Just a Mum

“Oh, I’m just a mum.” This phrase always irritates me. It suggests that mothering is not an activity or a job worthy of mention, deserves no praise or status, and is tantamount to frittering your life away. However, it cannot be denied that using the word ‘Mum’ to describe yourself basically means you are defining yourself purely by your relationship to other people, specifically: your children. It doesn’t say anything about you except that you have procreated.

It felt in some ways like taking a step back, having a second baby. I was just getting used to having a little more freedom: the Toddler mostly slept through the night, he could feed himself from a plate of food placed in front of him, he was getting more independent and happier to spend time away from me. I had started to expand my freelance work a little by doing some work out of the house, and that was fine as my son was happy to play at a friend’s house for the occasional afternoon.

The Baby’s arrival meant I was once again permanently attached to a child. I know it is possible to express milk, but it takes me quite a few goes to express enough for just one feed and with all the sterilising and storing it hardly seems worth the bother when you could just take the baby with you wherever you go. It just means outings are restricted to child-friendly locations or the supermarket, and need to finish in time for naps to avoid a double apocalypse around 5pm. Also, the late night ‘dream feed’ acts as a curfew for dates with the Husband and limits drinking to one modest glass of alcohol which must be consumed before 9pm. My pyjamas have once again become my best friend, and it is a rare night when I am not in bed by 11pm – and out of bed again at 3, 5, and 7am. There is not much left of the evening once the kids are in bed, and not much energy for doing anything more exciting than cooking and eating dinner and lurking on Facebook. This gets tough, psychologically. Most of the time, I feel like Just a Mum.

I used to describe myself as a writer and I still do. I don’t have the time or the brain space to write entire novels right now, but this blog has helped me to keep going – a short post a couple of times a week I can manage. But what am I writing about at the moment? About motherhood. Am I ‘Just a Mum’, even in that?

As a teenager, I formulated why it was that I wanted to be a published author, what it was I wanted to achieve with it. My aim was for people to read my writing, heave a big sigh and say: “That is just exactly the way it is.” I wanted to capture the world in words, to give my readers that thrill of recognition and describe for them how they felt in a way that they perhaps could not express themselves.

Looking at it that way, perhaps being ‘Just a Mum’ in this blog is not a failure but a success. I can still capture a common experience in words and hopefully what I describe will resonate with other Just-a-Mums and Dads. Hopefully, I can make you feel understood, less alone and perk up the odd grey day.

What do you do when you feel you are losing yourself in your kids? What helps you feel like an individual again?

13 responses

  1. I really feel that all Mums need the deepest respect from doing the most important and exhausting time consuming and amazingly rewarding job in the world!! Instead most of the time you can hear the apology in your voice as you reply ‘Oh I’m just a Mum!!!’ And about five o’clock at night when children are fractious and you are exhausted you feel you would rather be anything but ‘just a Mum’ But in retrospect as the years roll by some of the best memories of your life are of those times are of those times. so Long live Mums and Dads!!!

    • I guess it often seems like something to apologise for because all the individual actions you do as a Mum/Dad are quite ‘ordinary’: wiping noses, making lunch, doing laundry. Or they seem like they are not ‘proper work’, like doing puzzles or playing with Lego or reading stories. But all those small, seemingly unimportant actions add up to the most important job of all, which is to help a new human being grow up well, to make them feel loved and secure and teach them to be kind, imaginative, empathetic and generous.

    • I’m glad you do, I love seeing what you make on your blog. I used to spend most of my evenings knitting but that seems to have fallen by the wayside since my daughter was born. I’d better pick it up again soon though, or I won’t get the little dress I’m making her done in time for her to fit into it.

  2. Oh wow, I go through constant phases of feeling like this but now mine are older (12,11 and 8) I definitely feel as though I am getting ‘me’ back. I felt just how you describe when I had 3 under 5….I am constantly finding new hobbies, throwing myself into new challenges (my blog being one of them) and finding new exercise classes to attend. This all helps me to remain ‘me’. Thanks for linking up to ‘oldies but goodies’ always great to find a new blog🙂

    • That is good to look forward to – I do imagine it must ease up a little when they go to school or are old enough to amuse themselves by playing Monopoly for hours.🙂

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  4. Your life isn’t so different from mine – and my kids are 7, 9 and 11 – and I go to work three days a week! My kids don’t settle down to sleep until 10pm so there is no evening and we go out as a couple maybe three times a year. But during school hours, there is more me and less mum. To me, blogging is writing. You are publishing and people are reading. It amazes me that people read my blog and enjoy it, but they do! Maybe one day that will lead to bigger and better things, but in the meantime the blogging is fine for me. Found you on PoCoLo.

    • Ah yes, I guess the free time just shifts when your kids get older. You gain the day but lose the evening. And you’re right, I am still writing and publishing of course. Perhaps I’m too trapped in a traditional view of what writing and getting published is – the Internet has changed everything.

  5. Everything you say Judith is so true – that sense of feeling ‘attached’ to the small people in our lives when they are at such a tender young age. Being a mum is a hard hard job, so much so (and much to my bosses chagrin) I always say that I go to ‘work’ for a break, for a day off.
    I guess I have found it a bit different, though, with regards to writing. I think being a mummy has helped me to get over some of my shyness. I learned early on, with the help of a friend, that to be a mummy means you need to laugh at yourself, be able to make a fool of yourself, like singing around supermarkets at near the top of your voice! In some ways this has given me the confidence to start trying to write, and sharing my thoughts, because if people laugh at me or my writing, that’s ok, as I know now how to laugh at myself. Although thank God no one has yet – that would really put it to the test. But you get my point?
    So that, coupled with being much more emotional, prone to tears and shrieks of laughter so much more easily these days, which I can channel into writing, for me being a mummy has helped.
    Gosh that’s a long-winded reply isn’t it? Sometimes I wish I knew you in ‘real life’ to pick up the phone and chat to you about these things!! Hope that I don’t sound like a stalker *laughs nervously at herself* xx

    • Haha no you don’t sound like a stalker!! It would be lovely to chat properly, really disappointed you won’t be at Britmums… That;s wonderful that becoming a Mum actually gave you the confidence to discover this gift you obviously have! I never needed any encouragement to show off, my Mum will vouch for that. And yet I never end up thinking anything is good enough to send off to agents/publishers. I also still need to learn to laugh at myself as I am not very good at that – my husband will vouch for that! xx

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