You’ve had the maternity-leave send off.
The baby shower.
Your little bean is finally here – lighting your house, bringing so much life into the four walls you occupy with this little miracle – and definitely not such a ‘little bean’ anymore. Every visitor you’d ever imagined has come to meet your new arrival, and actually, you’ve felt like royalty. Everyone loves you and your baby, and you feel amazing! Life as a mum is everything you hoped it would be, and more.
Gradually, the visitors dry up. Dad goes back to work, and it’s just you and your baby. If you’re a first-time mum, you’d better hold on tight, because you’re about to ride one huge learning curve. You join lots of mum and baby groups; from breastfeeding support to baby-massage, or just the local mums and tots group, because you look forward to swapping stories (and comparing – we shouldn’t do it; all babies develop differently, and we know that, but – we just can’t help ourselves). You fret about the night wakings and the constant feeding.
Fast-forward a few weeks, and there are the days you are just so tired, you can’t face going anywhere. So you don’t make it to BF support group, or baby yoga, or Mums and Tots. Next week, you can’t face it. You come up with a long list of excuses NOT to go, because it’s easier to find an excuse than find the energy to socialise.
I’ve been a stay-at-home-mum for four and a half years now, and I can honestly say, it’s very easy to stay holed up indoors. Us writers know this too, and when you’re a mum as well, it doubles the likelihood of becoming quite introvert. There’s no longer the adult interaction, the banter you had at work. Before you know it, your confidence drops and your social media ‘lifeline’ via Facebook/Instagram/Twitter becomes a trigger for depression, because on the surface, it looks like everyone else is having fun except you.
When the little people go to school, it gets harder. Unless you go back to work, what’s your excuse for getting out of the house? If you’re a stay-at-home mum, shouldn’t you be a good wife and make sure the house is spotless for when the kids and your husband get home? Or should you look at many different avenues to retain some of that independence you had pre-kids? When my eldest was in preschool two and a half days a week, I was climbing the walls. I wanted to go back to work, as I was bored, lonely, and craving human contact. So I put my CV out there, and got invited for three interviews. The problem was, I was expecting our third child. No-one wanted to employ me, despite their being various laws around recruitment and pregnancy. So instead, I sucked it up, and focused on our pending new arrival.
With my first-born daughter, we went to various groups, but not regularly enough for it to feel like we belonged anywhere. So eventually our trips out for social interaction became few and far between. We weren’t house-bound; in fact, we had a secret love-affair with Ikea and often visited once a week (I still do, actually!). Now that she’s in school, it’s just Little ‘Bo and me, and I make a conscious effort to get out with her at least twice a week, to the same places for consistency. I joined a running group last year, and stepped onto my local preschool committee. Now my life is full of social interactions, and I wonder why I found it so difficult to socialise before.
As a mother, whether you’re a stay-at-home mother or a working mother, or a single mother, trying to juggle life, it’s true that taking the first step to carve a social life for yourself is the hardest. With your confidence at its lowest, you begin to worry
that people think you’re ignorant, because you don’t engage with them. You worry no-one will be interested in what you could possibly have to say. But once you make that step – once you get out, you realise how much fun you can have. With regular appointments, you begin to come out of your shell. You make new friends. You find you’re actually enjoying yourself, and begin to look forward to your new little schedule.
Your life takes on new meaning, and your confidence grows to new heights and you realise: being a mum is AWESOME. Not only did you grow a little person, but you’ve come this far and you’re managing parenting. In fact, you’re actually pretty good at it. Not every day is plain-sailing, but you wouldn’t change it for the world.
You Are Awesome.
The best way to get to this point?
Just get out there.
I’d love to hear about your experiences of parenting and how it’s affected your confidence, so feel free to comment below or drop me an email. If you enjoyed this blog, please do share with your networks.
Remember – you’re a mum, and You Are Awesome.