I’m typing this after a night of not much sleep having nursed a poorly toddler with a very bad cough throughout the night – the kind of cough that is so much worse at night than it is during the day and the kind that continues to rattle on their chest even after a coughing fit which sees you watching them breathe while they sleep, propping them up on pillows, turning them on their side or tummy for fear that the fit will induce the upheaval of the contents of their stomach (which had occurred earlier in the day)…
I then woke to the sounds of Adele’s ‘Hello’ playing in my head. Except the lyrics I heard were ‘Hello from the mother side…’ And having experienced many nights like last night since having two little people in my life, I started to think about how the mother side of us begins – and then never switches off. It’s a 24/7 thing (you can get a jumper for that ) and despite the next to no sleep, there still seems to be a source of energy that sees us through the next day (well… sometimes – often heavily under the influence of coffee and then prosecco – and then a large glass of water to try and balance out the caffeine and alcohol consumption when water probably would have been the best route to take in the first instance).
The mother side isn’t a choice – it’s the side of us that enables us to get by on 3 hours of fractured sleep and still function the next day.
The side of us that goes back to work after having children to continue being part of who we were before and set a good example for our little ones when growing up.
It’s also the side that will put our phone on silent during work meetings but leave it face up in front of us in case “pre-school” or “school” flashes up on the screen prompting a stomach drop the world’s greatest rollercoaster couldn’t rival.
It’s the side of us that leaves the house make-up free with hair running wild but with happy little faces in tow – eager to face the day ahead.
The mother side of us is always learning. Whether it’s little tricks to get the kids out of the door on time (no you can’t take your sister’s doll to pre-school but you can wear your Cinderella outfit) or whether it’s learning to accept the chaos and all the joy that comes with it even if you would have considered yourself to be on the pristine spectrum before the giddy days of parenting. Or like on days like today – taking the kids on a long walk to blow the cobwebs off and forget about how tired you could be if you really thought about it.
But the mother side of us is, obviously, the other side of us from having children. We don’t stop when our children start. Although for a time it may seem like that. And for a time you may not actually want it any other way.
My lyrical challenge on waking this morning was possibly prompted by my delirious state post lack of sleep and also the amount I’ve watched and read about Adele this week post her Grammys triumph. And it was a bloody triumph despite the technical challenges. The woman rocks.
But what is really interesting is that Adele is celebrated for who she is. And for who she still is. We know she took some time out of the spotlight – and she just happened to have a baby during that time – and now she’s back with more global acclaim than ever before.
She is living proof that the other side of us doesn’t have to stop when the mother side has begun. That we can still try new things, get a new hair-style, succeed, fail and succeed again for ourselves – not just as mums, but as our other side.
This week has been a tale of two halves for me – what with it being half-term… The first half playing to my other side while still at work and babes in the arms of their adoring nana and bamps. The second, embracing my mother side and loving every second. Other and mother – I’m trying to make it count.
This post originally appeared on SelfishMother.com – February 2016.