I mentioned I was rooting around a bit in the mama blog world, and there are one thing that keeps coming up again and again make me realise that my experience and attitude differs so much from (I’m assuming) the rest of their readership, which is the statement that becoming a mother changes you so irrevocably that you are not the same person any more. “You might think you’ll be you with a baby, but you’re not. You’ll be taken apart and put back together as a whole new person” they say.
And I have no idea what they’re talking about.
I think that’s exactly what I am, me, but with a baby. Yeah, I have a different life and different priorities, but I’m just not sure in what I would be expected to change. I still have the same personality, the same views and attitudes. I guess they mean that you become less selfish because your life is now centred around keeping alive and developing a tiny helpless person, but it’s not as if I was some mad hedonist without responsibilities before. It’s not as if I went from a 21 year old student getting hammered and going clubbing on a school night to 31 year old mum who can’t even stay awake til the end of Arne Dahl on a Saturday night (that’s 10.30, non-BBC4-watchers). There were loads of steps in between, lots of calming down and thinking about myself and my preferences. A masters, a career, a mortgage, two cats and getting married. I only started thinking about kids in any serious way once I felt we were ready, i.e. myself and Dave had changed enough that we could be responsible parents. It’s not the being parents that changed us, but the having changed that made use become parents.
Another claim made alongside the different person one is that being a mother is so much harder than you think. Those kind of posts always start from the authors saying they assumed it would all be sweetness and light, and frolicking around flowery meadows with their gorgeous well behaved child, and baking organic cupcakes in cath kidston aprons. But who really assumes that? I didn’t even do that much prior research, but I certainly never expected it to be easy. And as a result, I found it easier than expected (and because Milo is pretty chilled and in good health. I’m not claiming it’s in any way my achievement). There were horrible bits I hadn’t seen coming (hello, mastitis) and nice bits I hadn’t expected (hello, lovely hormones allowing me to function on 5 hours sleep), but mostly it’s been weird, yes, but also fun. I don’t even want to say that being a mum has been ‘natural’ for me, but I did find that, like most things that seem really daunting, once you do them, you get good at them pretty quickly.
I do get that people who are very young and/or unprepared, who do expect everything to be lovely and/or where the baby has health or sleep or whatever problems, or their other relationships are not that settled might feel like there has been such an upheaval in their life that they have had to fundamentally adapt their mindset, but for me that wasn’t the case at all.