Nobody warned me how overwhelming becoming a Mum would be. Loads of my mates had kids, I’d attended NCT classes, read books and thought I had the whole motherhood thing under control. That was before I had an actual child, needless to say that was a shock!
After a lovely pregnancy and very straight forward labour (call me mad but I actually quite liked giving birth) the immediate aftermath was not so pleasant. As I was wheeled off to be stitched up in surgery (I’ll spare you the gory details) this overwhelming sense of responsibility washed over me. I was begging the doctors, nurses and anyone who was vaguely listening not to put me to sleep for the stitches. How would I look after a baby if I had general anaesthetic?! I didn’t realise it at the time but I guess that was the moment I stopped caring about myself, all I could think about was the tiny, helpless little girl I’d just given birth to, she was all that mattered.
That anxious feeling stayed with me for the first year or so. Everything was about what my baby needed. Was she feeding ok? Was her poo normal? (Why do we become obsessed with poo when we have a child? or maybe that’s just me?!) Why wouldn’t she nap? When she did nap, why is she napping so long, is she still alive? The list went on and on! Even when I managed to get some sleep my brain didn’t properly switch off, I’m sure I slept with one eye open.
There just wasn’t enough space in my brain to think about me. It wasn’t until my daughter was about 18 months old and I went to the BRILLIANT Guilty Mothers Club (Anyone who hasn’t heard of them, check them out, their Game Changers Course is life changing!) that things slowly started to change. It was at the Game Changers taster session when the lovely Helen (who runs Guilty Mother Club) asked the question “If you were in a book shop, what would you choose to look at that wasn’t anything to do with kids / parenting?’’ I honestly had no idea. I couldn’t think of one thing I would be interested in that wasn’t to do with my child or being a Mum and I was really shocked. I had loads of interests before becoming a mum. I loved music and going to gigs, going out with friends, drinking far too much wine and couldn’t resist a good political debate. Yet here I was with no clue what I was even vaguely interested in. I had lost my identity as a person outside of being a mum and hadn’t even realised it.
Don’t get me wrong I LOVE being a Mum and embraced my new life with gusto! I was out all day every day at baby classes with my lovely new Mum friends and couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have this wonderful little girl who made my heart sing every time I looked at her, yeah life as a mum was great. Completely overwhelming, I was anxious all the time and on reflection I think I lost my mind slightly but none the less I loved it. Looking back I think that’s what I absolutely needed to do at that time and don’t regret it for a minute. But as my daughter started to get slightly more independent and by doing the Game Changers course I realised I needed to think about me again. I started to accept that having interests outside of being a mum, thinking about what I needed and making time to do things I enjoyed, was really important and actually made me a better mum. I started to merge my identity as a mum yet still be ‘me’ and it felt marvellous.
I started to question why on earth I was going to all these baby classes I didn’t even like?! During my maternity leave I loved meeting my mates there and that was my motivation for going. But when most of us were back at work why on earth was I still going? Because that’s what I thought I ‘should’ be doing, because I didn’t know what else to do, because god knows I didn’t know what I liked doing anymore. But as I slowly started to merge my identity as a Mum and me as person again I stopped going to the classes I didn’t enjoy and started taking my little one to places and classes that I liked too and we all became happier as a result!
So why Mumchester?
There are loads of things I wish I’d known sooner about motherhood. Haven’t washed your hair for a week? Totally normal. Child hates sleep? That’s normal too! Feel like you’ve lost your mind? Sanity is overrated. Knowing its Ok to care about yourself and have interests aside from your child. Knowing where to go to make the most of maternity leave, doing things you’ll enjoy too. Knowing about the brilliant Mum community here in Manchester and how to access it and knowing how to embrace your identity as a mum and a person. All of this and more is the inspiration behind Mumchester.
It’s about helping Mum’s make the most of this glorious city by recommending kids activities that Mum’s can enjoy too; great places to eat with and without the little ones, places to go on a girls or date night, fun events taking place and all the great Mum clubs on offer. Mumchester is a community to encourage mums to think about ourselves and our identities so we don’t forget about our own interests and personality.
There’s also a focus on including mums from across the whole community, remembering ones that are not so fortunate to be able to easily access the cities activities and groups. Each week I’ll feature a local women’s charity, showcasing the work they do to support Manchester mums.
I’d love to hear from you