#MoreThanAMutha is all about celebrating the things that women are, as well as being amazing mothers. In a world where many women feel like they lose their identity when they become a mum, it is important to celebrate and shout that we might be mums, but we are not only that and we are still a force to be reckoned with.
What makes you more than a mother?
From the day my eldest was born, nearly 10 years ago, I have gone to great lengths to explore my new identity as a mother while retaining all the bits of ‘Claire’ that I loved the most- after all, I was still me. What I discovered was surprising. I wanted to be the best version of myself possible to set a good example to my daughters. My perception of time changed. When I had quality time to myself I became very picky about how I used it. I started to reflect on my own mortality and what I did with the time I had left on the planet. I wanted to use my talents to their full potential, even trying to make a career out of them.
So I launched a blog, taught myself digital skills, leveraging this into freelance gigs and founding my own company, Blog Authentic. My hyper local blog, BrightonMums.com was launched *for* mums and although we write about our families, the events board, the reviews all focus on grown-up stuff for mum.
Are people surprised when they realise you are more than a mum? Does that bother you?
In Brighton, I’m surrounded by women who are more than mutha, so I don’t come up against this as much as others perhaps. In fact, they are the mums who inspire me. Each time I hook up with a school mum for a playdate, I heave a sigh of relief when I realise our conversation barely mentioned the kids. It’s more extended family who maybe raise an eyebrow when I got my midlife crisis tattoo, have a hangover or indulge in absolutely silly with the kids.
What challenges do you face when you’re juggling motherhood and being more than a mum?
I often feel torn. I love my work. And I love spending time with my girls. So I’m in an eternal battle to find enough time for both. My eldest has anxiety disorder, it’s mild but needs care and attention. When it spiked a year ago, that was challenging. My very controlled routine I put in place was derailed, as I dropped a lot of responsibilities to support her. But you know, I learned a lot from that experience. I learned about my own anxiety and stress, how it impacts her and I learned what she needs from me. My husband and I were drifting on autopilot with jobs, school and social life. This woke us up, got us talking more and made us prioritise family time together.
How long did it take you to remember you were more than a mother after you had your child(ren)?
I dug out my ‘more than a mutha’ trench from the beginning. I was fiercely determined to maintain my identity as a woman. Perhaps too much. I found myself rejecting aspects of motherhood, such as mum gatherings over coffee and baby classes. I have quite a few close friends who don’t have kids, so relied on them for ‘child-free’ nights out i.e. not a word uttered about feeding, walking or schooling.
However, by the time I had my youngest, this all changed. With two children in tow, one a toddler, it was harder to maintain that ‘more than a mutha’ trench. I almost burned out during the first year of my youngest daughter’s life. In fact, I had to remind myself I was a mother and find a way to blend the kids into things I wanted to do, especially my career.
Who, or what, helps you to make time for yourself? What do you do to escape the stresses of motherhood?
This is something I’ve been reflecting on a lot recently. Usually it would involve nights out with my non-parent friends – who share my love of serious amounts of silliness and music. And that’s still top of my list. However, through psychotherapy, I have doing inner child work, ensuring she is satisfied. I seek the answers using mindfulness meditation and the responses have been anything from a quiet bath, alone, with a herbal tea or a long walk or cycle on the beach with my camera. The point is, the answers are deeply personal. I can give you ideas but they will not necessarily work for everyone.
What advice would you offer a mum who might not be feeling like they are more than someones mum right now?
If you find yourself prioritising kids, home and work over yourself, take a moment to stop and ask what’s is really more important than you. Open yourself up to trying a bit of mindfulness meditation to find the answers. There’s some great apps with guided sessions and some are only a few minutes long – that’s all it could take! Some you can even do while walking or running. When my stress peaks, I turn to Transcendental Meditation techniques, closing my eyes and repeating a mantra over in my head ‘I can do this’ ‘I am able’ ‘I am loved’.
Any advice for someone who is going through the same things as you are right now in their quest to be #MoreThanAMutha?
Stick with it. Some days you won’t feel like ‘more than a mutha’ but push on through. I journal. It helps me dump my jumbled thoughts on the page. My therapist reminded me this week I should let out the negative and positive thoughts equally, not to stifle my destructive voice but tune in to it.
Are you #MoreThanAMutha? Get in touch to share your story.