In Australia, it’s mother’s day today, and though it’s really just a silly old Hallmark day designed to make you spend your money on poorly written pre-printed cards and recycled chocolates, I do love a good excuse to demand breakfast in bed, a massage or a lap full of fresh blooms.
This year though, actually being a mum for the first time, had me pondering over how life has changed becoming a mum, and how all my fears as a non-mum, about to become one — never came true. I thought this post might be useful to those of you worried about what mum life might do to your current lifestyle, or maybe it’ll just be a laugh.
If there is one thing I can say, it does change you. Change shouldn’t scare you. I feel like we tend to look upon change as a bad thing, moving from a comfortable state to something unfamiliar. Change isn’t that — change is exciting. It’s what we’re designed to do. This “change” has made me evolve, it’s been a discovery of what I’m capable of. And I know that it is, or will be, for you too.
If anything, I hope it can act as a small reminder to call your mum today. Or send her some flowers. Take her out for breakfast, maybe. Motherhood is tough, exhausting and terrifying. But it’s also the most rewarding, incredible and the most exciting thing in the whole wide world.
Here are a few things motherhood has taught me, at least so far…
I’m more mindful of others’ time.
This is a big one. I was always very respectful of people’s time — at work and within friendships. I guess it’s something I was taught as a kid that you need to respect, and if you don’t have the time, don’t promise the time.
Now, being a mum, I’ve come to understand what being busy really means. And how precious planning and giving away your time can be. When people don’t respect that, it’s bloody annoying, so I treat others with the same respect I hope to receive myself. In saying all this, being a new mum means that every day is unpredictable, so if things turn pear shaped suddenly, or are running four hours behind schedule, that’s totally OK, and it does NOT make you a shit mum. Just let people know accordingly, and manage expectations. Flaky “friends” and acquaintances never were a big priority for me, and now I don’t even bother.
A hot shower and a nap fixes everything.
To me this probably relates more back to the newborn days, when things were getting too much and seemed impossible. Half an hours nap, a long hot shower later and I was good to go. I’ve found the same works in a stressful work situation. Or a bumpy time in a relationship. Take a deep breath and give yourself a time out — you’ll come back with a new, calmer perspective and can tackle problems rationally.
I wasn’t busy before, but I thought I was.
If you think you’re busy balancing friends, family, work, love life and your dog… you’re actually not. I’m sorry to anyone that I have offended by saying this, but until you have a human dependent, whether that be your own kid, looking after someone else’s, a grandchild or a niece or a nephew, you’ve not know busy. I admit, I used to roll my eyes a little at parents who would have to leave meetings on time, cancel something last minute because of a sick child, or walk in to work tired on Monday because they had kids’ sport on all weekend.
Oh boy, do I realise now what a dick I was for that now. Being a parent is a full-time job in it’s own right, in every way.
Looking after yourself is not selfish.
This was the hardest one for me to grasp. I know people whom this comes naturally to — when they’ve had enough, they let someone know, and go to catch a break. I admire these people in a big way. I am the opposite, and I’ve tried to change this for years, and motherhood has really forced me to break this bad habit of mine.
You’re not superhuman. And giving, giving and giving until you break, is no good to anyone. You have to recognise when you’ve just about had enough, and make time for yourself. If you’re breastfeeding, you need to be eating well, be drinking enough water, and getting some rest. Make sure people around you help you do that. And you’re no good to your baby if all you are is tired and miserable during his awake time. If you are, involve your partner. And how will you teach your toddler good manners if you’re snapping at the barista in front of her? No one gets it right all the time, but set yourself up for success by looking after yourself. In a way, you’re looking after them by doing so.
Business success is no longer about the dollars in the bank, but about being able to make the time to spend with your loved ones.
Before Rose came along, my work was my baby. I worked my arse off, to top off that bank account and save for a house one day. When our little lady came along, that all shifted, and I’m not sure what did it exactly, but my priority now lies with time we get to spend together as a family, rather than worrying about the superficiality of what lies after the $ sign in the bank statement. Seeing her first smile. Hearing her interact with her father. Taking long walks on the weekend. This, is happiness.
No fancy car will make you happy. Your dream house won’t make you happy. Not even a perfect wardrobe or the most expensive handbag will get you happiness. This is probably a lesson that I should have learned by now, at 30+ years, but I can safely say I did not fully appreciate this sentiment until now.
You will not lose who you are, but you need to make conscious time for you.
You’re still you, even when you’re a mum. But, you will have to make time for it now, where as it might have come to you naturally before your little person came along.
Go for a run. Have a good cry. Get a baby sitter. Scream. Get your nails done. Have a bubble bath and a glass of wine. Get a massage. Read a book. Scroll aimlessly on the ‘gram. Call you own mum.
I get my time in when she’s gone to bed, or has a nap during the day. Forget the washing, the dishes and the trash. This is the time to focus on the things that make you feel like you. Reading, exercise, blogging, podcasts, face-masks… whatever it is, make time for that.
Just because you’re a mum does not mean you have to give up the things that you love, or you feel make up a part of whom you are. It took me a couple of months, but I realised I really missed blogging, so I jotted down a back log of things I wanted to write about, and a few months and late nights later, here I am. Exercise is next on my list, and all these little things help me feel like me.
If its one last thing I will say, is that you will not lose yourself, mum-to-be. This was my single biggest fear in the nine month wait for our little one to arrive. Being someone who throws themselves into everything that they do, I thought that this would be my new “me”; diapers, baby clothes and milestones, and that the hard working, driven, creative and fun Steph would be long gone.
A comment was sent my way after we had to sell and move on from THR1VE, something that was already incredibly heart-wrenching and hard to do, a woman I do not know, wrote to me that “mummy blogger got a new offer”. This honestly hit me like an axe to the heart, and was something I kept in the back of my mind for months. Had I given up my career to become a mum? Had I really made the right choice?
I realise now that this (excuse me) bitch of a woman most likely isn’t a mother. She’s an emotionally unintelligent person with access to a keyboard and no sense of respect. I feel sorry for people that have nothing better to do than put others down behind the safety of a screen, and no sense of what kind of time and effort has gone into creating something you truly believe in.
It’s a lesson for you too, because there will always be people out there who judge you, no matter what journey you decide to embark on.