There is nothing worse than being a mother and trying to find your identity at the same time. Before you became a parent, you already are YOU. You are the one in charge of your day, your time. You are the one in charge of your own life. And then you become a mother, and you hand it all over to the small, screaming person in your lap. The person who is stealing your sleep, wrenching your time and making it so that your life has gone from louche and laid back to planned with the strength of military time. You have no more of yourself to give once you add extra titles. You are no longer Katie, the coolest chick around, you’re Mother, Housekeeper, Possible Career Woman, Possible Wife – do you see where we’re going with this?
There are so many labels on you now, that finding the time in your day – beyond the nappies and feeding – to do something that reminds you of the girl that you used to be is impossible. You want to make the time, and you want to have someone to come in and take all the responsibility away. Sure, you don’t want to give it up for good, but there has to be a little give, right?
Well, Mama, you’re absolutely right about that. Your time may have been swallowed by family life, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make it happen. You can have that dreamy moment, buried within brand new, hotel quality bedding in your own bed, with a book, the door closed and no one to bother you for a few hours. The key? TAKING the time. No one out there is going to hand it to you – unless you have a super supportive partner, of course. You are on your own with this one, and if you can make time to do everything for everyone else, why aren’t you doing it for yourself?
Finding motherhood hard or relentless doesn’t make you a bad parent in the slightest. It makes you human. It makes you ready to take on any challenge because you’ve already taken on the biggest challenge that life has to give you. Being allowed to carve out some time for yourself is not too much to ask. We’re not suggesting to you that you ditch the baby onto Grandma every second that you get, but we are saying that there is nothing in an hour or two a week to take a moment and breathe. To go to a restaurant and order a meal – alone – and eat it with two hands. To do that without wearing an outfit covered in baby sick.
A bath or a shower is not self-care: it’s basic hygiene. You should not consider a bath or a shower to be a “treat” for you, so start being creative about how you want to spend your precious self-care time. Tell your partner that you’re taking a moment, and slap on a facemask and a hair mask and luxuriate for a couple of hours. Down tools and delegate: give the teenagers the washing up and the sweeping after dinner, and settle to do something you enjoy instead.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to be someone other than Mama for five minutes (or a whole weekend, whatever). You were a whole person before you became a mother, and that means that while you change as motherhood changes you, you can still embrace who you were before. Before the nappies. Before the weaning. Before the parenting groups on Facebook judged every move you make. Take some time and just be a person who wants to sit and stare into space. Yes, there will be a day that the kids grow up and move out, but do you really want to put who you are on hold until then? You’d be in the minority if so! You deserve to recognise that you have wants and needs beyond your family, and you’re going to be a far better mother for allowing yourself to take the time for you.
You are a majestic Queen. You birthed and grew small people. You manage a household. The time has come to manage your time, now, and let yourself be a whole person who can do more than just raise children. Embrace you because you’re still in there – beneath the Mummy. We see you, we salute you, we embrace you, too.