‘I can do that’ – My identity as a Mother

I’ve noticed that with this parenting thing, not only are you now ‘mummy’ or ‘daddy’, you automatically also become a ‘3rd person’.  Mummy and daddy talk in 3rd person to baby and each other don’t we?! “Mummy really needs to go to the loo- daddy watch baby?”, “Daddy feed baby breakfast while mummy goes for a run”, and other such instructions are said to the room. We really didn’t want to become ‘those’ parents, but it sort of just happened as soon as she left the womb. Even when it’s just me and the baby in the house… “Mummy really needs to go lye down now… it would be great if you would nap!” I feel slightly schizophrenic like I’m mostly talking to myself. But it seems to soften the instructions we’re giving and the ‘baby talk’ tone makes us all feel like it’s ‘cute’ and more acceptable. As a parent it seems to have become another coping mechanism we just fall into even if we didn’t want to.

There’s also the side of me that cant help but make a song out of everything: ‘Baby’s done a poopy-poop doo dah…doo dah’, ‘Baby bunny hop hop hop! Baby bunny hop hop hop!’, and the classic (to the mariachi band tune) ‘Baby! Ba ba ba baby! Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo do… Baby! Ba ba ba baby! Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo do!’ My audience of one baby loves it, therefore I call that a 99.9% success rate…most of the time. Sometimes a tantrum goes beyond the point of singing over the screaming. Like when ‘Twinkle twinkle little star’ becomes no match for bedtime. Some songs are out of necessity, for example making a fun game out of ‘wipey wipey wipe wipe.’ -why is it that babies, who make the most mess with food, make the most fuss about having their faces wiped?!

I sometimes have the thought that these songs are awesome and I should either be a children’s song writer selling these ditty’s for thousands, or indeed I should be on Cbeebies with these absolute tunes! It’s a shame my training never lead me down the children’s television path. However I think I’m probably too cynical and would have lasted about 2 minutes before wanting to scream at a Teletubby. I do watch Cbeebies sometimes (not on my own before you ask, with babba…)  and wonder what it must be like to be one of these presenters/performers/jack of all trades/saints, and do you think this was what they originally were aiming for after they trained at drama school? (I’ve perused some of their CV’s and indeed there are some prestigious Drama schools in there such as Mountview and Guildford School of Acting) Did Justin Fletcher from ‘Justin’s House’, with his training from Guildford, originally want to play Lear at the Globe? (Although he’s cashed in hasn’t he?!-I’ve heard he’s worth millions!) Or did the person in the Macca Pacca suit actually want to become the next Tom Cruise? They are always quoted as saying ‘Children’s TV was all I wanted to do’ or ‘the path I was meant to take’ but is that entirely true? As I sing my made-up songs to baby I do have a slight pang of jealousy at their now successful careers and I highly respect them all for their vivacious, relentless but slightly cynical energy on screen (or is that just me?).

I know for me the acting route didn’t work out after drama school- I couldn’t get an agent and that’s pretty key when you want to find jobs… And the option of working for free or workshopping productions for twopence didn’t really appeal, especially as I wanted to stay in London (with the future hubby) and not move back home. So I went the Front of House then Box Office route, eventually climbing up to Box Office Deputy Manager. At least I was working in the industry that I love and had a similar lifestyle to the hubby as well as having the bonus of being able to pay my rent. And actually without going this route I might not have the amazing little family I have now. It’s worked out pretty well in hindsight.

I will always keep my dancing/singing/acting skills warm and under my belt, but for now the mummy role is for me. It has definitely been the most challenging, but the most rewarding at the same time. Challenging in the fact that it sometimes takes all my energy to get up to face the day after only 4 hours sleep (baby has only just started ‘sleeping through’ after 9 months…) and to keep us all alive with food and some daylight. The rewarding side goes without saying really (see my page ‘Joys of Motherhood’). But there’s also a new mummy side to me, which is the only side of me that these other new mums meet. We kind of forget our old selves as we become mummies or daddies and it becomes all encompassing as baby is the only thing we think or talk about. Especially at parent and baby groups such as sensory or swimming (more about those in a future blog).  The baby is all we tend to talk about: ‘Are they sleeping through?’ ‘Ooh yours is crawling now’, ‘Oh how is the weaning going?’. We don’t really ask how each other are, or even ask about our hobbies and other interests unless we manage to get a bit of peace away from baby (naps are ace!) and even then we end up comparing baby notes. But I really want to try and combine my performing, working self with this new self, even as a stay-at-home-mum.

Through running I do a lot of decompressing. With hubby’s working hours I’m lucky enough to have some mornings where he does the breakfast shift and I can be me and run and clear my head. It’s taken a while to get back up to fitness after giving birth, but now I’m almost there it feels so good again. Running not only feels good for my body physically but also mentally. I can (almost) maintain a good body image for myself when I run and this also stops me spiralling into slobbing around at home eating chocolate in the evenings to make myself feel good (although sometimes this is still necessary). Mentally it gives me space to breathe and remember my sister and really put things into perspective. I can feel happy about where I have got to in my life and plan ahead in a more focused way. I have done a few races in the past (including the London Marathon) to raise money for cancer charities and this has really given me a greater sense of purpose and achievement away from work.

These many sides to me (without mentioning too many, such as the Christian side and the going out and partying side) will stay with me as a mother and I really hope I can use them to positively influence the way in which I will bring up our baby.  We might sometimes think we are losing our identities when we become parents, but I think we are merely adding to our artillery as rounded human beings.

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