#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?
My passions and creativity makes me more than a mutha, but I do like to create a cocktail where I mix all of it. My work is based on the motherhood and the word/label/name we call ourselves once we have procreated, but the emphasis is on women and their stories. Mental Mutha was born once I had space to truly reflect on my mental health and those reflections were made very public and other women were being empowered or finding strength from my attitude to anxiety or humour around my panic attacks so I asked other women to come forward and share with no shame and they did. Now I have a community and a creative business that I am passionate about and grateful for about mental health and parenting. I am more than a mutha, I am more than my mental illness, but these are key ingredients to my cocktail.
Are people surprised when they realise you are more than a mum? Does that bother you?
I have been a MUTHA for 5 years and until very recently you couldn’t not look at me without soon realising ‘this bird has child’. The snot on my sleeves (not mine) would give it away. The intense no sleep eye twitch blinked in Morse code (I think it was spelling ‘HELP ME’) and the bag – the sack bag over stuffed with toys, books, wet wipes, nappies, snacks and a first aid kit. Now I have a handbag, a proper tiny (fit a couple of tampons in) sized bag. The eye twitch has stopped sending SOS messages and my sleeves and snot are my own. It is magical, but it also fools people into thinking that ‘you have your shit together’.
I remember meeting people I didn’t know in the early days of motherhood and when they asked what I did for (I presume) a living, I would always reply “Oh I am just a mum” and then scold myself later for emphasising the JUST. It wasn’t them, it was me and my perspective and so if anyone is surprised now I truly relish in the fact that I am a MUM and I’m JUST getting on with life, work, balance and family’
What challenges do you face when you’re juggling motherhood and being more than a mum?
Max has started school so I suddenly have time to figure my shit out and I have my work and I put my all into it, but more often than not I will just get ‘into the zone’ with a project and then it is time to pick the dude up. I am struggling with the ‘down tools’ part of my day. I have no choice, but the juggle is real. I find myself picking up where I left off after bath and bed with the kid, but actually I’m realising that this is a bad time for me to work and I need my evenings to chill the heck out and take some proper time out and away from a screen and/or people.
How long did it take you to remember you were more than a mother after you had your child(ren)?
Precisely 5 years. The kid just celebrated his 5th birthday and he has started school – I have no idea why school has represented such a huge shift for us, apart from the obvious, because Max went to nursery so I am used to working when ‘I can’ and I’m used to the drop offs and pick ups, but there is something very different this year. He has language, some reason, he is capable, he has opinions, he is starting to read, he can write a bit and count to 100 – he is over half my height and I actually fear he might move out any day now.
Who, or what, helps you to make time for yourself? What do you do to escape the stresses of motherhood?
I am bloody lucky that I have a husband who plays, builds Lego, does the voices, reads the books, dances in a cape and knows the iPad password when the shit hits the fan, because without the legend that is Mister Bailie I would never take the time to sort myself out. After a rough year he enforces self care onto me and I am so grateful – I have been with him since I was 16 years old so it is also safe to say that ‘he gets me’.
Since starting Mental x Mutha I have also read and written so many articles about the impact that time, space and caring for yourself has on your mental health that I make the time. I escape, I get outside, I exercise, I write, I read, I listen, I laugh, I see friends and I travel if I can – anything that can makes me lose myself and change my perspective is my jam baby!
What advice would you offer a mum who might not be feeling like they are more than someones mum right now?
“You have all the time in the world” – This too shall pass babe and I can’t tell you it gets easier, but I can tell you that you get better – everyday you learn to manage, cope, evolve, move, survive and eventually thrive.
Any advice for someone who is going through the same things as you are right now in their quest to be #MoreThanAMutha?
Nike said it best, but “Just do it”. Start the thing, go to the place, down those tools and feel grateful that you can pick up the kid, walk in the fresh air and be the person he downloads to, work will always be there, but he won’t always want you to be, because ‘you’re embarrassing’ and ‘you talk more than the teacher does’. Oh.
Who would you like to see featured next in the #MoreThanAMutha series?
Are you #MoreThanAMutha? Get in touch to share your story.