Browsing the chatrooms of a mums’ forum recently, I came across a post from a distressed pregnant woman. Not about dealing with labour or whether or not to test for Group B Strep, but something else that she was really dreading; not being able to shower when she had a newborn to take care of.
This lady was horrified after friends with kids told her she’d only be able to shower every few days after the baby was born and should count herself lucky if she managed a monthly hair wash. Loads of mums piled in to the discussion, some reassuring her that she’d manage a quick frisk with a damp flannel of a morning and others proudly revealing they hadn’t set foot in a bathroom since the birth of their first child because their baby’s needs came first and honestly, they didn’t mind smelling like an old fridge or having blackened stumps where their teeth used to be – DH prefers them that way!
What poor old NervousNewMummy81 didn’t know is that she has nothing to fear: in all probability, her friends just don’t mind not showering. If she, like me, has a neurotic compulsion to shower every day and can’t even go to the gym without first completing top-to-toe ablutions, the protestations of a foot-long human aren’t going to stop her. Nearly two years after the birth of my first baby, it seems blindingly obvious that your parenting will reflect who you are as a person, and responses to the challenges of motherhood will be as individual as you are. Militant about healthy food? You aren’t going to end up piling face-first into that cliched mountain of cream cakes. Love your job? You’ll work out a way to do both. Get tearful at the thought of having to drive to the doctors with an unwashed neck? You’ll find time to have a shower. Secretly see no reason to wash more than twice a week? Here’s your chance!
There is an accepted notion of the standard issue mum: a baby-brained creature putting her keys in the toaster and accidentally calling the supermarket cashier ‘Mummy’, cheerfully juggling children’s schedules from a bulging filofax, nipping off for ‘me time’ spa days, picking banana out of her hair.
And as we approach motherhood, we feel that our hard drives are about to be wiped and replaced with Mummy 2.0. Of course, motherhood shakes life up and there is a lot of change. But at the heart of it all, you’re still you.
Continue reading “Don’t go changing”