Saturday, 13 August 2016

Don't be 'Just' a Mother

“Trying to find myself.” A Facebook status I posted a few years ago, probably before I started this blog but definitely after I had my baby. A baby is a big responsibility, even for someone used to having kids around, let alone for someone who, like myself, had never even held a baby in my arms (unless you count the one time a family member shoved her newborn girl into my arms and I held her in terror for a couple of seconds before gingerly handing her back).

A friend of mine, trying to make me feel better, replied to that status with a “Once you’re a mother you don’t have time to be anything else.” I am sure she meant well, but she only succeeded in making me more miserable! For you see, there is always time to be something else. True enough, a newborn will take up your days as well as nights and it might be difficult to find the time to grab a cup of tea that hasn’t gone cold let alone ‘find yourself’. But the thing is, we are all human beings and even when one becomes a mother it is important not to lose one’s true self. There might not be time for interviews with artists or to read a book in less than two days but there is nothing wrong with thinking up some poetry whilst automatically going through the motions of feeding an uncooperative toddler, seeing as you’re giving this little one your full attention for the rest of the day.

I was not a happy mama after days, maybe weeks at a time, of not sleeping more than four hours a night. I was not a happy mama when after a night of trying to soothe a colicky baby I would have to make my way to work in the early morning for an interminable day requiring concentrated efforts I was not mentally able to give. On the other hand, it’s ‘Happy Mama Happy Baby’ as they say (which as I am pointing out is easier said than done!)

So if you’re a new mama or soon to become one, congratulations, I mean it from the bottom of my heart. But whilst you change that fifth stinky nappy of the day sing your favourite song, regardless of whether it’s a nursery rhyme or Aerosmith. And do burp your baby whilst you’re sitting down if at all possible, for not only will you be resting your poor back which is trying to regain its normal shape after a strenuous nine months but you might also manage to watch one episode of whatever series or show you fancy. Believe me, just twenty minutes a day of being totally and utterly ‘you’ goes a long way towards a good relationship with your child. For it is in being yourself, and not some grumpy being who has forgotten who they are, that you can truly be a Happy Mama and a well-rested one.

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