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.
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?