Nothing prepares a first-time pregnant woman for the reality of becoming a mum. I honestly found that all the information in books I read and all the advice I received did not really sink in before I gave birth to my daughter last April. In hindsight, I was too concerned with the giving birth chapters in the books I read. I wish I had looked at the fine print of the so-called ‘fourth trimester’ a little more closely. That way, I would have had more realistic expectations about what I could get done in such an intense and life-changing period.
In the postnatal period I also had to contend with moving house (twice!) when I wasn’t attending to my daughter’s needs 24/7. Obviously, my naïve and earnest pre-birth intentions of trying to keep up with some of my treasured pre-baby past-times simply went out the window. I found though that I did not have a big problem with that. When I wasn’t packing, throwing out junk (my husband and I had managed to accumulate all sorts of useless and/or obsolete stuff over the years) and arranging furniture, all I wanted to do was hold and gaze at my gorgeous little girl for hours on end. I honestly believe we are biologically programmed to do this and thoroughly enjoyed being in an oxytocin-fuelled baby-bubble. I was also fortunate enough to have a long period of maternity leave ahead of me. I knew that at some point I would find a way to get back into writing, studying for my Masters and swimming.
About three months ago, after my husband, daughter and I were more or less settled in our new (and permanent!) home, I started to feel the motivation to get back into writing. My friend sent me a message via FB. She had started an online travel guide and lifestyle blog about Turin and the Piedmont region (the Turin Italy Guide) and wanted me to contribute food articles and traditional Piedmontese recipes to the site. I am a self-confessed foodie and before giving birth I often posted on my now dormant Tumblr food blog, Turin on a Plate. Flattered by my friend’s offer, I said yes right away, thinking that somehow I’d be able to find the time (and means!) to write and take care of my very active and mobile baby.
I was also inspired by this NYT article a friend of mine posted on her FB wall called ‘Reclaiming Our (Real) Lives From Social Media’. I was struck immediately by the introduction as it captured perfectly what it is like for otherwise creative people to live in the so-called Information Age:
One day in the early 1920s, a young Ernest Hemingway rushed along the streets of Paris seeking shelter from a downpour. He soon came upon a warm cafe on the Place St.-Michel and ducked inside.
After hanging his rain jacket, Hemingway ordered a café au lait, pulled out a notepad and pencil from his pocket and began writing. Before long he had fallen into a trancelike state, oblivious to his surroundings as he penned a story that would later become the first chapter of his memoir, “A Moveable Feast.”
If Hemingway were alive in 2014, he might not have finished what he started writing that day. Realistically, he probably wouldn’t have even put a pen to paper.
Instead, he might have ducked into the cafe, pulled out his smartphone and proceeded to waste an entire afternoon on social media. Perhaps he would update his Facebook to discuss the rogue weather, snap a picture of his café au lait to post on Instagram and then lose the rest of the afternoon to Twitter.
I’ve opened Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram accounts but I’ve never mastered or cared for these social media platforms. I must confess though that I have been a prolific user of FB since 2007 and since the birth of my daughter, that I got into a bad habit of following my FB feed on my smartphone whenever I had a spare set of hands and/or moment. Surely I could use these precious moments a little more productively than by reading the reflections/rants/opinions of people I had not seen or spoken to in years. I immediately removed my FB and Messenger apps from my phone, informed my close friends and family that FB was no longer to best place to contact me and signed up to the 99 Days of Freedom initiative. The results of this social media hiatus were manifold. I got back into reading books and most importantly, I found I could get a lot of writing done even if I just had a few minutes to spare.
So here I am, on my new website, writing and getting back into my studies at last. The only thing left to do now is to take up swimming again. Even once a week will do just fine by me!