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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.