How Motherhood Moves You Forward and Leaves You Behind

Jumping in

The only way to be ready to become a mum is just to jump in!

Before any non- parents roll their eyes and decide not to read this post, hang on. Because really, it’s for you.

You see you’re the ones who leave us new mums behind. You don’t realise it, and not all of you are guilty of it, but some of you put us in a box as soon as you find out we’re pregnant. And when the baby comes, you all but close the lid.

We can’t live the same life as you any more, and we thought we wouldn’t mind. But now that spontaneity must give way to a bit of stability, it’s kind of hard to let go.

For a while, you’ve lost us. We accept that, because we’ve also lost ourselves. We’re buried somewhere under the piles of washing and baby stuff.

Sometimes, even when I start to see the carpet reappear underneath the clothes and bibs and everything else, I still can’t find myself.  I’m a missing baby sock – nowhere to be seen.

You know, I’ve looked in the mirror so many times since becoming a mum and wondered who the hell it is staring back at me. Whoever this woman is, she has an actual baby and she doesn’t fit into any of my clothes. I don’t recognise her.

Getting to know her has taken time, or rather getting to understand that she’s just a different version of me has taken time.

And in that time, you have been on the outside assuming us new mums can’t go for drinks because we’re just looking after the baby. We probably are. But there’s more to it than that. And while we’re at home we might well find ourselves missing you more than you seem to miss us. Personally, following hashtags for the blogging conferences I couldn’t go on this year made me a little sad. I wanted to be a part of the community. Instead (rightly or wrongly), I just felt left behind.

When we become mothers, we think we’re ready for life to change irreversibly. But we’re not; I certainly wasn’t and I don’t know if anyone ever is. The responsibility is overwhelming and it’s not easy to let yourself believe that maybe, just maybe, you might be a good mum.

We just do our best because we love our children.

I’ve made a conscious decision to keep Holiday Baby’s picture off Social Media because I don’t want him to get to 20 and be like, “Mum, why are there 5,678,452 photos of me as a small child on the internet? Are you having a laugh? Get them off.”

But it’s not just about that, I’m also embarrassed to admit I’ve realised it’s about trying not to wind up friends who are still footloose and fancy free. Not another baby photo I imagine them groaning.

But I’ve seen one too many suggestions implying parenthood is not an adventurous journey and frankly, I’ve had enough.

Which country should we go to next

Greece, if you’re asking.

I still don’t want to fill your Facebook feed with photos of my child (that’s just my choice), but to you who think babies mean nothing but cries and dirty nappies I’ll say this:

Do your thing. Turn your nose up at the questionable stains on our jeans. Declare loudly and insultingly as you walk through the baby section in John Lewis that children are disgusting and you’re never having any (yes love, I heard you. You’re lucky I didn’t knock you out).

You may decide to leave us new mums behind, but that’s ok, because the truth is that motherhood is moving us forward, and the direction changes every day.

I read many a blog about travel (hardly surprising since this, too, is a blog primarily about my own travels), but if travel is one way to explore, discover and learn, then having a baby is another. So when you put us in your boring mum box, remember that.

And remember that we might be different versions of the people we were before we had babies, with bigger boobs and bigger bums (and maybe bigger feet – what’s all that about?) but WE ARE STILL THE SAME WOMEN. We’re usually just women who’ve done what you’re doing and decided we want to nurture a new life, rather than just live our own.

So while we might ramble on about baby poo and sleepless nights to the other mums we know, sometimes we’d like to talk about grown up sensible things with our other friends, like you if you’ll stick with us, such as whether we should buy those spectacularly impractical high-heel shoes we saw in the sale (er, YES!), or whether we could still drink a bottle of wine without passing out (how about no).

It’s the hardest thing a woman will ever do, having a baby; I believe that. Eight months and a medical saga on, I’m still sporting the scar to prove it (it’s a pain in the arse, that’s all I’m saying) but the difficulties go beyond the physical. It doesn’t help that sometimes those of you who don’t have children really do forget that we’re still who we were before they came along. It’s just that now were parents too.

So give us a break. Don’t write us off if we don’t manage to reply to a text straight away like we used to, or if we don’t ring you as often for gossipy chats about nothing. It doesn’t mean we don’t care, it probably just means we’re pinned down by a sleeping baby and we’ve stupidly left our phone in the other room.

And have a drink for me when you’re out having unplanned pints in the pub, because I’d love a beer. Or then again, don’t.

Leave us mums behind if you will, and don’t look back. We’ll get over it as our babies move us forward.

And we move fast – have you seen how quickly toddlers get about?

12 Comments

  • bevchen says:

    Bigger FEET? Really? Not looking forward to that – I already feel like I have clown feet!

  • Hi Clare – I have to admit this post kind of scares me a little! I’m a long-time traveller, who’s recently discovered my next adventure is going to be motherhood (big gulp). Was recommended your blog by a fellow blogger for baby/travel inspiration and tips. Looking forward to reading more…
    Claire :)

    • Clare says:

      Don’t let it scare you! The adventure is great, but there’s so much change to get used to, I think it’s important not to put too much pressure on ourselves as new mums. We want to do everything and be everything for everyone, but it’s too much! Being a mum is the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do though – wait until you see that first smile. You’ll cry like a baby yourself!

  • Lorri says:

    Great article. My kids are growing up and slowly leaving the nest and I am still moving forward. They grow up fast. The days are certainly long but the years are short.

    Your post encapsulated much of what I felt when I had my first child nearly 21 years ago. It is not anything you can plan for….

    By the way, my feet stayed bigger….all new shoes! :)

    • Clare says:

      I’m moved by your comment, Lorri. Thank you. And what you’ve said about the days being long but the years short? I’m eight months in and I already know it’s so completely true. No one could put it better!

  • Lucy says:

    Really interesting read from the other side of the childbirth fence! I hope I haven’t been too guilty of leaving my mum friends behind over the years. But my reminder to the mums would be not to forget your child-free friends too, I’ve had a few that have got so absorbed by their new baby friends and baby life that we end up being left behind too. Yes it’s lovely to meet and get to know your babies, but you are our friends and the ones that we really want to be spending time with, even though we understand it’s in limited supply in those first years, that’s what makes us appreciate it even more!

    • Clare says:

      Such a brilliant and reassuring point! It’s hard to believe sometimes that it’s us as mums who are the focus of our friends attention, I think. I mean, we look at our babies and see such cuteness that it’s easy to believe they are all anyone sees! How can we compete? So thank you for saying what you have. And I honestly don’t believe that all friends leave you behind when you have a baby. It’s just so hard to stay a part of everyone’s life in a way that I want to. I hope that makes sense!

  • Traveolani says:

    Very well written! Couldn’t have said it better.

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