When you fall pregnant, you have all these preconceived ideas on what kind of a mum you will be. To Sonya Singh’s mind, it was very important to her that she always looked well-put-together and that her baby napped in a Silver Cross Kensington baby carriage.
“I was planning on channelling Kate Middleton, but after I actually became a mum, I was happy if I could leave the house with hair that was properly combed. Also, my son was strapped to me in a carrier because he hated the carriage,” says Sonya, 33.
Sure, every woman wants her post-baby life to look like a scene from The Sound of Music. Most of us, however, wake up one day and realise that those things that once used to matter so dearly to us are no longer worthy of expending the same amount of time or energy on them that we used to ― because our kids now demand our time and attention. How many of these can you identify with?
1. You’re fine with a messy house
You have yet to complete your son’s baby book ― which you started with gusto two years ago ― so no, you don’t have the time to scour between your bathroom tiles with a toothbrush, thank you very much. If you used to freak out before guests arrived and would scrub down every corner of your house, these days you blithely tell them to move the pile of laundry on the sofa so that they can find a spot to sit down.
2. You’re okay with smelling like vomit or poop
The pre-baby you was instantly recognisable from your signature Chanel N°5 scent. These days not only do you not flinch when bubba throws up all over you (because at some point, you do get immune to it), you’re also totally fine with walking around in public with poop stains on your shirt or spit-up in your hair. “Once, on a long-haul flight with my then 16-month-old son who was having diarrhoea, I got some poop on my pants while changing him,” Ivy Tan, 32, recalls. “No amount of water or soap helped to wash it off and I didn’t bring a change of clothes for myself, so I ended up smelling of poop for 18 hours. But I was hardly bothered ― I even forgot about it at some point!”
It’s not that you’re being a bad friend, you just don’t have the capacity to internalise everyone else’s issues, only to end up feeling stressed. Not your circus, not your monkeys!
3. You’re great at saying no
Having a child has a way of putting things in perspective ― you’ve also reorganised your priorities. Do you want to drag a fussy baby out to meet friends, knowing you have to race back in an hour for his nap? No way. Can you work weekends? No sirree. Do you want to throw bub’s first birthday party at home, which means cleaning your home before and after the party? Hell no! Yeah, no problems saying no anymore ― isn’t that liberating!
4. You decline a starring role in the latest drama
Remember the days when you used to live for drama? You used to be the first one at the office water cooler sharing whatever info you had about the new office romance. Or the one accompanying a friend to take revenge on her lying, cheating ex-boyfriend by spray-painting his car with derogatory words. Yes, you were writing, producing and starring in your own soap opera/Korean drama and you loved every bit of it. These days, when a random friend starts a WhatsApp chat about why she still hates her job seven years later or you find yourself in the midst of a mummy war, you swiftly offer some words of support and encouragement, excuse yourself and return to watching Netflix. It’s not that you’re being a bad friend, you just don’t have the capacity to internalise everyone else’s issues, only to end up feeling stressed. Not your circus, not your monkeys!
5. You value alone-time
“When I was younger, I used to be so self-conscious when eating alone at a restaurant,” says Lucy Lim, 36. “I would rather do takeaway and eat it at home or the office and if that wasn’t an option, I would make sure I have a book to read or keep busy on my mobile while I ate.” These days, taking the bus or train alone is a treat for the stay-at-home mum. “Don’t even me get me started on how excited I get when the hubby takes the kids to his parents’ place for a few hours. That’s when I stuff my face with cake, drink some wine, give myself a pedicure and watch Scandal in peace.”
6. You’ve no qualms ditching difficult friends
The friend who has a reputation for cancelling plans at the last minute or the one who never stops complaining about life in general. You used to have the time and emotional capacity to accommodate their every whine and whim. Not anymore! “I’m all for meeting up with my friends without the kids, so I can spend some quality time with them,” Sonya says. “But when someone starts acting like a diva or is unable to confirm plans until the very last minute, I don’t entertain them anymore. It’s a straight ‘some other time then, bye!’”.
If you’re running late because of a kiddo emergency, it is what it is. You will apologise when you get there, but you're living in your tyke’s world now and his sense of timing is terrible.
7. You scarf down leftovers
… Also known as mummy’s breakfast, lunch and dinner. What’s the point of ordering your own meal when the kiddos are going to take three bites of theirs and announce that they’re all done. You know you’re going to have to finish their meal and yours, and your waistline is not going to thank you for that. “These days, every mealtime I just wait for the kids to eat as much as they want,then collect the leftovers on my plate and finish it up. I save money and calories ― it’s a win-win for me,” Lim jokes.
8. You’ve no issue with being tardy
Not that you’re looking to take other people’s time for granted, but after motherhood, you’ll realise that sticking to strict arrival times can cause you a great deal of stress. Children are unpredictable ― they will have a massive poop right before you walk out the door, or throw up on themselves (and maybe you as well) as soon as everyone is dressed in their finest. Sometimes, they will even fall asleep 15 minutes before you’re supposed to leave for a function, and you would rather chew your left hand off than wake your sleeping baby up for no reason. If you’re running late because of a kiddo emergency, it is what it is. You will apologise when you get there, but you're living in your tyke’s world now and his sense of timing is terrible.
9. You’re done being perfect
Gone are the days when your underwear had to match your bra or all hell will break loose. Now, you wait until your eyebrows have crept all over your forehead before you drag your tired behind to the beauty salon. After she had her baby, Jacintha Loganathan, 32, realised her beauty regimen needed some refining. “I used to look forward to moisturising my entire body after my evening shower before I slipped into my pajamas. But after Karthik came along, I was only able to shower after I get him to sleep, which is a feat on its own. By the time I’m done with my shower, all I wanted to do was to jump into bed and catch up on as much sleep as possible before he woke up again.” Doing so doesn’t mean you’re doomed to look like a frump, by the way, it just means you no longer give a fig about long tedious beauty routines. Maybe you’ll trim down your makeup routine to eight minutes (yes, it’s possible!) and blow dry your hair ― but only for special occasions. Updos are always in style, right?
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