1st June 2021

Why this mammoth is a great metaphor for motherhood

As to-do list items go, it doesn’t get much more epic than bringing new life into the world – followed by the small matter of raising it into a functioning human. It can be pretty overwhelming at times (OK, all the time) – especially when you look back and realise how simple things used to be in comparison, when you only needed to worry about keeping yourself fed, clean and stimulated… and let’s face it, sometimes that was tough too.

And that’s why this lovely new children’s book, Mammoth (written by Anna Kemp and illustrated by Adam Beer), a fun, colourful and ultimately heartwarming read for little ones and their grownups, has got us right in the feels. It’s all about an ice-age mammoth who wakes up in present day New York City, only to find life very confusing – and some of it seems very familiar indeed…

You don’t know who you are any more

Being thrust into motherhood is quite the shocker – one minute your days are punctuated by coffee breaks and video calls and the next it’s nappy changes and feeds. Your old friends (whether they’re a sabre-toothed tiger and a bison or your uni girls) suddenly feel light years away. When will you get to leave your postcode and do something grown-up? Why does everyone – from health visitors to your own partner – insist on calling you mum? And why do your clothes now fall into two categories: loungewear for feeding and sleeping and loungewear for buggy walks and supermarket trips? Sigh… figuring out who you are now – and who you’ll be on the other side – is a truly mammoth task.

There’s just so much to learn

So much of pregnancy is focused on getting the baby out of your body that the bit that comes after is just one long head-exploding emoji. And just when you think you’ve nailed winding and wiping along comes weaning and walking. It’s a steep, steep learning curve – much like being propelled thousands of years into the future with no guidebook, we imagine. Luckily, there’s support to be found – whether it’s from strangers on the internet or strangers on the subway.

You have to find your new herd

Whether you’re a mammoth or a mama, life is better together. But just because you’re now a mum, it doesn’t mean you want to hang out with just any fellow breeder: you need to find your tribe. After all, once the talk about sleep cycles and leaky boobs has dried up (along with, hopefully, the offending boobs themselves), you need to have something in common. The good news is, thanks to Mush, it’s much easier for mums to find like-minded mates than it is for mammoths. 

You’re feeling self-conscious about your appearance

Something that tends not to be prioritised when you have a new baby: body hair removal. And feeling like a woolly mammoth for a few weeks, months, or indeed forever, is just fine. Ice age mammals needed their woolly layers to protect them from the chilly climes – and your woolly layers and changed body provide comfort to your baby. It’s tough feeling like you don’t look your best or your old self, but remember, you’re just adapting to your new environment.   

There is one big difference though…

Unlike that poor overwhelmed mammoth, most new mums would give their right arm to randomly wake up in New York City, especially if it involved fancy hotels and shopping trips, thousands of miles – or years – from responsibility. Just for a day or two, mind – because while the city that never sleeps is great, it’s the baby that never sleeps who’s really stolen our heart.

Mammoth by Anna Kemp and Adam Beer is published by Simon & Schuster and is out now.

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