Lots of things came as a bit of a shock to me when I first became a mother. That heady rush of pure maternal love that’s so overwhelming it almost frightens you. The magnitude of being responsible for this little person who is so utterly vulnerable, so completely dependent on you for their every need. The long days, the even longer nights. The sleep deprivation (I was ready for ‘tired’, but this?!)
But as the months went by I slowly found my feet, just as everyone reassured me I would. I put aside those anxiety-inducing baby books and learnt to trust my instincts. Eventually, we all got a bit more sleep. I was lucky enough to be able to take a year off from work to be with my little boy, and together my cute little sidekick and I stumbled through, learning as we went, day by day.
But what I really did find difficult was reconciling all that made me, me before I become a mother, with what my life looked like now. Everything was just so different, and not just in the obvious, lifestyle changing ways. Sure, I missed how self-indulgently you can choose to live your life when you’re not a parent; seeing friends, going to the gym, eating out, watching films, reading books, sleeping off late nights and red wine. But it’s when I returned to my old job after nearly a year away that the real change in me became apparent.
Back at my old desk, I experienced a small crisis of confidence. Imposter syndrome kicked in as I struggled to recognise the ambitious, creative and competent work persona I had spent the last decade or so carving out in the woman standing before me now, who had spent most of the last year introducing herself as her child’s mother at playgroups, who was pretty much sponsored by dry shampoo, toast and marmite and a LOT of coffee. Those two women seemed so separate, I couldn’t see how I could be both.
But I craved having an outlet that allowed me to be something other than ‘mum’, however grateful I was to be one. Having focused all my attention on my baby and his needs, I missed having the space, time and energy to be with my own thoughts. I missed being creative, being in touch with what was going on in the world, being up to date enough to have considered opinions on things other than baby led weaning or nap schedules.
I had things I wanted to achieve-professionally and personally, alongside being a mother. And when I did go back to work, having some time away from parenthood benefitted both of us-pangs of guilt aside, I was a better, more energised, more present parent when I was with him again, having had a break.
And now, 6 years and one more child later, I’ve learnt to accept that balancing work and motherhood isn’t always easy-however you do it (if there is such a thing as a work-life balance I’ve yet to discover it). I’ve spent a lot of time worrying I am juggling both and not quite giving my all to either, but I have made myself prioritise, and make choices that work for me, and for my family. Going freelance was the best thing I could have done; reigniting my passion for writing and allowing me to work from home so I can also be there for my children. Sure, there are nights when I power up the laptop after I’ve put them to bed and wonder if I’m getting it quite right, but I don’t think that’s a problem unique to me or even parents, more just a reflection of how we all live now.
Ultimately I’ve learnt that alongside all the other roles in life I play, being a mother is just part of who I am-albeit probably the most important part.
Photography: Hannah Olinger | Nathan Dumlao
I’m a writer and content creator, working with brands to create inspiring bespoke content, as well as on my own projects. Having spent 12 years working at Glamour before going freelance, I now spend my time working with a diverse range of mainly lifestyle, health, well-being and beauty brands, on anything from blog writing, website copy, features and press releases, to e-marketing, social media content and campaign management. And while my average working day may not be as glamorous as during my time in the magazine industry, I love the flexibility of working for myself and the daily variety of working with new people and on different projects.
Having given up city life for seaside dwelling, if I’m not busy tapping away you’ll probably find me down at the beach with my young children, with a large coffee in hand, or with my nose in a book. Ideally, all three.