It’s no secret that the First Thousand Days of being a parent (from conception to the child’s 2nd birthday) is a FULL-ON process of completely new experiences and rapid self-discovery.
People sometimes talk about the fact they they feel ‘changed’ the moment they meet their tiny offspring. Whenever I heard this (when I was pregnant) I would feel a slight twist of anxiety and uncertainty. Who is this new changed version of me going to be? Am I going to become someone I don’t necessarily want to be – will I be blinded by the baby and thrown into a new world where awareness of societal norms and self preservation are diluted?
We often hear, as pregnant women, that it’s important to maintain the hobbies and interests that you loved before you were a mum, which of course, relates to the fact that nurturing yourself allows you to better care for your baby.
An unexpected reality for me, however, was the fact that the new, changed version of me, the me-as-a-mum would have new hobbies and interests.
Sure, you can say you want to maintain all your interests you had from before the baby, and a lot of that IS important, but of equal importance is actually getting to know your new Self, who is someone who might have totally different needs, interests & desires – and who might love new things you would previously never have cared about.
Let me touch on this in practical terms for a moment. When I was pregnant I had to put my unknown-baby’s name down on child care centre waiting lists for my eventual return to work (taking heed of 72 pieces of separate advice to do so now, avoiding future disappointment) … so off I went, popping her name down on 5 local centres, not really considering them, or caring to much about their philosophy, dietary menu or ‘staff to child ratios’ (who even knew that was a thing). I figured these places were ‘much of a muchness’, all meeting government requirements so… they would be same-same.
Fast forward fifteen months and I’m out touring these centres once a week with a notepad and 20 pre-prepared questions in tow (a list of questions from Lindsay at my Mother’s Group who, has invented a brilliant spreadsheet measurement/comparison chart… to her own surprise). The point is I’d changed. I cared more. This was a new interest to me. Not discounting or removing my other interests, but instead growing my interest base.
Similarly, now with a ten-month-old, I find myself keeping a re-usable shopping bag in my handbag so I can avoid plastic bags… I find myself refusing the offer of plastic straws at cafes (when I used to sip from two bendy plastic straws like it was going out of fashion… which, in hindsight, it apparently was). Again, the point is I’d changed, the new version of myself, as a parent of offspring, is conscious of the world, of the future environment – of what we are leaving behind.
This particular change is something I’ve noted in lots of friends who’ve had babies around me – we’ve laughed at the fact we would’ve never given this plastic stuff a previous thought and yet here we are tagging each other on 3000-time use silicone pouches as an alternative to disposable glad bags. I mean, WHO AM I… ha!
I’m interested in the council’s plans for the redevelopment of the pub on the corner, I’m interested in new travel destinations, new research, new approaches to mental and physical self care and wellbeing. When I say new… it’s new for me.
I’m not someone who’s awareness of societal norms and self preservation has been compromised… well on the latter at least I can attest to forcing self-care as a priority for the wellbeing of our family (enter Saturday morning yoga). But I am someone who has changed.
My care-factor has shifted, I’m interested in taking time to read and learn about things I honestly would’ve previously flicked the remote-control over in a heart-beat. Who is this new person? It’s me as I always was, just as a mama – and one of the most enjoyable things about the First Thousand Days for me, so far, is actually taking time to get to know this new version of myself… allowing the shit to happen, being conscious of it and… looking in the mirror and really liking the new me that I see.
Someone recently commented that my daughter seems like a new and improved version of me. It was actually a very cute, casual comment about the fact we look so similar (other than she has blue eyes in place of my brown) – but the sentiment of new and improved resonated with me.
Sure, there’s a whole other blog post about the challenges, trials and tribulations of becoming a mother, but in terms of self-discovery, the opportunity to learn, change and love your ‘new and improved’ self is, for me, one of the most unexpected rewards that has been delivered – and something you can absolutely look forward to.
This is a sponsored post in partnership with Bupa in support of the First thousand Days of parenting.
EDIT: Some readers have asked for the ‘questions to think about when touring child care centres’. Here they are (most by Lindsay plus some others); Total number of kids in the centre, number of kids in the baby nursery, age in the nursery, carer-to-child ratio, nappies provided, is there a waiting list, what’s the holiday allowance and do you pay over holidays, philosophy/learning program, sick policy, staff CPR training, centre credentials, where food is sourced from (especially meat), menu items containing added sugar, do they provide breakfast and up to what time, number of meals per day (often far higher than you might do at home), routine (theirs or will they follow yours), smell of the nursery (guide on frequency of nappy changes), do you notice if they speak to your baby directly and acknowledge them on your tour, variety in age of carers (some younger some more experienced). Gut feel!