Hello, all. It's been a very long time - nearly a whole year since I last updated this poor neglected blog.
A year is but a drop in the ocean in the grand scheme of a person's life, but I can quantify my last year in terms of a rekindled love, a pregnancy, an engagement, two house moves and then suddenly, staggeringly, a baby. The past year has been so unremittingly packed full of these rather high-impact 'life events', that I must admit to still feeling a little like I'm waiting for the pause, so that I can catch my breath. I think I've fitted into twelve months what most sane people would spread over a few years, yet there is still a lot more to come in the foreseeable future. Caring for a brand new, utterly dependant tiny person demands enough time and effort in itself, and rightfully so. But, true to form, I've decided to couple this with planning a wedding, starting my long-delayed writing, and pivotally, my plans to restart my education.
The desire spurring on these plans, coaxing into action a brain sluggish from lack of use, is the overwhelming one of self-preservation. In the last year, I have gradually, subtly, but most definitely changed from the person I was pre-pregnancy - that person has been submerged and relegated, in her place a mystical new being, whose primary concerns relate more to such oddities as nappy brands and anti-colic milk bottles. This is spurring a feeling rising within me now; a panicked realisation that I am losing myself, and the passions that once helped to define and shape me, to the Mumzilla I'm becoming.
Now, I am acutely aware that these words can be easily misconstrued, to imply that I'm not enjoying motherhood or that I resent my child in some way. Just to be clear, my daughter - Charlotte, for anyone wishing to know - is more precious and important to me than anything else in this world. I adore her completely; becoming a mother is more rewarding and joyful than I could ever have imagined. I humbly accept that my daughter has given me more happiness, in the short time that we have thus far known her, than I could ever have achieved otherwise.
However, I don't believe that becoming a mother and also retaining your own identity and pursuits should necessarily be mutually exclusive. A mother, with all of her desires to nurture and care for her child, and a woman, possessed of her own ambitions and desires outwith the child, do not have to exist as separate entities. Surprisingly, even in this day and age, something I keep hearing from too many sources (and far too many of them women) is that motherhood should be 'enough' for a woman, the implication being that bearing a child should extinguish any other yearnings a woman may have. But in my view, surely suppressing all other ambitions for the sake of a child will only harbour resentment in the long term? What happens when the child is fully grown, flown the familial nest, and said woman is left with a life she finds simultaneously unsatisfying and suddenly empty? I hasten to add that if a woman is truly happy with a life lived as a mother, then of course that is completely her choice and to be respected, and commended. Raising children is by no means an easy role. But with that said and acknowledged, that is not the life I would choose for myself.
I'm not saying that I want a life away from my baby, far from it. What I am saying is that I want to be allowed the chance to build a life that will both make me happy as an individual, and ultimately create a better life for our family as a whole. Some may think it selfish that I am currently considering going back into education in the very near future, while my daughter is still in babyhood and will require looking after by somebody who isn't me. However, the long-term benefits that I can attain through education and a subsequent career, are difficult to deny.
I excel when my brain is met with a challenge. I have been removed from education and learning for well over a year now, and to me this is now becoming painfully obvious. It has allowed me to become lazy with my mind, and also left me bereft of any real direction in my life overall. As I mentioned earlier, I have grown sluggish; mentally lethargic, if you like. And now that I've began to take note of this negative slide, I feel somewhat restless and ever so slightly ashamed.
Currently, I am not a good role model for my daughter and I really make no bones about that. My worst fear is that one day when she is older, she will look at me and reject academia for herself because her mother did nothing with her own life. Conversely, if she does choose to pursue further education, I do not want her to look at me and feel no pride for the mother who wasted her own mind and talents. I will have no achievements to demonstrate to her; there will be nothing for her to want to emulate, and I will have only myself to blame for not being proactive at this stage. I must add that I'm not looking for sympathy or a pat on the back here, this is just the way it is. That's why I intend to change it.
This blog is in itself rather symbolic for me, resurrecting an old blog and an old hobby (my writing) to coincide with this rediscovery of my own identity. For a while I have been toying with various different grand ideas, a whole host of wide-ranging university courses and career plans that are all so pie-in-the-sky that I know, and the people around me know, that I'll never follow through on them. Now, I have decided to pare it all back, to get away from aspiring to courses and careers that I really have no knowledge of and no real burning interest in, just because they 'sound good', and focus instead on what really matters to me. As I've lost myself, so too have I lost my passions, and what really drives me. I used to write pages upon pages of prose and poetry on a daily basis - a battered and dog-eared notebook would always be found in my bag, full of random characters, plot ideas, a pretty sentence to be used in something, somewhere... Pen poised to capture any new inspiration as and when it appeared. Now, I have not bought a new notebook in months, more likely years, as this blog post is the first thing I have written, at all, in around six months. It's probably rather sad how much I am enjoying creating this post, feeling the flow of words and enjoying the liberation that comes with their expulsion onto the screen.
So with all that said, instead of pursuing new things that only incite within me a lacklustre enthusiasm at best, I am going back to basics and sticking with what I know, what I'm good at, and what has consistently made me the happiest. You've guessed it, I want to go back and try my hand at English Literature again. When I left university, I did so because I had the luxury of selfishness - I had no responsibilities and when I grew bored, that seemed like enough to make the course invalid and unworthy of my time. Now, with the benefit of hindsight and the newly-acquired maturity that motherhood has instilled in me, I can see that university is the means to an end. I may not enjoy every part of the course; at times I expect I will utterly despise it. But what it will give me at the end - a degree, a way in to a career that I have always wanted, and a way to both better my family and enhance my daughter's future - is immeasurable.
I'm not stupid or naive or under any illusions. Going back into study is going to be bloody hard, and sacrifices will undoubtedly have to be made to allow this venture. It's not going to happen overnight; it may even be a good few years before we are stable enough, both financially and logistically, for me to even begin the education process again. But I've had what I would consider a small but highly significant epiphany, and since it's taken me so painfully long to come to this realisation (my fiancé and family will happily attest to this), I don't intend to be so negligent from now on. I also realise that I come across like I have something to prove, but in all honesty - yes, yes I do. I have something to prove to my family and my daughter, to the people who doubt my ability to better myself (and have expressed that doubt oh-so-condescendingly), but above all else, I have something to prove to myself. And I am not going to let a small thing like having a baby render me any less capable than anyone else.
I am ready to be me again.