How do you stay true to your former self with a family? It’s not just about sanity. It’s about how to keep your core identity while changing status. And this is how to help yourself through the change.
It hits you like a ton of brick: One day you are a professional with a blazing career, on top of your game and working with the big boys. The next, you are married and the bump is growing. After nine months of hormonal fireworks – your status changes forever. So does your body. Your mind. Forever.
For us girls, the change is a tsunami. No one quite prepares you for its velocity. Your brain has turned to mush, literally. You can’t remember the date, let alone keep up with international politics. Your body has doubled in the wrong places and your wardrobe might as well be sent to Mars. All while hubby continues having a life outside the family cocoon as if nothing had changed !
In my case, we very wisely decided to do all the things most sane people do over the course of a decade in ten months. We got married, bought a house in London, got tenants, hubby changed jobs. I quit work, had a baby and started a new business. Oh, and we moved some four thousand miles across the globe to Kuwait in the midst of it all.
I landed with a bump. Baby in one arm, keys to empty house in another. Gone the hair raising work trips to Libya and Afghanistan. Negotiating with rebel commanders and purifying water? A doddle compared to feeding a baby. I followed my friends on Facebook. But soon, our conversations withered. They were on the next big story as I was left trying to digest “Mommyhood for Dummies”.
The secret came in the wise words of a friend: “if you try and fight it, you’ll die. Embrace it and you will flourish. You can’t have it all. And women who claim they do are sitting on an emotional time-bomb”. And so I did. It took a while, but within a few months, I realized that Kuwait is a heaven for those who want to catch their breath and manage the change. And here are just a couple of tips to help:
SANE BODY, SANE MIND – Hit the gym or swim. Endorphins counter post-natal blues and reshape the muffin-top that grows like fungus out of your favorite denims. Most leading gyms have nurseries if you are uncomfortable leaving bubs, and most will accept nannies of newborns.
CATCH YOUR BREATH – The first year of your child’s life is a great time to chill, re-centre and catch your breath. Do the things you always wanted to do. Hit the spas. Make a photo book, write poems, learn to cook. Nurture your body and soul.
EXPLORE AND ENGAGE – So what your hair is a mess and you haven’t slept. Get out. For coffee. To shop. To walk. Soon bub will be on two feet so enjoy your freedom while carting Joey kangaroo in his pram. You’ll feel you still belong to the real world.
ENGAGE YOUR BRAIN – Learn Polynesian or web site design. Book onto a course. Kuwait has hundreds of training centers. You can also register online and an hour of learning can be fitted around naps. Grab that qualification or cours that will help you reposition professionally or start a new career. You’ll meet people who are also going through life changes.
ENJOY LIFE – Remember, it’s just a phase. And with hindsight the most beautiful one of your life. So stop beating yourself up. Indulge in the food you like, breathe a little and smile a lot. There is nothing wrong with loafing and doing nothing but contemplating the delicate features of your bundle, waiting for those first smiles and giggles and letting the happiness of motherhood take over for good.
Maryann Horne is a former BBC reporter and now a freelance editor. The British mother of two is also a KTV2 presenter and founder of the personalized calligraphy jewelry business Arabesqueq8. To find out more about what she gets up to, visit www.arabesqueq8.com or email her at [email protected].