Just lately, with Katie Hill‘s #BodyLove campaign on Twitter, I’ve been thinking about how becoming a mum has changed me. Here’s a list. I love lists!
- Until I was 30, I hated my body. I always considered myself to be too fat, too wobbly, too ugly, “don’t take my photo from that angle, you’ll show my chins!” At one point, I was going to the gym 8 or 9 times a week. I was quite fit. I ran a half marathon and was lifting heavier weights than most of the boys in the gym at 6:30am. But I still had no body confidence. Now my body has produced a baby, I’m much more relaxed about everything. Yes, I’ve got stretch marks, yes my thighs wobble and I have bingo wings, yes my boobs are a bit saggy. But look at what I made! Also, to experience my body a few days post-birth, and then find that actually, it’s gone back to “normal” fairly quickly, was pleasantly surprising.
- Before, even though I lifted heavy weights and ran in races and all the rest of it, I had no mental strength. I once ran a gruelling 10 mile race around the hilly outskirts of Salisbury by staying behind the man in front of me, and basically using his mental strength to get my through. Experiencing a 10 and a half hour labour has made me realise that actually, my body’s capable of a lot more than I ever thought. I tend to think to myself “come on, you’ve been through childbirth; this is piss easy in comparison!”
- I am less tolerant of a lot of things these days. I won’t settle for a man treating me like crap, I won’t put up with people letting me down, I won’t have people smoke or drink near my child. Before, I used to put up with all these things and more, biting my tongue and silently seething.
- On the other hand, I’m more tolerant of other things. People who walk too slowly down the pavement, children asking awkward questions or just generally being precocious, screaming babies in Sainsbury’s. I used to tut and think, “Gawd, control your kid!” but now I just smile and think how lucky I am it’s not me! People apologise for being in the way and I tell them not to worry about it. Life is too short!
- I have more fun these days. I’m not afraid to go outside and splash in puddles, or spend half an hour pulling faces at S as I push her on the swing. I push her along in the buggy, happily chattering away to her and making silly noises (the latest favourite is a pretend sneeze) and I don’t care what you think of me. Stare all you want; I’m the one with a smile on my face!
- These days, I am much more aware of my mental health, and its precarious stability. Before, it didn’t matter if I had a bad couple of weeks, drank too much, didn’t go into work, didn’t wash up. Now I need to take steps at the first sign of trouble, to stop anything nasty from creeping in. I can’t afford to be reckless with myself, now that I have someone else who relies on me for food and cuddles.
- I’m a lot more careful crossing roads. I’ll stand at a crossing, press the button, and wait for the little green man, while those around me will make a run for it in front of a reasonably slow car. My child is too precious for me to risk her life, and since she relies on me, I can’t afford to risk getting myself run over.
- I’m still the world’s messiest person, but that mess is confined to “my” side of the living room. The play mats are kept clean, S’s toys are tidied and put away as often as possible. Meanwhile, the rubble next to me on the sofa has recently reached epic proportions, and I’m wondering whether I can get away with just chucking it all in a black bag and starting again.
What about you? Has becoming a parent changed you in ways you didn’t expect?