The Cliches Are True
What does it mean to be a mum? Well for starters all the clichés have come true: I do feel like a piece of my heart (okay, actually just the whole thing) is walking around outside of my body. I also now cry at poetry. Yep, actual tears for actual poetry.
To have this tiny little human relying fully on you is the most daunting yet empowering feeling. I’ve found days as a mum of a young one are strange, I feel like I’m doing everything and nothing all in one. A friend once described it as both hectic and dull. I often think she was bang on the money. I feel like I’m constantly racing from toddler group to Tesco to the park to a friend’s house but end the week wondering what I actually got done. What do I have to show for it? You know, other than keeping a tiny human alive and fed and stimulated and loved and happy.
That’s another feeling I’ve had to fight – ‘getting stuff done’. It looks different these days. As a lover of being proactive and having To Do lists, I’ve had to teach myself to stop: to lie down in the middle of the afternoon and watch my sweet baby while he naps, because when I blink he’ll be at school. To take a stroll around the park rather than marching, head down from A to B. To sing Twinkle Twinkle over and over because without fail it makes him smile every time.
It’s funny how your priorities change: I used to pity mums that I’d see in restaurants jiggling a crying baby on their hip or pacing up and down the street outside with a sugar-filled toddler while their friends carry on chatting and their lunch goes cold. Funny thing is, that’s what most of my meals look like these days and I don’t even notice. I’m not too bothered about my avo on toast, for the sake of him I’d eat my dinner cold for the rest of my days.
Parenting can be pull-your-hair-out challenging (Jet’s just learnt to shriek and when I say ‘shriek’ I mean ‘I think my ears might start bleeding shriek’), it can be lonely and a lack of sleep can feel like some sort of torture. But I also think it’s okay to say you’re loving it, it’s okay to say that actually your baby slept well last night, or was a total dream to be around all day. We need to be honest when we’re struggling but also celebrate in each others’ small victories. Community is so important as a mum. To know there are people to offload too, but also people to phone and sing “my baby slept all night!” to.
Am I just a mum now? I still have career goals that I’m aiming for and interests that I love to do and social injustices that I want to see changed. But the difference is I don’t want those things for me anymore, I want them for him. I want him to be proud of his mum, I want him to see that women (and men!) can do both and be both. We can work our butts off and also mother our butts off (if you get me).
I’m still Ruth, I’m still me. Or maybe now I’m a little more than me. My heart feels bigger and my compassion greater, I’m more tired and more covered in sick than ever before and maybe a little less able to remember where I left my ruddy keys and a little less sociable after 8pm.
But for now I’m proud to just be Jet’s mum. Because, after all, he is my greatest achievement.