Just call me Cinders: The identity of a mother

Written By Steph Siddaway

Hi everyone! I’m Steph, Mama to my very own sleep thief Thea who is 15 months and we live with my husband Matt (who isn’t really a big fan of social media) in the North East

This is my first attempt at writing a blog post (and it’s a long one so grab yourself a cuppa) and it’s all about my personal experience of motherhood and my identity post baby .

What happened when I become a mother?

Whilst being the best thing that has ever happened to me becoming a mother definitely brought with it a complete identity crisis (something I know I’m not alone but told from my perspective) long gone are the days of all-day cinema trips with Matt (I can count on one hand the amount of films we’ve watched since having Thea - unless you’re counting Moana in which case I’ve seen it 50 million times) catching drinks with friends on a Friday night or just spending a lazy Sunday lazing in bed/having a bath/watching all of strictly on catch up

(Now we watch Strictly live and spend our Sunday mornings at Farmers Markets or in the local park, I love it now but initially it was a fairly big adjustment) but anyway I digress, told you it would be a long one..

What happened when I become a mother? (Again)

After a really LONG and traumatic birth (ending in a panicked emergency section) I woke up two hours post surgery completely out of it on anaesthetic and was suddenly a mother.. instantly I was not only responsible for myself but also our daughter AND after returning home the entire house (but that’s another story I’ll pick up later) 

With a snap of our fingers everything was different, We no longer slept (Thea had terrible colic, suffered for months with silent reflux and even now I still only manage 4-5 hours of sleep a night) Thea had to be kept upright all of the time so we very rarely ate together (or at all infact) and (as I was breastfeeding) in the first few days of bringing her home I couldn’t even jump in the bath in peace without taking her in with me (FYI she hated it and we had to get out after 5 minutes)

And speaking as someone who had NEVER been able to keep a house plant alive I can remember just being so incredibly overwhelmed (and exceptionally hormonal) and breaking down in tears frequently during our first few weeks in the “newborn fog” with our little sleep thief baba.

Just call me Cinderella 

I think one of the biggest challenges was the sudden shift in household jobs, I am definitely not a cleaner (I mostly can’t stand it) and when Thea was born the household jobs seemed to multiple ten-fold (probably because nobody was doing them) our washing machine was never off, I spent literally all of my time washing & sterilising bottles (breastfeeding fell by the wayside about a month in) washing, drying and folding clothes (yet the washing pile never seemed to go down) plus as I never got chance to cook (and cooking isn’t my husbands forte) we lived mostly off takeaway and oven pizzas until Thea was about 4 months old... Add that to the stream of constant visitors every new family gets (and the endless cups of tea that comes with it) and were times I frequently asked myself when I stopped being Steph and became Cinderella

Suddenly I understood just how much harder it is to keep the house clean with a velcro baby in tow (I still fail at this now she’s a toddler to be honest) but the everyday tasks of hoovering, washing up, washing clothes, cooking and generally keeping three humans alive (all whilst having zero time to myself) definitely made me feel more like the live in maid than myself

I do think the modern standards mums today are judged by mean that we are all under so much pressure to “do it all” that admitting you’re finding this shift difficult can’t seem really overwhelming. 

“The weight of motherhood” statue

The mental load of motherhood

One of the biggest shifts in the identity for me personally was adapting to the mental load of motherhood, I was no longer Steph “Mother of One & Wife” who really only had to think about getting up on a morning looking after the baby and deciding what was for tea that night. 

Now I was keeping a mental track of nappy stocks, formula, did we have enough bottles sterilised? Had I packed enough spare clothes in the changing bag? 

It didn’t change at all after the newborn fog either if anything it became more complex - When is she due her next feed? Have I got enough time to pop to the shops first? What’s going out of date in the fridge? Maybe I should just book an online delivery... Must remember to book an appointment for her injections... What time is baby massage? Do I need petrol? I need to arrange that play date.. Is she getting enough social interaction!? 

Now I’m not suggesting that the imbalance is tipped in our house (I mean it is) but in different ways..

Matt has never taken Thea to a baby group, never booked a doctors appointment or kept track of her many prescriptions/medications, he’s never noted to buy her new clothes when she’s approaching the next stage or done an emergency Tesco run to prevent us running out of her favourite snacks (she can be such a little diva) BUT before you read this as a husband bashing (it’s definitely not, Im lucky to have a husband who realises he has to put in just as much work with our daughter as I do - and he always has) on the same hand I have never paid a utility bill (It was only recently I found out which company we were with) I’ve never submitted a meter reading and I don’t have a clue how much our sky bill is... We both contribute to the behind the scenes running of the household, but the mental workload definitely falls to me.

I Wouldn’t change it but motherhood is hard (and it’s totally ok to admit that) 

Whilst I may have come across in this as a complete moaning Myrtle (I’m not I promise) I absolutely love being Thea’s mama, She gives me purpose and she has definitely brought me calm (along with all of the mania) and a sense of belonging 

We haven’t had the easiest ride (as Thea’s being really quite poorly) meaning it has been incredibly stressful at times but I would not change her or our relationship for all the tea in China (not that I ever get a hot cuppa)

I just wanted to say to any new (or veteran) Mama’s out there struggling with their identity post baba - you are most definitely not alone, no matter how well you think other people are doing, EVERYONE is winging it - just some people are better at hiding it than others (than me

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