My son turned seven this week. On the morning of his birthday I found myself going back in time to the day he was born, as I’ve done every year since. It was a very dark and wet morning, the complete opposite of the beautiful weather we had this year. My labour lasted for six or so hours and was relatively straightforward. My son was born at 7.25 am and it was at this moment I died, or certainly a big part of who I thought I was did.
When I laid my eyes on him I remember thinking how beautiful he was but a tsunami of emotions overwhelmed me, I was shocked and confused. What had happened to me was nothing short of terrifying and yet it was the most natural thing a woman could experience or so I’d been led to believe. It wasn’t the physical stuff I had a problem with but what was happening inside my head.
At that moment, I was thrown into a whole new world of who I was and what my responsibilities were. It felt so sudden and yet I had nine months to prepare for this so why did I feel the least prepared I’ve ever felt? It felt like I was having an outer body experience, I could see that it was me but I didn’t know who she was. The one word I kept hearing over and over was ‘Mummy’ and so that’s it I thought, that’s what I am. I’m a Mummy.
I thought when I became a mother I’d take to it like a duck to water but I was wrong. I cared for my baby but I was struggling. It wasn’t him, it wasn’t circumstances, it was me and the internal battle I was having with myself. I was having an identity crisis.
Yes, I was a Mummy (I hated that word for such a long time) but I didn’t feel like one, and yet I asked myself what does a mummy actually feel like? Psychically I was a Mummy. Taking care of my son was something I found less confusing. His needs were basic, eat, change, sleep repeat. This was far easier than trying to work out who I was and so I focused on his routine as a way of having some control over the situation.
I found the physical side of being a mother just fine, I enjoyed bathing him, rocking him to sleep and changing his nappy, that stuff was the easy part, I could even cope with the sleep deprivation. The really hard part was the emotional and psychological toll being a mother had on me. Mentally I wasn’t a Mummy, I was mourning my old life but more so the old me.
That was seven years ago. Today I can look back on the early years with my son and realise that I was learning and adjusting to the new world around just as much as my baby was. We were on a journey together and to this day we continue our journey as mother and son. Parenting is a skill learned through experience, the experience will never end and the learning will never stop.
Motherhood doesn’t define you, in fact it makes you question what defines you. For me it is patience. Motherhood has shown me I am a patient person and taught me an abundance of it too. Motherhood has shown me I’m laid back and approachable and this reflects in my parenting style. Being a mother has highlighted how caring and considerate I am and it’s emphasised my intuition. These are just some of the traits that define me, it’s not about a name or label but something much deeper than that. Being a mother makes you look back on a time before you had children and see that none of the stuff you thought defined you mattered. It’s not about what job you do, the friends you have or even the music you listen to- it’s about who you are as a person and knowing that will always keep you grounded if you ever find yourself a little lost in a new world.