Hello. My name is Francesca Alice Irving. Also known as Francesca, Fran, Frankie, Franno, and 4672 times a day, Mummy. You may as well just call me ‘Mummy’ though, because to be honest, that’s all I am, right?
When I found out I was pregnant, I was 23 years old. I had just received a promotion and was in that stage of life that we all go through in our 20s where we are sort of deciding who we are. University life was over and I had grown up a bit. I’d bought my first house and was absolutely loving my job. I went out with my friends as often as possible and went to the gym or gymnastics training almost every night. I knew who ‘Francesca’ was, and she certainly wasn’t a mum.
But becoming a mum is instant. One day you’re elegantly waddling round the shops picking the perfect outfit to bring the baby home in and enjoying strangers admiring your bump, and the next you’re learning to breastfeed a baby having only pushed them out 30 minutes earlier. Then for pretty much the rest of your life or at least the next few years they are 100% your responsibility and there is absolutely no time to adapt to your new role.
So how do you actually adapt? You give up everything you were and you become just ‘mummy’.
When I came to terms with the fact that I was going to have a baby, I promised myself that I wouldn’t let it stop me from doing anything in life. In some ways, I’ve stayed true to my promise. I’ve started and grown my business, I’ve seen my friends just as much if not more (just with an extra member of the crew), and I’ve carried on getting my hair extensions and spending every penny in my bank account on shopping trips – things that kind of make me…me. Still, Luna is always at the very front of my mind and she ALWAYS comes first.
But you know that saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup”… well I started to realise I was becoming empty and I needed to fill myself back up. And that meant putting myself first in order to carry on putting Luna first.
Next time you are in a coffee shop, take a look at the group of new mums gathered in the corner. Just a group of mums chatting about boobs and bottles and colic and coughs whilst one baby cries, one sleeps, and the other is sick. But take a closer look and you’ll realise that each of those women has their own story and quite possibly their own life that they have temporarily given up to become ‘mummy’.
It’s an awkward topic of conversation but over the last few weeks I’ve spoken to a fair few mums of toddlers and young children and we’ve all eventually admitted that we need to be ourselves again. Whether that’s climbing back up the career ladder, putting everything into our businesses, or simply having more time to ourselves to pursue our hobbies and passions.
I’ve spent years and years and thousands and thousands of pounds on a marketing degree and Chartered Institute of Marketing qualification and I still spend most of my spare time teaching myself industry skills to stay up to date. I don’t want that to be a waste. I’ve put everything I possibly can into my business and after well over a year, my vision is starting to de-mist. I don’t want to feel guilty for sending Luna to nursery.
And I’ve spent my entire life running, jumping and flipping around – adult gymnastics is my way of feeling like a child again. I miss these classes.
Of course we all love our babies but the things that make us who we are shouldn’t be locked away. I am a mummy, but I am more than just a mummy.