You're a mum, wife, daughter, sister, friend and colleague... what about you as a brilliant and beautiful human being?
We're kicking off this new blog series with a piece from the wonderful Stephanie Moore: actor, writer and mum of two busy, gorgeous boys. Steph is passionate about bringing the challenging conversations about motherhood into the creative arena, and channels her own experience of motherhood into her moving and poignant work. Her piece below called 'Underneath all the mum' will speak to so many of you, whatever stage you're at along your parenting journey.
In what ways have you struggled with your identity as a mum? You might have lost yourself, or found yourself since having children. We all know it's hard juggling all the competing roles: you're a different you to so many different people. You're also you: a woman, with your own independent identity and your own independent needs. Needs which can get a bit buried sometimes, under piles of laundry and self-judgement and comparison and guilt.
When I first became a mum I completely lost sight of myself. I flailed around desperately trying to cling to something that still made me feel like me, and in the process became numb to the whole experience. I couldn't bond with the baby, I couldn't communicate with my family and I couldn't make new playground friends. It was conversations like this that helped to make it all ok. Knowing I wasn't alone, knowing it was ok not to love every moment, and knowing that this too shall pass.
Steph's piece speaks for itself, so I'll leave you with this. What defines you? What matters to you? What brings you joy and feeds your soul? Take some time today to consider the you that still loves all the different layers of your life. The you that's still there, somewhere, underneath all the mum.
Underneath All The mum
Once upon every minute, of every hour, of every day, of every child there is a human being called mum.
Can you read her? She’s a little small and rather faint. I tried to press my pencil down harder but try as I might you just can’t see her all that well. I’ve drawn a picture of her on every page, too. Because she’s always there. But no matter how hard you look you won’t be able to find her. That’s because- are you looking extra carefully? You can’t see her. Even with a magnifying glass. Did you say "why"? Well, the reason, good people, is this. She. Is. INVISIBLE.
Only you know what she looks like ‘cos she’s your mum. And only you know what she does best ‘cos she’s your mum. But sometimes, even when she looks closely in the mirror, she can’t even see herself very well because this thing of being mum has taken over her whole brain and her different-shaped body and made her eyes a bit blurry and, well, covered her in a big blanket of mum. Is she actually still there underneath all the mum? It’s like sometimes she feels a part of her - which part she doesn’t quite know - is a little bit missing.
If you see her in the park or in the café and she’s lost in her phone - maybe she’s trying to find herself in her friends, or to feel like she knows what’s going on in the world outside of mum and to read about how amazing everyone else’s life is and to maybe think of all the ways she could be less invisible. She wants to be drawn in permanent marker. Not just an outline in faded pencil.
You say "wouldn’t it be so cool to be invisible?" You could play tricks and be the champion of the longest game of hide and seek in the history of ever. But then who would marvel at all the amazing things you can do? And people would miss your special face… wouldn’t they? And you wouldn’t have anyone to talk to. Or hold you. Or be told 'I love you' anymore. Being invisible sounds like a good idea but it doesn’t feel very warm and fuzzy. You think it looks fun but it just feels so… nothingy. On some days, when she feels completely and utterly suffocated by mum and she doesn’t feel at all amazing she’s very happy to win that game of hide and seek. If the baby (or the toddler, tween or teen) gets all of the love and all the attention then mum can slink unnoticed into the sidelines - no eyes on her dry-shampoo do, no contact with her darkening circles and just please don’t spot her in that same-old faded parka.
But mum doesn’t want to be invisible all the time. She doesn’t want to be a pair of ripped jeans and a tatty t-shirt that nobody cares about. She doesn’t want to be a pair of rubber gloves doing the washing up or a pair of hands changing another nappy or picking up odd socks or a handbag full of crumbs and raisins or a pair of grey granny pants or a plate of fish fingers or an episode of a pig cartoon or an online food shop or a buggy pusher or a snot wiper. or. or. or. So many ors.
mum doesn’t really mind the jobs, exactly. It’s just that nobody seems to notice and nobody seems to care. And she’s never been given any gold stars. Not a single one. And so very, very slowly, day by day, her invisibility cloak just got bigger and bigger and bigger until one night it swallowed her whole. GULP. It covered her from head to toe. And that was that. She just couldn’t see who she was anymore. Or what she was supposed to do. Or how to just keep swimming. She was all mum. mum. mum. And, some days, it felt like all that she had to show for it was the smell of sausages and spilled milk.
So. If you see a mum. Find her. Tell her that she matters. Show her that you see her. Hold her and love her and smother her with kisses. Or pick up an odd sock for her. She hasn’t always been a mum. Someone’s mum. Your mum. Just mum. Because underneath all the mum, every minute, of every hour of every day of every child is an extraordinarily brilliant and beautiful human being who’s longing to feel a bit less invisible and not just entirely mum.
~ Stephanie Moore ~