So when Not On The High Street contacted me asking me if I wanted to join their #MaverickMum campaign because they thought I represented the ‘anti-supermum revolution’ and was a perfect fit for their campaign and brand, I was simultaneously honoured to have been contacted, perplexed by the meaning of ‘Maverick Mum’ and confused as to whether this should be taken as a compliment or an insult to my mothering skills?! (Obviously I wasn’t really insulted…).
Honoured, because hey it’s NOTHS contacting me and wanting to work with me and because being a ‘Maverick Mum’ sounds pretty damn cool (don’t you agree that ‘maverick’ is such an awesome-sounding word?!), perplexed because what exactly is a Maverick Mum?! And confused because is being a ‘perfectly imperfect’ mother a good thing?! Why am I seen as an anti-Supermum? Can’t I just be a regular Supermum?! sob sob.
But of course I’m not the stereotypical Supermum they’re alluding to; I don’t bake, I barely clean, I don’t make playdough and only very occasionally do I make shit out of cardboard boxes (and even then my eldest expresses actual surprise that I have any craft skills whatsoever). I don’t iron. I juggle work with childcare; I work late into the night most nights so that I can ‘be around’ in the day but sometimes think my baby might be better off in a nursery with me working 9-5pm rather than spending the day playing with paperclips under my desk. I feed my baby fishfingers. I get by trying to give my kids good experiences, trying to have fun, trying maintain a relationship and most importantly trying not to fu*k the whole parenting thing up so badly that my kids end up in therapy. So yeah NOTHS got it right. I suppose I do inadvertently represent this so-called ‘anti-supermum revolution’. But actually I think I’m just representative of real-life, unfiltered, everyday mums. #NorMum as someone on Instagram cleverly put it.
I don’t get it all ‘right’, I’m certainly not perfect… but I don’t really try to be either. I’m happy to admit I’m just winging it. I have so little interest in what I or my baby should be doing that this time round I’ve not read a single ‘how to’ style parenting book (and that’s quite liberating!). I don’t even really know what milestones my baby should be reaching at what age. I just let him get on with it in his own time… (then wonder if perhaps I should look into it since he’s 14 months+ and doesn’t walk or talk!!)
I looked up the definition of ‘Maverick’ for some clarity and the wonderful world wide web told me this: an unorthodox or independent-minded person.
When I consider my motherhood journey (it’s been almost a decade now since I first fell pregnant!!) in terms of maverickness, I think that although I might now be independent-minded, I certainly haven’t always been…
With my first baby, I was the total opposite. I was the anti-maverick and totally dependent on what every other person had to say about how to raise my baby. I was what you might called a text book mother, doing it all by the Gina Ford book. That’s not to say I was perfect at all. In fact it’s probably more accurate to acknowledge that I was borderline mental; I was an anxious nervous wreck! I was convinced I was going to do something wrong with catastrophic consequence. The responsibility of having to keep a tiny, fragile, human being safe 24/7 was overwhelming. Being just 21 years old and many hours away from any family support did not help.
I persevered with breastfeeding even though one nipple was literally hanging off and my baby was vomiting up blood that he had drunk from my bleeding breast. Vile I know. All because everyone and all the books had told me ‘breast was best’. I don’t think any sane person would consider a half-severed nipple to be best for any party. Then I was utterly convinced my baby would spontaneously stop breathing at night and so I used to set my alarm hourly to check on him, as well as use one of those sensor pads which sat under his mattress and would go off if it didn’t detect him breathing. None of this is Maverick. I read every book. I cooked all the vegetables and pureed the life out of them. I followed the guides on how to raise babies to the last letter. So maybe I was what you’d call a ‘good’ Mum, but did I enjoy being a Mama?! I don’t think I left any time for that.
Second time round and a good many years later, with not only the experience of raising a baby through the toddler years, the tantrums, the potty training and the primary school transition, but having done it all by myself as a young single parent, I felt totally differently going into Motherhood Round 2.
This time I’ve not read a single guide, I introduced a bottle (shoot me) and the devil’s milk (aka formula – lols) when I needed to, and I still haven’t started taking my 1 year old to a music class. It’s not just that I am so much more relaxed this time but I have enjoyed being a Mum so much more. In fact I have loved having a newborn and it hasn’t been stressful at all. I have cut myself all of the slack and just followed my instinct. And I guess that my now independent-minded approach to motherhood does make me a Maverick Mum by definition. And I’m happy and proud to be seen as a Maverick Mum because being a textbook mum was no fun at all.
And although I worry that sometimes my baby is somewhat neglected as I juggle everything and fed just a tad too much junk, I also know that he is way more chilled and contented than my firstborn who must have felt the anxiety that oozed from pores, even whilst I fed him his mushed-up organic risotto that I’d lovingly prepared. My second born, albeit with a fish finger in hand, is in contrast being raised by a confident and happy Mum, and I think that makes a profound and positive difference.
So to finish, I just want to say that of course not all first time mums are going to be like I was (many will be confident, capable and chilled out from the start), but I have a strong suspicion that many will feel like I did. And so I want these Mamas to know as they scroll through Instagram, which is saturated by heavily-filtered snapshots from the lives of seemingly confident and super-capable women, that it’s ok to not feel very Maverick. In fact it’s more than ok, it’s pretty normal. And I want all the new Mamas reading this, who are finding things hard, to know that it does get better and it does get easier.
It’s a frickin’ tough gig being a parent for the first time and finding yourself wholly responsible for the life of this precious fragile thing, that you care so deeply about. The weight of that responsibility is heavy. But know that it passes and you will find your own stride eventually. You might not start out on this mothering journey feeling very maverick, but sure enough a little down the line, when you’ve found your own rhythm and grown in confidence, well, then I think all Mums are #MaverickMums and bloody (anti-supermum) bona-fide Superwomen too!!
If you want to jump on board and join the #MaverickMum campaign AND be in with a chance of winning £500 of vouchers to spend at notonthehighstreet.com (whoop!) then just see below…
Finally, if you’ve enjoyed reading this post it would be totally mega (and massively appreciated) if you could spare a couple seconds to vote for me here. I’ve been nominated by Closer Magazine for their Mum Blogger of the Year award 2016. It literally take just two clicks: one on the link to vote and one by the name of my blog (The Double Mama). Thank you!! x