Performance Review 2014/15

Last Thursday I had my performance review, and earlier in the week I did those for the people I manage. It occurred to me that I also manage my baby, and that she should not be excluded from the process, so here’s her review.

Hannah has had a successful year at being a baby, having met or exceeded the majority of her objectives. These have included being cute, walking, eating solids and growing teeth. She has also met the objective concerning sleep however there is room for improvement in this area. She has also given added value to her job by being a highly competent entertainer.  Feedback from stakeholders has been overwhelmingly positive; Nanny and Grandad have been impressed by her cuteness and trampoline bouncing, Grandma and Grandad agree that she is cute and funny (although Grandma did note a number of smelly nappies), and the nursery staff have all noted the strength of her eating capabilities. The nurse, however, did note that she is under confident when it comes to injections and Daddy has recommended sleep at weekends as an area for improvement. Mummy also noted her disappointment at a recent milk vomiting incident although it must be underlined that this arose because of Hannah’s attempt to make Mummy laugh instead of going to sleep.

Specific deliverables have included walking early – a significant achievement- growing 8 teeth on time and managing the complex milk to solids project. She has also successfully negotiated the stairs and has knocked down a number of towers made with stacking cups. At the mid year review stage I noted a lack of confidence with her toy frog however she has overcome this and I am pleased to say that she now tries to feed him milk in the mornings.

Hannah should be proud of her achievements this year and I believe she will attain a high position in the performance/achievement ladder of her peers.

Reflections on year one

When I woke up (was woken up) prematurely this morning we went through our usual wake up routine of “I’ll pour the milk, you go and get her”. I took her downstairs and I checked my phone and looked at an app which reminded me that exactly one year ago my husband and I had a huge argument about responsibility and how hard it is looking after a baby. I remember that argument well; I hadn’t slept more than 4 hours for 2 months, my boobs were full and sore, our house was a chaotic mess of baby and boxes (we’d recently moved in) and my daughter wouldn’t stop crying. I can even remember thinking that there was no way that our marriage would last……well I am happy to say that it’s a little over a year since our tiny bundle of joy entered the world and we are still very much together, and very happy. Other things which have surprised me:

1. I have discovered a new kind of tiredness. Bad news- the tiredness never ends; you just learn to cope with it. Actually, you just find a new kind of tiredness.

2. Babies fart. I didn’t realise this (I know I’m stupid) and it came as a big shock when she did her first blow off. I have also regressed and joined my daughter in finding farts funny again.

3. I don’t feel guilty about going to work. I know some mothers do, but I dont. I adore my girl and I wish that I could spend more time with her, but I’ve got used to sending her to nursery and get a huge rush every day when I pick her up. It’s wonderful knowing that she has had a great day of playing and learning with people who are more experienced in child development than me, and I enjoy my dual role of pen pusher and mother again. I even don’t mind that my daughter has a girl crush on one of the nursery nurses – Zaneta that’s you- because I know that Mummy is number 1.

4. Work is better. I work because I have to. When I went back, I went back to the same job. It’s satisfying and rewarding to me, and I make more of an effort than I did before- mainly because I want to, whereas before I felt that it was just sort of expected. However, as I explained to my manager just before my mid year appraisal I don’t really care anymore, which makes my decision making more rational. Or something like that.

5. I am not heartbroken when my baby cries. I find it quite annoying sometimes. It’s heart breaking when she is hurt or in pain, and I want to make it all better for her, but when it’s a case of “I want the remote control” or something like that, it’s irritating.

6. I am superwoman. I don’t think that my husband realised this when he married me, and I certainly didn’t reveal my powers to him until I gave birth. I have the power to reproduce. The power to comfort a screaming baby. The power to put a baby to sleep. The power to maintain a clean(ish) house, a full time job, a full-up husband, and a baby that is still alive after 13 months of being assigned to us.

7. How amazing she is. I thought that would die down a bit, but every time I look at her she has a new expression, or does something that I didn’t know she could do, or when she responds to something I didn’t think she’d understand, I get a huge rush of love and just want to pick her up and cuddle and kiss her. This happens practically on a second by second basis.

I love my new life. It’s totally weird and different, and there is plenty I would change, but I love it. Thank you my little miracle baby.

Separation Anxiety

Babies, when they are around 6 months old, often start to get anxious when their mother or father leaves the room. They will reach a stage where they will scream until she comes back, wailing as if the world will end just because she has gone to the kitchen and then hold their arms up desperately as if they have been waiting all day to be picked up. This is something which is, for the parent in question, upsetting, annoying and probably slightly gratifying at the same time. I say probably because, though I have seen several other people go through this, Hannah hasn’t reached that stage and hopefully never will. But this post isn’t about Hannah. It’s about me.

I think my baby is the most beautiful baby that was ever born, even more gorgeous than Prince George, and he is seriously cute (I wonder if Hannah will ever have to wonder whether it’s wrong to fancy the King …) and I am totally in love with her. She is the best thing that has ever happened to me and we have been together for 15 months- longer than some marriages. And while I started this journey not having much of an idea at all about how to look after her, I am pretty sure I know what’s best for her and would bite the head off anyone who told me how to raise my child. Raising her is the sole responsibility of me and my husband and always will be.

I don’t want you to get the impression that I am some kind of over protective lioness; I’m really not. The first time I left her – to go to the hairdressers over the road- I briefly cried and then an enormous sense of freedom came over me. In the end, while I didn’t enjoy leaving her, I was comfortable with the people who were looking after her and knew that I would be back in 3 hours. On that occasion I was more upset about the disastrous highlights I ended up with that I had waited a year for. I’m very happy for her grandparents to look after her, and made the decision about 2 months ago to join a gym and leave her in its crèche while I worked out (you wouldn’t know it to look at me). That was weird but I knew that it was a good crèche and that I would be back in a couple of hours. But the other day I took her for a settling in visit at her nursery and I think that is what has set me off….

The nursery in question has an excellent reputation and I am totally convinced that the staff there will take great care of my little girl; more so because they did an excellent job with my wonderful nephews who are growing up to be happy, confident and capable young men. I want the same for her. So why was I getting tearful when they started to look for a date for a home visit? Was it because my house is a complete tip? No. It was because putting her in nursery is now getting very real. There’s only a month to go now. I know I’ve written blog posts that are along similar lines in the past but as D Day approaches I find myself feeling more and more guilty, more and more like I want to kiss her all the time and less and less like I want to leave her with anyone- even when she is being a complete toerag and I feel like putting my head on a blender. Even today at the gym I couldn’t get into it as much as I would usually and I think it’s because she was crying when I left….

I clearly need to toughen up and accept that while no one will love my daughter like I do, no one can ever love me like she does either and that other people can enrich her life and advance her development far more than I can alone. So my fervent hope is that we are now bonded for life- me to her and her to me (at least until she leaves home) and that when she comes home in the evening she will still need me and love me as much as she does now. It will be OK because it has to be OK, and if so many other women can rear a happy baby and bring home the bacon I know I have that capacity too. But I tell you right now, one of the hardest things I will ever have to do will be that first drop off at nursery, and I pray it will get easier. My boss had better prepare himself….!

Perhaps you have had similar concerns or could even offer me some pearls of wisdom…..?

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My updated CV

I’ve been off work since the end of October, and I’m due to go back in July. I won’t dwell on that here; the thought of it isn’t pleasant for a number of reasons and most of them are to do with Hannah. However, when I was having one of my little wobbles yesterday, I got to thinking about what I could bring to my job rather than what I would be taking away from her. Here are a few of my thoughts (let me know what yours are…).

1. I work smarter. Note that this isn’t the same as harder, or more. To me it means that I have a fresher approach to prioritisation and that I therefore work more efficiently, using the tools at my disposition as they are really needed. I feel more confident now about deciding what needs to be done and when, and whether it needs to be gold plated or whether a quick and dirty job will allow me to get on with other things. Baby and home management basics?

2. I delegate more effectively. I don’t need to do everything and I don’t need to control everything either. Tesco can deliver the shopping. My husband can clean the loo (it doesn’t matter if it isn’t perfect) and I will spend time making puréed food for my daughter because I know what she needs and how much.

3. I can walk away from things that aren’t important. It’s easy for me to say now but I will be able to set aside petty issues in favour of the major stuff and at will be able to leave work where it belongs at the end of the day. My family is my world and work will always play second fiddle. A smile from my little girl would make me far happier than praise from my boss (although that will also be pleasing. If indeed it happens).

4. I can do loads of things single handed….. For the healthy minded readers of this post I mean that I am rather surprised that I can, for example, open bottles with one hand. I hope to have my eyes open to the possibility that I will discover new skills at work too.

5. I have rediscovered things I had forgotten. I am a right hander, but do certain things left handed such as pulling pints, and am ambidextrous with others such as using cutlery. I had forgotten this until I started to eat food with a fork in one hand and a baby in the other. Again, I’m rather hoping I will remember other skills that I had forgotten on my return.

6. I have more patience than I thought I had.

7. Other people have hidden talents too. They just need to be confronted with a new situation for them to be revealed. My husband is, for example, great at bathing and massaging our baby. Let’s see if I get any people to manage who I can test my theory on.

8. I’m more comfortable than I used to be with my competitors- who aren’t actually competitors at all. I’m perfectly happy with the kind of mother I am and with the way my daughter is progressing. The same will apply to my career- I will worry about me and my job rather than other people and theirs.

9. I am far more chilled out than I used to be. A former manager once told me in my annual appraisal that I needed to “change my face”. When I asked why she said it was because I “look stressed and unapproachable sometimes”. Perhaps, therefore, having a baby has given me a motherly and relaxed look that will encourage colleagues to come hither….

There will be more, I’m sure/I hope. I don’t want to go back to work; I have to. And leaving my little girl at nursery makes me feel sick. But knowing that I can bring great new skills to the workplace gives me some professional comfort after 8 months off in a climate where jobs aren’t secure, not to mention the fact that because of Hannah I will always have the best job in the world anyway.

Who am I?

The other day I asked my husband if he thought that motherhood had changed me.  He said “yeah, you’re calmer and more patient”.  That doesn’t sound like the stresshead I though I was. Am I still me? About 18 months ago, if you asked me to describe my life I would have said it was pretty free and easy.  I had a job that was interesting and fulfilling, I had lost a load of weight and physically at least felt great, I had long highlighted blonde hair.  Evenings were spent cooking something yummy or, if we were tired, in a local restaurant.  We’d spend weekends in the pub or watching a good film on TV after a long lye-in, and the rest of the time was spent gazing at the beautiful view from our little flat.

If was to describe it now I would say that I look like, and often feel like, a sack of spuds.  The highlights are pretty much gone (I would worried that maintaining them would harm my unborn baby); the food I eat is wolfed down on-the-go, a lye-in is now 7am, and weekends are spent alternating supervision of our little girl while we catch up on sleep or do the various jobs that need doing around our new house (our view is now of a huge roundabout).  Watching a film only happens by accident and, though we do occasionally go to the pub with our daughter, there’s no room for the 6 or 7 pints that I could down in one sitting before.

I certainly don’t want to sound ungrateful.  I passionately wanted this baby and I am thankful beyond belief that I have been blessed with this wonderful little person in my life.  But it does get waring sometimes when I don’t seem to be able to find time to pluck my eyebrows, and it would be nice to be able to have a glass of wine of an evening without wondering whether it will stop me from breastfeeding later (sometimes, I admit, I take the hit and just give her a bottle – though I know that I’ll pay for it with a reduced supply the next time I want to feed…).  And it would be nice to look in the mirror and not see rolls of fat and clothes covered in sick (I’m doing something about both, by the way). Continue reading