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  • Niamh

How Did I Become the Responsible One?

Responsibility is one scary mother-fucker of an emotion. We’re all given responsibility at differing rates as we grow up. If we’re lucky, we’ve got a loving family around us who will dole out responsibility at an acceptable frequency. Such as learning to do chores like tidying your room, doing the dishes, taking out the bins, bringing the dog for a walk and so on. Then when you get a bit older and you might take on the responsibility of that first summer job, then maybe you start to learn to drive in your parents’ car, without crashing it. Then maybe you get the responsibility of being able to stay home while your mum and dad go off on holiday and promise not to have a party in their absence. Then of course you do have the party, get caught out and end up being grounded for what seems like an eternity. Eventually the day comes when we offer to pay our way or maybe have saved enough money to finally move out. Not every person gets to experience responsibility in such a measured way. Plenty of children have adult responsibility thrust upon them far too quickly and have to learn to cope with things most adults might find tough.

For me, I was lucky enough to be the former. I took on responsibility slowly. In fact you might say I was wrapped in cotton wool for a lot of my life and when the responsibilities of the real world came to me, they came in close succession like a series of sharp slaps to the face, which I’ll admit maybe I needed!

But it still amazes me, how I am now the ‘responsible adult.’ I’m the mum!? Me. The utterly clueless, knows-nothing-about-babies, me. I’m now expected to care for every facet of a brand new, precious life, when in the past I struggled to keep a basil plant on the windowsill alive for more than a week!

All joking aside, the responsibility of becoming a mum can be an overwhelming thought and it was something that certainly added to my anxiety post-labour. Now, 8 months in, I’ve certainly grown more used to the day-to-day responsibilities, but when I think about things beyond the immediate, such as picking schools, laying down the law and the teenage years, I can get a little panicked. For me, I just try and concentrate on the here and now. It may sound odd but I often find Dory’s Mantra from Finding Nemo helps me when I get panicked.

Just. Keep. Swimming.

Funnily enough, it does help me focus on the now, but I still find it hard to believe that I am the grown up. It’s now my arms that give my little boy comfort when he’s upset. I’m the one who whispers sweet stories into his ears to make him smile when he takes a tumble. It’s my ‘dulcet’ (okay caterwauling is more accurate!) tones of Bah Bah Black Sheep that stop him wailing like a banshee when he is overtired or hungry. I’m now the one my husband looks to for advice on what to do when it comes to bottles or naps or when we should give him Calpol or not. To him and the world I’m now the supposed rock of sense mammy that just knows what to do.

It can be both humbling and scary at the same time, but I’ve learnt to just dive in and go for it. For me motherhood has been a very much sink or swim experience. In the beginning I was sinking. In fact I nearly went under with post-natal depression and ultimately hit rock bottom. Since that awful day on 20th January 2016, I’ve managed to start swimming again. I wouldn’t say I’m doing lengths just yet, to be honest a lot of days I’m treading water, and on those days I find myself saying Dory’s manta over and over

Just. Keep. Swimming.

Just. Keep. Swimming.

Just. Keep. Swimming.

And I do. Even when I haven’t a clue what I am doing and I’m truly terrified, I just try and get on with it. When the baby is crying and I’m not sure what it is he is trying to tell me, I just try and go with it. They say that responsibility is earned, not given. Well I’m trying to grow into this huge responsibility that I’ve been lucky enough to have been given and hopefully one day I’ll be worthy of earning it.

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