YOU ARE A WOMAN BEFORE BEING A MOTHER

Before we become mothers, we are women.

We have needs, desires, we have things that drive us forwards and we have things that bring us down.

When we become mothers we tend to forget about all of the above. We concentrate on that bundle of joy we carried inside for nine months. And we give it all to him/her. We put our baby first (and it should be this way) and we start to neglect ourselves (this shouldn’t happen but it does more often than we think)

Days become nights and nights melt into days and we wake up months and months later realising that we are not happy anymore. At least not in the sense of what we used to call happiness.

Of course our baby is everything and of course it’s a joy to be a mother. Of course that little one is your entire universe and every milestone and every first fills your heart with a joy you never thought existed. Of course you never knew what love really is until you held your baby for the first time. These things are normal and every mom knows them so well.

But she also knows that secretly she thinks of all those moments she forgot about but made her happy as a woman, not a mother. That pair of amazing heels hidden in the back of the closet cause they don’t fit anymore or your feet hurt so much you don’t even dare trying them on; that favourite dress that doesn’t look so sexy on your wider hips anymore, those days when you used to stop at a random coffee shop and read for hours until your eyes hurt. Oh, and that flat tummy you had before you hosted a human being inside of you.

We change so much, physically and psychologically in such a short period of time that it all becomes a bit overwhelming and if we are not strong enough to admit the good and bad, we have to be ready to welcome anxiety and depression in our lives.

As women, we have such unbelievable strength but we are not aware of it until the moment comes to prove it. It’s finding what works for us that is hard. Some rediscover themselves and find their power in a work from home business, some discover working out is their stress relief form, others cook or knit, run – we all have that one thing and we need to find it.

About six months after I had my daughter I realised I wasn’t confident anymore. I was not happy with myself and if you asked me I couldn’t have told you exactly why.

“How are you?” – people would ask

my answer would always be

“I’m ok. So happy Ruby is eating and sleeping better now” or “Oh my God. I am so good. My baby just said mama for the first time. I am so proud”

But you see, I was identifying myself with my daughter and nobody asked again: “No. YOU. How are YOU?”

Maybe if someone would have I would probably realise earlier what was happening to me.

But months passed and I was getting myself deeper and deeper into motherhood forgetting me as a woman.

By the time my daughter turned one I started to come out of my shell and open my eyes. I slowly realised what was going on so I started looking for that something that would bring joy to myself. I can tell you it was not easy. And it took so much time and so many failures.

I once started this home business selling kids books cause I thought how hard can that be. I love books, I have a baby and therefore I can do it. After few months I realised this is definitely not for me. I did not have the time or will to commit so I had to say good bye to the company.

I did stay in touch with some of the ladies and it helped me to start from somewhere and for this I always said: thank you

Further down I realised that the way I looked was not something I was proud of. It did not make me feel good about myself so I went through a crisis that made me throw out most of my clothes (a thing I regret now when I am back on my size ten again)

I tried and tried so many things but nothing seemed to help me feel fulfilled again. But, you see, everything happens when you least expect it and good comes always after rain.

I needed the rain in my life and I got a storm. It hit me so hard I thought I won’t make it back to life. But I did because that was the moment I realised just how strong I am. And I picked myself up and I found this amazing person (more like she found me) who motivated me and introduced me to a wonderful group of determined women. I decided to follow them and went into a workout programme that fit me like a glove.

Few months down the line I look at myself and I know for sure that I am a woman before being a mother. I got my confidence back, I made time to work out and it brings me joy and peace of mind. I feel more energetic and happier than I have been in a very long time.

So, see… it takes time but the result pays out. You are a woman before being a mother and you should not neglect yourself. Do things that make you happy because at the end of the day a happy mother raises a happy child.

THREE YEARS OF MOTHERHOOD

As my daughter turned one I wrote a post about my first year of motherhood and what I learned. And as I blinked she turned two and I wrote another post about my second year as a mother and what I learned and what my hopes and dreams were.

As she is so close to turning three I decided to keep the tradition and write about all that happened in the past year and what it taught me as a woman and as a mother as well.

Firstly, I managed to rediscover myself as a woman before being a mother and as my daughter became more and more independent I realised just how important it is to be me again, to take care of myself physically and mentally. I am a mother living with anxiety and my days are not always “normal” but I am making huge efforts to come out of that dark place and not let it control me.

As a mother I learned how important patience is when raising a child, just how challenging it can be if you let stress take over you.

A toddler is learning, copying your actions, your language and your behaviour. They learn what you teach them and more than this, they learn what they see. They begin to realise that actions have consequences and it is our job to show them the good and how to avoid bad behaviour.

It is such a hard job and sometimes frustrating and annoying for an adult no matter how calm and patient. I am one of those mums who goes down on the floor playing Buzz LightYear and Lego with my child, I am playing along with her pretend actions feeding baby chicks, being a kitty cat, changing unicorn nappies or being a doctor and I laugh and cry with her. I try and teach her manners, good actions and positive thinking as well as opening her eyes towards books and outdoor playing rather than screen time.

She is a proper book nerd and she can “read” you The Gruffalo and We’re going on a Bear Hunt any time of the day. She loves to colour and sing and play with stickers but she also enjoys some screen time so mummy can write her blog or just breath for few minutes. How do you think she learned about Toy Story and Nemo, and Moana and Pokemon? We always have the TV on on the background and she watches it only when she considers it’s something interesting for her. Otherwise she’ll happily play with her toys.

Three years of motherhood gave me so much love I can’t describe in words. I grew along my daughter and although I sometimes lose it and get frustrated, I feel like I did learn a lot when it comes to prioritizing and living.

I look at my daughter now how she takes care of her baby doll getting her dressed and changing it and giving kisses and cuddles, I look at her the way she shows love to my friend baby and fills my heart with joy, I see her being so happy when she meets her little friend and they cuddle and it’s absolutely amazing. Apart from being the normal toddler with tantrums, attitude and frustrations, she is one loving, kind and happy child and this makes me think that I did a pretty good job so far although I doubt my parenting skills on daily basis.

I learned to appreciate the small things like a cuddle in the middle of the night, my daughter’s hand in mine when I feel ill, the way she asks me if I am ok when I am so close to losing it. I learned to appreciate those days when she happily plays by herself for ten minutes, when she curls up to me and asks me to read to her and those days when I smell her hair and fills my heart with joy.

I learned how to treasure my me time and just how important it is for my sanity and my daily parenting. I never before felt so happy to be able to drink a coffee while reading a book for thirty uninterrupted minutes like I do since I became a mother.

I learned hot to deal with failure as a person and as a mother. It’s ok to not strive every day. It’s ok to fail in motherhood on daily basis and not kill yourself for it. I always avoided failure in my life as I never knew how to deal with it but now it’s a part of my life and I accept it as it is.

I learned unconditional love and it’s just heaven. Ruby taught me that I can love with all my heart and never run out of love. I learned that I can love this little naughty, bossy and sometimes annoying little person just as much on a bad day as on a good day.

I learned strength – motherhood takes sacrifices and undivided attention. I realised just how strong I am protecting my child, hiding my pain so she can be happy, picking myself up again and again and starting it all over not for me but for her. This past year motherhood showed me just how I can find strength to carry on and give my daughter attention and love although I felt like I was slowly dying inside. I learned how to be compassionate and kind but also I learned to let go of those people who no longer brought joy into my life.

I learned that I learn every day. There is no magic formula for motherhood and we are all in it up to our eyeballs. It’s hard, it annoying, challenging, it’s sometimes lonely and painful but it’s also rewarding, joyful and filled with magic and unicorns and it’s all worth it.

FREE YOUR INNER MAMA BEAR

By definition, mama bear is “a female bear currently rearing one or more cubs. (by extension, slang) a woman, especially a mother, who is extremely protective of a child or children.

Every woman’s inner mama bear is hibernating but ready to act at any sign. Releasing this feeling does not make any of us popular. On the contrary. It’s an uncontrollable rage that comes every time your child/children or loved one is facing danger.

It’s an animal instinct known from the beginning of time. How else can you explain giving birth in the woods by yourself and nurturing your baby, protecting it from harm back in the stone age? How do you explain the courageous women during any of the wars, doing unbelievable things to protect their families and children, running from the enemy and even able to kill to protect.

I think my inner mama bear came out for the first time when I was about nine and some bully was hitting my little brother. I went to face him and even slapped his face calling him names and telling him to go pick on someone his size not a child. Called him a coward and threatened to beat the shit out of him. (don’t think he didn’t laugh at me cause he did but also he left my brother alone)

My inner mama bear came out few times in my life after that and I am telling you I was amazed by my determination and protectiveness. I was around 24 and my mum was in hospital for a procedure and my grandfather was in another hospital suffering from cancer. I was working all day and going to visit both before getting home every day. When my mums doctor was being a total jerk and dismissing her because “she was fat” I let go of my feelings. I chased him around the hospital, I made him sit down and explain to me everything that was happening to her threatening him with my annoying presence until he’ll do it. I shouted, I have been rude and I almost lost it for a cause: protecting my mum because my inner mama bear was coming out again.

Later on, when I became a mother, I went on mama bear mode. It’s instinct and it happens when my child is getting sick, when my child is in any type of danger and even when another child is teaching her bad things in nursery or doing any little thing that would upset her.

She was suffering with eczema and for nine weeks we seen nine doctors giving her different treatments that did not work. I went crazy demanding a specialist, tests and referrals, asking for my child to be treated for what she had and not what they think she has (all of them treated her for ringworm instead of eczema cause they look similar – hear me roar in here).

We woke up one morning and her ear was a bit dirty. I didn’t panic but thought it’s unusual. We went GP and they confirmed she had an incipient ear infection. I didn’t do it because I am the mum who goes crazy from the first symptom of a common cold but because I felt something was wrong and my instinct paid off. I was right.

She is nearly three and I still pick her up every time we cross the road because I am protecting her with my life. I am preventing something bad happening.

And yes, I threatened children that they will have to do with me if they ever miss behave or teach my daughter naughty things. I shouted at other parents when one of their children hit my daughter at the soft play. I finished friendships because they dared judge me, my parenting and my child. You can say anything about me but not my child. I will hit you with no remorse, I will hurt you in any way possible if you dare look the wrong way at my child because I am a mama bear.

Releasing our inner mama bear makes us crazy, too loud, bitchy, aggressive, too emotional, too hysterical and all those over the top feelings out there. But it’s all out of love and if someone is dismissing us or doesn’t understand, they have a problem. MAMA BEAR NEVER QUITS

Once released, this inner feeling is yours to call out in need. It’s there, hidden inside you and it will rrroooooaaaarrrrrr when it has to.

Motherhood – sacrifice or privilege?

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I recently bumped into different situations all related to motherhood. I started analyzing details of the matter, looking for articles on the same subject and putting things together bearing in mind my experience and that of some other mums I know.

We can all admit that bearing children and raising them as part of the new generation, educating them to be “someone” is most definitely not an easy job. And yes, I see it as a job. One that requires twenty four hour attention and commitment and it’s paid in moments, laughter, kisses and cuddles instead of money. Of course there are penalties as well and these ones are seen in tears, frustration, tiredness and anger. Like any other job, nothing is perfect and nothing goes according to plan. No pregnancy or child is the same. Starting from mother’s body and tolerance to pain, education and maternal instinct, going forward to all pregnancy symptoms that might or might not appear and moving on to giving birth (natural or by C-section, with or without pain relief); raising a newborn and coping with all that it involves, nothing is the same. Families are different, mentalities as well, and babies, God knows they are so so different from one another. Yes, there are studies that show a newborn’s behaviour is strongly related with mum’s feelings during pregnancy and I strongly believe so but there are some external factors as well.

Now, since the beginning  of times, motherhood has been seen as a sacrifice. A woman sacrifices her body, mind, future, career and aspirations so she can bear children and raise them. She has been seen as a martyr and things didn’t change for a long long time. We all remember that saying: A woman belongs in the kitchen and nowhere else. She was expected to have as many kids as possible (not using any contraception method), cook and clean all day long and when the man would come home all is shiny, quiet, clean and she would have a smile on her face like all she did during the day was a piece of cake. And it’s not and it never was.

As society advanced and science developed so did ideas and  mentalities. Women started getting jobs along with having children because they could, they started progressing and demanding to be equal to men. But will women ever be equal? I mean we can do things men will never do and the other way around. We are different mentally and physically so we won’t ever actually be equal. This a subject for a future post  though.

I remember when I was little that my mother would always shout at me and my brothers the same thing over and over again: “I wish you to have children just like you are now so you can see what it means!” So I always thought what is she on about. I mean she raised two of us up to the age of 3 months and we were taken by my grandma until it was time to go school and we came back with my mum and dad. They were working full time and were seeing us only on weekends. My little brother stayed with us for a longer period of time but he was too shipped to my auntie and grandma so he will return in time for school. So what was she on about? If we received a bad education it wasn’t on her but on our relatives. Or it was cause she went back to work instead of raising us. Since then I swore to myself that if I was to ever have kids I will raise them only on my own so if I screw up I could only blame myself. I seen motherhood and parenting as a burden listening to my grandparents stories and my mums as well. I seen it as that “job” that only brings you stress and more stress.

As I grew up I opened my eyes and realised not every mother is the same so therefore not every child is the same. I grew up with my frustrations and dealt with them as I could.

Now, I am a mother and I can say that I wanted to become one for a long time. It just didn’t happen before. I see things in such a different light that is absolutely incredible. I am grateful for I could have my daughter and I see motherhood both as a sacrifice and privilege. I know of so many women trying to get pregnant for years with no result, wanting to be mothers and not being able to but I also know women who shouldn’t have kids (i won’t comment more as I tend to be very rough on the subject).

My daughter will turn two in April and she never been away from me. It’s a sacrifice I have been willing to make from the beginning. I knew I will have no help whatsoever with raising her but I embraced it all with joy. I see being a mother more of a privilege. Only a mother knows what she feels when she has her baby in her arms for the first time and she will never ever forget that, only a mother knows the joys of her child’s progress from first smile to first steps and all other firsts in their lives.

In the same time society makes it a sacrifice as well. I have been told at my work place that I won’t be able to progress for the time being just because I have no full time availability. So technically I won’t get a promotion because I have a child and I am being seen as incapable of mastering both my career and family life. I am definitely not the only one and I am sure cases like this will always appear. But this don’t mean that women will stop having children although it is statistically proven that they started postponing motherhood in favor of making a career first.

“When we cling to the idea of motherhood as sacrifice, what we really sacrifice is our sense of self, as if it is the price we pay for having children”

Motherhood is actually a privilege, one that we choose selfishly.

“If we start referring to motherhood as the beautiful, messy privilege that it is, and to tending to our children as the most loving and yet selfish thing to do, perhaps we can change the biased language my mother used. Only when we stop talking about motherhood as sacrifice can we start talking about mothers the way that we deserve