As with most parents, I hardly remember the life I had before I became Mummy to the most deliciously delightful bundle of wonder I have ever laid eyes on.

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Emmy – aged 2, looking for dinosaurs in Mair Park, Whangarei.

Credit: Haley Rogers Photography

I vaguely recall working in a beautiful glass office overlooking the ocean, wearing makeup and high heels, and taking leisurely lunch breaks. I still keep in touch with some of the friends I made while working at the local Council. I have photos on a very old Bebo account to remind me of the drunken cruise I took with my bestie around the Pacific, the walks of shame from Soho to Valley Road, and the many, many barefoot R & V moments.

But all of the pre-Emmy years felt like work experience to me – my life began when I became Mummy.

“I” took the back foot, and “we” became the new normal. I waded through years of infertility heartbreak before being blessed with a walking, talking clone of a pretty interesting New Years rebound – so I was more than ready to give in to my lifelong ambition of motherhood.

Then came all the celebrations:

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Her first birthday came – we dressed everything in pink, including our house, and celebrated with friends and family.
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Her second birthday came – a bouncy castle was hired, a mini carnival was set up, and we celebrated with friends and family.
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Her third birthday came – we hired the local gardens, made far too much food, and we celebrated with friends and family.

 

Then, the older my Little Sweetheart got, the more we talked. The more we talked, the more questions she asked about me. The more she asked about me, the more she wanted to know about my life before her.

Suddenly, the memories of me came back.  Underneath my Mummy haircut, my practical jeggings, and my glovebox filled with kids snacks were memories of me. The ambitious, sociable, slightly alcoholic me. She used to be fun! And funny. And a little bit crazy.

And I missed her. Why couldn’t she have stayed when I became Mummy? Emmy would have loved her! She might have even loved her more than Bedtime Mummy, or Eat Your Veggies Mummy, or Brush Your Bloody Teeth Mummy. She would’ve danced with Emmy instead of brushing her off because there was work to be done. She would have stuffed Em’s lunchbox with Dunkaroos and Le Snacks instead of steamed broccoli and green beans. She would’ve read bedtime stories to Emmy every night instead of doing the dishes.

She had more money, more time, and far less worry etched into her forehead. She always smelled like Dolce & Gabbana, and her hair was long like the mermaids Emmy loves so much. Her wardrobe was filled with pretty things to play dress ups with, and she would’ve taken the time to let Emmy rummage through everything, instead of growling her for making more washing for Tired Mummy to do.

In four short years, my life, my self, my whole heart, became Emmy. Her favourite stories became mine. Her favourite places to go became mine. Her favourite activities became mine. Her dreams became mine.

She made the world a more beautiful place – her knack for finding magic in the most simple of situations endeared her to me even more. I fell head first into the adventure she had turned our lives into and I loved her so, so very much.

Then I realised something. She loved me too. She laughed at my jokes. She reached for my hand whenever she felt scared. She smiled at me every morning. She gave me sweet little nicknames. She praised me when I did something that made her happy. She asked about my c-section scar and apologised – very heartbroken – for hurting my tummy. She thanked me for piggybacking her up the stairs.

And she told me she loved me. A thousand times.

Maybe I wasn’t just Mummy. Maybe I was still in there somewhere too. Maybe she looked right through my Mummy face and saw me. Just me. And loved her too.

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Whale Bay – a favourite Northland summertime spot.

 

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