With it being Mothering Sunday this weekend, and reading a lot of parenting blogs, I have read a lot of nonsense about what being a mum really means.
Personally, I hate the “You know you’re a mum when…” style articles. Let’s face it, you know you’re a mum when… you have, or have had, a child. Yes, there are grim bits of motherhood (sick in your bra, anyone?), but mostly, it’s an amazing blessing and privilege.
But motherhood changes us. One day you’re you… and the next, you’re ‘Mummy.’ That takes some getting used to.
So, here is my take on how motherhood changes you:
1. You are not the most important person in your own life any more.
- Suddenly, all of your needs come second to the small, crying person. And it’s amazing how that crying just cannot be ignored, no matter how tired/hungry/desperate for the loo you are. The baby comes first: it’s human nature.
2. You can face your fears – and cope with disgusting things.
- I’d pick up a spider bare-handed if my children were afraid of it. And I hate spiders. The same thing goes for heights, the dark, bodily fluids… You just learn to deal with it.
- It’s the same with sick, poo, wee – not pleasant, but you absolutely have to deal with it. Speaking from personal experience, I can recommend not catching sick in your bare hands while on a moving bus, but sometimes needs must.
- That said, if Tim is here, he has to deal with the spider.
3. You can survive on very little sleep.
- Most mums will tell you that the sleep deprivation is hard. Yes, it is, and it’s a good thing I don’t have to go to work on a few hours broken sleep a night, but you’ll be amazed at how well you can cope with it. Actually, as a bit of a chronic insomniac, I’ve been amazed at how quickly I go back to sleep after a disturbance. I think it probably has something to do with the hormones and breastfeeding, but I’m not complaining!
When you think about it in the cold light of day, as in working out how many months and years you have spent sleep-deprived, it hurts. But then you just get on with it. Because you’re a mum.
4. You get the rage.
- I don’t know if this is common to everyone, but after having Ben, I had real rage. I basically felt rage towards anyone who wasn’t the baby. My poor husband got it the worst. It subsided after a few months, and I expect it was all hormonal, but it wasn’t pleasant – and nor was I.
5. You long for time away from your children.
- The first time I walked away from my baby (who was with Tim, not stranded in the street), I felt a palpable lifting of responsibility. This lasted for all of about 10 seconds before I was a bit worried about him. But when you are with someone literally 24/7, and you are their source of food, comfort and everything, if can feel relentless. So those few minutes or hours are so precious.
6. You become physically really strong.
- You know the car seats that you put the baby in to carry them home from hospital? They are really heavy. Put a growing baby in one, and you’ve got a bit of a workout. Now, I’ve had two 9lb+ babies. By the time they’ve been 3 months old, they’ve weighed a stone. That’s a stone that I’m carrying about pretty much all the time. My shoulders and arms are seriously toned now!
- I always carry my babies on my left hand side, leaving my right hand free to do things. When Ben was about 6 months old, I looks at myself in the mirrors at the gym and realised my left hand side was much more toned than my right. I was a bit lopsided!
7. You can get so much done in so very little time.
- When I look back at my pre-children days, I wonder how I filled all my time. (And then I remember – I’m a teacher, so I worked.) But, seriously, all my time was my own.
- When they are awake, children lap up all the time and attention you can give them. Last week, I spent about 10 minutes playing ‘Buzz Lightyear fights Emperor Zurg’ with Ben, in a pocket of time between me doing housework and Samuel waking up from a nap. The following day, when I asked him what he would like to do that day, he wanted to play again. He could have chosen anything – going out, watching TV, playing outside – but he just wanted to play with me.
- It’s so gratifying in so many ways: when they are this young, you really are one of their favourite people. But it means that everything else gets squashed into those pockets of time. When Samuel goes for a nap, I’ve started putting a timer on and giving myself 10 minutes to get jobs done and then making sure I give Ben some attention. In those 10 minutes, I can do jobs that probably would have taken me an hour pre-children!
- You also get very good at doing things while supervising children, but it means that most of your attention is on them, rather than the job you are doing. So when the children aren’t around, you can go at normal speed! All of a sudden, you feel like Superwoman. The dinner will be made, the washing up done and the laundry sorted in the time it takes for daddy to do a quick park trip.
8. Your choices change.
- Over the first year, your mindset makes a huge shift. It’s gentle at first. The places you like to go to, and the things you like to do, will generally be fairly baby-friendly (with the exception of pubs and clubs). But you can have coffee with friends, wander around the shops and generally avoid child-heavy places. Then, when your child starts to crawl, you go to coffee shops less and playgroups a bit more. By the time your child is walking, you actively avoid cafes and shopping is a disaster waiting to happen.
- So instead, you seek out child-friendly places. Thinks like soft play, parks and farms become the order of the day. And you don’t mind, because if they are happy, that’s all good.
9. You (hopefully) develop a new respect for your own body.
- Pregnancy and birth can change your body massively – and most of those changes make women mourn the body they once had. But it also makes you appreciate how awesome the human body is. It’s capable of pregnancy, labour, birth and recovery, and then can produce milk to feed the baby. I know all of that doesn’t work for everyone, and that is why we are also in awe of medicine and science.
10. You find you are capable of loving more than you ever dreamed was possible.
- Babies are demanding. They are hard work. They’re confusing, and for a long time, you get very little interaction, very little response from them. But the love you feel for them is completely overwhelming. And it just grows as they get older. Yes, of course, you get annoyed with them, and you can get a bit fed up. But that doesn’t mean you don’t love them beyond all reason.
- It’s a different kind of love to what you feel for anyone else. You would literally do anything for that person. And when they tell you they love you, it’s the best thing. Ever.
Happy Mothers Day!
By the way, the photo in this post is one of Carina’s from our family photoshoot. I’ll be sharing some more of my favourites next week.