Losing Your Way (And Finding It Again)

When you have a baby you are given so much advice about how your life is going to change. You’re going to grow huge boobs, have no sleep, possibly get post-natal depression and sex will never be the same again. According to most new mummy literature chapped nipples, a flabby tummy and the baby blues are pretty much a given.

But little is said about the other ways your life will change. At the minimum you feel a whole new set of responsibilities: this little squawking human being is brought into your life and you are soley in charge of it not perishing. It’s your job to feed, clothe, bathe and entertain this little thing that you grew inside you for nine months. You give up your job, your social life and your sanity for something that’s not much bigger than a sack of flour.

If you’re like us and choose to take the opportunity of changing your life in honour of your new arrival then not only do you give up your job and social life but you also sacrifice your home, friends and lifestyle. You start life all over again to provide your little nipple muncher with what you consider to be a better quality of life, somewhere with cows and trees and Barbour jackets that have everything to do with practicality over ironic fashion.

Nobody told me the effect this can have on you as a new parent: the task of making new friends and losing touch with your old ones, finding your way in a new area, moving your belongings hundreds of miles, cutting yourself off from what used to be a lot of culture, restaurants and shops. Giving up a job you once loved to look for freelance work to subsidise the dream of being an all-in-one stay at home and work at home mother. These changes are huge, it can take a long time to come to terms with and be a huge pressure.

And does the baby ever thank you for all the great lifestyle changes and sacrifices you’ve made? Does it heck. It will continue to wake up throughout the night so not only do you have to get used to your new life, you get to do it on three hours of broken sleep. Thanks, nipple muncher!

(I’m really selling motherhood to you here, aren’t I?)

Anyway, the upshot of all this change that becoming a mother brings is that if you’re anything like me it can leave you having somewhat of an identity crisis. I didn’t work for the magazine any more, so that was no longer part of who I was. I’d given up my membership to Shoreditch and Soho house, so that was my social life out the window. All my friends were still in London, babyless, working and probably drinking at Shoreditch House. It was a part of me for such a long time and I missed it.

All this was compounded by a bit of a style crisis as apparently sequins aren’t suitable attire for NCT coffee mornings, and trying to meet parents my own age in this area seemed a bit of a futile exercise as there were none. If I worked I’d feel guilty and miss Elfie way too much (see: the great freelancing experiment of summer 2011) but if I didn’t work I’d miss the intellectual challenge. Trying to juggle all of these things meant that none of them were being accomplished satisfactorily and in the middle of it all I had no idea who I was anymore.

Sequins: will not help you blend in with the NCT mummies.

Admitting that yes, I really missed my old life, and realising it would be impossible for things to go back to the way they were was the first step: now to work out how to move forward and embrace life in a different way.

At the start of January this year I made 3 resolutions. One was to make all my bread from scratch rather than buying it (again: motherhood is sexy) and another was to start de-cluttering our house. But then I read this, In Praise Of Calling It Quits, by self-love advocate Gala Darling and it really struck a chord with me. It made me realise that if I’m finding my life hard, then I need to work proactively to change it. I’m not going to find friends by sitting at home moaning that I can’t find any mothers in my area with good haircuts and a similar outlook. I’m not going to feel more energized unless I get fitter and take time to myself to exercise. I’m not going to feel fulfilled at work or at home if I spend time working on a project with a client I don’t enjoy when I could be playing with Elfie.

So I made another resolution: to get off my bum and work hard at creating the sort of life I want to live. Common sense, really – it won’t come to me unless I create it. And if I’m feeling a bit like this there must be other women out there who feel the same.

But with the day to day drudgery of housework, money-making work and wiping bums it’s difficult to keep this resolve and maintain motivation, so I started looking to others with inspirational outlooks to drive me forward. And I want to start bringing a bit of this inspiration to my blog every week, with the idea that if they motivate me to become a better person, they can do the same for others. I’m going to ask my fitness, homemaking, cookery and work gurus to divulge their secrets and I will post them here for us all to feel inspired.

Image via MomDot

First up we have Kaisa Larkas. I met Kaisa completely by chance on Twitter through Mother’s Meetings, and quickly realised that insanely enough she lives in the village I am about to move to. She is a dedicated fitness follower, mother of three and fashion writer and PR and she’ll be here tomorrow telling us how she manages to stay motivated through the cold, dark days.

So the next time you’re sitting at home wondering what happened to your wild twenties you can think of me and remember you’re not alone. And then you can come here to read all about how to inject some get-up-and-go into your life. As Marjorie Pay Hinckley said, “the trick is to enjoy life. Don’t wish away your days waiting for better ones ahead”. Exactly.

 

27 thoughts on “Losing Your Way (And Finding It Again)

  1. Thank you! I feels like you have read my mind as I’m in pretty much the same boat as you! Looking forward to reading more. X

  2. This is completely me right now, both the motivation part and the ‘trying to find your way’ part.

    I didn’t move out of London, but I moved to the other side and had to learn a whole new area and try (fail) to make local friends. You are right, it is insanely difficult to do this whilst also getting to grips with a new baby. I can only imagine how it must have been to move further afield.

    Pre-Arlo, I worked in Shoreditch. That’s probably the part I miss the least, even though it still feels like a big part of who I am or who I was.

  3. Great post have read this blog and your previous blog for ages but never posted before. Am a mother of an amazing 11 month old but have found life to be changed utterly and im still trying to find my feet, looking forward to reading more.

    • Thanks for your comment Claire – I think you unwittingly hit the nail on the head here. E is amazing too and it’s so tough to have the contrast between enjoying being a mother more than anything and feeling completely out of your depth and maybe not enjoying your new life as much as your old one! x

  4. I didn’t have a wild twenties, not even close (and I’m only 24), but I’m with you on the finding my feet, finding myself, and generally just feeling a little bit lost. I think I am too picky when it comes to people, and it takes a lot to meet someone I click with. Once I do, I’m out of my depth.

    • I’m very similar – very picky about who I spend time with and who I call friends and I don’t click with many. It’s almost worth it, those I call friends are amazing, but it can feel very lonely at times x

  5. This really really hit home with me (I might be having a little cry right now), I’ve found it almost impossible to make friends with people my own age who like the things I like or even seem to slightly ‘get me’. But I’ve been making a hardcore effort to look for ‘my kinda people’ recently. Fingers crossed it starts working soon!

    V looking forward to Kaisa’s post! x

    • Ahh Bryony sorry I made you cry! It is so hard isn’t it when you can’t find anyone who ‘gets’ you and then trying to make friends starts feeling a but futile. Speaking of making friends, we still need our baby date! xx

  6. Alice this is a BRILLIANT post – you have hit the nail on the head, if your life isn’t making you happy then the only person who has the ability to make that change is you

    I’ve been submerged by work and the worry over Mr losing his job but I have to keep remembering that this is an opportunity for us to find the life that works for us and that isn’t thrust on us by being the consequence of old choices

    Take care of yourself and enjoy the journey and I can’t wait to read tomorrow’s post

  7. Ya know, I joined all houses end of last year. It’s something I always wanted, but never had the time to do when I was working in a bank. Not that they would have wanted me as a banker anyway… Motherhood has definitely turned my life upside down. Of course, I miss old aspects, but I love where this journey has taken me so far. I would have never written a book, or were on my 2nd renovation project, as I am now. It’s brought out the best in me, seriously.

    PS: Sequins rock
    PPS: Come to London and we’ll make use of that membership of mine. Anytime.

  8. So I finally got to read your post while on the toilet!! (had to include details as it fits so well with your sentiment!)
    Yep I am loving everything you have here and can hold my hands up and say that I feel like that at least four times a month, therefore Every week!! I also have had a similar change of heart in the daily routine thought process- I try to find joy in the small things.
    Lastly I am so glad to have found you on here. Trite to say, and probably said daily to you by others in the blogging sphere. But you are often the inspiration I need to keep flashing my sequins and to stay close to my own blubbering blog x

  9. You always keep it real Alice, which I think is so great as even with babies on the scene we are still our own women! I find it all to easy to think of all the things I could be doing rather than actually doing them, which always ends in a futile feeling bogged down moment…I think there’s a lot to be said for taking control of our destinies but through baby steps. Then hopefully with that progress will come more momentum :)

  10. I can totally relate, although not quite in the Shorditch House way! We moved to Wales from Bristol and have landed back in the village I grew up in, in a way this made me feel like I was moving backward not forward into a new family world. With the added nightmare that was Bells Palsy that struck in my pregnancy I found it very difficult to get out and meet other new mums – then one day I just thought sod it, only I can change my life and focus on my future – so, I packed up the baby and my wonky face and started attending mother and baby groups in the area. I am happy to say that I am now loving my new life, I have made new friends, not all the kinds of people I would have usually got along with but motherhood changes you, in many more ways than you can imagine!

  11. I think that living and working in London is very much all consuming – more so than it is in other places. It’s very easy to feel that it defines you as a person and that it’s what your entire life is about, but sometimes I have to take a step back and get some perspective because ultimately I am not my job. My gravestone will not read “Sophie worked in a digital agency, go her” and when I’m old I’m fairly sure I won’t care about it that much, no matter how much I love my job. I spent a really long time struggling as an intern trying to ‘live the dream’ so to speak, so it’s really easy for me to get wrapped up and let it define me because that’s all my life has been about since I finished uni. Now I’m there I can’t help but feel I should have done something ‘meaningful’. You’ll have your family forever and what you give to them will be greater than anything you can ever put into Vice Magazine. Even if it seems unfulfilling at times step back and think that you really have ‘had it all’ and have so much more to achieve professionally and as a mother, that’s not something that everyone can say. Positivity is a winner!

  12. As Marjorie Pay Hinckley said, “the trick is to enjoy life. Don’t wish away your days waiting for better ones ahead”. Exactly.

    These were the words I needed to hear! Feeling trapped and completely lost for months, now I can put these days behind me – thank you!

  13. Hey hun, I could have written this post myself. I really struggled to adapt to leaving behind my ‘old’ life- while I adore my new one and wouldn’t change it for anything, I do find it hard sometimes to hear of nights out, or hearing of friends still living the life in London. I also find it hard as I have made a few friends through having Mads and going to groups, but only one I would say would be a friend if it wasn’t for the fact we have babies in common.
    I am also really struggling at the moment with the fact that I don’t want to leave my career behind me. While I sometimes think I would love to be a stay at home mum, the fact is I just can’t afford to be, and also a part of me actually wants to work. I enjoy it and I like the balance of being at home and work. The only problem is I keep aspiring to do better and going for job interviews for places that are way more hours- I have been for an interview that I would love to get but it is more hours and would mean late nights- I struggle with the guilt of wanting to be a Mummy and wanting to have a career- I know its only 3 days but its still 3 days a week away from my wonderful little girl.
    You don’t live very far away from me at all, if you ever fancy meeting for a drink sometime then I think that would be lovely- I think we have a lot in common.
    x

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  16. I can really identify with where you are at. I am 28 and have two kids – am also a former journalist who is now running her own little PR company in the sunny fields of Gloucestershire. I too left London to bring up then children. What I find really hard is that all my friends are pretty much doing exactly what we were all doing a few years ago… They are having a wild time, meeting people, driving their career forward at a million miles an hour, shopping and drinking cocktails every weekend burning that extra cash they have in their back pockets. I however am more commonly found up to my eye balls in baby sick, doing the ironing and trying to juggle motherhood and working while living in a community which is on average 50 years old than me.
    I wouldn’t change my life for the world but it is just great to have found your blog as I feel a real link with what you are doing and where you are in your life.
    x

  17. And to you darling Alice,
    That ID crisis I can so readily relate to. I think, with each new addition, we are forced to find a ‘new normal’ and to find out who we are as our lives evolve.

    You’re doing a cracking job at adjusting, keep looking, forward and back, and keep growing as a person.

    D x

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  19. Wow! This has struck a massive chord with me. I moved half way across the country to the back end of oap-filled Essex just before the birth of my second baby, to be closer to my partner’s job. I’ve always been very independent, having raised my daughter alone for seven years while working and finishing my degree. So I left behind a job I absolutely love, my friends and family, my pretty little cottage and a lifestyle I love and repeatedly ask myself for what? I was offered a transfer to an establishment in central London, but the reality of commuting for that length of time every day is not appealing! My son is almost 5 months old now and gradually i’m adjusting and trying to see things in a more positive light but it’s still difficult. Although I could never wish the way I feel on anyone I feel so much more ‘normal’ knowing that i’m not the only person in the world who feels this way! Thank you!

  20. Thanks for this post Alice! It’s really struck a chord with me and definitely inspired me to give myself a massive kick up the bum and start being proactive about change. A number of things have happened over the past few months (one day i may blog about them if i’m brave enough) and I’ve been left thinking that life is something that at the moment seems to be happening around me and to me but not really with any participation from me.

    Look at us making changes well in advance of new years resolution time (let’s hope we can keep it up!!) xx

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