I wasn’t always a mum, but some days it feels like it.
Some days it’s all I am.
Some days I’m a carer, a dresser, a meal maker, a car driver, a dropper-offer, a picker-upper, a hugger, a story teller, a playmate, a glorified human wet wipe, a bump and bruise healer, a comedian, a disciplinarian, an toddler-ese interpreter, a housekeeper, a personal shopper and a bather.
Some day’s I’m just a mammy trying to do her best, trying to think about all the things I have to do in mammy-land, thinking about all the things I’ve done wrong, all the things I could have done better, but rarely anything to do with myself. Even showers are a rarity most weeks.
I look at my own parents and to me they have always been my mum and dad, but you know there was a time when they were just themselves. They were two young people with their own identities, not just my parents. I always love hearing stories about the times when they were rebellious teenagers and did crazy things like hitching a lift to Belfast in an open top sports car in the 60s! Yes really… the sort of things, which if I’d done them as a teenager, well I’m quite sure, I’d have been killed.
I was searching through my old pictures the other day for that 10 year challenge malarkey and it brought me right back. Back to the days when I wasn’t married and wasn’t a mum. I was just me. Just Niamh, concerned with her own life. Probably quite self-absorbed truth be told, but now that I look back on it, isn’t that what being young, free and single is all about? Living for yourself, no commitments, and no worries beyond your own little bubble.
I couldn’t get over how much younger I looked in the pictures. Pictures of my travelling, on nights out and on horseback showjumping and competing (yes that's a picture of me up above showjumping back in the day). Doing all of the things I wanted to do. I was at the behest of no-one and had very little responsibilities.
These days, I’m 99% mammy, 99% of the time. I’ve written before about how I had a complete loss of identity after my son was born. All of a sudden my life changed irrevocably and I don’t think I was really prepared for just how big of a change it was going to be. All of a sudden I was responsible for this little, tiny precious life. I couldn’t bring the dog for a walk or even run out for a pint of milk without bringing the baby with me. The huge pressure of responsibility came crashing down on me and I lost myself along the way.
For many, many dark months, I didn’t know who I was and it terrified me. It was as if becoming a mum swooped in and erased the old me.
Today, I think I know who I am and I mean that in the practical sense, not in the philosophical sense! I’m not the Dali Lama!
Oddly enough, it was when I updated my Twitter bio that it came to me –
Writer. Mum. Dog-Mum. Wife. Wine Lover. Movie Buff. Shoe Connoisseur.
Okay, those last three are tongue in cheek of course and may or may not make it onto my epitaph, but it was the first time I’d bluntly summed up myself since becoming a mum. I’m all of those things together now. I don’t think I can separate them out; Mammy and Niamh are now forever intertwined. Some days I’m more mammy than Niamh, and some days the Mammy moniker is harder to wear than others, but the point is, they aren’t at such jarring odds anymore.
One hasn’t erased the other.
Of course I can still recall my life before I became a mum... I can never understand people who say they can't remember what life was like before motherhood... I bloody can and some days I pine for it...
But you know what, that's okay. It's okay to some days wish you were suddenly child free and footloose... to do all the selfish things you want to do.
Because what I’m realising is, that no matter what I do with my life from now on, I’ll always be a mum and I’m starting to become very happy with that.