You may have noticed the #rockingmotherhood tag popping up on your favourite blogs quite a lot recently. A list of 10 reasons why you’re acing it in the Mummy game followed by 5 nominees to join in. I’m all for encouraging us mamas to ditch the mum guilt and actually celebrate the positives of parenting so here goes…
1:EMBRACING NEW EXPERIENCES – Ha! Where to start with this one? Becoming a mother brings with it no end of new experiences and challenges. Some of these we may prefer to erase from our memory (Morning sickness? Episiotomy? Cracked Nipples? I could go on but I won’t!). Others open up a whole new world where we are forced to deal with things totally outside our comfort zone. From Great Aunt Aggie to Gina Ford (urgh) we’re bombarded and bamboozled with advice but ultimately the buck stops with Mama Bear and slowly you begin to grow in confidence, learning as you go. Every stage of parenting a small human throws up (!) weird and wonderful experiences. Eventually I realised that being a mother is a bit like being Charlie Bucket in Wonka’s Chocolate Factory; you know it’s a privilege not everyone gets, you spend most of it being slightly freaked out but ultimately you embrace it as one of the most amazing things you will ever experience.
2:ORGANISATION – I don’t know about you but as soon as those blue lines appeared I started stockpiling baby wipes and muslins. I knew very little about what to expect in the coming months except that it would be a pretty momentous experience and that I should probably be doing something in preparation. Antenatal appointments, birthing plans, maternity leave, preparing the nursery, comparing baby travel system specs, baby feeding options and of course agreeing on baby names meant that before our little bundle even arrived those organisational skills were being honed, ready for the crazy years ahead. These days dinner money, clean uniforms and homework projects are high on the organisational agenda, although if you asked the kids a fully charged iPad and a cupboard full of Pom Bears should be top priority every day of the week.
3:CHILL MAMA – In slight contradiction to the previous point, motherhood has made me much more chilled. Maybe not for the first couple of years, that learning curve was anything but chilled. Slowly though, as my first born’s personality began to grow (along with my confidence) we explored the worlds of eating, walking and talking with little people and everything in life seemed to take on a slower pace. Patience was a quality I learned to exercise in excruciatingly vast amounts during the toddler years. For someone who wants to poke slow walkers in the back, learning to slow down was a challenging but ultimately sanity-saving revelation! Little people cannot be rushed, will not adhere to any sort of itinerary for the day and will almost certainly decide to nap or crap at the least convenient time possible. You can try to fight it or you can accept that that’s just parenthood and chill yer boots. Unfortunately it took a lot of fighting against it for me to gradually realise that. Twenty minutes blowing bubbles with a giggling 2 year old, (who is then more likely to nap) is way better than the scream-fest that will ensue otherwise. Yes, there may be a mountain of work you need to crack on with (or a backlog of ‘Girls’ episodes on planner – no judgement) but sometimes, most times, you won’t be able to achieve everything you hoped to that day. This can be SO frustrating but not nearly as bad as listening to a screaming toddler who’s in no mood to conform to your nap schedule leaving you both angry and upset!
4:DISCOVERING MY INNER GOOFBALL – Kids love silly things. Silly noises, silly faces, silly slime, whatever, they can’t get enough of it. Dads in particular seem to excel in this area of parenthood, more than happy to unleash their inner goofball on demand to an audience of little people bent double with laughter at their talents. Yes in our house Daddy is the court jester while I’ll be the one telling him to stop distracting them from bedtime. I tend to use the goofball strategy as a distraction technique, particularly effective for a severe case of sleepy grumps or following any minor scrapes. Mum’s Woody Woodpecker impression is never not funny. From the early days of ‘Peek-a-boo’ to the Sports Day Mum’s race, the very act of being a parent puts you in scenarios where you are required to be ‘fun’. I say fun when perhaps I should say silly, I think we can agree our idea of fun would be very different and likely involve alcohol and not having to move. Although I may not ever be the ‘Mum’s race’ kind I’ll happily have a kitchen disco while stirring the spag-bol, enjoy a teddy bear’s picnic or sing along encouragingly with the other parents at the school play. I want them to have memories of me being someone they had fun with growing up, someone they loved being around- something I know I may not get the chance to do quite as much when they’re older. Oh, I’m also secretly quite excited any time my kids want to get out the Aqua Beads, Hama Beads or any of the other cool crafty things we never had!
5:MAINTAINING ME – A newborn baby is obviously 100% reliant on you for everything. We spend everyday giving this little person what they need because we love them more than anything. However being a mother doesn’t have to be at the expense of losing your identity, your sense of self. Of course your life has changed dramatically but you are still an individual and to me it’s important to me to maintain a balance. For example I have always had this reticence to have my children, or even the family as my Facebook picture profile. It’s a small thing which nobody would ever notice but to me it’s always just been something I’ve avoided doing. Of course I adore my family and am as proud to show them off to the world as the next Mummy (my actual account is 90% photos of them!) but they are not me. We are not solely ‘Mummy’, we are daughter, niece, sister, granddaughter, friend, wife, employee and more. If I were a human pie chart, that ‘Mummy’ slice would be a pretty generous portion but not I am not 100% Mummy Pie, all those other ingredients add something too and are equally important to the overall result – me! Time alone, girly weekends or date nights may be few and far between but they are still part of my life and more precious than ever these days.
6:FINALLY HAVING AN AMAZING BODY – If my relationship with my body were a Facebook status it would be ‘It’s Complicated’. That’s a whole other topic and one I’ve written about a few times before, suffice to say I never appreciated how amazing my body was until after I had children. Before, an amazing body was one with long lean limbs, a golden glow and curves in the right places, but beneath the surface is where the really impressive stuff happens on a daily basis, mostly unnoticed and often unappreciated until it goes wrong. Despite having PCOS my body grew, delivered and fed an actual human being – twice! I find that pretty mind blowing. I can see, hear, carry and chase these little scamps every day and how lucky am I? Not everyone can.
7:HEALTH MATTERS – Not only has becoming a mother made me finally realise how amazing my body truly is, it has given me a reason to look after it so that I can continue to enjoy an active life with my family for years to come. Where I used to be led strongly by my diet mentality, now I try to think of food in terms of health benefits. I find cooking from scratch a completely joyless experience but I make an effort to do it because sadly my preferred diet of latte and family sized bags of Revels just won’t cut it when it comes to nourishment and nutrition. I’m limiting alcohol and sugary treats mainly to weekends because I know balance is they key to consistency for me. Exercise is no longer purely a means to burn calories, when I run I think about growing strong and improving my cardiovascular health. Pilates helps me to maintain flexibility and improves posture. Same actions but a completely different mindset which these days I find much more motivating and relevant than burning x amount of calories.
8:MIND MATTERS – Whether it’s a case of baby blues due to hormonal changes post childbirth or a more serious, longer lasting case of PND, most mums experience changes in emotions at some point. Unfortunately this isn’t always obvious to others and in my case wasn’t entirely obvious to me for a long time. Looking back I regret not speaking to someone at the time because I know it would have been helpful. Thankfully I now know how important it is to address any emotional issues before they become detrimental to my health or happiness. I’m aware of times where my PMT is in full force which ironically helps me feel a bit more chilled about why I’m feeling murderous! I appreciate the importance of running or walking as a form of head space and feel infinitely better for it. I can choose to let things slide, not because I don’t care but because I realise now that a lot of things are just not worth getting stressed out about. If only I could figure out a way to get my bickering children to do the same!
9:INDIVIDUALITY – Before I had kids I was pretty much clueless about the whole growing and raising a baby thing but by my second pregnancy I felt confident I knew what to expect. I didn’t. Which was probably worse than knowing nothing. The second birth was totally different, the baby was different (a girl for a start), she acted differently, fed differently, had a different temperament – basically apart from the hand-me-down Moses basket, everything was different. This is still the case today at 6 and 8 years old, unsurprisingly they are two totally different individuals. Now I know that may sound obvious but the point is I’d never really given it much thought before motherhood. Watching them grow up into these little characters, with their own strengths and weaknesses, developing their personalities has been fascinating to watch. As their mother I obviously try to encourage the more positive traits and nurture strengths but I also know that they are hardwired to a certain extent and that will never change. The caring, intuitive one who sees good in the ‘naughty’ schoolkid and hates to see me kill an ant. The fiercely independent one, determined and undeterred by anyone who dares cross her path. Already excited for those teenage years (please help me!).
10:THOU SHALT NOT JUDGE – If I cast my mind back to life pre-motherhood I knew a lot about the sort of mother I was going to be. My kids would never have bogies for a start. I wouldn’t pander to their cries for attention in the middle of the night because that would just be spoiling them. I would decide what they ate, not them, because if they were hungry enough they’d eat my healthy offerings. I certainly would never feed them biscuits or plonk them in front of the telly just so I could have 2 minutes peace to finish something. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA – I KNEW NOTHING. If I could go back and slap myself I would because being a parent is wonderful but it is HARD. Harder than you can imagine and sometimes I sat with them, munching cookies and watching Peppa Pig because in my sleep-deprived, disheveled state it was exactly what I needed.
Laura – Dear Bear and Beany
Sinead – Shinners & the Brood
Helen – Gumdrops and the bear
Hannah – Just Hannah Jane
Cheryl – Tea or Wine