It’s hard to put into words how it feels to become a mum, but words are my jam, so I’m going to try. Of course, this is my experience. I know everybody else’s is very different. As Isaac approaches 1 year old (whaaaat?) I thought I’d look back on the past year.
Sometimes when I’m out without Isaac, I wonder if people know I have a baby. Do I look like the type of person who has a baby? When I look at myself in photos nowadays there’s something distinctly mumsy about my appearance. My ribcage is wider. I notice it in every photo. My entire ribcage has moved. Sometimes I laugh at the mere notion of me giving birth, let alone being somebody’s mother.
Also, when I’m out without Isaac, I feel like I’m missing a limb. Whenever I see somebody with a baby I have an almost overwhelming urge to say ‘I have one too, by the way’.
What’s it like?
Being a mum is battling with the desire to be seen as more than somebody’s mum while also wanting to scream at people for not understanding that I can’t do that anymore because I’m somebody’s mum.
It’s a life of paradoxes. It’s feeling desperate to go out alone only to get there and want to go home. It’s looking forward to going back to work only to count down the minutes until it’s over.
Everything and nothing changed on the day I gave birth. I was still the same person; made up of millions of memories of my pre-baby self. I’m still the girl who drunkenly laid on the floor screaming Nicki Minaj’s Where My Girls At while the now father of my child tried to drag me into a waiting cab. I’m still the girl who failed my driving test three times, who had my heart broken, who broke someone’s heart, who laughed so hard I wet myself, who nearly broke every bone in my body when I ill-preparedly flew down a fast-flowing gorge in the middle of Spain with no helmet on.
And yet. And yet. Everything felt different.
Love like you’ve never felt
You know the rush of emotion you get when you first fall in love? That unrelenting, fluttering feeling. When you can’t stop thinking about them and you try to turn every conversation on its head just so you can speak about them for two minutes?
Ok, now think about the love you feel in a long-term relationship or marriage. The comfort to be completely yourself. It’s quiet, it’s unassuming, it’s not showy but it’s so deep. It has layer upon layer upon layer. You, and you alone, know everything there is to know about that person.
Pair those two together and imagine them at their most intense; that’s how I feel.
When we go to baby classes, Isaac loves being at the front but every now and then he’ll turn around and scan the faces of the other mums until his eyes land on mine. All it takes is that quick look for him to feel entirely secure. That love – it works both ways.
My brain feels…fuller
This is something I’ve spent a while trying to figure out. Isaac sleeps well (now) – he sleeps for three hours in the day and is always asleep by 7pm. As a parent, I know this is the most free time I will ever get, but I never stop.
I realised that it’s because even when I’m not doing anything, my brain is going 100mph. What’s Isaac going to eat for his snack? For lunch? For dinner? What will we eat for dinner? What is he going to wear today? I need to call the Health Visitor about his 11 month check. I need to book in his dentist appointment.
Those are his basic needs, but then there’s another layer; his developmental needs. We need to do some more walking practice. I haven’t read him a book today. We need to leave the house to get some fresh air, etc.
That’s without even getting onto my needs, James’ needs and Milly’s (our dog) needs!
I care less
I suppose with less time comes less care, and it’s an unexpectedly great gift. I put an overwhelming amount of pressure on myself before having Isaac. Whether it was to keep the house clean, to work far, far too many hours or to be the best, most perfect, responsive friend.
For me, having a baby has meant giving up that illusion of perfection. My house is still tidy because that’s just who I am. It’s definitely not as tidy as it was, but that’s ok. My care for cramming my days of work has definitely diminished and luckily, I have friends who understand that I can’t respond in seconds anymore.
I think all parents can do is try. Try to explain to your friends how your days are going down at the moment. Try to find a balance of work and being a parent that suits you, try to do little, manageable daily tasks around the house that still leave time for you to just be – even if it is only for five minutes a day.
Life has changed
It has. It’d be wrong for me to pretend it hasn’t. Sometimes friends ask me to do things and I just can’t say yes. It’s as simple as that.
I thought I’d care much more about saying no, though. Growing up, I hated missing out on things, and now I have to miss out on things. Perhaps that’s just part of being ready to be a parent. You realise you can’t do it all and you feel pretty comfortable with that.
And then there’s something that unexpectedly hasn’t changed all that much – travelling.
I’ve been happy to discover it’s actually fairly easy to travel with a baby as long as you’re prepared. I’ll be doing a few posts about this in the coming weeks.
It’s funny, because everybody told me that travelling with a baby was a nightmare, but I found the opposite to be true. I think that pretty much sums up parenting, really. Every single person you meet has a completely different view on it and that is absolutely ok and sums up why you should only really listen to your gut.