Another Birthday Post In A Weird Year
Is it only one year that has passed since I wrote that post for my 30th birthday? I can hardly believe it. So many things happened since then, and my life changed so much that it doesn’t seem like a year but much more. But here I am, just turning 31.
Looking back to the dream list for my thirties, I have mixed feelings now. I’ve fulfilled some dreams that I haven’t expected to reach soon (or maybe at all), but some that I already had plans for got out of my reach (or so it seems). I’m still not shocked about being in my thirties, because there were too many other things to be shocked about in the past year.
Our son was born
Barely a month after my 30th birthday, our son, Tomi was born. It was a bigger change than any birthday. We knew that his arrival would change our lives. But it’s one thing to know it, and it’s another to actually experience it. It’s like the difference between seeing a picture of the jungle and actually going trekking in the jungle.
And jungle trekking is just the right metaphor here. Caring for a baby is a task that demands more from me than any other I’ve ever had – more energy, more patience, more creativity. And with very little sleep.
I often have the feeling that I’m doing something wrong, that our days and nights are not supposed to be like this. They’re supposed to be smoother and happier, I’m not supposed to lose my patience while trying to make him stay put only for a couple of seconds to be able to change his nappy. But eating or dressing up or going to sleep could all be similar fights. And each piece of advice I get about how to deal with him only makes me feel that I’m not good enough for being a mum.
I feel grateful that he’s a strong, healthy boy. Also, I feel lucky that I can stay at home with him, and Csaba often works from home, too (well, since COVID-19, he works from home full-time). He grows so fast, and I’m happy that we can be with him and see how he changes and develops new skills each day. But sometimes I can’t feel anything else than a desperate longing for an uninterrupted 8 hours of sleep. I also miss our time spent together as a couple which reduced to almost zero since Tomi was born.
Having a baby rewards with joyful moments, but it comes with just as many challenges. It comes with ups and downs, and there are periods when there are more downs than ups. Sure, babies are cute. As long as you don’t have one for more than half an hour (while he’s calm and full of smiles, of course), it’s as simple as that. But then babies start to cry and that’s the moment they’re given back to their mums. 😛
So what about travelling with a baby?
I’m trying to write about being a mum in a balanced way. Haha… Nice try. Anyway, the reason we haven’t travelled much in the past year was only partly our newborn baby. In the first 6 months we were in pieces. When we slept two hours in one shot, that was considered a good night. So you can imagine we didn’t feel like searching for accommodation or driving anywhere further than the grocery store during that time. We did go hiking though.
Tomi was only 6 weeks old when we first took him to hiking in a mei-tai carrier. It was a relief being in nature, talking and joking while he was sleeping in the carrier on my chest. He had the longest sleeps during those sunny autumn hikes. And we needed that fresh air and those fabulous autumn colors.
We went to the Budapest Christmas Markets with him. We took long walks with him on the streets of Budapest’s beautiful city center on sunny winter days. Then we explored Hungary’s largest snowdrop field and other quirky places near Budapest in February and March. Like the abandoned bauxite mine of Gánt or the Fényes Springs and Marsh.
As the weather got warmer, it was less of a hassle to go outside. Because our son was born with a mission to never let himself be dressed. He cries with full force and protests as effectively as he can when we dress him up. Each night and morning, each time we put extra clothes on him before going outside. He seems to be tireless – only we’re tired of it.
But spring was on its way and our nights started to be somewhat better after the first 6 months. We were hopeful. We started to plan some travels finally. We booked a nice apartment by the Adriatic Sea in Croatia for April. We bought air tickets to Sardinia for June. We also made plans for a two weeks long hiking getaway in Bulgaria. In the meantime, we went hiking in the Pilis, Börzsöny and Vértes Mountains near Budapest on the weekends. Flowers started blooming. We bought a new carrier for Tomi who was now on Csaba’s back when hiking. And then came COVID-19.
And the things I lost…
Maybe this spring could have been happier. We were healthy, we spent time at home with each other. Only, it was already 7 months that we’ve mostly spent time at home with each other. We were eager to spend time with each other somewhere else. And we were eager to meet with friends and start to go out occasionally. Well, dear everyone, please stay at home.
So the uncertainties and isolation this spring was hard on our spirits. Even though your life doesn’t end when you have a kid (obviously, right?), and your travels and your other relationships don’t end either, things get harder. You have more things to do, less time to do it and less time to sleep. It would have been challenging even without COVID-19.
And there are things that are important to me, still I don’t have time for them. While Csaba and I spent a lot of time with Tomi in his first year, we had significantly less time for each other. Even though we could spend time with friends, that has changed, as well. Either Tomi’s there crawling and playing around us, or only one of us is there while the other is at home with Tomi.
You may say we can ask someone to babysit… We haven’t so far. After he turned 6 months old came COVID-19, and now that the situation seems to be better, he freaks out when we leave him with someone else, even with his grandparents. But yes, eventually, we could look for a babysitter. Still, it’ll be something to organize before any date night or any get-together with friends. Things are not the same. And it’s not always easy to adapt to changes, especially if there are so many changes within such a short time. (And have I mentioned we still don’t sleep very well?)
An unexpected dream fulfilled: writing and publishing a novel
However, there was something that saved my spring: finishing and publishing my first novel! This was a dream I could barely confess even to myself. I’ve been a bookworm ever since I learned to read, and from time to time I pondered what if I’d write a book one day. “Oh, God, but I can’t! I’m not good enough for that. What would it even be about?” – was my first, instinctive reaction to that in my head. “And I couldn’t publish a book, anyway. No one would read it” – I continued. “Not that it matters because I’m not able to write one, anyway.”
But last year, as a wise thirty years old woman, I decided it’s time to at least accept my desires. I wanted to allow myself to dream about writing a book. And I also realized that it’s just the right time to finally start doing something about it. Are you laughing? I understand. I also laughed at myself. I was a new mum and I barely even slept. But I desperately needed a getaway from all the baby-things that suddenly filled my days.
Even if I went somewhere, Tomi was on my chest in the carrier. I had to breastfed him every 1.5-2 hours (no matter how many books said that the schedule is supposed to be every 3 hours). It was my choice to breastfeed and stay close, because I thought this is what he needs in his early months in the first place, but it was not easy. And the best way to escape while still staying physically close to him was writing a novel.
So I decided to start a 30 days novel writing challenge (the famous NaNoWriMo) last November. My goal was not necessarily to publish the novel, but I wanted to write one – and I very much enjoyed doing it! How to write and then self-publish a novel would be another long blog post on its own (or maybe a blog post series…), so I won’t really go into the details now (are you guys even interested?). What matters is that it turned out to be a wonderful experience!
I’ve published my first novel this May. I’ve achieved something that I haven’t though I’m capable of. It wasn’t easy. It was an insane amount of work. I had to learn a lot, and not just about writing, but also about publishing and marketing. It was a crazy, thrilling ride – it still is. But it showed me again that my passion can be a powerful source of energy and joy. It’s the same experience as the one that has been keeping this blog alive for almost 5 years now.
Oh, and people do read my novel, and I get lots of meaningful feedback that I’m grateful for. In case you’d like to know more about it, check out my writer website! Beware, it’s in Hungarian – just like the novel itself.
Travel dreams, blogging dreams… all the dreams
Speaking of passion, now comes travel and blogging. And COVID-19. We had to cancel or postpone several trips that we planned for this year. International travel is still uncertain. Hell, we don’t even know whether we can do another hiking getaway to Slovakia’s High Tatras a couple of weeks from now. Our travel dreams seem so out of reach now. We’re not the only ones, I know. But this year isn’t the one to fulfill huge travel dreams. We can be grateful to be able to travel at all, at least locally. And we are.
Also, barely anyone reads travel blogs since spring. No wonder, I know. And it’s not the numbers that matter. Still, if this blog is to have an important part in our lives (meaning that I can prioritize writing new posts or maintaining it in our busier-than-ever lives), we need to make some steady income from it, rather sooner than later. A goal that also seems out of our reach now.
I wish I could finish up this post in a more hopeful and positive way. But I’m not sure what 2020 will do to our dreams and our lives in the long term. And we still don’t see the end of it. Honestly, turning 31 this year is quite the opposite from what I felt turning 30. Instead of excitement and dreams, I’m full of questions, fears and doubts.
How do you feel about your birthdays and your lives lately?