The case of the curious mama

16 Jul

I’m a 32 year old mother of one living in South East London.

Right now I’m on maternity leave and my daughter, Nancy is almost 8 months old.  During my pregnancy I decided to use this break from work to not only get to know my new baby and make her feel safe and happy in the world, but also to explore my interests and passions a bit more.  Work for many of us is so full on and zapping of all energy and brain cells that whilst in amongst it you just don’t have the opportunity to do this.  Aren’t us Mums lucky that we get to take a break (albeit to do the hardest job that exists on the world, anywhere, but more on this later..) to reflect and explore what we would gravitate towards if it wasn’t for work?

The reality.  Ahh yes, the reality.  Well the reality is, I TOTALLY underestimated how all-consuming, emotionally and physically exhausting, life-changing and perception-shifting becoming a Mum is.  I remember lying in my bed on the post-natal ward, holding my tiny, beautiful new baby girl and realising that within a matter of minutes, life had changed forever and I had changed forever.  Having a baby is the single most significant thing I’ve ever done.  I have an actual baby and she needs me, for like, everything.  I put her down and she will just stay there until I move her.  She cries and I need to work out what it is she needs and give it to her.  She struggles to sleep and I have to help her.  Such incredible responsibility.  BIG STUFF.

8 months in I can confirm that it is indeed big stuff.  Amazing stuff.  Magical and rewarding and heart-warming stuff.  While at the same time tiring and confusing and meltdown-inducing stuff.  Someone said to me recently at a party that being a parent takes you out of yourself.  You can’t be all about you anymore – this little thing is the most important thing and needs you the whole time.  It’s true.  For Mums especially, not only does it take up every waking minute and leave little time for you, ‘you’ are not ‘you’ anymore.  In the early days of having Nancy the tiredness, the weight of responsibility and the hormones (!) made me into a less confident, more emotional, and totally uncertain version of myself.  Now that I’ve been doing it a bit longer (and the hormones have left my body) I believe I am now a more patient, caring and thoughtful version of myself with a stronger sense of purpose and with quite different values to the person I was before I became a mother.  

I think about 3 or so months in things felt a little easier and I decided that I wanted to do something for ‘me’.  I actually told friends I was ‘out the other side’.  Hmm.  I started volunteering again, taking on a role that I could do in my own time and as I had the time.  And it did feel really good.  It was definitely good for Nancy too as I was no longer obsessing about her the whole time.  I was talking to people (about something other than babies), getting out and feeling more connected.  It made me happy and weirdly helped me to relax a little.  However, it wasn’t long before teething struck..and then weaning, and I realised that you never really come out the other side.  Things don’t get progressively easier with kids – as my Mum says, it’s a rollercoaster.

However, 8 months on me and Nancy kind of know where we are with each other.  And so, I really see now as a great time to get out and explore.  I could spend the last 3 months of maternity leave meeting for coffees, going to playgroups and walking around the park, which admittedly would be lovely.  Or instead, me and Nance could explore – go to places we’ve never been before.  Get involved in exciting local projects.  Seek inspiration.  Try new things / learn things.  Meet interesting people.  Who knows where it could take us?

So this blog is dedicated to exploration.  There has to be loads of this kind of stuff out there in London town for Mums and children to do together that makes this time even more productive, inspiring and enlightening?  I shall find it and report back. 

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