Look how happy I am here... a new haircut and head massage from a trainee hairdresser will do that to a mama!
I love being a mama so much! It is also one of the most demanding (unpaid!) jobs I have ever had the good fortune to do including working 12 hours shifts for six months in some pretty full-on factories.
No matter how you come about being a parent (through your body, through fostering and adoption) and no matter how you gave birth (natural, with drugs, no drugs, 'wish I'd had drugs', C-section) I am pretty sure we will all agree: this is a 24/7 job.
You sleep. But with one ear open. You eat. But always with one hand and half shifted towards baby whilst they eat and throw food on you. You poop. But it has to be quick! And either means using your foot to balance baby away from the toilet, holding the baby, which can mean a very wriggly and yoga-like experience (No? Just me?) or putting baby in cot/pen/whatever you may have to hand to keep them entertained whilst you get on with things in the WC).
I could list all the wonders of parenthood, and often do on my parenting blog. But this is a very important post and one I would really like you to share, not just because I want it to go viral (I do! I do!) but because I really believe that mamas out there need tonnes and tonnes and ship-loads of support. And some are getting it and some are not.
It does not matter if you are a mother reading this or not. We all have friends and family who are mums and they need you to help them now! If you are a mama reading this and despite all the amazing things that happen when you get to care for a tiny human, you feel you have lost some of that initial, what I call 'Mama Joy' (it is my new way of saying 'Mojo') then here is how I lost some of mine... and how I got it back.
1.My body hurt so bad.
With my second daughter, I gave birth with no pain relief. It was an amazing and intense experience and I would totally do it again (in another life!) It is easy to forget to look after that amazing mama body that pushed/heaved or breathed an actual person into this world, not just for 'two weeks after the birth' but for months (and forever and beyond!) My body would ache all over intensely. My joints hurt, especially my knees. My stomach would sometimes feel like it had a block in it and bending down or trying to move would not only be difficult but sometimes excruciating. I was starting to lose faith in my body big time.
Get it back!
The pains started to subside on their own but six months passed and I knew I had to step-up with the mama care! Magnesium salt baths, eating a large amount of fresh, raw produce (greens especially and raw chocolate), gentle walking, massage, yoga and simple stretches all helped massively. My body is almost pain-free now! I am getting there.
2. I had no village.
We had been living in China whilst I was pregnant with baby number two and moved back to the UK, lived in limbo for three months in our friend's apartment, had the baby, moved to the seaside in Kent and suddenly found ourselves just as far away from family and friends than when we'd lived overseas! At times, I felt lonely, friendless and with no support.
Get it back!
I asked for help! Come on mamas! Let's stop thinking we can't ask. We simply must. I also put the idea to two friends to move to the house opposite when it came up for rent. Amazingly, they did! We made efforts to get to know our neighbours with children. We are now slowly but really surely building our village and for the first time in nine months, someone took our babe for an hour on her own! You have got to put in effort here and it will be worth it, I promise.
3. I stopped caring about my personal appearance.
Legs stopped being shaved. Hair was just put up in a rough pony tail. Make-up was no longer applied. All my clothes were full of holes and covered in something gross.
Get it back!
I threw out all my clothes with holes in (sorry! No time to sew! They literally were in tatters!) I renewed my make-up bag and shaved so much hair off my legs, I managed to knit myself a new sweater! Making myself look nice made me feel really, really good. I went to get my hair cut. The hairdresser gave me a head massage. It was just the best! Caring about yourself sends a good message to your brood but really, most importantly, it enables you to show up in life and enjoy yourself!
4. I started dwelling on other people's business.
Family issues, world issues, stranger's issues, get the tissues! OK! It is time to realise that we cannot change the past. We cannot predict the future. But we can focus on now. I stopped doing that for a while and suddenly my brain felt gloopy. I was still going through the motions of being a 'good mother' but I felt like a big pile of rubbish and the more I fed myself rubbish (don't watch the news mamas!) the more I felt literally, like rubbish.
Get it back!
Switch off the TV. Do not get emotionally involved in any dramas in life. Pray, meditate, feed yourself good food. Spend time with people who you love. And who love you. Listen to wonderful music and embrace the wonderful woman that you are!
5. I didn't have time to clean or clear the family home.
The carpets were beginning to get lost under all the bits and pieces and the dust made me want to write poetry in it. I had just had a baby, we had just moved, my husband was about to start uni and we needed to earn so I was starting a business too which I referred to as 'WWBS' (Working Whilst Baby Sleeps!)
OK... I am going to say it. Get a cleaner. We got one for two hours a week. Think you can't afford one? Even the poorest friends I know (including me!) can cut something out, it just depends on the choice you want to make. Cut out smoking/weekend drinking? Cut out the daily chocolate bars? Go to the cinema fortnightly instead? Just two hours a week is all we needed to restore sanity and amazingness to our home.
Being a mama can be the most amazing, wonderful and rewarding thing ever.
It can also get a mama down as there is so much to do, so much to consider and we often forget ourselves amidst the nappies, the clutter, the crying and sore boobs.
Help yourself today.
Or help a mama today.
If you're reading this and you know a mama, go make their day! Take their baby for a walk. Give them a foot massage. Make them a cuppa and a meal. Send them random chocolate through the post. Give them a couple of hours to spend time with their husband/partner. Love them x