One minute I was a free spirited wild child in my early twenties – I was travelling the world, making massive mistakes and my biggest responsibility was not losing my passport (and I quite often couldn’t even manage that).
The next minute I was a new mother with the weight of the world on her shoulders and a love so deep and heavy that it physically hurt.
Becoming a mother is more than just a change of lifestyle. It is a chemical and spiritual change within your bones, within your soul that you cannot come back from. Suddenly you hold the heaviest responsibility that is to not completely fuck up this magnificent little human that you have brought into this world.
When I met River for the first time, everything about myself that I thought defined me, disappeared. My carefree way of seeing things turned to an ever present sense of anxiety in the pit of my stomach. Suddenly I went from all of my belongings fitting into one backpack, to needing needing needing all sorts of things to fit into the mould of the perfect homemaking mother. Life just was the opposite of how I ever knew it, and I was starting to forget who I was.
If I wasn’t the free spirit travelling girl, then who was I?
Motherhood has consumed me more than I ever expected. My love for River is so strong that would never want to be who I was before her, or have that life, but I do miss my old self and her way of seeing the world around her.
Lately I have been changing up my routine and daily life to try and get a little bit of the old me back. I am consciously putting effort in to feel like me again. I have realised that I don’t have to be either one or the other – I can be a great mum and still be free spirited and keep that sense of wander that made me feel so alive.
Don’t try to shove your old self into a box and forget about her
When I found out that I was pregnant I was scared as heck that I would eff the whole motherhood thing up. In fact, I was quite sure that I would. I was notorious for being a bit of a mess and it is unbelievable how many sticky situations I found myself in while travelling for the 4 years prior to getting pregnant.
I was the kind of girl that would lose her shoes beside a camp fire in Uganda and go bare foot for weeks until I got back to Kenya.
I was the kind of girl that would secretly message her mum from an unknown village in Morocco and tell her that the man I had fallen in love with had a gun and wasn’t letting me leave. Could she please track me down and save me pleeease!
Yeah, I was that kind of girl – And that’s just the tip of the ice berg!
So, when I found out that we were having a baby – well I was terrified! Yeah, we were married, but even that was confusing. Sudan and I had only recently married in Kathmandu, Nepal and we were both just trying to make sense of the whole adulting thing.
When River was first born, I was too scared to pick her up in case I hurt her! She was/is the most perfect thing in the world and I really thought she was too good to be true.
Suddenly everything that made up who I was dissapeared and I went from one extreme to the other. I was seriously so scared of making a mistake that I became super anxious, super over protective and super duper scared all the time.
There was a point. a few months ago that I wasn’t even able to go for a walk with River because I just kept thinking about what I would do if someone tried to kidnap us on the remote country roads.
I want to show River the world around her. No, I don’t want to show it her, but I want to enable her to see it herself, and make sense of it with a childish sense of wander. I don’t want to be too scared to go for walks, to let her play on the slides at the playground. I definitely do not want to be too scared to TRAVEL with her!
We have booked our first holiday abroad since River was born two years ago.
I know, we probably should have gone to somewhere a bit “easier” like Australia or Fiji to ease me back into the swing of things – But no! we are going to Nepal. Aaaaargh!
I have been mentally preparing myself for this trip and letting go of that control that I have been trying so desperately to grip onto since becoming a mum.
I’m kind of excited though. Maybe I will be forced to come face to face with the old me. I will have no choice but to let myself give in to the rhythm of Nepal. There is no way of having full control there – you will go in sane if you try!
I am excited of the possibility of River experiencing me on that level. Well, not to the extreme level that I was! But I loved Nepal. I loved who I was there at one point. I love the vibes and the chilled cafes and the emphasis on spirituality in every day life.
I feel like I will be able to combine the old me that I miss so dearly, with the grown up me that I am proud to be. I think when these two versions of myself meet, I will finally remember exactly who I am.
What I’m trying to say, is that we can’t completely ignore the parts of ourselves that scare us. We al have pasts and we all have flaws, but that doesn’t mean that we are stuck in a pattern that it going to ruin our children’s lives!
Making small changes in my daily routine to remind myself of me
As my confidence in who I was in a person started to fade away, so did my confidence in my outward appearance. Yeah, I had gained some weight during pregnancy, but it wasn’t the first time that I was a bit soft around the edges. In the past gaining weigh had never had this effect on me like it did this time around.
For some reason, over the last couple of years I have wanted to become some what invisible. I didn’t want to stand out from the crowd or look like I am trying to look special or anything like that.
I used to LOVE looking a bit hippie and a bit out there. I would wear floaty silk skirts and feathers in my hair and dream catchers on my earrings. Harem pants and crochet tops were a staple in my wardrobe – the more out there the better.
I guess when I lost my self identity as a free spirit travelling girl, I no longer felt like I could dress like one.
Leggings and t-shirt. That was my go to outfit for all occasions for the first year and a half of Rivers life.
Over the last few months I have started really experimenting with style again.
I am starting to wear clothes that make me feel special and pretty again. It feels so nice to do that for myself. I have brought a few nice bohemian dresses. They don’t scream “I love getting stoned in foreign places” but they do nod towards the girl that I still am deep down.
I really recommend that all new mothers allow themselves expression through their clothing. It doesn’t make you vein or shallow. Style is a great way to quietly express who you are to the world and to yourself. It is a reminder to yourself that you do still have it!
Self Care is Key
Taking care of yourself is going to be what keeps that inner you strong in the crazy seasons of life. You need to look after you – simple as that. I read a quote recently that was something like “Give the world the best of yourself, not what is left”. This is key to keeping yourself in tact, I swear.
Before River I never prioritised self care. I didn’t need to! That’s the difference. Every minute of every day was about me and what I needed. I rarely travelled with others and usually only had myself to think about.
Now, I am kind of last in the pecking order. After a long day of being mother and wife and cat mom, I feel jaded and old and like all I want to do is eat a heap of processed food.
Since making self care a thing in my life I am feeling young again. I am feeling light on my feet and creativity is flowing from me. By eating right, having hot showers every morning and getting my body moving, I have smooch more energy and vitality.
This is also massive for managing my anxiety and general moods, I have noticed. By managing my anxiety, I am more adventurous and carefree, thus hitting the nail on the head with trying to reaquaint myself with my old self.
I’m quite loving this middle ground me
It’s quite a new concept to me to have balance in my life. This is the one thing I have never mastered. I feel like the mothering, stable me is quiet a nice match for the adventurous, curious me. I really am excited about trying to bring some of my old ways back, but in a cool mom way 🙂