Thursday, 26 April 2018

When Myself met Motherhood

It’s weird becoming a mother. No one knows what to expect, but I had no idea what it would be like. Everyone expects the newborn days to be hard, and they are, but in some ways toddlerhood is harder. Your child can walk, and talk, and throw tantrums, and after a couple of years, you expect things to have settled down to somewhat near normal. 

I felt like who I was before I was a parent got swept aside in a haze of sleepless nights, cooking meals as fast as possible, playing games, changing nappies, and trying not to yawn through my days at work. 
I wasn’t aware of this, but it gradually crept up on me. We had wanted a child for many years, and when he came along, we were determined we would do the absolute best for him. We would attachment parent, gentle parent, co sleep until he was at least 2, breastfeed him until he was 2, we wouldn’t leave him with family until we felt it was the right time. 
We pushed everything else in our lives aside to focus on being the best mothers we could possibly be. And we were, and are. I am so proud of how selflessly we parented him, of the mothers we are. No matter how testing motherhood could be, I would go through it ten times over if it bought me my beautiful, perfect son. He gives me new reasons to love him every day, and apart from my wife, is the best thing to ever happen to me. 

But after a while, I realised that although I was an amazing mother, I wasn’t really anything else. 
As our son went into toddlerhood, I realised I didn’t recognise the person in the mirror. I didn’t look, feel, or sound like myself. I didn’t really know who ‘myself’ was anymore. I didn’t want to be in pictures because looking at who I was now made me uncomfortable. My tired skin, neglected hair, and clothes that I wouldn’t have picked before. They were clothes I hadn’t chosen because they bought me any kind of happiness or because they felt like me (my individuality was something I had always been proud of), but because they somewhat fitted, and were practical. I looked down at my dry looking hands, where bright coloured nails and jewellery used to be, and felt sad by them.
I didn’t care what I wore, what I ate. I didn’t listen to music, I didn’t read, I didn’t laugh as much, I didn’t have dreams. 
There were good days, great days, a lot of them in fact, but the majority of the time, the underlying theme was that I wasn’t the person that my wife, son, or myself, deserved. It didn’t help that at the time my work wore me down until I felt like an empty shell, a situation that suddenly resolved itself a few weeks before I was meant to hand my notice in and become a child minder. I believe everything happens when it is meant to. 

But the past week I’ve had time to think about things, and realise that things needed to change. And now I’ve had that realisation, although it won’t be instant, I can feel that person steadily coming back.

I think that change couldn’t happen until I was ready to move on and amalgamate who I was and who I am. I’m a mother, a role which I love with all that I am. But I am other things too, and I can feel them slotting more comfortably and harmoniously together.

 I feel that being a content, happy person, means I am a better mother, a better wife, and a better human. 
I need to spend work days being present in my job, and days off as my days off - not solely ‘what should Oskar do today’. I want to use the time my wife and I have together better. I want to let myself be the person I was. I love rock & folk music (I’ve seen well over 100 bands live), and books about love and happiness, and nature documentaries especially about the sea, and candle light, and learning new things, and seeing new places. I love drawing, painting and making things. I love buying clothes, and beauty products, and make up. I love going for food or coffee and talking for ages. I love, and will always love, ‘dating’ my wife. I love looking after my family and home. I am fiercely loyal.  I don’t want a career but I love finishing work knowing I’ve done a good job. 
But now I add new things to that. I’m calmer, more patient, and I see the bigger picture more. I am kinder, less defensive, I see more good in people and the world. I am ready to dream, and laugh, and love. And I’m excited for all of it. 

New, and new-ish mothers are expected to talk about how motherhood alone fulfils them, and for some, it does. There’s a big part of me it fulfils. But there are many who struggle with the loss of identity, the detrimental effect to their happiness and relationships that can strangely go alongside being so happy and full of love for your child and your role as a mother. But no one talks about it. Please know, if you identify with me, you are not alone. Also know it gets better, and when the time is right, you will find who you were, and who you are, and together they will make you a better person. 
Losing myself to motherhood for a while gave me some dark days, as it has many of us, but we should be proud of the dedication we gave our babies. But today, I am proud of the example I will set to my child, and the memories I will give him of me - as a happy, content woman who loves him and his Mama, the world around her, and more recently, herself.

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  1. Lovely post. After my second I woke up one day feeling so lost like you didn’t even recognise myself. So now, it’s a struggle but I find time to dye my hair or paint my nails or do something that is completely frivolous and just for me. I’m going to make the time next week to sew myself a dress, as my eldest always says I look like “me” in a tunic dress and says I should wear them more often!

  2. I absolutely LOVE the honesty of this post.

    I am not a mother, not yet. But I have never truly felt like me... I’ve always adapted myself to those around me. With talks of us starting a family I have felt worried that this will again be another time in my life where I adapt to this new person in my life and always please them and never put myself first but this post has made me realise I need to fall back in love with myself & do the things I enjoy doing so that when little one comes along I can be the happy me that he/she deserves & that yes things will change but I can still be me.

    Thank you Sarah for sharing. You’re an amazing person with an amazing family.

    Lots of love
    Coco xxxxx

  3. I absolutely LOVE the honesty of this post.

    I am not a mother, not yet, but all my life I’ve never truly felt like I could be me. I had always adapted the way I was around those who I was with. This post has made me realise I need to be me & do the things I want to do and be happy. So that when the time comes for a little one I can be the best person he/she deserves. I know things will change when they come along but youve showed me that I can be a happy me.

    Thank you for being so honest Sarah. You’re an amazing woman with an amazing family

    Love Coco xxxx


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