When you become a Mumma every aspect of your life changes. For me, it became more enriched, fuller, better. And every version of me changed too, The Woman, The Wife, The Daughter, The Employee, The Friend etc..not negatively but it was like a new perspective on so many things. And so far on our 18 months we’ve had to keep changing and adjusting to what’s happening in our lives – from the birth, to Hubby returning to work, to Me returning to work, to baby Leyton becoming more independent… whereas my life was black and white previously it’s now so enriched from becoming a Mumma.
So these are the 7 versions of me currently… that you may find yourself becoming too… 🙂
Becoming a Mumma means for me a massive change of priorities. That means bubble baths with a book, painting my nails in front of a romcom, nights out drinking with friends, going to the gym or playing tennis, or hours spent in the garden etc etc…. I knew those things and many more would stop. I was prepared for this and didn’t mind because my whole world became about my baby. But what I didn’t quite realise was by having no Me time, I was actually forgetting who Me was. If you slowly stop doing anything for yourself and putting yourself first occasionally you forget who you are and what you have to offer. My self worth took a dive as I felt like all I was, was Leytons Mumma…don’t get me wrong, it’s the best role in the world, and that’s fine until you have a bad day or a few bad days with your baby when you feel like you can’t do anything right and then you realise how much pressure lies on your role as a Mumma if it’s all you feel you do. So I started giving myself some time as a person too. I tried to not feel selfish when I had a meal out without the baby, or went shopping, did no housework and had a pamper evening instead (it’s only when I pull a skirt out of my wardrobe that I realise I haven’t shaved my legs in weeks!) I did some return to work days when Leyton was 5 months old – just to remind myself that I could do other things. I never dreamed I would want to be away from my baby at all that early on, but reality was different and it’s what I needed to realise I have a lot to offer and remember the different parts of me. Being a Mumma is still the most important part of me but it’s also only one part of me.
Our relationship was at a high when we were pregnant, so excited about our new joint venture, our little person that we could share and love forever. When Leyton arrived it was hard. I was focusing so much on how to breastfeed, how to wind him, how he was sleeping, etc etc… I had no time to even think about anything or anyone else let alone being a Good Wife (whatever one of those is!) I think most relationships struggle a bit because it’s such a sudden change in your lives together, it undoubtedly brings about arguments and questions about each others techniques to handling each situation with this new person you are responsible for. Add in sleep deprivation (a form of torture used by Special Forces remember!) and the creeping doubt if you’re doing things right, and lack of vitamins because you’re forgetting to eat properly… and your arguments grow. My lovely understanding husband was so patient and happily ran out in the night to get different teething gels or takeover from me in the night even after back to back shifts at work. And yet I’d still tear his head off. And of course if you’re boobs are leaking, you’re covered in stretch marks and excessive skin, then you may be like me that it’s difficult to feel sexy and get in the mood! It’s taken a while for us to feel some level of normality – it takes conversation and honesty on both sides, but hopefully we are now becoming stronger than ever and the Wife version of me is finding myself again. Finding my feet in this new family unit we have.
Becoming a Mumma made me think a lot about family. It made me wonder about how my own parents, step parents and in-laws dealt with things and gave me a new found respect for so many things. It made me realise how situations growing up were not so black and white, as I ponder about how I would deal with similar family situations when Leyton hits the teenage years and beyond. As I became a Mumma they became Grandparents and so the circle of life is repeated again (cue Lion King theme tune) as I go through similar mistakes and milestones that they did with me and my husband growing up.
It’s also made me want to spend more time with my family and take my responsibility of being a daughter more seriously…. I want to be able to contribute to family outings and dinners as a ‘Proper’ grown up with a family of my own now. I want to soak up information about gardening, cooking, sewing and all those good ol’ fashioned stereotyped Mumma things which I’ve now realised I actually have a real interest in. I’m not saying everyone turns into some 1950’s housewife when they have a baby, I’m only talking from my own experience that I feel I have grown as a person and as a daughter… these are extra interests and parts of my personality now which I love!
It’s so lovely to share the joys of being a parent with my siblings and watching them being Aunties and Uncles….to see how much these people I have grown up with show such affection to this little baby which is my world now. And as a Big Sister I have found I now worry more about my siblings and their happiness…I feel oddly maternal to everyone it seems! And I can’t wait until hopefully some of them have children and I can offer advice and see their parenting techniques. I class myself as an OTT cautious parent (I still sterilise tables when I’m out for example) and I couldn’t care less what people think of my parenting style. But it will be interesting if my siblings share any of my parenting thoughts as well as my genes.
Having a baby reduces your available time massively. It also means you spend a pretty large percentage of your time talking all things Baby… baby things are on your brain constantly and so it does naturally happen you tend to lean towards people that have had children too to share your worries and questions with. It’s a pretty confusing time and sometimes you just want to vent, or run ideas past someone or ask if what you’re experiencing is normal. I’d probably shock even myself if I added up all the hours I’ve spent talking about poo in the last few months for example. No joke. But hey, talking leads to learning and there’s never an end to the lessons in parenthood.
So this means I’m naturally spending a lot of time with friends who have babies. And this doesn’t mean I don’t love the friends who don’t have children, but just that with my baby-friends:
- I don’t have to feel guilty if I spend ages talking about my baby, as they do the same.
- I don’t have pangs of inferiority with them because my life just isn’t as interesting as it used to be. I don’t have lots of hobbies now, go on nights out, money for excursions or holidays or shopping trips, or work gossip (although now I have returned part time I can once again join in with martyrdom conversations of working). My life is so focused around my baby that I don’t have much other stuff to add to conversations any more.
- I don’t have to worry if my baby does something inappropriate like does a massive fart / is sick everywhere / has a tantrum in a restaurant or shop or somewhere I’d rather them not. Because their baby has probably done it too.
So I know I’m a pretty pants friend sometimes. I can be self absorbed, impatient, tired, crabby, moany, weepy, forgetful, and I may just stop my sentences half way through to say ‘No Leyton’ over and over. I’d love to say these are all new traits since becoming a Mumma but I know I had a few faults before 😉 ….. but can only say that I now have a new perspective of life, and on a good day I have a wealth of patience and understanding so feel I have improved as a Friend. I know I have changed since having Leyton and can only say I am trying my best, and whereas some friends have become a little distant, I do have new depths of friendship with others . I’ve gained some new friends through Baby Groups and am learning so much from them too, and I am so blessed to have them in my life. Whether they have babies or not though, I love every one of my friends and could not be me without them.
Obviously taking 9 months off on maternity leave can shake your ability to feel like a fully functioning employee. I’ve been working non-stop since leaving school so it took some time to realise I was off till the following year guilt free. And whilst being off I had so many contradictory thoughts about returning full time, part time or not at all. I wasn’t sure what I really wanted to do vs what I needed to do.
I had a really hard time the first few months and think I was bordering on depressed. (If you feel down or struggling perhaps read Tate’s Mumma’s story on realising she has Post Natal Depression and the early signs – click here.) I agreed to do some return to work days when Leyton was 5 months (something I would have never dreamed I would do previously) as I needed to leave the house and glimpse at my life before, and know that I still had ‘it’. That I could function and indeed succeed at something when everything else seemed so so hard. This is not a normal way to feel I know now, but I can honestly say doing 0.5 – 1 day a week for a few weeks worked like a tonic for me in making me see how important my time with my baby was – to appreciate it all over again. I was lucky that my husband works shifts and I could express milk for them to have whilst I worked and the majority of time I worked from home in my spare room, so didn’t necessarily have all the stresses of actually returning to work. Leyton was with his daddy and my work were flexible.
But both then and now, I’m acutely aware how my perspective on work has changed. Again not everyone finds this… but because my priorities changed so much I no longer put work in the top list of things that drive me. I need work, and I still work tirelessly hard at whatever I do, but I’m always keeping check on how much time I’m away from Leyton and I’m aware straight away if my work-life balance is going south (even if I can’t necessarily change it straight away). In the final weeks leading up to my maternity leave (I broke up at 36+ 4 weeks and had Leyton at 38 weeks) I worked my full time hours and late evenings and some Saturdays as I rushed to do a comprehensive handover. On my last day I should have left at 4.30pm but stayed till 6 typing, printing and binding even though I was knackered and the size of a whale…. I was OCD on making sure I was doing whatever I could for my colleagues. Now my priority is my son, my husband and actually me too, and I’m OCD in making sure we all have what we need as a family. And to be honest, I can’t see my priorities changing back. I hope to stay in part time employment until my kids have grown up so I have both one toe in the workplace and the rest of my feet at home with my family. So Me as an Employee will probably adapt again then, but whereas I used to fit around work, at the heart of my search for a new job will always be to fit around my family and my life now.
So this is new part of me, and I can’t forget to mention this part, can I?! I had a happy life before – great family, friends, work and sense of well being. I always knew I wanted children but I can truly say it’s been the best thing to ever happen to me, and I didn’t foresee how much having a child could change me. I knew becoming a Mumma would be a challenge but I didn’t quite realise how it would change all the different parts of my personality too (like Above)… but I’m happy with that now. Being a Mumma is my favourite version of me. Although initially I felt the heavy weight of being responsible for this little person and how they turn out, now I feel pride and I know that I’m not alone – I have a whole network of family and friends that will all share a part of raising and influencing Leyton positively in some way. I am a Mumma in everything that I do, it’s the biggest alteration in me because I don’t ever really take this hat off and that’s fine by me. That’s why when I write this blog, I am Leyton’s Mumma because that’s the part of me which can contribute on here. It’s taken a while for me to adjust and I have had some of my hardest times in my life in this journey of motherhood so far, but I don’t regret anything and the overwhelming love and joy I feel just watching Leyton grow and smile makes everything truly worth the hardships.
So although each version on me will keep changing and I may get a few more too, I feel that I am a more rounded person now I’m a Mumma. Not only have I gained a son, but also all the gifts being a Mumma has given me. Seeing my husband become a daddy and stare at Leyton with adoring eyes. Seeing our parents love their Grandson. Seeing the changes in me, just appreciating life more and seeing how life is richer… Which is why I’m proud to be writing as Leyton’s Mumma. And I hope others feel this too.
So you can see, before Leyton my life was Acapella, and now It’s a Whole Symphony 🙂