One thing that has become abundantly clear to me since having a child of my own is that I haven’t changed at all.
Now, that’s not to say that my life hasn’t changed. There’s a huge adjustment that comes with being a mother, a loss of some freedoms. I discussed that at a dinner with a few fellow mums – you have that moment when you are at home, your baby is sleeping and you realize that you need something from the shops (bread, milk, dinner?) and that there is no way to get it. You sit there doing the mental arithmetic as to whether it is worth it to wake your child up. Going out requires a lot of forward planning. Life is different, but that’s not what I’m talking about. The essence of who I am is still the same.
What do I mean?
I’m still not a cuddly person. I’m not a particularly cuddly person and I generally have a larger-than-average personal space zone. In the early days, this meant I really struggled with a baby who was feeding all the time and got the “touched out” feeling. My son, bless him, is looking like he is taking after me in this regard. He only likes a cuddle if he’s feeling sleepy, other than that he’d much rather be on the floor with his play gym, sitting in his bouncer, lying on his tummy on a blanket. Currently he’ll tolerate using people to lean against as sitting props but he’s not a big cuddler. This makes me feel better about being the same way – we’ll have our lovely bedtime snuggles and that’s enough for the both of us.
I’m still a planner, schemer & active relaxer. I was always on the go-go-go before CJ was born and things seem to be returning to a new normal there too. I can’t be out for the whole day (well, I haven’t been game enough to try yet) but we’re getting more comfortable with getting out and about and planning bigger adventures. I’m also enjoying afternoons in the kitchen – on Sunday I made cheese scones for Papa M’s lunches and a delicious Maltesers & Mars Bar Slice for one of my friends. As discussed previously, I’m still a bit of a bossy boots… that hasn’t changed either. I’m also still writing, even if I have to fit it in around naps.
Possibly the biggest surprise is one that made me wonder if I wasn’t maternal. I still love to go out… without my baby. Having heard many mothers say “Oh, it’s too hard to leave the baby at home – I miss them so much!” I had presumed I would be the same. And then I went to my cousin’s engagement party when CJ was a month old by myself. After a hard first few weeks, it was like I could breathe again. We’re so blessed to have some really good support (including my sister who is a childcare professional by trade) and so we’re able to get out on a semi-regular basis and enjoy some time as a couple. Papa M and CJ also have an AWESOME relationship and love to hang out, leaving me some time to go out and run baby-free errands. Now don’t be scandalized, but during those times I don’t miss my baby at all. Sometimes I am a little bit anxious that he won’t go down for a nap, etc. but I know he’s in great hands and I take those times for what they are – a welcome break from being continuously “switched on”. I’ve come to the realization that it’s not that I’m not maternal (because lordy, do I love to hang with my little dude!) but that thanks to the support of some fantastic people that I trust, it’s just who I am.
I guess that’s the take-away from all this. If you are becoming a mother, don’t expect to be any different than the person that you are. If you are a person that loves to hang out with your loved ones all the time, you’ll be that mum that doesn’t like to leave her baby. If you need time on your own to recharge, that’s not going to change either. Both points of view are equally alright and you shouldn’t have to squish yourself into a little box to fit someone else’s convention. You will be an awesome mother either way – I promise!