Having a birthday 6 weeks before Christmas was always interesting growing up. You need to think of ideas for presents for both, and then you have to think of things you might want in the summer. And then you have to wait 44 weeks till one or the other comes round again.
So having a child with a birthday 1 week before Christmas brings even more challenges. One thing we were clear on from the moment that we knew it would be a “Christmas Baby” was that the birthday was always going to be celebrated in it’s own right. No it wasn’t going to be ok for joint presents, and actually just because 1 is close to the other doesn’t mean that it gets treated any differently. Everyone who needs to think about it has 365 days to prepare for the fact that there will be a birthday close to Christmas.
Yes we will still decorate the house for the 1st December. That is a family tradition that we will keep, but this year the presents won’t be under the tree until after the birthday (if not after the baby has gone to bed on 24th!!!) Additionally we will keep a separate space for birthday cards, where we normally display them, and Christmas Cards won’t be put up on display till after the birthday. Our son didn’t ask to have his birthday a week before Christmas, and he has the right to be valued as much as every other individual in the family. There will be (foil) balloons and birthday banners up as we do for any other birthday.
For us it is a simple act of respect. I know we are not the only parent’s of a child with a December or January birthday that feel this about making sure they are both marked separately. In fact I also know adults for whom it is also as important for their birthday. They are right to expect to have their birthday recognised in the same way as others get their birthday marked. Celebrating the birth of the child is as important as celebrating the birth of Jesus, and neither is there to outshadow the other.
Yup that’s me. An outgoing introvert mum. And I’ve discovered it has its upsides and its downsides. It’s a tough balance to get right, especially when juggling the normal small baby tiredness that comes with having a 3 month old, plus the needs of a 15 year old and still trying to spend time with your husband. And on top of all of this I need to find some me time.
Going to mother and baby groups where I know few or no other mum’s is exhausting for me. I know that it’s good got my little boy though. I have to decide which groups I invest time and energy in, and which I say no to. I also now know to make sure in every week I have at least 1 day where I can just chill at home and do nothing if I need to. It’s not that I’m not committed to groups but sometimes I’ve learnt that I just need to be selfish.
Some weeks even chatting online with my mummy friends can be exhausting. They are often my lifeline too. I feel guilty sometimes because maybe I’m not always my true self when I’m with them. I put on my “be confident and ready to share and participate” face before starting antenatal classes but it’s hard, and at times tiring, trying to carry on being that person now.
Yes at times my confidence level is low. I can doubt myself. I can, and do, doubt my parenting skills. I worry about fitting in. I stress about being accepted for being me with every new situation. And all of this then exhausts me.
I’m struggling to get the balance right in my life. I need to be mum to a teenager, mummy to a baby, friend to my friends, and wife to my husband. I also need to be me.
I think the next year or so and beyond will be me continuing to battle to get the balance right. I’ll struggle some days. I won’t always get it right. Sometimes I talk to much cos I’m nervous. Sometimes I put my foot in it. And then I go home and beat myself up over it! But I keep learning.
I wouldn’t be without my family for anything. I just need to keep finding me in the chaos.