I am someone’s wife. I am someone’s teacher. I am someone’s mum.
I wasn’t always any of these things and yet they have come to define me. Each role brings huge responsibility and infinite pride – hard work and reward in equal measure. They are all relationships that require me to give a lot of my time, patience, and energy to others but they also allow me to inspire and be inspired and to share kindness and love.
As a new mother, pacing, desperately trying to calm an inconsolable baby, the last adult conversation I had a dim memory, it was easy to think otherwise.
The realisation that your very self has changed forever can come as quite a shock to a new parent. It might come when you notice that you have been wearing pyjamas past midday for the third day in a row… or when the conversation at a baby group moves from sleep to milestones, from bowel movements and back to sleep again; suddenly the thought that this is all you talk about will strike:
“It this it now then? Am I just a mother? Are all the passions and interests and skills from my life before dismissed, forgotten?”
It can be quite an adjustment to suddenly find yourself responsible for keeping a tiny person alive, and not much else. It can be difficult – difficult and extremely lonely, even when you have the best support around you, even more so when you don’t.
Time passes and you may return to work. The routine of caring for the tiny person becomes an ingrained part of life. There are a million moments that are sparks of enchantment and a million hours of baby groups and pyjamas. You juggle all the roles you have and all the things you must be to people and you forget. You forget the bands you loved, the books you read, the things you used to fill your time – not completely, of course. But they can never *quite* take up the time, passion and brain-space they did before. Life gets in the way.
Recently, I rediscovered who I was, before I was someone’s mum. It started with a competition on an online forum, a bit of fun. It ran over several weeks and the idea was that we were set tasks every few days and judged on them. The types of task were diverse and tested creativity and technical skills. As the weeks passed, some were eliminated and scores were kept until finally the winners, those who had kept up with the tasks and created the things that most impressed the judges, were announced.
And I won.
But the winning in itself wasn’t what led to the rediscovery, oh no. It was, in time-honoured fashion, the taking part.
Before I was a mother, before I was even a teacher, I loved painting. Before I was someone’s mum, I wrote poetry. Before I had two children, I started a novel. It was abandoned when my son first came along. Before I was a teacher, I loved new technology.
The tasks required all these skills, and more. This post is interspersed with some of the things I made: a family crest, a mask, a poem, a bird’s eye view baby scene, an illustrated map for a children’s book, an imitation of a style of art. I painted and sketched and wrote a dozen things.
The header for all Someone’s Mum’s pages the imitation task:
It is called Monet’s Coruscant and it is the first time I have painted something like that since I was at school. It is the skyline of Coruscant, the Galactic capital in Star Wars, painted in the style of Monet.
I made stop-motion videos and logos and memes. I made collages and adverts and music videos and conducted experiments.
It was a tremendous amount of fun and it made me realise how much Someone’s Mum is still the person she was before children. It inspired me to start writing this blog.
It also made me make peace with labelling myself Someone’s Mum, because I realised that pre-children me and post-children me are entwined and entangled forever. One is an evolution of the other.
Becoming a parent has changed me irrevocably; there’s no doubt about that. For a while, I lost part of what I was before I was a mother. I gained something else though, something that has ultimately made me more than what I was before. My world view has shifted a little. My heart has expanded a little. My time is filled with so many more things.
I am someone’s mum. My role as a mother touches every part of me. I am also lots of other things to lots of other people. A teacher, a wife, a friend, a poet, a writer… they are all still there. Rather than being pushed out being someone’s mum, I now see that they are guided by it, enhanced. I know my love for my children makes me a better teacher, a better person. I know my passions and talents are still there waiting for me, when I can find the time to indulge them.
I am Someone’s Mum.