Firstly, turning this blog and accompanying photos all nice and rainbowy (that’s a word, right?) is a bit beyond my very limited tech skills so I’ll just mention here how awesome it is for everyone across the pond (yes, everyone and not just gay people because equality is always ultimately good for everyone) that love and committed can now be formalised and legally recognised throughout the States regardless of arbitrary crap like sexual orientation.
Secondly, I’m going to tell you why I write these blogs. I’ll warn you now: this will probably include phrases like ‘losing your identity’ and other cringe-worthy content but I’ll try to intersperse it with some jokes and stuff to make up for the airy-fairy, semi-existential waffle.
Why did I start this blog? There were elements of wanting to connect with other people and parents, of wanting to raise awareness of certain issues (specifically ASD but I’ve covered breastfeeding in public and boys wearing dresses etc., too, and will continue to write about whatever seems relevant to me and my cubs at the time), of wanting to make people laugh and make other parents feel less alone…
My main reason for starting a blog was more selfish, though. There’s a lot out there about ‘losing your identity’ (sorry – I did warn you) when you become a mum and for the most part I thought it was nonsense. That tends to be my starting point on anything I hear or read, to be fair (unless it comes from Stephen Fry because…well, he’s Goram Stephen Fry!). But, come on, everyone knows when you have kids your priorities change and you have less time for yourself and your hobbies and all that – it doesn’t mean you become an actual different person.
The first time I experienced the whole loss of identity thing was when I got a phone call from a local health visitor and was asked if I was ‘Tyger’s mum’. I wasn’t Lady Nym – a person in my own right – but merely an extension of another being (and one who regularly pooped himself and was unable to even sit up unaided, at that). I just thought it was funny, though, and mock-complained at being renamed ‘Tyger’s Mum’ for the next 18 years.
After the initial settling into routine (or as close as I’ve ever gotten to a routine) I really thought nothing much had changed. I mean, I was a bit of a recluse before and we weren’t well off so it wasn’t like I was giving up wild nights out and daily meet-ups with friends in coffee shops and restaurants. I didn’t go to work but since work at that point consisted of entering data into a computer whilst engaged in a silent and passive aggressive air conditioning war, it didn’t bother me and I didn’t feel like my job was an integral part of who I was. I still managed to read books with a sleeping baby on me and watch various TV shows. I still interacted with friends and family online, which is how I kept in contact before due to a combination of us moving, other people moving, me not driving, and – as has been stated – me being a recluse. I no longer saw my best friend – who I worked with – but we’d managed to stay friends whilst living in different cities in past years so I was confident I wouldn’t lose contact.
Granted, the weight thing was an issue. As a lefty feminist type, I don’t like to admit how much my figure means to me. It doesn’t matter, right? A person’s worth should be based on far more than whether they live up to the impossible and arbitrary standards imposed upon them by society and Hollywood and all that very much spot on but kind of cliched stuff (sorry, the last time I tried to add an accent to a word on here I had a nightmare of text background rebelling and genuinely had to get my mum to sort it for me so ‘cliche’, ‘cafe’, ‘naive’ and all those suave foreign words can just suck it up and be written without any fancy accents over their letters!). It shouldn’t have bothered me. But it did. I was slim pre-cubs. We’re talking UK size 6 on top (I believe that’s around a size 2 in the US) and more like an 8 on bottom (a large 8 – my top and bottom half have never really been able to agree on what sort of size/shape I am) but – due to largely existing on ice lollies and cake throughout my pregnancy because if you’re going to throw up anyway, what the hell – I was two stone heavier after I had Tyger. This meant I was severely limited in my choice of clothes (especially with the breastfeeding, too). So, I stayed in maternity jeans for what seemed like an eternity. Since said maternity jeans were bought with a ‘smeg it, they’re not really my usual style but there’s frack all choice with maternity clothes and I won’t have to wear them that long’ attitude, having to wear them past the point where the small creature I’d been carrying around in my uterus came out into the real world didn’t help me to feel…me.
And even out of the clothes that did fit (and as I began to lose a little weight), it felt really wrong to wear a lot of my old clothes because they were too…revealing. I KNOW. I’m a feminist. I believe people should be able to wear whatever they like without it in any way being connected to their worth or competence (as a parent or employee or anything else). Everyone should have autonomy over their bodies and the concept of ‘sluts’ is enforced by the…blah blah blah. I know and I absolutely believe it all but…but…when it came to it I took a look at my short skirts and vest tops that show off a little bit of midriff and I couldn’t bring myself to wear them whilst pushing Tyger around in his buggy.
And I guess it was this attitude added to a lack of time that meant my identity wasn’t lost as such but perhaps stretched. I don’t just mean because I’d put on weight but because it was like my identity had to include Tyger as well as me
Then I had Baby Bear and my ‘identity’ was stretched out over three people instead of two and there was even less of it left for poor little – or not so little – me. I spent the days trying to juggle a baby who wouldn’t sleep anywhere other than on me or the Wolf and a difficult toddler (before I even realised Tyger had ASD) and then spent the nights breastfeeding Baby Bear and pacing around with him. There wasn’t time for me to even consider what I wanted or liked outside of wanting the boys to sleep at the same time and liking to gulp down a hot cup of tea if given the chance.
Even after the Wolf got his new job and we moved in with my parents I was only ever Mummy Nym with maybe a smattering of Daughter Nym and Mrs Wolf thrown in. Lady Nym had been buried beneath the demands and responsibilities that parenthood brought. So, I started writing this blog. Before the cubs, I actually wrote a novel and sent submissions to a few literary agents but that all fell by the wayside when I started my relationship with the toilet and bathroom floor during the awful morning sickness of my pregnancy with Tyger. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with writing. I’m not a very disciplined person so I have to battle with myself constantly to actually write anything at all (well, you can’t really type whilst drinking tea so I might as well just peruse Facebook until I finish the cup…you can put the bloody cup down in between mouthfuls, you know!…I need a minute to think through how I’m going to word this paragraph so I’ll just check my emails whilst my subconscious mulls it over…your subconscious can’t write the blog for you – you need to think about it yourself…I just need a little break…you had a break 30 seconds ago when you bought that stuff on Amazon) but once it’s there on the page I feel great. And very me.
Yes, the blog’s all about my kids and me as a mother but it is my life and Mother Nym has become part of my ‘identity’ (I swear this is the last time I’m using that word) and I wouldn’t change that. But the actual process of writing is mine and mine alone. It’s my little island of me in a sea of wiping noses, making meals, washing up, kissing elbows better and all the other day to day mum stuff.
I’m trying to incorporate more me in other areas of my life (whilst still being as good a mum as a can). In terms of appearance, unfortunately the last half a stone…or so…of so called ‘baby weight’ I managed to finally lose wasn’t as lost as I thought. I’d hoped it was lost like the attachment for Tyger’s Henry Hoover is lost: well and truly, we’re never going to see that again, lost. But it turns out it was more lost like his monster plate was lost: we thought it was gone for good but it turned up weeks and weeks later in a little-used cupboard behind a chair lost. I guess those 10 lbs had just fallen behind the sofa and have turned up again. I’m trying to be okay with that. I’ve even worn some shorts and the other day I wore a crop top t-shirt! Only around the house but still. And I show off my tattoo. It was a pre-cubs purchase and I still very ‘me’.
When I originally started writing this blog I didn’t actually let anyone read it. If one or two people came across it that was fine and well but I didn’t tell anyone the name of it or link to it. It was just for me. I changed my mind a few months back and gradually started to tell people about it and even ‘promoted’ it on Facebook. It gave me motivation to write every week instead of very sporadically. So, now I’m actually trying to get a readership – you know, have people I don’t know view the blog as well as my friends and family. Maybe I’ll move on to something else in another few months and maybe nobody will be all that fussed by yet another ‘Mummy Blog’ but for now the challenge and is keeping me interested, keeping me motivated, and keeping me me.