Pandora Sykes is in a category all of her own: journalist, zeitgeist podcaster, with Dolly Alderton, of cult "The High Low", style maven and now mother to Zadie...
Refreshing, candid and kind, somehow she and Zadie conjured up golden light on a grey day at home in London.
I have learnt a lot about my relationship with my mother through my relationship with Zadie. How loved I was. How loved I am. And I adore seeing them playing together - the patience and adoration my mother bestows on Zadie.
She’s captivated by her every body part, her every action. Zadie demonstrated her first crawl not for me or my husband, but for my mother. To be honest, she deserves it after everything she has done (as would the other Granny.)
It’s so fortifying for me to watch my mother with my child.
I am a voracious reader at the best of times and I read even more when I was growing Zadie because I wasn’t out much at night- bliss!
The Female Persuasion, by Meg Wolitzer, will always remind me of being heavily pregnant and camping in our attic room when we had just moved house.
My mum read me a lot of Janet and Allen Aldburgh (Peepo was a favourite of ours) but my favourites for Zadie are Oh Baby, The Places You’ll Go, by Dr Seuss, The Angry Cookie, Guess How Much I Love You, When I Am Big, Ten Tiny Fingers and Ten Tiny Toes.
On my own beside pile of books to read next...
What Red Was, by Rosie Prince
The Heat of the Moment, by Sabrina Cohen-Hatton
Ayiti, by Roxane Gay
Becoming, by Michelle Obama
To Obama, by Jeanne Maris Alaska
Vox, by Christina Dalcher
Silence of the Girls, by Pat Barker
Two Sisters, by Asne Siersad
Rather than one single thing, it was, alongside medical help, the passing of time, that helped me understand my postnatal anxiety and how best to accommodate it and manage it. But I have definitely learned from this experience and my biggest advice now, to others, is: take a proper maternity leave! I took 5 weeks before I was back 3 days a week.
And just remember that the old ‘you’ doesn’t exist anymore; not in a bad way - she’s just a different you. Roll with it, accept it, let her unfurl. Fighting her will only make it harder!
I work from home as much as possible so that I can catch snatches of Zadie: all my writing is done at my desk; we record The High Low in my study.
I try and be as productive as ever, because my career has grown quite a lot the same year I had a baby - and I’m also the primary earner - so I have to manage that as effectively as possible. I normally block out a day for meetings, once a week, or every other week, because going into town for a meeting takes 3 hours out of my day.
I often used to work late in the evenings but at a certain point you just crash. You need that time to re-coup and (for me) to read. So that would be my best advice: delete Instagram, air-plane your phone, use those childcare hours as efficiently as possible, and then reward yourself with time off work, from baby bath-time onwards.
I finish work at 6pm and most of the time I head straight upstairs with Zadie and we have a bath together. While its running, I read her a book on the bathroom floor. I definitely savour that time.
Zadie raises her eyebrow - which is something my mother does and when she smiles she looks like Enid Blyton’s Moon face, from The Faraway Tree. Like her mother!