Pushing another human out of your fanny doesn’t mean you should lose all sense of self. Hazel Davis is not skipping lipstick, listening to kiddy tunes or letting parenthood affect her flat white consumption.
If I read one more article about how parenthood makes you lose your identity, I will lose my (actually not food-stained, as it happens) rag.
But I can totally see how parenthood could make you lose your identity. If your identity is tightly bound up in going to a crack den every weekend, that is. Or if all your friends are paedophiles, say. But I think I can safely say that my identity (whatever the hell it actually means) was formed outside of who I staggered out of a pub at 2am with in my 20s.
Denying ourselves our personality seems to be something we (mainly women, it seems) do to ourselves to somehow prove that we’re being good parents. It’s almost a boast. “I can’t read books anymore,” you’re supposed to say, “I have a baby,” despite the fact that there’s literally NOTHING ELSE to do but read books when you have a screaming newborn tearing at your tit.
“Sigh. I wish I COULD wear lipstick,” you’re meant to say, despite the fact that (at least when I apply it) putting lipstick on takes less time than it does to poo. And you’re allowed to poo (aren’t you?).
A few weeks after my first was born I was at choir (YES YOU CAN GO TO CHOIR WHEN YOU HAVE BABIES TOO. WHO KNEW?) and one of the altos said to me: “Red nails, huh? Where on earth do you find the time to do that?”
I felt simultaneously proud and ashamed. Like I wasn’t supposed to care about myself anymore, like I was somehow a bad mother for daring to paint my nails. I’m definitely, definitely not saying we should all aspire to Kate Middleton levels of looking amazing two hours after giving birth and you should absolutely spend three years in a velour tracksuit if you want to. But if I WANT to wear a flowery dress and paint my nails, should I really feel bad?!
“Frankly, I reckon I could have most kids under three in a fight, so why on earth would they get to decide what goes on the car stereo?”
When I was pregnant I asked a good friend of mine, whose child was about six months old, how she felt, what it was LIKE suddenly being a mum. She said: “Erm. I just feel like me, but with someone really cool to hang around with.” She saw her little boy as someone she could share the things she loves with.
But the same isn’t true of some other people I know. One friend claims to not be able to have music in the car anymore because they HAVE to listen to Funky Tunes For Kickass Kids* or whatever shite they have been peddled at the NCT class. Really? Did you give birth to a child or a tiny police sergeant? Frankly, I reckon I could have most kids under three in a fight, so why on earth would they get to decide what goes on the car stereo?
Does having a baby really – REALLY – stop you from listening to music? In fact, as a male father friend pointed out to me the other week: “All I did when my children were crying was walk around the house listening to music.”
I listened to nothing but Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan in the first few months of both my children’s lives. I watched a ton of Alfred Hitchcock films and I spent a large percentage of both children’s early months sitting in cafes, drinking flat whites, which was, um, exactly what I was doing before, but more of it. In fact, in many ways, becoming a parent allowed me to slow down and add on a whole load more things to my personality that I wanted to, like being able to reply to emails and being a bit nicer to people.
“I used to love my house, but now it’s crammed full of plastic shit.” Errrrr… don’t buy it? Some people LOVE plastic shit and that’s completely fine, but I have lost count of the number of ‘mummy’ friends (ugh) who tell me they mourn the loss of their interior design. I don’t. We don’t like plastic shit. We don’t have plastic shit. Our kids have plenty of things to play with and we certainly don’t spend the earth getting wanky wooden shit either. We just, er, carry on having the same stuff we had before, but with maybe more pens underfoot. AND GUESS WHAT? THEY’RE FINE.
Sound smug? I don’t mean to. I just think we should stop willingly swallowing the idea that we should forget who we are the minute we shoot a tiny, screaming ratbag out of our froofs.
*Copyright, ME.1933 Views
Hazel Davis is a freelance writer from West Yorkshire. She has two tiny children but the majority of her hours are taken up with thinking about Alec Baldwin singing sea shanties and the time someone once called her "moreishly interesting".