Now that I’ve been a mum for over six years, it’s hard to remember any sort of life before children. But, in fact, I did have a life pre-babies and I’ve been reflecting a lot on who that person was, and who I am now.
It’s normal to feel a kind of grief for the person you once were before children, because having children completely changes you and your world. That’s not an exaggeration; I firmly believe you can never prepare for parenthood, no matter how many lists you make or research you do. You will never know how it turns your world upside down until it does!
Here is Rebekah at 24-years-old. She was a student nurse, and loved to go out partying with other student nurses (this time, as maids – hence the feather duster!). University life dominated her world, and she had become engaged to her fiancé two years previous, so wedding planning also featured heavily.
Life was simple: a two-bed flat shared with her fiancé, going to lectures and placements, essay-writing and endless free time.
This is me at 33-years-old. Since February 2013, I have had 3 babies; the most recent in February 2019. I am a nurse, currently on maternity leave. My world revolves around my children, my family and my mental health. I can hardly remember the girl in the previous photo.
My heart jumps when my youngest smiles at me, and I feel like the luckiest mum in the world. However, stress comes easily; my eldest is a boisterous 6-year-old boy, who does not stop talking, mainly about football. My 4-year-old is having a hard time adjusting to being the middle child, now that her sister has arrived. Depression also features in my world, and I often feel overwhelmed and unable to function fully.
24-year-old me had no idea what was to come. My vision only went as far as the wedding. After the wedding, I had fleeting dreams of 2 or 3 children, but it was in the distant future. Three-and-a-half years after that photo was taken, I was a mum. I still marvel at how fast time goes by.
Aside from the physical changes of being a mum (I really miss that waist and those boobs!), the biggest changes are psychological. Giving yourself to your children is easy – you’d sacrifice everything in a heartbeat. However, getting used to it is very hard, and amplified as you have more and more babies. I am re-learning this again now, with my 4-month-old. I have no ‘me time’ and can hardly ever do what I want to do. Perks of the job!
Being on maternity leave means I have time to solely focus on my family; usually just my children (poor husband!), but sometimes I’d like a little time to myself. Not to go out partying, or see friends necessarily (social circles also change after having children!), but to be free to go into town for a coffee, or even just to have a walk on my own!
Parenthood is absolutely wonderful, and our children obviously enrich our lives infinitely. But it’s okay to sometimes resent that you don’t feature high up on the priority list anymore. Sometimes, I struggle with that.