Have you ever been beset by an underlying feeling of unease? Plagued by a little niggle in the pit of your stomach that somehow manages to take the shine off your day?
This is a feeling I’ve been experiencing quite a lot lately, but it was only this week, when I tried to articulate my feelings in a conversation with my husband, that I started to understand exactly what it was that was gnawing away at me.
After some ups and downs over the past 11 months since becoming parents, it feels like the ecosystem of our household has reached the perfect balance. My daughter Florence and I have got our weekly routine of music, sign and exercise classes down to a tee, with swimming sessions, baby cinema trips, park and play cafe visits thrown in for good measure. I’m on top of the mountains of washing we seem to produce, the house is in good order, dinner is served every evening for when my husband gets home and I’ve also managed to fit in a bit of freelance writing to keep my brain ticking over.
Bath time for Florence (with daddy) has become yoga time for mummy and now we’ve persuaded F that the bottle is actually ok, my husband can also put her to bed on the evening I want to go out for a run.
We still may be getting up two or three times in the night to attend to F, but on the whole things are good. Really good.
Which is why the thought of shaking everything up again is making me feel uneasy. Not only that, I’m slightly terrified by the rapidity of the passage of time and this watershed moment of my daughter turning one and going to nursery.
I’m actually feeling really positive about the prospect of going back to work. I love my job and my colleagues and I’m looking forward to sinking my teeth into some new challenges. But I’m also aware that my going back to work will upset the balance we have now.
I know I won’t have the same amount of time to dedicate to my daughter and that I will miss elements of her development as she learns new things and meets new people at nursery. I know that I won’t be able to maintain the perfect 1950s housewife persona and that there will be additional pressures on my relationships with my husband and daughter.
I realise that the feeling I have is apprehension at the prospect of change when there appears to be nothing wrong with the status quo. But I also realise that this is not a new feeling and that while I love my life now I also really loved my life before having a baby.
I loved spending time with my husband, going on holidays filled with art galleries, long walks and red wine. I loved going out with my friends, making spa dates at the drop of a hat, running, swimming and doing yoga whenever I wanted. I loved reading the paper on a Sunday morning over multiple cups of tea and losing time in bookshops.
And, come to think of it, I also loved my life before I met, married and moved in with my husband. I loved living with my girlfriends, snuggling on the sofa together watching Sex and the City on repeat, hosting wine-fuelled house parties and dating totally inappropriate guys. I loved the freedom of not having to answer to anyone, of being able to eat cereal for dinner, of going to the gym for hours without anyone asking where I was, and of having the time to try on my entire wardrobe just to choose one outfit.
I remember that on each of these occasions I questioned whether I really wanted to change what seemed to be a perfect situation, and things turned out ok.
So I guess that while it’s ok to be anxious and to be realistic about the new challenges we are about to face, this change could also bring forth lots more things that I also find that I love.
Nursery settling in starts on Monday. Wish us luck!