I have a confession to make.
Over the last few months, like a tin can rattling distantly down the street, deep within I’ve felt rumblings of discontent that, whilst faint at first, have recently grown louder and closer, until bursting into full view in the form of a solid realisation:
I am completely in love with my son, but I am not anywhere near completely in love with #mumlife.
Suddenly it seems that in the minds of many of the people in my world, much of my existence as an individual is now tied (ok, chained) to that of another; my adorable, squishy, 8 month old baby boy. People whom I haven’t seen in years want to catch up … to see the baby. Stimulating conversation has been dropped in favour of exchanges regarding poo nappies, sleepless nights and the perfect time to have baby number 2 (um, pretty sure I’m only just getting my head around this one, thank you very much).
There’s a large part of me sorrowfully warbling the lines of Moving Pictures’ hit song “What About Me?!” As I type that out, I can already feel the judgement of a thousand fellow mums who would point to the virtue of sacrificing my identity selflessly on the altar of motherhood. Quite possibly they’ll be the same mums having a mid life crisis when their kids leave home and they suddenly remember they were in fact a separate entity to their children.
Here’s the thing: it seems true that kids become what their parents show them with their own lives, not what they preach from a control freak perspective. Surely then our greatest privilege as parents is to let our lives paint a picture of possibility for our kids. Let them see us pursuing our dreams and our interests to the very best of our abilities. Let them see us risking wisely, and failing forward. Let them see us living in constant curiosity and creativity. Let them see us as interesting individuals of whom the title of ‘parent’ is only one of the many mantles we wear.
I love my son, but I love life too. I love art, gardening, music, books, long walks, movies, baking, op shop treasure hunting and interesting conversation that goes beyond the scope of my child. These were all passions that were gifted to me by my own mother, who showed her three girls a colourful life of interest, and by doing so, was not a neglectful or selfish mother but a wise one. She invited us into her world and in doing so gave us the freedom and strength to create our own.
So, to my friends without kids, please don’t apologise if our conversation never veers onto the subject of my firstborn and his latest achievements – I love that you have an interesting, fulfilling, wonderful life outside of parenthood and it’s a breath of fresh air to talk about it together.
And to my mum friends: it’s a privilege to share this parenting journey with you – talking about your kids and sharing stories about my own little boy. Gabe is a delight and an important part of my world, but he is just one part. I may now be a mum, but I am still me. And you are still you too. So how about we allow ourselves to talk about our passions; about the dreams we’re dreaming, the fears we’re facing, the hustle we’re working, the books we’re reading, the places we’re travelling, the gardens we’re growing … the lives of possibility we’re living. For ourselves and for our kids.