As a teacher, I scheduled my wedding to be within a school holiday – Easter – so that I could spend some time preparing and enjoying the whole event. Returning to the staff room on the first day of the summer term, I was armed with wedding photos and looked forward to hearing about my colleague’s own experiences of the day. What I didn’t expect was a direct ‘so, when are you going to have kids?’ over lunch.
Hold up people, I have been married for less than 10 days!! My natural response was to say ‘not today!’ in my usual jovial/sarcastic tone, but the question really irked me. Can’t I even enjoy the ‘being married’ part before we start to get into the ‘having babies’ part? Apparently not. Getting married had marked me as a future mother.
I’m not going to lie, I loved being pregnant. Yes, I glowed – or at least felt like I did. My skin was clear, my hair no longer needed washing every day, I could let my gut hang out and eat whatever I wanted ALL THE LIVE LONG DAY. People showered me with compliments about ‘managing’ my work load, when in fact, I had more energy than I had had for months. It was easy, fun, enjoyable and I felt set up to have this baby and kick motherhood’s ass.
Having never had to go to hospital once in my life, midwife appointments were a novelty. All about me, my tummy, my physical condition. Lovely. Everything ticking along nicely and no concerns. ‘How’s Mum today?’ the midwife team would ask when I turned up at the Birth Centre every few weeks to have my belly measured and my urine dipped. I knew they only said it because they didn’t know my name, but it made me feel special. Me, a mum. Wow. Big news.
Fast forward to after the birth and just the very phrase makes my skin crawl – I HAVE A NAME, PEOPLE! – and I loathed my children being referred to as ‘baby’. ‘Is baby sleeping? How is baby feeding? Is mum feeling well?’
I walked the walk and talked the baby talk. We did swimming classes. We danced to incy wincy spider with scarves. I leapt around the room with a duck-shaped cap on my head at easter time. I fed and clothed and washed and dried and nursed and carried both of my babies. I was their mother and I did the mothering thing.
When I was training to be a teacher, a lecturer told us – ‘you need to decide – are you a science teacher or are you a teacher of science?’ We needed to work out where our personal priorities lay. Am I a scientist who has chosen to teach or am I a teacher who happens to teach science? I feel the same way about being a working mum – am I a teacher who happens to have her own children or am I mother who spends some of her time teaching?
Honestly the first time I have ever felt like a ‘mum’? When one of my daughters friend’s came up to me at a party and said ‘Sophie’s mummy, can you please cut up my pizza?’
I’m not just me any more. I am someone’s mummy. Two people’s mummy. And it’s ok that some people see me that way.
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