Aside from your lady bits, that is…
On becoming a mum, you expect stretchmarks, a muffin top and norks that look more like they belong to your nan, but nobody tells you how much your emotional landscape shifts too. From over-developed rage, to a new-found fear of, well, everything, mum-of-two Jess Spiring muses on the totes emosh changes every mother will experience…
1. Fearlessly doing anything that puts your life at risk
I once read an interview with Meryl Streep and she was asked what her children had taught her. Her one word answer? Fear.
I TOTALLY get it. You have NO idea what fear means until you see your boxfresh baby flailing in a plastic cot in the hospital, or your five-year-old asking a playmate if they want to be friends. And imagine what it’s like when they’re driving, or dating that dodgy looking kid with the tattoos and the motorbike. Sheesh.
As I’m discovering, it’s not just fear for your children that’s the killer. I never thought twice about snowboarding down a black run or zipping between traffic on my bike. But now, I wonder, is the adrenaline rush worth it? I’ve always had a healthy fear of dying, but now I have two girls to raise, it’s a raging terror. I can’t stop thinking about how tough their life would be without me. Who would love them like I do? Who would they run to with a skinned knee?
They’d have their dad, sure. He’s pretty ace, but there’s nothing quite like a mum is there? She’s your safe place to fall, your shelter, your cheerleader, the one who understands you best.
I’m guessing it’s this fear that led mothers Angelina Jolie and Michelle Heaton, both carriers of the BRAC2 gene (meaning they have a higher chance of developing breast or ovarian cancer) to have mastectomies and hysterectomies. ‘I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself,’ says mother-of-two Michelle. ‘I realise what I’ve done is for my husband and my children so that they’re never wifeless and motherless.’
2. How quickly things make you angry
Put it down to protectiveness, a total lack of uninterrupted sleep or altered hormones, but I have discovered depths of rage I never thought existed. Whether it’s aimed at the tiger mum at the schoolgates sneakily trying to assess that her five-year-old is reading at a level higher than mine (she is, er, so what?), the man at the park who (wrongly) accused my daughters of putting sand down his daughter’s back or the traffic warden who wouldn’t let me park on double yellows while I picked up my sobbing sick kid from the school nurse, where once I would let things slide, now I’m constantly snarking and sniping and giving vent to my fury.
Well inside anyway. Sometimes I even call these people douchebags under my breath. That shows ‘em.
Myleene Klass, on the other hand, isn’t quite so passive. She let her mumrage fly recently about the party protocol at her 7-tear-old daughter Ava’s school.
Instead of a present, one mum was asking for £10 donations towards her daughter’s dream Kindle, a request that prompted MK to post the emails online with a repost asking for a unicorn for Ava and a Ferrari for herself. Lawks.
3. Your sex life
‘Oh we’ve never had so much sex!’ said no mother ever.
An Aussie mate of mine once said that if you put a cookie in a jar every time you had sex before kids, and took one out every time you had sex after procreating you would NEVER run out of cookies. (I’m paraphrasing, he was Aussie and used terms like ‘root’ and ‘little blighters’, but Brad, you were so right).
The secret is obvs meticulously scheduling in some couple time. It helps if, like parents-of-one Rochelle Humes and husband Marvin, you get invited to fancypants dos like the British Television Awards. And you look as smoking hot as she did in that see-through dress…
4. Your emotions
Until you’ve been in close contact with a three-year-old you have no idea of their vulnerability. The story that brings a lump to my throat every time is about three-year-old Maisie who had a new baby brother.
While the baby was sleeping, Maisie was reading a story with her mum and halfway through peed herself. Her fractious mum responded with fury shouting at her daughter for making such a mess. It was only later, that she realised Maisie was feeling so starved of attention she hadn’t wanted to interrupt her oh-so precious and rare mummytime for anything and had had an accident. Gulp. And that’s just a child in a normal, family environment.
5. Your career
At the risk of stating the bleeding obvious, once you’ve had kids, unless you’re a heartless lunatic, no job, no matter how vital to world peace will be more important than your job as a mother.
If there’s a race to be cheered, a dodgy piece of pottery to be admired or a nativity sheep to be snapped, it will be more central to your own wellbeing than any high powered pow-wow at the office.
It’s why Sandra Bullock took her five-year-old son Louis with her when she got her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (and adorably got him to press his own hands into some cement at home so he would feel special too) and why model Gisele breastfed while having her hair and make-up done for photoshoots.
Of course we can have it all, as they prove. We’ll just have these magical little people along for the ride too. Forevs.