Definition, MUM: strong of will and strong of stomach. Wears comfy clothes and enjoys wipe clean fabric handbags (cheers Cath). Hardworking. Infrequently brushes hair, can translate any grunt or squeal. Drinks coffee black. Can untangle any knot, comfort any bump and has endless reserves of lavender-scented love…Even for those that smear Sudocream on mirrored wardrobes (I mean you Leo).
My pre-mum self was a size 4 (yes really!) was an ‘anxty’, window browsing, cocktail drinking, Facebooking, heel owning, book reading, ‘own-time’ loving, make up wearing series watcher. I thought of little else outside my in-the-present bubble. I loved my job and spending time with my friends. I wasn’t one for flashy holidays or expensive clothes but I went and had my nails done every now and again and toyed with the idea of living abroad.
I was young *smiles with fondness and a bittersweet sense of missing that girl*.
Before. After. Before. After.
I love being a mother, and adore my son but it has been a bumpy road, a path littered with holes and cracks and spiky, sharp obstacles. Mum-me would intimidate pre-child me, pre-child me would think mum-me is an aesthetic mess (she would probably be right). Mum-me is even more hard-working, has grown in both dress size and inner strength, though the inner confidence still wobbles. I still am a social media addict. Pre-child me slept better, laughed easier but was often lonely. Mum-me will never be alone again (Leo informed me yesterday he is living with me until he is 42).
If you would have asked me 6 years ago what I thought it would be like to be a mother I would have sighed contentedly and offered a naïve answer like; wonderful, fulfilling, natural, and joyful. It can be all of those things. It can also be difficult and frustrating.
God, it is exhausting.
When my little boy was born I awaited that magical, resplendent mummy bond, the rush of boundless love. Granted I had been in labour 30 odd hours but when they put him in my arms for the first time I politely said, ‘no thank you’. Society why did you ply those expectations at me, it left me bereft, disappointed, berating myself. Of course I wanted to hold him swiftly after but still the overwhelming feeling was shock, awe and utter terror. Here was a little life and I was responsible for him. I couldn’t untangle my headphones, how was I going to be a good parent?
The best way I can describe my ‘motherly love’ as an undercurrent. I feel it fiercely when he is gone or when he hurts himself. I know I would stand in front of a bus for him, but there are some days where I don’t like him. Days when he bites, when he does not listen, days when he draws on the walls.
He is me, my pride and stubbornness; has my great grandmother’s eyes. He is himself too. No one can drive me to the edge of my sanity like he can. Other people’s children’s children adore me, I think it’s because I have Disney princess hair and a squishy face.
My own child makes me feel clueless but brings me incandescent joy. I try hard.
When the house is quiet I creep upstairs sometimes and watch him sleep. I am sure all parents do. Quietly I drink in his soft profile, smooth his warm head.
I want to protect him, keep him happy but know I won’t be able to protect him forever.
But I will worry forever. He needs bumps and scrapes and experiences. Mum will be behind him like a reassuring shadow to whisper encouragement.
Being a mum is different to what I envisaged. I am sometimes ridiculous, but always loving even if it is a clumsy love. Patience is hard. I am his and he is mine and we survive in the chaos off odd socks and ice cream, tears and TV stand-offs. We make duvet forts and play in the woods. I guess I am doing ok. Pre-child me is proud of mum-me.
Parenting is doing the best you can. Hats off to you all.
I only dropped him twice.
Guest post offering a frank look at being ‘Mum’, written for @meetothermums Original link http://goo.gl/vwnqzK.