Being a mum for the first time is incredible. In my experience, nothing changes your life more. It is terrifying, exciting, momentous and emotional. Not only are you learning to take care of tiny human, a job so huge you wouldn’t imagine you would have time to learn anything else. You are suddenly super women! And as such, will have developed some unique mum super powers….
- The ability to think of 100 things at the same time and still get on with what you are doing. For example, making sure the change bag is packed and replenished, whilst thinking about baby’s nap, whilst remembering it’s your dad’s birthday, whilst thinking about baby’s next feed, whilst wondering what you might have for dinner. Wow!! It’s amazing, and tiring just thinking about it. We may get ‘baby brain’, but we also get ‘multiple tasking at its best brain’.
- The ability to not only think all the above, but also hold a conversation whilst doing all of this.
- Suddenly you can do all the things you used to need 2 hands for, with just one!! You become skilled at doing everything, and I mean everything with one hand, whilst the other is holding baby. You name it, you can do it. Eat, make a drink, go for a wee, hoover, order online shopping, find paperwork, type, call a friend, push a pushchair. Who knew you could do all that one handed?
- You can eat quicker than you have ever eaten in your life, knowing you may not have long to finish this precious hot meal before you are needed again.
- You can and are, surviving on less sleep then you probably ever had in your life, and you are still managing to look after your baby! You rock!
- You can sit for ages looking intently at your baby whilst listening to your friend telling you about her day. You may have lost the ability to maintain eye contact through conversation, but you are still listening and able to respond, whilst meeting your baby’s needs.
- You have developed a 6th sense, usually at night, you can pre-empt a feed or disturbance even before baby has shown you, just from the quietest noise or tiniest movement.
- Your reactions are lightning quick, you think something is about to hurt your baby you sweep in immediately – suddenly you have inspector gadget arms and an inbuilt radar for danger. Usually this includes a raider for spotting a toddler who is likely to come a bit too close to your little one.
Basically, new mummy, you are amazing!!
So, when you think that you aren’t doing a great job, or the lack of sleep makes you cry, or you don’t know which way is up, remember you are doing these things EVERYDAY! And probably didn’t even realise it!! Give yourself the credit you deserve, you are doing the most important job of your life 🙂
Is imperfect something to fear? Should we show our children that we always try to look the best? Be the best? Perform the best? Is it ok to just be who we are? Are we allowed to be flawed?
Recently my daughter and I were getting ready for the day and she spotted 2 stretchmarks on my tummy, she asked what they were and I explained they were from growing her and her brother. She then said “Oh mummy. Shall we take it off and get you a new one?” to which I replied “I don’t need a new one baby. This one is just fine.”
It struck me as funny and a little worrying that something that is not ‘perfect’ ought to be replaced with a new one. I guess this comes from her clothes, when they are mucky or stained we then put them in the wash and put clean clothes on. We live in a throw away consumerist society, but somethings can’t just be replaced because they are not perfect. It made me really think about the things they soak up at such a young age and the importance of showing them that we are not perfect and don’t have to be.
As the great Alice Walker said –
“Yes, mother. I can see you are flawed. You have not hidden it. That is your greatest gift to me.”
We, as their role models shouldn’t be afraid to show them what it truly is to be human. I worry about showing my children that I am upset, or cross. I berate myself if I go out looking like Waynetta (from the Harry Enfield and Chums TV series). Sometimes I cry at adverts or laugh too loudly at things others might not find funny. Sometimes I say the wrong thing (probably more than sometimes), yet, is this not exactly what we should be doing in front of them? Modelling that there is no one way to be and we accept each other for who we are and that it is ok to not be the best.
This is different to trying our best, I of course want them to try and be the best they can be, but this is not the same as being the best! There are so many things in between and all of those things are fabulous too. It is ok not to be the ‘ideal’ because there really is no such thing. We will all be happier when we accept this and ourselves for what we really are, and what we are each capable of. To celebrate our differences and imperfections as ultimately they make us unique and probably are the very things we love in one another.
To be flawed is to be human and anything else is a fallacy. That is what I want my children to know. That their father and I are not perfect but that’s perfectly ok. We are perfectly imperfect. And they are too.
- I first wrote this piece for my monthly magazine column for etc – Horsham and Mid Sussex. October’s issue
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The internet is full of posts about going back to work, but if you are on maternity leave or a stay at home parent then we can’t really say that. We can’t complain that we are ‘back to the grindstone’ or that we’re not sure how we get up in time in the morning. In all likelihood, Christmas is much like any other time. There is still bedtimes, cooking, cleaning, washing, nappy changing, playing, laughing, crying, more cleaning, nap times. Babies and toddlers don’t get that Christmas is having a break. Watching movies and eating chocolate, they are just being themselves, they have energy to burn and want to play. Yet this week does also feel like going back to work.
We can’t write the ‘I don’t want to go back to work’ statuses yet we are back to being primary care giver for a little one(s). Whilst this is a lovely thing, it is also a strange one. I love our routine and days with the children, but this week I feel at a bit of a loss. I’ve forgotten what I do with the children when I’m on my own. I haven’t made many plans as I thought we should ease back in!? To what I’m not sure. I’ve been home every day with the children through the holidays, yet when my husbands at home its different, we share responsibility and planning the day. We go out together and that’s enough. This week I have forgotten what I usually do, which groups do I go to? What day is it today? I can’t remember what a ‘stay at home mum’ does?
So, whilst it wasn’t hard getting up this morning, and I don’t have to worry about the commute or reading a backlog of work emails. I do have to remind myself what it is to be on my own with the children, to get back to planning the week. Entertaining the little one whilst the big one is at preschool, making play dates, attending playgroups, juggling the jobs that need doing and making sure I have some adult conversations too.
To all those who are home with a baby or children, welcome back to work 😉 Even if the work is a little different to average 9-5.
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