When I was pregnant, I said to myself that I would never let myself go. That I would live a life relatively similar to the life I had pre kid. That I would always look after myself. I vowed not to fall in to the frumpy mum cliché. I didn’t want to be a frumpy mum, I wanted to be a yummy mummy. I wanted to continue to be young and fun despite having kids. I wanted to embrace my sexuality and be confident in my body. The body that gave me my beautiful baby.
The thing that I failed to realise at that point was that no one ever wants to be a frumpy mum. No one wakes up thinking I want to look like a sewer rat. I want to look like I haven’t slept in years. I want to have a wardrobe that makes a potato sack look fashionable. But despite my intentions, I found myself turning into said frumpy mum and it happened gradually without me even realising it.
Being a parent is so fricking tiring. It really is and all the things that were so important to you before or no longer as important. Those of you who do not have kids will read this, smile and nod and think that you understand. But you really do not. It is impossible to understand how tiring and self-sacrificing raising a small child is when you do not have a child constantly stuck to one body part or another. I thought that I understood before, now I realise I knew nothing.
As you get used to your new role as a parent, you slowly get accustomed to putting yourself last. The babys needs always come before your own and then little by little all these other things creep in and take precedent in your list of priorities. The laundry, groceries, planning and cooking the family meals, trying to earn a living. Until when you actually get down the list to yourself, you just don’t have the strength or the motivation to do anything.
That hair appointment that is long overdue, gets pushed back again. That monthly eyebrow wax, turns into a quick tweeze or nothing at all. My once much loved passion for shopping, turned into shopping for my baby and me telling myself I would go back for myself when 1. Lost some weight 2. Had more time 3. Could be bothered. Until one day you pass yourself in the mirror and you no longer recognise who is looking back at you.
Today I had that moment. That realisation that after a year of pushing back schedules, I had become what I had vowed not to. My overgrown hair was now flat to my head with no shape or body. I hardly styled it and it was either in a quick ponytail or mum bun. My eyebrows resembled caterpillars on my face, I don’t even want to talk about other parts that needed grooming. My clothes were the same crap clothes I had bought when I was pregnant. When I told myself these will do for just a few months until I get myself back together.
As I stared at the person I didn’t want to be I glanced over at my future husband. There he was freshly shaved, wearing his new smart jumper and blazer, freshly cut and styled hair ready to hit the town with the lads. And I suddenly felt ashamed. I looked at myself and hated myself for what I had become. I was disgusting. That fashionable, adventurous woman he had met in Paris was now a dull plain mother in yoga pants. How did this happen? Why the hell does he still want to marry me? But my disgust quickly turned to anger. When was the last time I got to go out with the girls? When was the last time I even had the opportunity to dress up?
I look back over the last few months trying to pinpoint the time I gave up on myself. I couldn’t. It really was gradual. At the start I would always style my hair after washing, then one day I didn’t have the time. I was in a hurry. We had a baby class that we had to get ready for, Gabriel was being difficult and I was stressed and panicked about being there on time and I didn’t style my hair. I just left it. And then the habit begun. It was easier. Jump into the shower quickly and jump out, then start doing all the other things on my to do list.
Slowly my neglected hair turned into comfy easy clothes, then weekly beauty rituals being ignored and then my makeup. I usually never left the house without my tinted moisturiser, mascara and a bit of liner and gloss. Now I would rush out the house with nothing on. It become convenient. It wasn’t that big of a deal. I did it once because I was in a hurry and stressed, then a second time until eventually it became the norm.
So I picked up the phone and scheduled a hair cut. I sat there staring at myself in the mirror. Who are you? And then walks in this beautiful, immaculate woman. She is in her 40s and she is stunning. Hair on fleek, make up on fleek, everything on fricking fleek!!! As she styles my hair she proceeds to tell me she is a mother of 3, and after that I don’t know what she said. I zoned out. I wanted to shoot my self in the foot. A mother of three!! She has three fricking children at home but looks like a goddess. She nurtures herself. Takes time for herself. Something that I haven’t done, and I realise this is all my fault.
As mothers it is our instinct to nurture our babies and those around us. But one thing we are guilty of, and I know it is not just me, we forget to nurture ourselves. It may feel like it is not that important to skip these little times for yourself because you have so many things to do. But in the long run, it is important. How can others respect you when you don’t respect yourself?? When you look good you feel good, and when you feel good, well everything is good.
So ladies, don’t turn into me. Take some time for yourselves. Your baby will be fine. The dishes can wait but realising you have turned into a frumpy mum way before your time will scar you like it did me.