It can take a while for it to truly dawn on you that you are actually someone’s mum – but Samantha Dooey-Miles has picked out a few defining moments…
I’m really a mum? I imagined when I held my baby in my arms for the first time I would think the universal thought of all new parents, ‘Wow, me, the idiot I am is now responsible for another life’. And while I did have that thought, I didn’t feel like a mum yet. Realising I was a mother was something which revealed itself through a collection of scattered events over the course of my daughter’s first two years.
Saying the phrase “My daughter”
First time you say this (or “my son”) to anyone; a doctor’s receptionist, the health visitor, a shop assistant, you should legitimately get a round of applause like grooms do at weddings when they say “On behalf of my wife and I” in their speeches.
Talking like my own mother, and not minding
We are in Argos. I am buying a ball pool and two hundred balls which seems too many but in reality doesn’t seem quite enough once I get home. I am determined the ball pool will be the purchase which stops my daughter slamming her head randomly onto our wooden floor when she sits playing. My daughter, like I imagine Mariah Carey does, has an intense dislike of the yellow tinged strip lighting found in cheap shops, so starts screaming and banging her legs that I have dared take her to Argos. I say to her, “If you don’t behave we’ll leave without the toy.” I pause the second the words have left my mouth. I have turned into my mother while talking to my daughter who will one day turn into me, probably.
Eating cold, abandoned food off my daughter’s plate
I like good lowest common denominator TV. Stuff about people buying and selling houses, folk having strangers over for a dinner party, people who don’t understand how they came to be five stone over their ideal BMI being found out to be secret eaters. In my pre-parent state I thought anyone in Secret Eaters who ate their kids’ leftovers and found themselves putting on weight to be, and I’m ashamed to say this, a bit grubby. Anyway … oh wait, hang on, I’m eating a handful of cold peas and half a fish finger as I type this.
Baby pristine, I am covered in piss. Actual piss.
A word of advice that bodily fluids are going to feature more than once in this list of moments so if you don’t like pee chat then you can pee off to the next section. On crap days of maternity leave I’d always find the energy reserves to make sure my daughter was fed and clean and in a cute outfit. If, on the same crap day, I looked down to realised she’d peed all over my outfit I’d still leave the house in it. Most of my clothes are dark, I’m certain almost no one could tell and, even if they could, baby pee doesn’t smell that much anyway. Wearing eau du pee pee as your scent of choice is the sort of thing only a new mum would do.
I should be alone but I’m not
I’m at my mum’s, my daughter is in the travel cot, my husband is not visiting with us. I turn off the light, shut my eyes for a night of peaceful slumber with no spouse blocking my limbs from migrating where I wish during sleep. As I’m drifting off, my daughter has the cheek to move in her sleep. I jump up wondering who the bloody hell is in my room. Oh yeah, my daughter, I’m a mum, I forgot. See also trying to visit the bathroom alone.
Losing my name
Once your child starts having a social life outside of your baby group or Mush pals, when they’re at nursery or with a childminder or at baby bounce you will find your identity as you know it, as Elaine or Hannah or Mira or whatever, has been obliterated. You are now Oscar’s mum, Jessica’s mummy, Mohammad’s mama. Forget about your first name; you do not need it anymore.
Smiling at other mothers
I have never checked if this is something other parents do. I’m sure it is. A smile to say ‘I’m in your gang, I understand, you’re doing ok’. I can convey a lot in a smile. I smile at mothers with their kids to show they have support, I am with you fellow mum, I feel your pain. We are raising the future and we’re doing the best we can. Conversely if I pass a mother, as in a woman who is clearly looking after her own children in public, and she doesn’t smile at me in solidarity she becomes my lifelong enemy.
Poo as the default conversation
Talking about the volume, consistency and colour of poos, like the weather and work before it, becomes a default conversations to have with people. Should I encounter a fellow parent who is uncomfortable talking about faeces in a matter of fact way I deem them to be odd.