I don’t know if anything can prepare you for the complex tangle of emotions that punch you in the lady garden when your firstborn enters the world.
I was one of those who felt love, but also extremely panicked, overwhelmed and just plain knackered. I remember people saying to me “just follow your instincts, Mummy knows best.” You know what? I had no instincts. All I had was exhaustion, panic, a bent coccyx and constant happysad tears.
Eventually I found a new rhythm (mainly down to accepting that everything takes 37 times longer with two under two) and began to discover that I did indeed have some instincts when it came to being a Mum. Put simply, I learnt what made me feel good and that I was doing the right thing by the kids, and what made me feel uncomfortable or cross with myself. Yet, incredibly, that didn’t seem to be enough.
Apparently I was meant to fit into a category: was I a slummy mummy, a yummy mummy, scummy, baby-led, baby-whispering, parent-led, Gina-mum, attachment, routine, working mum, stay-at-home mum, stylish mum, fashion mum, beauty mum, hippy, trippy, zippy…you get the point. Following my instincts, and being myself simply wasn’t going to cut it.
Fast forward and I now have a three-and-a-half-year-old and the “baby” is about to turn two. And it’s time to introduce myself to a whole new audience. I am delighted to be blogging so publically, and my business is starting to be just that, a business (in that I earn money doing something I love). Inevitably social media is a massive part of my job, and I love it. I’ve met amazing women and feel a frisson of delight every time another #empoweredwomen comments on one of my posts. And on so many of those tiny squares I keep banging on about “just being yourself”, “authenticity” and “presenting as honest a version of myself as possible.”
But man it’s hard to always be yourself isn’t it? When on every other square there’s someone being delightfully quirky, beautifully stylish, living their #bestlife and managing to keep all their white stuff white. Conversely someone else is being hilarious about their kid’s #epicfail, or flying the flag for another important issue, talking in a way that is both articulate and deeply moving. And I feel myself thinking:
“hmmmm, should I do a quirky post? Should I talk more about the charities I support? Should I show more pictures of my house on the rare occasion it’s tidy? Should I use more colloquialisms? Is my language too arcane? Am I being an Instatwonk for using the word arcane?!”
And there it is. The great twenty-first century overthinking disease. How to get round it? I certainly don’t have all the answers. I suppose I go for the “would your best mate think you sound like you, or sound like an idiothole? So I will continue you to harp on about how much I love my kids/how annoying they are, how much I love being at work/how much I can’t wait to be at home, how much I love fashion/how I wish we weren’t defined by our appearance. I will continue to flit from being mum to singer to teacher to blogger to birth preacher. Because “being myself” – just like another common social media handle – it’s complicated.