queen of faff

Former secret writer. This is my rehab.


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Identity crisis

I’m sick of hearing that I should put my kids first. I know how important they are, and I absolutely prioritise their basic needs. But not at the cost of all else. They’re not more important than my husband (equally, but not more).  If I didn’t have him, I wouldn’t have them.  If I didn’t have his love, support, company, ability to keep me grounded, I’d have climbed my tree ages ago with no sense of how to get down.  We’re a team, and because of that we are both better parents.

The sense that mothers (and it does seem to be directed at mothers rather than fathers, or parents generally), should sacrifice themselves at all costs to put the children first is grossly unfair and, in my experience, utterly unrealistic.  If I don’t eat, I don’t function well enough to feed my kids. Sometimes it’s just basic common sense and biology.

But sometimes it’s about recognising that we are people too. I don’t want to be defined by my parental or marital status anymore than I want to be defined by my paid employment role. I am beyond proud to be my husband’s wife and my children’s mother, but it is not all I am and I refuse to feel guilty any more for aspiring or even hoping to feel anything different. To be anyone different.

I don’t think I really knew who I was before my children came along, never really ambitious or dedicated to one particular thing.  Maybe it’s their being here that is making the need to locate the part of me that is just about me more urgent. But as a good friend of mine said to me as I went on maternity leave: “This will not be the last big thing you do”. I have clung to those words like a buoyancy aid and I am determined to prove her right.

I’m a wife, a mother, and somewhere, way down, way way down, there’s a little something that’s just about me.

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The Hobby of Motherhood

I was recently asked by someone who (in my opinion), should have known better, what my hobbies were. A seemingly innocent question no doubt, but asked by a health professional of a first-time mum it can be, and was by me, interpreted as a loaded question.

The question itself made me cross, rather than cry. As a brand new, and sleep deprived parent, it could have easily gone the other way. I responded, (slightly incredulously), that I didn’t at the current time, have any hobbies. I was then told about a new mum who, after watching Paul Hollywood‘s programme on bread, had started baking her own.

Again, a seemingly innocent anecdote, and I am sure the intended motive behind the question was to see if I was making time for me, and having a life ‘beyond the baby’. The reality is that I’m not.

I am a mother to a three month old and we are getting to know each other more and more each day. Her needs change and my world adapts each time they do. Sometimes I get enough sleep and sometimes I don’t. The important thing is that I feed her, change her, play with her, whenever she needs it.

And if that means I take up abseiling, or basket weaving or playing the saxophone at a later date, or indeed never, then so be it. Besides, Paul talks about gluten far too much for a coeliac like me. Even before my diagnosis and before motherhood, I would never have had the urge to bake my own bread. I’m far too lazy.

So I questioned why I got so cross. I think it is because of the way the question was phrased. With the implication that I should be doing something more than I am, when the reality is that at this stage I am super proud of myself if I get me and my daughter washed and dressed every day and do something radical like, I don’t know…..make it out of the house.

So my life at the moment is all about the baby. I’m ok with that. I just wish people would choose their words more carefully. New parents feel under enough pressure to be the best they have ever been and could possibly be, without feeling judged because they bite the hands off anyone else who, quite literally, offers to feed them.