Mummy Diaries: Being a Mother and a Woman

What does it mean to be a mother?

Being a mother has been about letting go. Letting go of my waistline, and my ability to jump on trampolines or do any other kind of excessive movement without making some kind of embarrassing sound.  Sometimes it has meant losing my cool over something as small as the dishes, or letting go of all sense of sanity as I peruse my sons dirty nappies with the enthusiasm of a kid on Easter. It has meant letting go of a series of firsts (steps, words, haircuts, kindergarten …) until the time comes when my children just don´t need me anymore. It has also meant saying goodbye to me – the old me.  The me that would dash out the door on a Friday night without a second thought. Who would dance to the sweet sounds of something without thinking if it was appropriate music or not, or if I was dancing appropriately for someone with a family at home. The me that could go out and then spend all the following day wallowing in my own misery.

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Being a mother hasn´t meant that I can´t go out, it has meant that my priorities have changed. Every time I walk out that door and away from my children, I do so incomplete, for I leave something behind. My children have a piece of my heart wherever I am, as well as a good portion of my brain given all the utterly useless thoughts I make over them.

I could never say I regret this life, because my bones ache and literally shake inside my skin if I contemplate a different life, but sometimes I do find an inner voice whispering about all the changes that have occurred since being a mother 3.6 years ago.

Perhaps the greatest change has been the transition from woman to mother. Obviously the second after I gave birth became pregnant I became a mother, that is obvious, but since when did I lose my womanhood to everyone else around me?

Blame it on the routine, the monotony of settled life if you will, but nothing had prepared me for this colossal change. My body and mind changed forever after I had my first son, and apparently so too did my sex appeal. Despite that one time when I was wolf whistled while pregnant, I feel almost completely invisible. I don´t just mean in a sexual attraction to others type of way – I feel it about myself too.

I find this feeling stifling and even upsetting at times. There are days when I try desperately to find the woman beneath.  The woman who has dreams and plans, independence and confidence, and who makes sex a priority because its a time that is personal and private, a moment shared with another adult that is so firmly rooted in the now that there is almost no room for any other thought.

Perhaps this is one of the biggest mistakes that new mums can make: being so overwhelmed and overcome by their child that they lose their identity a little bit.  This by no means suggests that I am linking a woman´s happiness to a man, or that women should forget about the man´s needs  – no. Instead what I am trying to say is that feeling like a woman – a confident woman – should not be forgotten as a priority too. Maybe we all have something different that makes us feel this way, but the what it is isn´t important, the result is.  And feeling good, confident, strong, sexy – surely that is something all women should feel, mummies included?

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Mummy Diaries: Respect

Right now, Max is in that stage where he can´t stop going backwards.  At the moment he is currently bashing his head into the sofa, destroying a Sophie the Giraffe teething toy and simultaneously crying and laughing. He sounds like an ewok. Should I go rescue him? Yes …in five minutes.

We don´t have a full-length mirror in our house. I turned it sideways and hung it on the wall to open up our teeny tiny bathroom. I haven´t seen my bottom half in months, only my boobs which have been out so much they are no longer interesting. They have taken quite a beating lately. Max is like a flaming grizzly bear sometimes and the last few weeks it seems like I´ve been feeding him every half an hour (I want to say not literally but …)

In fact, my breasts have seen so much action in the restaurant recently – on the side of the road, in the supermarket, on the metro – that they have lost all hint of sexual connotation. They are literally non-things in the bedroom (they aren´t big anyway, to be fair). This depresses me for two reasons. The first is I was enjoying not needing a pushup bra (I wrote pushchair there like five times – doh!) and that amazing feeling that I still had cleavage in a granny bra (oh the comfort!). The second is that they got crazy sensitive in the months after Max was born and things were coming very easy (if you know what I mean!). Now nothing happens!

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Here we go again!

The other day I took the mirror off the wall because I dug out my winter leggings and they seemed tight (around my calves of all places!). Maybe some of you will be annoyed that this was an issue for me but honestly I nearly burst into tears. I went my whole pregnancy thrilled about my weight (I gained 7kg) which was all gone a week after Max was born, something I didn´t try to achieve it was purely due to all the vomiting. With Emilio I put on 18kg so it was something I really noticed because every second person was telling me how huge I was (thank you, considerate friends and strangers). But in the last two months something strange has happened to my appetite. I am eating – A LOT. I have been crazy, crazy hungry and – because this is Chile after all – I have satiated my hunger with marrequeta, that ubiquitous bread people wax lyrical about.  All that bread has gone straight to my hips. My thighs. My calves, ankles, arms, face, stomach – everywhere except my breasts, basically.

This has bummed me out so much that I have literally gulped back a tear every time I have gotten dressed in the morning (or at noon – meh).  It had even started to affect those (rare) intimate moments with my partner. I would run away, turn away, cower in the dark, dress in sacks and squeeze into jeans and get all aggressive with my muffin top.

It was exhausting.

Focusing all that hatred and negative energy at myself in a moment when I was already fragile was like half pressing a self destruct button.

So I stopped.

The time came when I had to make a choice – either go forward and be happy, or go forward and be miserable. My decision was sparked after hearing my own mother say something negative about herself when showing her our holiday photos. I told her she had to pay a thousand pesos every time she said something bad about her appearance.  I realized I should apply the same advice to myself.

I can´t tell myself to love my body when there are so many things I would like to change, but I can tell myself to have some respect. 

I made a human being!!!  

My stretchmarks are battle scars, they circle and lead away from my bellybutton like lion claw prints, evidence of the amazing achievement it is to grow a baby beneath them.  The pouch that hangs over my jeans or that dangles like an alien life form when I lean forward is the remnants of the home I had built for my sons, a home that protected them and nourished them when they couldn´t survive any other way. My aching nipples and limp, fluctuating breasts are the single source of life for Max – they perform tiny miracles every half an hour. My body has worked and is working HARD, doing something that so many people around the world crave to be able to do. I am blessed to have my body, and am so lucky to have it work the way it does, albeit with a few varicose veins and cellulite ridden pockets of skin here and there.

So I have come to the realization that this is my present. I don´t know what the future may bring but for now I am drawing strength knowing that my body is strong. This realization spreads to all corners of my life – yes, even to the bedroom – because I refuse to be a victim to more evil thoughts.  Confidence is what is sexy – own your body, ladies!!

 

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The Mummy Diaries are my own diaries based upon my life as a mother in Santiago.   I publish them because I believe that there are many universal themes that we mothers come across, but these themes are not always touched upon publicly so it is easy to feel isolated – especially if you are an expat (like me!) living in a foreign country. I fully subscribe to the idea that communication is everything.  Share your thoughts below, get in touch privately, talk to your friends – but if this is not working please get in touch with a healthcare professional. For those living in Chile, I can recommend an amazing nurse who is fluent in English, Spanish and Arabic, who can point you in the right direction.

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