Monday, 31 December 2012

Best day of the year!

Seriously, it's better than Christmas.
I just love the liminal phase between Christmas and new year. It feels like a forced "opportunity" to reflect and review, and there's so much potential, so much possibility of fresh starts and new beginnings and hope. I suppose it's tied in with the passing of the shortest day, too - by now, you know you can make it through winter - but mainly it's just the chance to look back on all the great stuff in the year and think yes! It can be even better next year!

I'm not as pollyannaish as this sounds, but the more time I spend in my new phase of existence, the more I realise I've got, at least, a kind of resilience, which is a muscle exercised by having a small child.

So, the big things that have happened for me/us this year, in sort of chronological order:
1. I quit my job, because when it came to going back from maternity leave, the choice was 4/5 days a week or nothing, and I could not make myself leave my boy for more than half of each week. This was, without a doubt, the right decision for me - it's working for all of us, and giving me the chance to see every sweet moment of him. I'm so glad they turned down my 3 day request - I'd have hated it.
2. I set up some alternative income, a bit of part-time employed work (but home-based, and letting me do the hours whenever I want) and some freelancing. It's pretty taxing - I sit down to work every time that Isaac sleeps (though I did have Christmas day off) but so very worth it. And, what might be the biggest thing, I am actually, properly, earning a living through writing. OK, it's writing about accounting, but still, people are paying me for making words, and that has to be a start, a step along the path of getting paid for making words on other content that might inspire me slightly more.
3. I became very involved with the fantastic La Leche League - more of this to come
4. I finished my degree, fireworks, bells, whistles - it took me four years, which isn't bad for the OU. For the first two and a bit years I was working full time, then pregnant and with a new baby (I did an exam at the end of year 3 when Isaac was about 6 weeks, with him tied on me in the stretchy wrap for the second half of it), and then perhaps the hardest academic year was the last one, covering Isaac from about 5 months to 14 months, also overlapping with the start of all my new work. But, I did it, I got my 2.1, and I'm very proud of myself.
5. We packed up and moved away from grimy Brixton to beautiful, hilly, green Bath. We've only been here a few weeks and it's sinking in slowly. I can feel my insides responding to all the openness, to the hills I can look out on from the study window, to the way we can walk up the lane and see sheep and horses and mud and wondrous country things...
6. I've seen my unutterably gorgeous, compelling, curious, funny, loving, absorbing boy grow for another 12 months - he's 19 months now, and gets more interesting and loveable by the hour, I swear. Each morning I think my heart is full, then it gets fuller. 

The things I "failed" on, or want to do more on next year, take a bit more reflection, and merit longer than I'm going to give them tonight (self-imposed deadline, MUST get this post up tonight or it won't count). But broadly, (and these are in no order at all):
- I don't feel I've been anywhere near good enough at looking after friendships (this was really brought home to me when someone I have thought of as a very close friend indeed told me of her pregnancy when she was about 25 weeks - I'd been so appalling at connecting with her that she'd not felt any need to tell me earlier)
- I don't make enough effort to make the journey to see my family
- I am, in general, too wimpish about travelling with a toddler, which has definitely been part of my failings with friends and family
- I've been rubbish about writing the blog, which frustrates me, because I love having the record, and I love feeling that anyone ever reads it, and I know I'd have more chance of people reading it regularly if I actually wrote anything on it...
- Somewhere in the mix I'd love to work on my wifeness, on being sure to make sure that him downstairs feels he has a place, doesn't feel nudged out by my overwhelming absorption in Isaac and then work
- I'd like to get some kind of writing published this year that isn't about accounting
- I want to give some focus, sometimes, to things I used to love, like knitting - I don't know how to fit it in, but I know it settles and soothes me, so it seems important to find a way
- Of course I will eat healthily and get better at meal planning, and let's put domestic perfection in there too
- There are two non-bloggable secret goals, which I'll share if I manage them
-  I need better ways of keeping records of things that happen with Isaac - already I realise he's not a baby any more, and I can't always track what's changed - at the moment, if I needed to generate an archive, it would be mostly from emails sent to my mum, which is better than nothing, but I want to record, record, so I don't miss a minute and don't forget a thing.
- Also I will keep my desk tidy
- My mum really generously enabled me to get some new clothes for Christmas, and for the first time in years I feel as though my outside matches my inside - when I catch sight of myself, I look like my own image of myself. It's shallow, but I'd enjoy it if this carried on happening.
- I will be working on my frugality - a family with one part time income and some PhD funding doesn't have lots of spare cash to throw around, and I'm sort of relishing this challenge. After all, a walk up to see the horses is free...

This list doesn't please me. I feel as though it's shallow, in its stated goals in some cases (wear more skirts? really??) or in its expression of them in others. The punctuation is also terrible (but I'm on a ticking clock now - he's woken twice, and if I'm not there by the third waking there is considerable trouble). But then, part of the point of this for me is to look at what I want to think more about, and write more about on here - and part of the point of all of us is having a few hidden shallows.

Anyway, at least it's a start, it's something for me to work from when attempting a bit of accountability...

Happy new year! And here's just one shot of the Christmas jumper (his, not mine. Mine is on about its fifth Christmas, I think, there's some frugality in action already)...

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Forced pause

Been away from the blog a bit recently because I'm trying to set up our lives the way they need to be. Following on from my previous posts about work, I *think* I've got enough sorted to keep us going - a couple of different things that I can do from home, whenever I have available time, fitting entirely around my childcare priorities. I'd like to write about this properly, and will do (I've been loving the thought provoking posts by Cloud over on Wandering Scientist  about balancing work and home), but what it's meant in the short term is a renewal of my obsession with making time USEFUL, rushing to do some work or other, I don't know, USEFULSTUFF, the moment Isaac nods off.
As I say, I think it can work, and I think that I only need a wee time turner to fit in 15 hours a week of work with 168 hours of babylove, and I think I can even deal with my conflicting feelings about whether this means I am mothering him enough, which demographic it leaves me in, etc (so many future posts here!).
But today, my boy is poorly, nothing awful, but had a rough night and woke up blazing hot and so so sad. I've given him paracetamol and lots and lots of love and possibly even more time on the boob (I have never been so earnestly grateful for breastfeeding) and at this moment he is conked out on the floor next to me. I'm not rushing to do anything; I'm not even going to try and work or write important emails. Sometimes, you're called to stop, and reflect, and wait, and give things time, and today is for being right by my boy, ready for the moment he needs me, and letting myself take the time to recharge a little too. It could well be a long day, and we both just need to get through it.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Hardcore babywearing

Well, I count it as hardcore. I've always been terrified of woven wraps, but here we are with an ellaroo claudia, having fallen in love with it at the sling library. We have it for three weeks - watch this space for the moment I get brave enough to try a back carry (and the moment I start complaining about it hurting and Bonzo being just too heavy to be worn). But at the moment, one day into having it, I am smitten.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The girl done good - a post with pictures

Mood swing alert!
I feel the need to document how blithe and cheery I am feeling tonight.
1. The baby is wonderful. Our relationship is just getting better and better as his ability to communicate (and mine to understand his communications) improves, and I surprise myself each day with a new depth of joy in the good bits. 
2. I gave blood today, frst time since before I was pregnant, and I HATE HATE HATE doing it, but I did it, and I'm pleased.
3. I am slowly chipping away at making my home a nicer place to be. Having become obsessed with flylady, I truly am following her routines and very very gradually things are improving, and I'm not letting myself become disheartened with how slow it is. My aim is to have a set of things I always do, then each day to make one incremental improvement or bit of sorting, so for example today I went through a box of OU materials and threw out rubbishy notes and the CDs from past modules, choosing to keep the books and nothing else. A million more sorting sessions like this and everywhere will be beautiful.
4. The baby is also finally starting to eat. It's still pretty small quantities, but having him join us for dinner has helped him to enjoy the social side of meals and tonight he shoved several curls of pasta down (penne were rejected. He refused to listen to reason about them all being made of the same stuff)
5. I have been commissioned to do a couple of (teeny tiny) pieces of paid writing work. If if if I do them well, and if if if the people I do them for find a budget, it's just about possible that they might want to keep paying me to do more, in my own time, fitting around baby sleeps, ABSOLUTELY PERFECT for my lifestyle, etc. And I'm managing to carve out little slivers of time in the day to work on them, a bit during morning nap, perhaps a bit during afternoon nap if he's having one that doesn't involve me wheeling him around, even the occasional bit while he's awake and absorbed in sucking some buckles.
6. Did I mention the baby's wonderfulness?
7. Most evenings now I am going up to bed at a respectable time and spending at least a little time reading, fiction reading, reading for pleasure. It's nothing like the volume I could get through pre-motherhood, oh, but it gives me pleasure. If only I could stop finding fascinating books about motherhood, and borrowing a different hippy book each month from La Leche League, I'd have more fiction time, but it might need to wait until I've found a time turner.

Friday, 16 March 2012


You can see I've not come up with any of the promised posts addressing my work-life balance issues: they are all brewing up in my head but none have made it out. Surprisingly, setting out my initial thoughts helped me quite a lot, and I have a couple of possibilities brewing up, one of which in particular would fit perfectly - it would be a steady-ish stream of work, but do-able from home to fit around bonzo, and would keep my specialisms up.
So why the long face today?
I think it's just, again, the daunting-ness of even trying to do anything at all with a baby in the house. I keep thinking it's going to get easier, that he's going to get less demanding, in the sense of having some reliable downtime. But it's all one step forward, one or two back. Today I'd planned a day basically at home so I could try and do some work to move forward my exciting possibility, so I took him upstairs for an after lunch nap, fed him, and he just wouldn't come off. After half an hour or so of sleep-sucking I gently detached him, and he howled, so I re-attached him, and half an hour later he was done. That was naptime, and I couldn't do any of the things I wanted to do, so all I did for an hour was despair about how he is never ever ever going to get over his infatuation with the breast; how he is the only 10 month old in the world still so besotted; how I will never be able to do or come to anything while he still needs just so much of me all the time.
And now he's having his brief early evening nap and instead of getting on with the writing work, I'm sitting here banging out a blog post about how I never get any time to do writing work....

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Weighing it all up

I've a feeling my next few posts are all going to be on the theme of "what should I do with my life?" - there's a lot floating around in my head at the moment and it helps to write it down. To summarise my current position, I'm supposed to be back at work in two months' time, have got in an application to return only part time (3 days a week) but am trying to work out whether I truly want/need to go back at all.
The things I'm trying to explore at the moment are:
1. The potential feelings of guilt associated with opting out of bringing in any income, replacing it instead with committing to full time child/house care. Not, so much, guilt about asking the beloved to have/share that financial responsibility, but more the idea that I *should* be "working" and a concern that I would end up trying to do "useful" things with every minute of my time, constantly chasing little income streams that would fit around the baby, etc
2. The alternative guilt relating to the fear that I will deprive my baby by not putting him in full time childcare - what if he does need to be with other children already, and what if he gets bored of me?
3. A third kind of guilt, if I did go back to work, about leaving him without me. We are still breastfeeding (all the time), baby-led weaning, and generally doing attachment-style things, and he and I are devoted to each other. This makes the wrench of handing him over to someone else potentially that much more extreme than in mother-child dyads where a more detached style has been in place from the outset.
4. Terror about the prospect of leaving my job, loss of career capital, oh god I'll never work again
5. Terror #2, what if I do pack it up and then find the future to be a yawning void? How will we fill our days once all his baby peers' mummies have gone back to work?
6. Existential crisis - feel disconcerted at this desire that is growing stronger and stronger in me to nest, to maintain and bless my home and family as a priority over everything else. Have I stopped being an interesting person? etc

So I think each of these might get a post of its own, and by the time I've explored them all I'll be satisfied with what the right answer is. Easy!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Serene confidence

It's important to do this whole escapade justice by documenting the ups as well as the downs, and I'd hate it if the whole interweb thought I was miserable with my lot.
For over a week now we've had a new rhythm to this bit of the day: I have given up trying to fight bonzo into a nap in the morning and instead am doing my day's grocery shopping quite early, timed so we leave sainsburys as close as possible to 3 hours after he's woken for the day. I swear, for at least seven days in a row this has worked beautifully, he nods off without a murmur on the way home, stays asleep when we arrive home, and I get to sit in my (newly cleared) living room, drink some coffee, catch up on some emails, and be right by him for when he wakes. When I was writing my last post I was still feeling despairing but a few days further on, I've gained some hope again about these little oases of time to myself, even if I'm not doing a mite useful with them apart from self-renewing. And I'm back round the circle, feeling good about being consumed by him, feeling sure that every moment of investment is worth it, that this intense parenting is right for him, and that I might just make it out of the other side in one piece.
(of course, you can't know for sure that it's me writing this rather than a sneaky interloper determined to access the exciting world under the keyboard)

Sunday, 26 February 2012


Not quite a success, then, on posting on the blog really regularly to prove to myself that I could make time available for non-babywork.
It's all just feeling a bit challenging at the moment. The duracell baby is getting more wondrous and fascinating by the day: while he's still not doing anything useful like crawling, he is, on his spot, so mobile, and so engaged, and so engaging, and just a complete joy. But as soon as I've become acclimatised to his rhythms, they change, and he is now going longer and longer periods without wanting to sleep, meaning that he's needing more and more mummy time as he doesn't really entertain himself (and why should he, at this age?). Combine this with the separation anxiety meaning that he can't be alone, ever, apart from maybe the first 45 minutes after he goes to bed at night (after his first waking, which is never long after he goes off, he's frantic if put down, so of an evening one of us has to be with him; no, having him down with us to sleep doesn't work because the world's too interesting downstairs, and no, I don't feel I can make his bedtime any later or mine any earlier, I'm already packing up at 9pm), and the time I have left for activity, or for peaceful thought, or for purposeful planning, is painfully short. At this moment, he's napping, and has been for an hour and a bit (achieved by going out with the buggy and just pushing and pushing until he slept) so I've had a lovely quiet read of the paper, but I can't focus, can't remember how to relax. I don't know how to plan anything, can't imagine a time when he won't be so helpless, can't think of how to gather up the scraps of myself.
It's made harder by talking to other mothers with babies the same age because they really do seem all to be in routines, sleeping through the night, content to be left in the jumperoo for a couple of hours a day, happy with other people, etc. These mothers look at me pityingly, suggest that I will have to give in soon to "sleep training", suggest that I've already "ruined" him by making him "too attached" so that he won't happily be with others, suggest that I can't go on like this, I'll make myself ill, I need to be selfish, and so on, and so on. I nod, smile, perhaps if goaded explain that "sleep training" of any sort would, for this baby, at this age, be, as far as I'm concerned, unforgivably cruel, and that I believe he will get there in his own time helped with the patient loving of his parents, but this only convinces me in the daylight hours. At night I'm scared, tired and scared, don't know what's wrong with him, don't know why I'm such a hopeless mother that my baby is always so unchilled, can't think that the situation is redeemable, terrified of the future. At 3am I can imagine him being 15 and despising me, and me being 48 and despising myself, because at 33 I stopped my life and became obsessed with a baby, and he consumed me. But how can I be anything other than obsessed? How can I be thinking about anything other than sleep, when most nights he wakes seven or eight times and cannot relax until I've walked around holding him? How can I plan for doing anything when he needs me so much all of the time? What self is there left when everything is about his nurture?
I don't resent it; I don't wish I didn't have him; in the daytime when he is awake and with me I am consumed with love and tenderness for him; I feel sure at all levels that the attached parenting choices I have made and am making are the right ones; but I am nothing at the moment, nothing but a mother of a baby who is so attached that it's like we share a body.
(more cheerful posts to follow)

Thursday, 26 January 2012

From the outside

A moment of realisation today.
As background, I seem to be spending a lot of time at the moment walking, walking, walking with the buggy. It cheers Isaac up when he's cranky, sends him into spasms of delight when he's happy already, and provides a nap-conducive atmosphere that lets him sleep as and when he's ready. It's great that this works so well, but if you start off this kind of walk in the wrong mood, then you can easily descend into a pity party, along the lines of "Look at all the other mummies. They're having wonderful times with their babies, and they look so groomed and healthy, and you can tell their whole days are straightforward and perfect and they've probably just taken a little trot out with the buggy so they can flaunt their smug perfection in my face, before going home to have hours and hours of lovely rewarding interactive time with their babies including meal times where their babies ACTUALLY ALLOW SOME FLAMIN FOOD INTO THEIR MOUTHS* and then perhaps play peacefully on their own for a bit while mummy gets some housework done instead of having to wait until evening, and then they have some more joyous time together, and no one ever cries, and then it's bedtime". That kind of thing.

So, today, after a lovely singing session, we had nothing on the calendar, and it was mid-afternoon, and I knew he'd need to sleep again before bedtime, but he wasn't yet ready to, we trotted back until we were nearly home, him chatting and chirping away in the buggy, then took a sharp diversion to a lovely local coffee shop I'd never been in before. I hoicked him out, fed him for a bit (I don't need to say that. Assume that every time I lift this baby I feed him for a bit) and then perched him on the other end of a lovely two seater sofa in the window, with my leg there to prevent tumbles. For the next while, maybe 15, 20 minutes, I drank my latte while he cooed at me, then put it down and played tickle games and singing games and clapping games, then drank some more till he was just too joyously expectant, then played cuddle games and some more tickle games, the kind where he flings himself at me giggling and I scoop him up and could just eat him.....VIEW FROM THE OUTSIDE ALERT! To any observer I was the happiest, most gleeful and fulfilled of mummies. At that moment, none of my clothes had puke on (I still don't quite know how that happened), my hair was (unusually) brushed, I was dressed in a way that probably showed I'm back to a little below pre baby-weight and (she says immodestly) looking pretty good for it, and I clearly had the leisure time, finances, and energy to be sitting in a coffee shop in the middle of the afternoon. And it was all true! For that half hour, everything was delightful but the point (which it might have seemed I wasn't going to reach) is that it only occurred to me slowly that things might be just like this for the other mummies too. Perhaps someone walked past who I didn't even notice, saw me going babababababababa in his face again and again just to get him to giggle some more, and thought miserably "why do me and my baby** never have fun like that?" - and perhaps yesterday she was one of the ones I saw and felt oppressed by.
It's not exactly a stunning observation, I know, but it does make me think about admitting weakness, and not doing. It's easier to do it on a blog, easier to say well, I love this, and I love him, but it's still half-killing me, than it is in real life - in real life people sympathise (which makes you cry) or they boast about their own children, or they suggest solutions, with a hint of "if you haven't tried this, you're an idiot; if you have, and it didn't work, you're a Bad Parent". But if everyone's feeling like this, or a lot are, then everyone makes it worse by saying it's all fine, by not acknowledging the dark bits too. It's my justification for being as direct as I can when people do ask - certainly I'm not going to lie about his sleep - but I'd love it if everyone else did too, so I could know everyone's life has an inside and an outside, like mine does.

*yes, I know that the point of baby led weaning is that you never even let thoughts like this cross your mind, but still...
** when you've been sleep deprived for months, and no one appreciates you, and you're in the morass of believing that even your baby hates you, you let your grammar slip a little.

Monday, 23 January 2012

The quest for meaningful activity continues

I swear I'm not going to write a boring post like this every day of my life. It's just, as I explained at some tedious length a couple of days back, this need to assert some discipline over myself and to demonstrate that I can do something, even if there's not much to it.
One of his naps was in the buggy (stationary in the hall) today so I got some time to do a bit of OU stuff, and a bit more this evening - I'm on track with where I should be for the next assignment, which is pretty good going. I've also managed to write a couple of emails, hacking through my list of must-writes. I wasted a chance to read while he was sleeping on the walk home this morning - couldn't manage anything demanding but I'm so near the end of Jamrach's Menagerie and enjoying it so much, so I really should have taken the chance, and all it requires is that I walk a little slower. Still, the baby had a lovely time at our group this afternoon, and some splendid mealtimes, and plenty of, but not too much, chance to try and move for himself, and so far as only woken twice since bedtime...

Sunday, 22 January 2012

All bets are off...

...on days where the only place he will nap is my arms, and where he repeatedly seems to settle for the night and then wakes howling. Trying even to think about anything else would ruin me: all I can do is throw my strength into the night ahead, pull him in more closely each time, and remember I wouldn't swap this position with anyone's. These bits just come with it.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Does keeping alive all day count as an achievement?

Oh, dear. Today hasn't been a good start to the plan to achieve great things. The beautiful darling delightful baby  began his delightfulness for the day at FOUR so really all I have managed is to stagger through, lots of housework and cleaning and washing, and a sneaky quick co-nap with him this afternoon, but these things were in the category of "to be done before any achievements for the day" and in fact are all I've managed. Tonight I expect to make the tea, maybe clear up the tea, read a bit of the paper, and collapse into an early night.
FAIL! But hey, at least I managed to blog about the fail, that counts for something, right?

Friday, 20 January 2012

If you don't have time to read, you don't have time to write

I've got to say I'm not a big Stephen King fan. I'll admit he makes you turn the page, but I don't really seek out horror and gore so his novels are never going to appeal to me (I couldn't put down Cell, the only one I've actually read, but I still have nightmares just from the film of Misery (watched as a teenager, stupid mistake) and I can only imagine the book is even more horrendous). But, his On Writing is a classic, a work of genius, a book everyone who has ever considered writing anything should read. (I could write a list of such books: it would also include Francine Prose's Reading like a writer and Dorothea Brand's Becoming a writer, oh, there's a whole post worth of material here).
What was my point, before all those brackets?
It was that I'm standing at a crossroads, to use a terrible cliche. I'm trying to decide what to do with myself for the future, probably the next few years. I'd convinced myself that I needed to go back to work at least part time, for financial reasons, but actually I think we could, with a squash and a squeeze, manage if I didn't.
[brief interruption there as the milk siren went off]
The more I think about it, the clearer it becomes to me that I want to be the one looking after him while he's still small. I don't want him in daycare, not in any kind: I'm scared that no one but me can be tender enough to him. I know, I know, he will be older then, and tougher, and an altogether different baby, but I feel fairly sure that I want to avoid it at least until he can tell me (in words and sentences) how his day was. Plus, I want to wean him slowly and gently, and, and, and. But, and this has onlybecome clear to me by my pretending to myself that I'd made the decision not to go back, I'm also terrified of what I can only think of as the loss of self that would come with "officially" being a SAHM. I need to believe that I would be able to make time to do something else, not big or important or showy, not even necessarily lucrative, but something.
So, as part of the thought experiment, I want to start using all my pockets of time better. Taking as given that I will do the babywrangling, shopping, cooking, housework, life admin, and general erranding, my challenge to myself is to make sure that after all this gets done, and with my baby as contented, stimulated and generally joyful as it is possible to have him, I will do things, things that are in some sense important to me, every day. To make it conscious, I need to start by writing about it on here (yes, in my slightly pathetic idea of "doing things" writing my blog does count). Catching up on emails to those who are dear to me counts. Investigating (as long as it's not just idle web browsing) ways to make money through freelance writing or accounting stuff (any mumpreneurs reading this: would you be tempted to use an accountant who was a mother like yourself and would look after the bookkeeping/tax bit of your business in a way that suited both your and her other time commitments and need to get off the phone in a hurry sometimes? Would the thought that all that aspect of the admin was in safe hands be something that would encourage you to get going with a business idea?) counts. Even reading a book, pretty much any book, counts. What doesn't count? Blank wallying around on the internet; following blogs I'm not interested in (there are only one or two I plan to purge. Most of the blogs I follow have become very dear to me, each in their own way, despite never having met any of the writers); sitting blankly next to the baby while he's perfectly busy and entirely ignoring me; worrying about what people think about me.
If I can do this, if I can get into consciously using the bits of time that aren't occupied with my darling boy, then it gives me some faith that a longer hiatus from work wouldn't break me.
(It would help if he'd sleep, dammit)
(I've overused my bracket allowance for the year already. I could edit them out, only I actually think it illustrates pretty nicely the whirl of thinking that I'm in at the moment).
(So, today's items in this category: writing this post, some time reading fiction (because I am still going to manage to progress my novel); at least a couple of emails (about to be written)).
Did I mention that any positive thought waves would, as usual, be appreciated?

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Self improvement

Bit of a placeholder post here, really. I'd hoped to write something proper for the end of 2011/start of 2012 , and I really wanted to get my book list updated so that I could start afresh this year, but Isaac's been having a particularly challenging time with his sleep so most things have fallen by the wayside. I'd perhaps be letting myself off the hook over this but have been deeply struck by a series of blog posts I read on  Claire Bidwell Smith's 'Good enough project' - I can't possibly write a summary that does them justice (honestly, go over there and read them) but it resonated so strongly with me - she's worrying about how all her efforts are around being a great mother and with all other areas of her life she'd lapsed into being just "good enough".
I feel so sure that I'm doing a good job with Isaac - I'm certainly giving him all I have. But with everything else there's a nagging sense of being a bit of a flop. I'm not being the person I want to be with my family and friends; I'm not doing some of the things that used to make me human. I need to work out what these things are and cautiously investigate a bit of balance. Let's be clear, this isn't about spending less time with the baby or giving him less of myself: it's about making more of the rest of myself, of using the times when he's asleep or busy to, I don't know, just get *better* at stuff. Watch this space...