Grace Timothy is a journalist, writer, mother to a five-year-old, and author of Mum Face. Clearly, the obvious person to ask what she’s learned about herself from becoming a parent. (Grace: re nos. 3 and 5. I *so* hear you.)
MumFace is, I tell no word of a lie, the most hilarious, frank, thought-provoking memoir of the early years of motherhood. It covers everything from the joys (or otherwise) of pregnancy, to ‘what the heck have I done to my formerly lovely LIFE?’ all the way though to coming out the other side. What does motherhood to your identity? Your sense of self? (And your body. She goes there. Oh yes, Grace definitely goes there in eye-watering,choke-on-your-coffee detail. Which I actually did, caught in the hinterland between pain and laughter.) She captures the extraordinary paradox of loving your child beyond all rational measure, whilst also feeling totally lost; as though you no longer belong in your own self/life/body. But don’t worry – it all comes good in the end. It’s brilliant, funny, heartfelt and reassuring. The anti-What-to-Expect. I devoured it in one gulp.
1. Be kinder to your body.
My body hang ups had just levelled out when I got pregnant and then of course there were so many new ones I could have been royally screwed. But I realised very quickly that I wanted my daughter to embrace every part of her body and if I wanted her to do that confidently and with self love, I’d have to do the same and lead by example. So I didn’t ‘tackle’ my stretch marks or try to ‘zap’ wrinkles, I lovingly moisturised my skin and smiled at myself in the mirror.
1. All the cliches are true.
As a cynical, wise-cracking eye-roller, I didn’t want it to be true. How could I love anything more than my husband? More than my parents? How could it be the best thing that ever happened to me when I’ve got the dream job and have seen Lady Gaga live? But it turns out they’re actually age-old truths. It’s nuts. And I roll my eyes far less now because of the pure magic of my daughter. It’s true.
3. I am not very patient. Who’d have thunk it! I can kind of fake it when necessary but…. yeh, not so patient after all.
4. Kids don’t make you less selfish. It’s just that your self has expanded to include them. Okay, so I do put another person first now, but it feels as though she is everything to me and my agenda is about her, so I’m basically still operating in the same way. Does that make sense? Essentially, I’m still as flaky and self-involved as ever.
5. Sleep is so important. Back in the day I’d go a whole week never hitting the hay before 2am and still be up for work. I didn’t think sleep was essential, more that it was a social norm that interrupted my social life. But now I obsess over it, fantasise about it and prioritise it above most other things. Not sleeping when I first had my daughter sent me crazy, and now she’s older I see how important it is for her too. For health, sanity and to enjoy our days better. So I consider one of my main roles now to get everyone to sleep as well as possible in order to thrive.
Mum Face: The Memoir of a Woman Who Gained a Baby and Lost her Sh•t can be ordered here