When I started this blog, the “About Me” page confounded me. For many years I have been a woman, an engineer, a runner, a bookworm, a mountain climber, a sailor, a snowboarder, a triathlete, a nuisance, a perfectionist… For 6 months I have been a mum. Yet when I was called upon to write a short paragraph “About Me”, all I could think of was “I am a Mum”.
When I was pregnant, one of the most common things people used to say to me was that “having a child will change your life”. Although this is true to a certain extent, I think that the more difficult adjustment for me was the reformation of my identity.
Overnight, the main pillars of my SELF crumbled. The job that I loved and spent more than 12 hours a day pouring my energy in to, was put on hold. My healthy, fit body had become a slow, lumbering ache. My inquisitive, positive mind now waded through the treacle of exhaustion, desperately clutching at fragments of memory and forgotten words.
In the first weeks after Gubbins was born, I felt like I had lost my mind. The independent, proud woman, sat broken and humbled on the couch. I felt like a shadow of my former self with nothing of interest to add to “adult” conversation. Even if I had done something more exotic during the day than shaking a rattle and staring blankly out of the window, I lacked the energy and vocabulary to structure a sentence that was brave enough to break the flow of conversation about business and global matters.
G’s first smile broke like a beam of sunshine through my clouded mind. It melted my heart and made me feel like I was doing something of value. We were part of the same tribe, he was mine and I was his. To him, I was the greatest mum ever.
I have subsequently decided that smiling is an evolutionary survival mechanism for babies. G seems to be most generous with his grins when I am about to throw my toys out the pram and leave my husband holding the baby.
As Gubbins grows and learns, I am filled with a sense of wonder at the miracle of life. This wonder has slowly started to erode my surreal sense of discombobulation. I have realised that there is more to life than the selfish pursuit of personal happiness. I feel a love for this little creature, so overwhelming that sometimes it hurts. This love gives me a sense of purpose and focus on the dark days.
There are still days when I am wrestling the pram through a too narrow door and I think to myself, “who the hell is this awkward, muffin-topped person that I have become??” These are the days when I crave a crumb of my old life. The carefree, unencumbered freedom of irresponsibility. These are the days when I need to be reminded of the very wise words of my life guru, Dr Seuss:
“Today you are You, that is truer than true.
There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”