The #beingamother project issue 26: What motherhood means to….Weep for Sleep

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Welcome to the 26th edition of the #beingamother project, featuring Lizzie from Weep for Sleep. This instalment really resonates with me with its nod to one of the biggest absolute mind-boggling things for me about motherhood – the ridiculous identity transformation we all go through as we shift, rather unknowingly, into mum gear and parenthood; so underprepared for it, but somehow all making peace with it in the end. And so without further ado, let’s hand over to Lizzie for her take on what motherhood means to her…

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.

Read more from Weep for Sleep on the blog here and connect on Facebook and Twitter.

To find out more about the #beingamother project, to take part, or to read previous editions, pop over here

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