The prevailing advice to sleep deprived, end-of-their-tether mums is, ‘enjoy each moment because before you know it they’ll all have grown up.’
There is a complete lack of sensitivity to the fact that mums are often more than justified to want to eat without a little human on their lap, have a t-shirt last more than the journey downstairs or to not be screamed at for doing their best to provide a balanced diet. What these advice-givers forget is, we know. We know that they are only small for a short while, that before we know it they won’t want to sneak into our bed for a morning cuddle.
We know. But.
Recently I went charity-shop-shopping, my favourite kind of shopping. The Boy minded our girls outside and I was free to meander around, hunting for a bargain. And I found one: a dark aqua blue dress sporting deep green flecks. With its long sleeves and A-line cut it channelled every bit of the Seventies that I love. I held it up to the window with a grin to signal to The Boy that I’d found something and went to try it on.
After removing the many layers that the day’s nippy weather required, the dress went over my head to be pulled down past my waist and, oh- it wouldn’t go any further. Checking the label I saw that, yes indeed, it was my usual size but clearly my body hadn’t quite snapped back to where it had been a year previous.
So there I stood, staring at the mirror refusing to get upset. Instead I listed the reasons why it wasn’t the item for me. The dress was probably a bit short anyway, certainly not suitable for a clergy wife. The long sleeves would barely last an hour without being covered in toddler mess. And why was I looking at dresses when I knew I was still breastfeeding? When would I even wear it?!
I took it off, piled on the layers, straighten my hair, placed the dress firmly back on the rail and went out to join my family. And I thought, ‘it doesn’t matter, it’s just a dress.’
Except it does matter.
Picking up that dress made me feel like me. The me I often struggle to find in the nappy changing, laundry and tantrums.
Recently I have read too many blog posts telling me to ‘treasure this time.’ I’ve had too many people tell me to enjoy the girls before they grow up. What they don’t seem to realise is- I know!
I know that before too long they will be all grown up and not needing me. I know that they don’t have that baby smell forever. I know they soon won’t want me to kiss their ouches. I don’t need anyone to remind me.
I know. But.
But it’s only natural that I want to retain my own identity, to wear that dress, to pursue that interest.
Mothers have been given a losing hand.
We must soak up every little kiddy moment before it’s all over. But we must keep our own identity, and not, god-forbid, become Mumsie! How can we win? We can’t.
What then are my words of wisdom?
Yes, this stage is only for a short while. Let’s not wish it away all for the sake of a dress. There will be plenty of time to wear dresses. But it’s okay for you, when they are all in bed, to find that favourite dress from the back of your wardrobe, put on some lipstick and try it on. It’s okay to remember who you are beyond Mummy.
I don’t have to choose, I can be both Mummy and Katie.