrates Liverpool goals with her, he embraces her in huge cuddles before he leaves the house and promises he’ll return, he constantly reassures her that he loves her.

My parenting style does not cross well into parenting Z because I have no idea what I’m doing without the reassurance of the emotional response.  I am needy.  I need to be celebrated and cuddled and loved and that’s not Z’s nature, so I don’t get it.  So I get confused and anxious and worried.  I worry that I’m a terrible step mother and that he hates me.  I get upset about it, but for me as much as for him.  I’m upset that I’m not good enough, as much as I’m upset that he is being let down.  Of course, The Boy reassures me it’s not like that at all and he’s just chilled out, but I’m a big needy mess sometimes and worry constantly.

I do not have that selfless parenting nature that The Boy so naturally has.  And I feel incredibly guilty about that.  I’d love to be able to just switch off that emotional neediness but I don’t know how.

Had Z been my biological child I don’t know how I’d have coped without the input I depend on from Rose.  In some ways it’d have been easier because Rose is SUCH an open wound that she feels EVERYTHING incredibly deeply, and the slightest pain is absolutely agonising to her as much as the slightly joy is ecstasy.  Z is much easier as he tends to just bob along in neutral and not let the little things bother him either way.  But I’m too needy, I’d have struggled.  I’d have craved the desperate joyful hug on reunion, I’d have needed the cuddle and kiss goodbye and the promise I’d be missed.

So it worked out really well that our biological children so naturally fit our own parenting style so well.

So then there’s the question of Baby B.

Photo credit Gris Guerra

Photo credit Gris Guerra

Will she be one of the bleeding heart desperate for love ones, or will she be one of the satisfied in her own skin and not need boosting from others ones?

If she’s like me and Rose I’ll find it much easier, I’ll understand her and she’ll give me what I need to be happy as a mother.  If she’s not I’ll have to learn to adjust because I don’t want to try and force her to fit a mold she doesn’t naturally fall into.  I don’t want to be so emotionally needy that I do her harm in demanding she gives me what I want, even if it puts her in a position she’s not happy in.

I need to learn to be self sufficient like Z.  I need to learn to be selfless in my parenting style like The Boy.  Because right now the idea of Baby B not crawling into my lap for goodbye cuddles every time I leave the building breaks my heart, and I know just how much Z would hate it if anyone tried to force him to do that.  And I don’t want to put that on Baby B because it would be cruel.

So I am going to try and learn to be more of a selfless mother.  My needs do not matter, theirs do.   That’s a mantra I must learn to live by for the happiness of my children.  Their needs, not mine.  Their needs, not mine.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

People Collector

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

I am lucky that I feel so secure in my relationship with my daughter, because it would be easy not to.  If I was the jealous and possessive kind of mother that my grandmother was then I would struggle to cope with a child like Miss Rose.

Why?

She’s a people collector.

As soon as The Boy leaves for work, she starts.  She wants her daddy, she misses her daddy, she doesn’t want her daddy to leave, she needs another cuddle from her daddy.  The moment he gets home from work she starts on her nanny.  I want my nanny, I love my nanny, I miss my nanny.

She is never satisfied with just me.

Some people are passionate about art or music, others about football or films.  Miss Rose loves lots of things, she loves My Little Pony, she loves Harley Quinn and Wonder Woman, and she loves art.  But her biggest passion is her people, and what she wants more than anything is all her people all together.  But her nanny and her daddy are on a pedestal above all others.

Her adoration of her nanny goes beyond that of a “normal” grandmother/grand daughter relationship.  I hesitate saying “normal” because I’m not convinced there’s such a thing, but it suits purpose.

My mum, Rose’s nanny, was with me throughout the pregnancy and there when Rose was born.  She was one of the first people to see her and to hold her.  For the first year of her life we lived next door to my mum and, as my husband was out A LOT, my mum stepped in and filled in the gaps as it were.  She often looked after Rose whilst I showered, helped with her bath times, and was there for story times.  She filmed Rose’s learning to walk, was there for Rose’s injections, and was a source of comfort and stability from the start.

After my husband left I relied on my mum even more.  When I was mentally struggling with my health and needed help all the time, my mum would come and sit with us, hold me, play with Rose so I could get my head together.  She’d sing to her, cuddle her and read to her.

My mum was, essentially, Miss Rose’s father figure.  Her real feather wasn’t around, she had me as a very present mother who spent all day, every day with her, and my mum did the rest.  My mum gave her what her daddy would have given her.  She was the apple of my mum’s eye, the light of my mum’s life.  She was the main focus for both of us, someone we both loved with an immeasurable intensity.  Someone who loved us both fiercely.

When I moved out and went to live alone, she saw her biological father occasionally but it was my mum she still depended on.  She obviously craved the additional parent in her life.  The alternative to mummy.

And then I met The Boy.  A man who was already a father so knew the role and played it well, with thought and with heart.  He stepped into her life and, over time, became the father she had been missing out on.  The father she had longed to turn my mother into.  He was there how my mum couldn’t be.  He was there every day, there at bedtime and there in the morning.  He was there for cuddles and kisses on the sofa for films on a Saturday, and there for fun and frolics in the garden on Sunday.  He was there in the way her biological father never was, and he rapidly moved from being “Jon” to “Daddy Jon” to “Daddy”.

He was also there in a way my mum never truly was.  He did the bad stuff.  The stuff parents hate and that grandparents, no matter how present they are in the way my mum was, don’t do.  He did the midnight tantrums, he did the discipline over throwing toys.  He did the setting rules and the worrying about the biting phase.  He changed nappies, cleaned up vomit, and got smacked by tiny toddler hands as she flailed around mid strop.  He became the father figure she had wanted.

But now she’s left with this situation.  She has a father figure, a daddy, who she adores in the form of The Boy.  Then she has another father figure who does all the good stuff, all the fun stuff, and none of the bad stuff, in the form of her nanny.

She is completely devoted to both.  Longs for both.  Loves both.  Misses both intensely.  When she has one she cries for the other.

When The Boy went for a jog one evening and she’d refused to have a goodnight cuddle she completely fell apart, crying and screaming because she wanted her daddy.  When we had been to a theme park for the day with my mum and she was all worn out, and she saw my mum get into her own car to go home rather than into ours, she screamed herself senseless that she wanted her nanny.

I have watched that little girl break her heart over their absence from her life in an intense and awful way.  I watched her falling apart and totally breaking down over the absence of her biological father too.  Because Miss Rose needs her people.

I’m told by both that she feels the same way about me when I’m not there, and constantly complains of missing me and needing me.  I believe it too.  I know nobody replaces me in her affection, I know she loves me.  But I also know I’m not enough for her and her need for her other two parental figures is just as real as her need for her mother is.

Sometimes it’s hard and sometimes I worry, but mostly I don’t.

Today, when she was whinging that she misses nanny, I asked her; “Would you rather live with nanny than mummy?”

And she looked thoughtful for a moment and said, “I want to live with nanny, but then I want to come home to mummy and daddy and live here too.”

She went on to explain that when she wakes up in the middle of the night at nanny’s house she gets hot buttered toast.  When she wakes up in the middle of the night here she gets told to go back to sleep.  So sometimes it’s better to live at nanny’s.

I love my little girl intensely.  More than she realises.  More than she’ll probably realise until she has children of her own.  But she has other adults in her life who love her too, and that will never be something I begrudge her.  I don’t need to be the only one she loves and depends on.  I just need to be one of the ones she loves and depends on.

And I’m not going to start making her hot buttered toast at 1am no matter how much she asks to go and live at nanny’s!

If you have any thoughts I’d love to hear, so get in touch! You can check out my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk where you’ll also find links to my podcasts and my novels in The Lilly Prospero series.  Check it all out and get in touch!

It’s Okay To Hate Pregnancy

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Pregnancy is magical.  It’s special.  It should be treasured.

Women around the world are desperate to get pregnant and can’t.  You’ll never experience this again.  Treasure every moment.  Pregnancy is a privilege.

You know what, all of these things are true.  Obviously they’re true.  But do you know what else is true?  Sometimes pregnancy SUCKS.  It sucks!  It’s truly dreadful.  And it is definitely, one hundred percent, categorically okay to admit it.  In fact, not admitting it might be one of the unhealthiest things you can do.

I’m not having anymore children.  When I was younger I never thought that two (plus a step son) would be enough.  I wanted a big family and I was certain I would have it.  But now as a thirty year old mother I have changed my mind for various reasons; finances, space, time, energy, other commitments… all valid.  But the big seller for me?  Pregnancy.

I felt so guilty during my pregnancy with Baby B.  I felt guilty because of how much time I was having to spend in hospital, I couldn’t be with Miss Rose and she struggled with it.  I felt guilty because she would go to school expecting to see me that night and I’d vanish off in an ambulance and, without warning, I’d be missing from her life and she would sleep at grandma’s.  I felt guilty because even when I was at home I was in so much pain and so sick that I could barely look after her anyway so she was either taking care of herself, at three years old, or spending the majority of the day at grandma’s.  I felt guilty because I couldn’t care for my family, I couldn’t look after my home, I couldn’t cook meals, and I was mostly too ill to do my job.

But do  you know what I felt guilty about most?  HATING my pregnancy.

When I was pregnant with Miss Rose I wrote her a letter every single day.  I have notebooks full of daily letters to her updating her on what was going on, how I was feeling, what we’d done that day.  Thoughts about how lucky I was being pregnant, how excited I felt.  How long I had dreamed of having that very experience.

Do you know what Baby B got?  A folder full of medical notes so thick that I couldn’t carry it.  Do you know what else?  Nothing.

And I tried to deny it.  I tried to focus on the positives.  I tried to make myself enjoy it and celebrate it.  I knew it would be my last experience.  I should have been taking beautiful portraits of my growing bump, I should have been making fun time lapse videos, I should have been doing fun pregnancy and baby related arts and crafts to record everything and be able to provide her with amazing memorabilia about her journey into the world.

I remembered all those women who would have given anything to be in my shoes, to have a baby girl growing inside them just ready to live and be loved.  I remembered how much I had done in preparation for Miss Rose’s arrival.  How she has special memorabilia waiting for her.

I tried to force myself to be positive and happy.

But it didn’t stop the pain.  It didn’t stop the misery.  It didn’t stop the vom.  And it made me feel even worse.  The guilt ate at me because try as I might I couldn’t enjoy it, I couldn’t treasure it, and I hated myself for it.

But WHY?!

Baby B is here.  She’s healthy.  She’s loved.  She doesn’t care that I found pregnancy so hard.  All she cares about is that she’s clean, warm, fed and loved.  It makes no difference to how much she’s wanted and how good her life is.

All I did was make myself feel worse.

Pregnancy can be beautiful.

But it can also be HIDEOUS.  And you know what?  Labour HURTS.  It hurts like mad!  That is also not beautiful and special.  It’s PAINFUL.  I swore, I told The Boy I hate him, I howled in pain.  I was rushed back to hospital, in another ambulance, and an hour and a half later she was crowning.

Then… it was done.

It was over.

Suddenly I didn’t feel sick anymore.  I didn’t feel pain anymore.  I didn’t feel the crushing misery anymore.  It was over.  I held her and I felt good.  The Boy held her and I got in the bath.  And I felt wonderful.  I felt amazing.

Pregnancy is awful and it’s okay to admit it.  Don’t feel guilty.  Other people’s experiences don’t eradicate yours.  Other people’s pain doesn’t make yours lesser or greater.  It doesn’t mean you don’t love your baby and it doesn’t mean you’ll be a bad mum.  It just means you’re going through something that is difficult and you’re allowing yourself to acknowledge it.

And before you know it, it’s done.  It’s over.  And a month later you’ll be sitting with your baby in your arms and remembering how crappy you’d felt just weeks earlier and feeling so grateful that you’re not going through it right this moment.

I’m never doing it again.  But I’m so glad I did it this time.

Time To Stop

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Last night I sat around a table in a restaurant with three strong, smart, kind, loving, inspirational women.  Women who are beautiful in so many ways, who I admire hugely, and who are a credit to my gender.  Women I want my two daughters to look up to.  I sat with these women involved in conversations about so many different things, but the one that stuck out to me was when we talked about how fat we all are.

I talked about my mummy tummy and how fat my legs are now.  They talked about their thighs, bums, bellies.  How many pounds they want to lose from here or there.

These women who are healthy, incredible and fabulous trashed their own amazing bodies.  I, who gave birth less than a month ago, complained about my body that created my beautiful Baby B and still shows the evidence.

And  you know what sucks?  We did it in front my little girls.

Baby B is too young to notice, but Miss Rose?  Miss Rose will hear.  Miss Rose will take note.  Miss Rose who loves my squishy tummy and my stretchmarks, blows raspberries on my skin and cuddles into me, Miss Rose who I try to make sure she focusses on her qualities as a person and her intelligence and strength.  This impressionable little girl who adores her mummy and I teach to respect the words and opinions of these women we were with, she heard us trashing our own bodies.  Complaining about our weight.

Lying in bed last night I thought about it.  I felt awful.

I promised myself that I wouldn’t give myself a hard time about the baby weight.  I haven’t stopped having treats, I haven’t started an exercise regime to tone up.  I’m doing what I promised myself I would do which is to focus on my big girl, my baby girl, my family, and my career.  The things in my life that actually matter most.  NOT whether my body has gone back to what it was before Baby B because, quite frankly, that’s a stupid thing to worry about.  It’s a stupid thing to focus on.  My body before Baby B was a body that had only had one baby and years before, not a body that had a second baby less than a month ago.  AND it was just my body.  It was my body not my mind, my heart, my feelings.  Just a body.  A body that needs healthy food and exercise to function properly of course, and a body that I need to maintain to live a good life, but it’s not the most important thing to focus on in the world.  It’s not the thing that makes me me.

With this body, this squishy body riddled with stretch marks that can’t get into her pre-pregnancy jeans and wobbles when I walk, what do I have?  I have my amazing little girls.  I have my step-son.  I have my wonderful partner who loves me and fancies me.  I have my amazing family across both sides, I have my lovely friends.  I have my career which, whilst small now, has huge potential to grow into my dream job.  I have my home, my pets.  I have, quite frankly, everything.

What don’t I have?  I don’t have a size 8 body anymore.

Of everything in the world I could dream of having, everything in the world I could want, I don’t have one thing.  And do I actually want a size 8 body again?  I wouldn’t complain, but in my heart it’s not actually something I dream of.  When I dream of my life goals, that isn’t one of them.  And neither should it be.  Health, happiness, love.  They’re the things I want.  A body that doesn’t wobble in places is irrelevant.

So why do I do it?  Why do I automatically fall into a pattern of body shaming myself?  What has programmed me to allow myself to focus on the negatives of my body that actually aren’t negatives at all, they’re just perceived negatives.  Perceived by only myself, not those around me.  Not one person has shamed me for my body.  Of course, if I were to display it online for critique I know the garbage that would be thrown at me because I’ve seen other women be the victims of it, but those opinions are not the ones that matter.  The opinions that matter to me are of the people I love and respect.

Would I shame anyone else for my body?  No.  Not a chance.  I am surrounded by women of all ages with bodies bigger, smaller, taller, shorter, curvier, slimmer, etc etc.  Women who are different in every way imaginable.  Do I see anything wrong with them?  No.  Is there anything wrong with them?  No.   Nothing.  So why do I hold myself to higher, more unkind, standards than I do everyone else on the whole planet?  And do I want my daughters to copy that pattern of behaviour?  What programming has been done to me by society, by the people around me, that makes me treat myself like that?

I am going to stop it.  I’m not going to shame my body anymore.  Or at least not in front of my daughters, and I’ll try not to do it at all anyway.  Because the truth is a) my body is amazing (look at the wonderful little girls that I built with it) and b) It makes me feel sick to my core that one day these girls will start to copy this attitude from me.  I am going to teach them to eat right for their health, exercise for their strength, and value their brains and hearts over their looks.

My body is amazing.  My body is amazing.  My body is amazing.

But more importantly my body is not who I am.  It is just what I live in.  And I need to respect it more, respect everything it accomplishes for me every day more. And I need to teach my little girls that who they are is amazing, and what their bodies can do is amazing.  And if they learn that I will be far prouder than if I ever fit into size 8 jeans again!

It’s time to stop body shaming, and start person loving.  For myself, but mostly for my little girls.

If You Don’t Like It That’s Fine

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Twelve days ago I gave birth to my second daughter, and already I am noticing huge differences in myself as a mother compared to how I was when I had Miss Rose.

With Miss Rose I felt anxious about everything; I knew what I wanted to do but I didn’t always know how I was going to do it.  And I worried about it.  All the time.  I had given up work and put all my time and energy into my new baby and I knew nothing about babies, so I had all that time to obsess.

This time?

A calmness settled over me once Baby B arrived.  I looked at Miss Rose and I looked at my new daughter and I felt a sort of peace.  I don’t worry like I did.  I managed to raise Miss Rose on my own for the most part and quite honestly I think she’s wonderful, so I feel secure in the knowledge that I can do it again.

I don’t have time to worry like I used to either.  With Miss Rose and her step-brother to take care of, a new career I’m busy building, and a very full and active life to lead, I just cannot put the time in to worrying I might be doing something wrong.  So I’m not.  I’m just getting on with it and it’s working out just fine.

When I had Miss Rose I was very concerned with that other people thought of my parenting choices.  Friends, family, strangers.  It didn’t matter.  Their views on my parenting mattered to me and I put time and energy into trying to satisfy everyone.

People told me I was holding her too much so I’d set her down.  People told me babies need to be held all the time so I’d pick her up.  People would tell me she needed to learn to take a bottle so I’d try to express and bottle feed her.  People told me she should be exclusively on the breast so I’d feel guilty about the efforts I’d made to get her on the bottle.

How we slept, how I fed her, what she wore.  Everything was judged, everything was criticised by somebody.

I hated it.

Now I just don’t care.

All parenting choices are controversial.  Nobody can raise a child in a way that everyone agrees with and some people will actively judge you.

Last week I walked around town breastfeeding.  I didn’t try to hide what I was doing, I didn’t put a blanket over my shoulder, I just fed her whilst we walked around town getting jobs done.  Some people didn’t notice, some people didn’t care, some people looked pleased to see it, and some people looked horrified.  Did I care?  No.  I don’t care about the positive or negative responses, because I will no longer let the opinions of other people stop me parenting my children how I think is best.  It’s nice to get positives but it won’t impact me, negatives just wash off me.

When people tell me now what I’m doing “wrong”, or pass judgment or criticism about a choice I’ve made, I don’t mind.  You think I should be doing something different, that’s cool, you can think it.  If you say it then it might make you a bit of a dickhead but it doesn’t make me wrong for not falling in line and doing what you want.  With Miss Rose I tried to fall in line.  With Miss Rose I tried to follow the unasked for advice, or at least give time and credence to it.

But now?  I am happy to just get on with it.  If you don’t like it that’s fine, she’s not your child.  The only person who’s opinion I care about when it comes to raising my children is that of the man I’ve chosen to raise them with.  If we are in agreement then that’s all that matters.

It’s remarkably freeing.  Incredibly so.

I look at how I feel about raising Baby B and contrast it with how I felt twelve days into Miss Rose’s life and I can’t compare.  I feel loved and supported by my partner in a way I didn’t have before, and I feel secure and confident in my own parenting abilities down to experience I didn’t have before.  I’m a different woman and a different mother.  I’m happier.  I’m getting on with it and I’m feeling good.  Tired, no doubt, but good.