Finding myself in the middle

2015 saw a huge shift in my life – becoming mama. Up until last year, I had only myself to worry about and to a far lesser degree, Mr M. He, however, is (just about) able to look after himself and if I’m not around, he is fairly self-sufficient. Not 100 per cent clean and tidy, granted, but able to survive.

Then along came Lottie and suddenly I had another human to be entirely responsible for 24/7. I mean, without us, or someone else to care for her, she actually wouldn’t survive.

Yes, I was aware of this before she arrived, it wasn’t a huge surprise, but the reality of that is a whole different ball game to the concept.

I love looking after Lottie. It took a while to be totally confident with it, but now we are like a little duo and whenever I leave her with Mr M, I feel as though I’ve left my right arm behind. I’m lost without her. And looking after her comes almost naturally now.

Over Christmas, it became clear that my own mama wasn’t coping too well.

My mum. My rock. My best friend, confidante, and one of the most self sufficient, independent, strong women I have ever had the pleasure to know, was struggling, panicking, forgetting things and losing confidence in herself.

I think the stress of Christmas was one thing too much to deal with on top of her illness. It suddenly became clear that Parkinson’s Disease was starting to take her confidence, her independence and was leaving her struggling and that we needed to step in and support her and help her regain those fundamental parts of her personality.

Being the person she is, she hadn’t spoken to anyone about it. I think my dad, my siblings and I had all noticed the odd worrying thing, but tried not to make a big deal of it. None of us want her to be poorly. She has coped so amazingly well with her illness for nearly ten years and I for one had started to convince myself that it would never really be too severe, that she would somehow fight it off because she is so strong and she would manage.

But it seems the time has come for us to help more. To be there for her like she has always been there for us. To visit more often, to check in on her and to really talk to her to find out how she is feeling, rather than just asking how her day has been on the nightly phone call. As a mum, your feelings immediately come second, and I guess as a nanny, she feels that they come third, after mine and Lottie’s, but in reality, she now needs to come first.

And so I find myself in the middle. With loved ones to care for both one generation up and one down. I am lucky as I have a brother and a sister who will step in too, so we can all help out and my dad is just wonderful in how he has coped with his wife and the love of his life becoming poorly, but he needs support too – it can’t be easy for him.

I don’t want you to think I am moaning about this. Spending more time with my mum is far from being a chore. I absolutely adore her and one of the things I am loving about maternity leave is the fact I have more time to spend with her.

But it’s a strange place to be when four months ago, I had only myself to worry about. But the people I need to care for now are my very favourite ones, so it’s really no chore.