Motherhood. A blog by Cai Baby

I was 36 when I became a mother. I was a Londoner with a job that required a lot of travel and generally being busy and dashing about. Importantly, it also required a lot of my focus and a lot of me. Then my daughter was born and I became a mother, and she became my focus.

As the Rajneesh quote says

“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.”

The mother is new and I find the transition to motherhood interesting. The adjustment to a new identity, a new role and a new life.

I felt every emotion going during my transition to motherhood, and our transition to parenthood. To over-simplify and cut a year long story short, we love parenthood (bar the lack of sleep. Nothing prepared me for the sleeplessness) and we couldn’t be more in love with our daughter.

I took the full twelve months of maternity leave, plus 1 month annual leave at the end too. I have now been back at work a week. It is only now that I Google the definition of ‘motherhood’:

Motherhood /ˈmʌðəhʊd/
noun: motherhood
1. the state of being a mother.
"she juggles motherhood with a demanding career"

I find the example sentence really interesting. The suggestion (expectation? Pressure?) that mothers can (should?) do it all. It brings to mind an article I read on Facebook titled ‘17 reasons why modern women are struggling so much – physically, mentally and spiritually’ (written by Beth Bridges). The two suggested reasons I will highlight here are:

  1. ‘We give away energy that we never had to begin with.’ and
  2. ‘We believe we have to be everything to everyone’.

There can be an expectation that a mother returning to employment will give all of herself to being a mum, plus all of herself to her work, plus all of herself to running a home, being in a relationship, maintaining friendships… The list will vary depending on the individual, but the list, nonetheless, goes on…

So, what to do?

I had a look at what I don’t need to do, from where can I remove my focus? I haven’t reduced my working hours, but I have reduced my working days. I have a cleaner starting next week. My partner and I share parenting and household responsibilities, including cooking.

Returning to employment is another transition. It is another shift in my identity and has taken another emotional adjustment. It has not been a process of returning to the woman, colleague and employee I was 13 months ago. I’m only a week in, but it has been a process of learning and adjustment so far. Learning the train timetable and nursery etiquette. Learning this year’s operational objectives and budget priorities. Adjusting to having clear boundaries around my working hours and adjusting to hearing about my daughter’s day from someone else. It has also taken an adjustment for our daughter.

I am still committed to my job, my team and to making a difference. At the same time, my priority amongst all of the pulls and demands of modern life is to spend quality time with my daughter. To connect with her daily. To reassure her of my presence and of my love for her. To enjoy her.

So, what to do?

I turn to baby massage. I use baby massage to connect, relax and make eye contact with my daughter. To communicate love with her. Sarah Ockwell-Smith says

‘…doing a short massage every night is feasible…This routine not only helps a child to recognise that bedtime is approaching, it also provides valuable one-to-one time for parent and child to connect each evening. This is really important if the child is in daycare or has recently become a big brother or sister.’

Sarah goes on to highlight that the bedtime routine, including baby massage, helps both parent and baby to calm down and unwind after a busy day and to reconnect.

Vimala McClure, founder of the International Association of Infant Massage, says

‘A daily massage can be of tremendous help in maintaining and strengthening affectionate bonds between parents and an infant in day care. Taking a half hour for reconnecting through massage after work can help a parent refocus on home life and help an infant to feel secure and supported’.

Baby massage is helping both of us to adjust to the new way.

Cheryl Titherly
Mum to Isabella | Charity Manager | Cai Baby
Certified Infant Massage Instructor with IAIM       @caibabysussex