How asking 1 simple question will change your first year as a mum
My mum is a great baker. You’ll never hear my sisters or I ordering sticky date pudding or carrot cake when we’re out – there is just no comparison to my Mum’s. She made everything from scratch. We, I, followed suit
One day, when my baby was about 3 months old, my great aunty had offered to bring me afternoon tea when she visited. “Don’t be silly” I replied. “I’ll make something”.
Like many mums of newborns, I was tired. We were in the middle of a leap and my beautiful baby wanted to be held all the time. I loved cuddling her so usually this wasn’t such a problem, but holding a three month old is not exactly conducive to cooking. In fact, I discovered in those first few months that tying your shoelaces, buttering toast and slicing veggies were among the things that really require two hands.
The question I should’ve asked myself then was “Why am I doing this?”
Do I really feel like baking right now?
Would I rather hold my baby and buy a cake or do I have some kind of baking itch that needs to be scratched?
Why don’t I just ask my visitor to BYO snack? Why am I weirdly uncomfortable with that?
The answer to why I was doing this, was because that was just what I always did. It felt weird not to. Baking in my brain was linked to ‘fun’ and ‘homemade is better’ – I hadn’t even occurred to me that as my life had dramatically changed, so too would that equation (which would soon be linked to ‘stressful’ and ‘a chore’).
When I look back now, I wish I had texted her back and told her that cake would be much appreciated. The fact it hadn’t occurred to me to do this makes me want to go back in time and give ‘new mum me’ a big hug. I want to tell her that she should just relax, cuddle her baby and drop any expectations. I would tell her that she is adjusting to a new role and that she needs energy for other things. I would suggest that she uses the time her baby naps to do stuff she actually wants to do- like shower or finish that cup of tea she’s reheated twice.
I would also tell her that baking will be fun again, when one day she has the time, energy and passion to do it. I would tell her not to rush it, and to listen to herself and what she needs right now– to trust herself.
I would also tell her the good news that for $12 she can buy a pretty great banana cake from her local fruit and veg. Not as good as Mum’s, but containing exactly 0% stress.
I now have two children, both much older than 3 months. I still buy banana cake… and I make my Mum’s. But ONLY after I’ve asked myself “Why am I doing this?” AND the answer is “100% because I want to”.
Little people have big needs.
Go easy on yourself new mum - drop what no longer brings you joy. You can always pick it up again if you want to.