So there are a few common phrases/statements we hear when we become Mummies – ‘your life is over’, ‘blame it on baby brain’, ‘you’ll never sleep again’ – etc etc. Well they aren’t all true, some are simply exaggerations of reality – because let’s face it, reality feels pretty exaggerated when you first have a child.
You do get to sleep again (well most of us do – I can’t speak for everyone), your life isn’t over – it’s just different, so maybe your old life is over…for now. I look back fondly at my old life, the girl who loved to play tennis (and would, a lot – pretty much whenever I fancied), worked up to running a marathon (after struggling with the 1500m at school), learned to make stained glass and LOVED it, and had a CAREER.
And now I’m a Mummy. ‘Just’ a Mummy as I hear people often say when asked what they do.
It’s a sad word ‘just’ – because being a Mummy is such a multifaceted, complex and challenging thing. You’re the entertainment officer, chief negotiator, conflict resolver, chef, cleaner, chauffeur, health and safety officer, accountant, first aid specialist, life coach, security guard, juggler of all other tasks, and a million other things in between. This is the hardest job I’ve ever done, with the longest hours and is the lowest paid.
I think I had a slightly romanticised vision of what being a stay at home Mummy would be like – I definitely thought I’d squeeze in a bit more me time but that’s not always as simple as it sounds.
I found a gym – and was incredibly excited because it has a crèche. Someone to take care of the nippers while I sweat a bit and have some time to myself. Up until this point I’ve exercised with the kids – I walk, walk and walk some more – which is fine, I live somewhere where there’s not an enormous amount of things to do (which has it’s pros and cons but that’s another story). The reason behind going to the gym is actually less about exercise and more about re-validating my sense of self. I want to have some control over my life, just a little bit please and thank you.
I have gone from being the most organised, meticulously planned individual into a sea of the unknown. Will I get to sleep tonight? Or will I be woken by a child’s scream in my ear through a monitor I want to throw at the wall. Will one of my children be unwell or will it just be a nightmare and they need a cuddle from Mummy (or Daddy, let’s not forget). Will I have a happy relaxed day or will it be prickled with tantrums and irritations. I used to have a rough idea of what each day would bring, and it suited my personality. I’m not a fly by the seat of my pants kind a gal – I always wished I was, but let’s be honest – I’m not. I’m not a big “surprise” fan (unless it’s diamonds of course ;)), I like to know what’s going on and when. I like routines, efficiency and lists… Eek – children do not comply to this model – at least not all the time. It’s been a stretch to say the least to adapt to motherhood and the curveballs it throws every single day.
It’s a stretch – it really is – but I’m grateful for it too. This time in my life is forcing me to live each day fully and unapologetically. I no longer feel like I waste time – I’m not just responsible for me and my life anymore.
In the words of Baz Luhrmann’s song – ‘Everybody’s Free’ – ‘Enjoy your body, use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own‘. In fact listen to the whole song, it’s all very poignant. I know when I find myself again, I’ll be a richer, far more experienced and wiser version of the me before kids.