Dear pre-baby me, I wish this was something you would one day get to read. I wish I could put this in a mailbox that would magically arrive into your hands, like a scene from Back to the Future or Quantum Leap. I wish I could take you by the shoulders and give you a sharp shake and tell you to appreciate your pre-children life a little bit more.
I want you to stop dithering about the cost of going on that trip to see Ireland play Scotland in the Six Nations in Edinburgh and just go. I want you to stop complaining you’re tired, when you comfortably got 8 hours sleep a night and could lie in until 12noon every weekend if you wanted to. I’d tell you to stop finding excuses not to make a little effort and go out with your friends for that meal you’ve been talking about for ages.
I want you to stop for a second and appreciate the undulated freedom of being able to jump in your car on a whim and go wherever the hell you like. I want you to enjoy being able to open your laptop and write when the mood strikes you without having to listen out to see if the baby has woken up.
Enjoy deciding to meet your husband in town for post-work drinks at the very last minute without having to think about anything other than how you’ll get home. I want you to appreciate your husband and the moments you get to share together alone. The holding hands, the laughing, the meals out, the nights in, the breaks away, the simplicity of lazy Sunday mornings in bed. Deciding to go for brunch on a whim or just the simplicity of being able to sit down to dinner together at the kitchen table after a long day and eat at the same time, rather than as part of some sort of WWE tag team duo taking turns walking up and down with the baby. I want you to enjoy not being exhausted zombies who can talk about nothing other than nappies, poop, onesies and bottles. I want you to enjoy chatting about yourselves without having to consider anyone else.
I want you to enjoy little things like going shopping for a new outfit or drinking a huge cup of hot chocolate in a cafe by yourself without a care in the world. I want you to enjoy the simple pleasures of sitting down and reading that new book you’re dying to sink your teeth into. I want you to have that bath you’ve been putting off all week; sit there and soak and relax. I want you to go for that spa treatment you’ve always been harping on about instead of putting it off for no good reason. I want you to order that insanely rich chocolate dessert when you’re out for your anniversary meal and forget the consequences. I want you to travel to all those places you said you’d like to see one day; Machu Picchu, Patagonia, Route 66 and the northern lights in Iceland.
In short, I want you to stop and appreciate your life without the responsibility of children. Because one day soon, your life is going to change beyond all recognition. I’m not saying you still can’t do all of these things, but the fact is, once you become a mum, all of these things become that little bit harder because from that moment on, your child becomes your new priority, he will be your new reality and he will always come first.
I’m not saying you and your husband won’t get to go out for a meal together again, of course you will, but now instead of your only concern being getting a reservation, now you’ll have to find someone to mind the baby, pack all his gear, his food, his favourite teddy and probably spend the entire meal wondering if he’s going to sleep okay for whomever the said babysitter is, instead of enjoying the evening.
Above all, pre-baby Niamh, while I want you to enjoy every moment of your pre-mammy life, I also want you to know, that when your little baby does arrive, you’re going to feel love like you’ve never felt before. I know it’s one of those overused clichés you hate, but it’s true. You’re going to be besotted, hook, line and sinker. It won’t be a walk in the park though and yes you’re going to be in for a really rough patch after he is born. You’re going to go through some very dark weeks, but you’re going to get through it. You’re tougher than you know and there will come a day when you get through that early fog of post-natal depression and you’re going to realise you are completely infatuated with your baby boy, yup, I said boy! I know, you a boy mama, who’d of thought it, eh?! You’re going to find yourself turned to jelly by a gummy smile and his excited baby belly laugh, you’re going to look into his big blue eyes and think he is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen in your life.
Eventually you’re going to reconcile your old life and find your new self. It’s going to be different and at times it is going to be hard. Maybe you’ll get to travel to Machu Picchu one day and maybe you won’t, but you’ll come to realise that you while you wish you’d appreciated your old life a little bit more, you still wouldn’t change this new reality for a single second.