Recently Jada Pinkett-Smith was asked some questions by her daughter Willow and her answers were incredibly wise and eye opening. Funnily enough the youtube vidoe of this interview was circulating around NYE time, a time when you are thinking of the year behind you, the year to come, change you want in your life, changes you need in your life and what you want the next year to look like. Jada’s words rang very true with me.
Motherhood is by far the most rewarding, life altering and difficult experience that I have ever had. Its not something we often talk about, outside of a mothers group meeting or a rant to your best Mummy friend or your Mum, but seriously, motherhood is HARD. When an awesome woman like Jada (And yes, I truly believe she is an awesome woman. She is an actor, singer, songwriter, mother, wife, and business woman. She played a Gotham villain and married the Fresh Prince. She founded a family based charity organisation. She’s raising 2 of the current generations stars. She IS awesome.) so eloquently puts into words, the struggle which IS motherhood, it truly helps other women who may be feeling alone in their personal struggle.
I have always been a maternal kind of person, I always wanted to be a Mum. I always knew I would start a family and throughout my twenties, when I was predominantly single, I even made plans to start a family solo if the right partner didn’t come along. I had no intentions of missing out on motherhood. I have 2 much younger siblings whom I helped care fr throughout my teenage years so I honestly I always thought that the transition to motherhood would be, for me, a very easy one.
Around six years years ago, my partner and I decided we wanted to have a baby and just under 5 years ago I gave birth and became a mother. For me the transition was so much harder than I had imagined. In a very short period of time I went from being a single woman, in her late 20s, who lived alone, worked full time and had a quiet but happy social life with a good circle of friends, to a Mum and wife and everything that means.
Suddenly my life was not my own, my time was not my own, my body was not my own. And somehow, while trying to be a good Mum, ‘me’ was lost. She often still is. And I’ve been at this for almost five years!
As Jada points out, when our babies arrive we forget to take care of ourselves because our babies are our entire world, and our needs get pushed further down the list. We are taught to put ourselves last, that it is not only our job but our duty to care for everyone else and ensure everyone else’s needs are met, dreams are achieved, wants are provided – long before we ever dare to think about our selves and our needs, dreams and desires.
I often even find myself playing into this nonsense; quietly judging other mothers for putting their own needs first, as if caring for yourself is a problem. It is INSANE! Did you know that I haven’t had a haircut in about a year, simply because I keep putting it of to ensure everyone elses needs are met first. My husband keeps telling me to just go and do it but I always have a reason to put it off: “its expensive; there are more important things to spend that money on than me; I can’t justify spending all that money on me.” I suffer from awful and often painful scalp psoriasis which is often worse when my hair is long and thick but I still keep putting the hair cut off. As if having crazy hair somehow makes me a better mother??
Over the past few months, I have started to take back a little of ‘me’ outside of motherhood. I really do enjoy being a Thermomix consultant now because, for me, it means time outside of my home, showing my daughters the value of working both in and outside of the home for both their parents, I feel better for contributing financially and I get to spend time with people just as Jodi. But Jada’s words have really brought home to me that I need to try harder, that I need to take care of me so that I can take care of my family too. I need to prioritize my personal happiness to the benefit of my entire family. Quite simply, the more happy I am, the more I take care of myself, the better it is for my family.
Another interesting point that Jada made was the idea that if we stop making our own needs and happiness a priority we start to put the responsibility of our happiness onto our families; our partners and children. That’s a big responsibility to bear for my girls and my husband, a responsibility I want to stop placing on them. I want to also be a good example so when my daughters are grown, if they make a choice to become mothers, that they wont be making a choice to sacrifice everything they are for it. So this year I have to remember to take care of me, first and foremost.