When you have kids, it’s so easy to lose yourself; for your identity to disappear under the dirty nappies, night feeds and piles of washing.
Hobbies, interests and opinions get diluted and, before you know it, it’s been a year since you’ve read a book, gone to the gym or seen a non-animated film at the cinema.
I remember when my daughter was born – in those early months that were filled with a monotonous cycle of feeding, rocking and not sleeping – that I used to fantasise about my life before her. How I would eat my dinner in peace, have a bath, read my book then slip into an uninterrupted long sleep. At that point it felt like the Suzanne I’d been had disappeared and been replaced with a shell. A vessel for baby nurturing. I was I’s mum and nothing more. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the time that was wonderful but sometimes it weighed me down and felt suffocating.
Of course, it got easier as my daughter got older.
I got a little more sleep and she needed me a little less intensely. I returned to work, I started writing again and I even went for the occasional jog. I’d never be my childless self again, but now I was something other than ‘Mum’. And then I found myself pregnant again and I admit that, amongst the joy and excitement, there was a tiny bit of trepidation that I would lose myself all over again.
But, as with most things, this second time round, knowing what is likely to happen has allowed me to prepare. So this time I have made a conscious effort to remember and look after myself as well as my two children.
Now I’m on my own it is especially important that I keep my ‘boat afloat’ – so to speak.
So far it’s involved nothing dramatic – I’m not talking three-week childless booze cruises – I’ve accepted the occasional offer to watch the kids for an hour, I try and read a couple of pages of my book each day, I write this post every week and I’ve started yYoga again.
These little things have been great and I feel in a much better place than I did when my daughter was nine weeks old like Freddie is now – even with all of the upheaval that’s been going on in my life. As a first-time mum craving ‘me-time’ felt selfish – as if I was somehow letting my daughter down and wasn’t making the most of the beautiful child I had.
But now I realise the opposite is true.
Being a mum is wonderful and I wouldn’t want to go back to my childless existence, but it’s not all that I am and I’m a better mum for embracing that.