There seems to be some kind of unspoken agreement: Once you become a mother, you must forfeit your rights to be anything else. And frankly, it’s bullshit.
And no, I don’t mean losing your I.D card as you fumble through your bag to find a spare dummy, while your child screams bloody murder in the shopping trolley. I mean losing every sense of what makes you, you.
If a mother is seen anywhere without her children – be it the pub, the grocery store, hell, even the mailbox – the first question asked becomes predictable.
“Where are the kids?”
Never: “Hi, how are you?” or “How is your day going?”
It’s like people see us without our kids, and assume we have locked them in a closet somewhere. I mean, God Forbid we spend five minutes trying to run an errand without them!
Mum-guilt and mum-shaming
I still recall the first time I went out for a Girl’s Night after having my daughter. I went to the local pub with some friends, while my partner stayed home with the baby. Every single person I came into contact with said the same thing.
“What are you doing here? Where’s your baby?”
When I responded saying she was home with her Dad, people could not believe it. I mean, they couldn’t even do me the kindness of hiding the shock and disgust from their faces.
This starts to take its toll after a while, and you can find yourself being riddled with mum-guilt. That night, I left my friends early, to go home with tear-filled eyes and apologetically cuddle my baby. I felt like the worst Mum ever.
It is interesting that every time my fiance has a “Boy’s Night”, the whereabouts of our children never comes into question. I mean, they are home with mum, obviously?
So why the double standard?
Why aren’t we allowed to be anything other than a Mum? Most of us have career goals, personal goals, and dreams that don’t include our kids, and guess what? That’s okay! We are allowed.
Despite what you’ve been forced to believe, you are allowed to do things for yourself.
Want to go and get your nails done? Girl, go get those claws and screw anyone who questions how you could possibly change a nappy with “those things”.
Want to put the kids in day care for the day, just so you can sit at home and binge watch Grey’s Anatomy? Go for it! The kids will be fine and dishes can wait (I’m speaking from experience).
The evidence is clear and self-care is vital for mothers, in whatever form works for you.
“Find what works and do it lots. Colouring, sex, chatting, writing, watching TV, or the ocean, if it feels lovely and good for the soul – it probably is.” – Natalie Bailie, founder of Mental Mutha
Shake things up a bit, and break away from the same routine.
If you feel as though every day is Groundhog Day, you aren’t alone.
If you feel like every single day, it’s the same old thing: watch Disney, change nappies, pick up toys from the floor, stop siblings killing each other, make food the kids won’t eat, find yourself fantasising about sipping mojitos on a sun chair in Bali… you are not alone.
It’s okay to want things for yourself.
It’s okay to do things for yourself.
It doesn’t make you a bad mother for needing a break sometimes. It doesn’t mean you love your children any less.
We all have moments where we just need to hear ourselves think without “Let It Go” or “Baby Shark” on repeat in the background.
It’s also okay to get to the point where you are ready to dump the kids at Grandma’s house for a week, only to miss them five minutes later. We have all been there, too.
Motherhood is like a mixed bag of emotions and some days you don’t know what you’re going to pull out.
When you feel yourself slip away
Being a mother is overwhelming. For all the love and adoration you feel, its also normal to feel a level of longing for your old life, or even resentment towards your new life.
It’s normal to wish you had something else to contribute other than being a mum. Sometimes that means going back to work, finding a hobby, or even just having allocated “me time”.
Sometimes it means just longing for the days when getting in and out the car didn’t take fifteen minutes, a bucket of tears and a lost shoe.
I would be lying if I said I enjoyed being a mother 100% of the time. Does the good outweigh the bad? Of course, a-hundred-fold!
Would I change it for the world? Never in a million years.
But I reserve the right to want other things in my life, on top of motherhood. And so do you. Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise.