Tuesday, 15 November 2016

The mother I want to be

I suddenly feel myself again. I can walk down the street on my own and not feel like I should be with the baby. I can go a whole minute not thinking about the baby. My clothes are mine again. I don't just mean I fit into non-maternity clothes again - I found that when I'd just had the baby I dressed slightly different, a bit more 'grown up'. It felt somehow wrong to wear Dr Martens and have weird coloured nails now that I was a mum.

I felt I should look like a mum in order to be a mum. I guess when I had a baby I felt pressure to prove to myself I was a mum. It wasn't enough to grow, deliver and raise the baby. It's not a question of being a 'good mum', but just being a mother seems to consist of more than the insane physical demands it makes of us. I felt as though my identity as an individual has to shift to make room for this new role, because you are a mother first and foremost.

Unlike being a wife or a daughter or sister or friend, 'mother' seemed to be a role that came at the expense of my selfhood. At the risk of sounding overly philosophical (read: pretentious), I guess part of me believed that being a mother is less about who you are to you and more about who you are to your child. I don't know why, because I don't define myself as daughter, sister, wife or friend in terms of how my parents, brothers, husband or friends perceive me. It's always been a question of what kind of person I want to be in those roles. But with motherhood it wasn't about what kind of mother I wanted to be. Come to realise it, it wasn't even about what kind of mother my son might want me to be that much. It's scary to admit it but it was about what society thinks a mother is. What other mothers think a mother is. I wanted so much to assimilate because I was scared of not looking or acting in a way that most people would recognise as maternal.

Then my baby turned six months and I started to feel myself again. In fact I felt an urge to be myself again.

Four mornings a week my dad watches the baby and I go to get a coffee by myself. It's not about easing my return to work, I've always found day jobs very disorientating and have never identified to them. But I do want to retain a space where I can discover and be myself.

And it's not because I want to be 'my own person', to recuperate the absolute independence I had before I had the baby - I know that's gone forever and I'm glad for it. Independence isn't what I want and never has been.

The reason I have these mornings is so I can be the mother I want to be. The mother I've always wanted to be. The mother my mother was in the moments where I didn't feel anything but love towards her. The mother who wears clothes that reflect her own tastes, who has her own definition of nurturing that doesn't look like a stock photo with only white people, who eats the food that makes her feel most alive, who reads and watches things that inspire her, who knows how and when to relax and how and when to work hard. Most importantly I want to be the kind of mother who inspires her children to be authentic in everything they do.

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