I’ve changed a lot since I became a Mum.
I’m sure my 21-year-old self would shudder at the sight of me. In fact, I think if she saw me walking down the street she’d cross the road.
My hair is rarely done beyond running a brush through it or tying it back and squirting my fringe with dry shampoo so it looks clean. My makeup is minimal, but mostly it’s not there at all.
I can see her in my head, shaking her perfectly blow-dried and straightened hair and her full face of makeup. I was self-obsessed. Not in a narcissistic way, but I had no-one else to consider other than myself.
My wardrobe now consists of pyjamas or comfy jeans and a jumper with my trusty Converse or boots. I don’t spend hours looking in my wardrobe, selecting an outfit or trying multiple combinations. The first one I touch is the first one I wear.
Now, I cook, mostly from scratch, and plan out the week's menu. My nickname at 21 years old was Ping Queen because I didn’t eat anything I couldn’t microwave.
I exercise, I am inseparable from my Fitbit, I’m often jogging around the living room at 9 o’clock making sure I meet my daily step goal because it’s important to be healthy and be able to keep up with my children.
I save. Every spare penny goes into the bank. I don’t remember the last time I bought myself new clothes or in fact, anything that was for me and not the children. This, from the girl who would shop every Thursday for outfits for the weekend.
I’m softer now too. I cry more easily, I can’t watch Comic Relief without sobbing. I’m nicer, kinder. I had a t-shirt at 21 that said I was a bitch. I wasn’t a bitch, but I was straight talking, to the point and didn’t pull any punches. In high-insight, I was too hard, too scared of being weak or letting anyone in.
A child changes that. You can’t keep them out, they are in there and they pull at you; breaking your heart with the sweetness and with their tears.
I’m stronger. I know this sounds contradictory to what I’ve just said but I am stronger and softer in equal measure. I had two hard pregnancies and sometimes I didn’t think I would make through. I’ve had scary news from doctors, and yet I have continued putting one foot in front of the other because I had too. There are two little people who need me.
When I started thinking about this post, I thought it was going to be about how I’d lost part of myself and the elements I had lost of myself since becoming a mum.
But that isn’t what this post has become, by being a Mum I’ve become myself. I’m secure. I don’t hide behind a strong exterior. I’m more comfortable in who I am. I’m mum. Yes, of course, I’m still Emma and I still long for a bath in peace, to not referee every minute the two of them are together and to not pick up the toys twenty times a day.
A lot may change in the next ten years, I might go back to only eating microwave food or spending hours applying my make up; I might not even recognise myself, I don’t always recognise the way I am now from how I use to be, but it’s not a bad thing.
The one thing that will remain consistent, is that I will always be mum, and nobody can take that away from me.