I've only recently discovered 27 year-old Sash's blog, and was initially intrigued by our commonalities. She's a single parent as I once was, she blogs, freelances and is doing her Masters. She has a mixed-race child, I am a mixed-race child! (Or was, you know.)
But I'm also intrigued by Sash because of our differences: she's a traveler. I'm a homebody (who wishes she could be a traveler but so isn't) so the way she brings her sweet 15 month-old Bo along with her on her adventures is fascinating to me.
Overall though, like most who come across Inked in Colour I fell in love with her beautiful storytelling; her thoughtful, heartfelt and compassionate posts about parenting and, well, life. I asked Sash how she has found mamahood so far. This is what she told me.
I was an insatiable wanderer, in fact, I still am at heart. I flitted from one place to the next, never really putting down any roots. I was chasing something. Passion. From the dusty streets of India to the cold cobbled pathways of Europe I trekked, backpack on my back, beer in hand, heart on my sleeve.
When I was 24 I landed in a little village on the edge of the earth on the South Coast of Java, Indonesia. It was there that I met my husband. It was a bit of an experiment for me, I wanted to see if I could live a simple life in a village far away from anything I had ever known. And, as it turns out, I could. I ended up staying there for three years. In that time I got pregnant and got married (yes, in that order) and had a beautiful baby. I had lived in the village for about a year and a half before I fell pregnant.
My days consisted of getting up at dawn and drinking hot tea before plunging into the surf, best friend and boyfriend by my side. Cut feet from reef, sunburnt nose, bruised ribs we would come in from the surf and drink fresh juice and eat breakfast and then nap. The rest of the day would be shopping at the market, playing cards, lounging by the beach and doing a little work and study if I got around to it. I worked as a freelance script writer/editor then. And with the cost of living in Indonesia being so cheap, I didn’t have to work much to sustain a pretty comfortable life.
Life was sweet. We partied hard, surfed hard, explored the world around us. I was lucky to live in a little bungalow with my then boyfriend (now soon to be ex husband, how times change) and my beautiful best friend (who unfortunately is no longer with us) and the life we lived was bliss. I of course, had itchy feet half the time and wondered how long I would last, but the tropical paradise cast a spell over me, and I stayed.
I was a traveler. In the year before I got pregnant I was living in a tiny Indonesian village on the coast of West Java. Blue ocean on one side, green jungle on the other. My days were full of surfing, drinking juice, learning new languages, riding around on motorbikes and doing a little freelance writing work on the side from my office (read: hammock by the beach). Bliss. I had just finished my bachelor degree and I was on the inspiration hunt.
What does a normal day look like now?
My days still begin around dawn, though no longer by choice. I wake exhausted to a little face pressed against mine joyfully waving at me. Bo, unlike me, is a true morning person. Our days are filled with good food and walks on the beach and painting and make-pretend and a lot of stories. I juggle freelance work, the blog, my masters and full time single parenthood clumsily and I’m lucky to get through half of my daily to-do list. It’s just the two of us so we just do things in our own rhythm.
We live in the back room of my mother’s house at the moment as I try to get back on my feet and find a new direction for our lives.
What has surprised you most about becoming a mum?
What surprised me most was the complete shift in perspective that happened inside of myself. It happened when Bo was born, all of a sudden the world was smaller. I was every mother, and she was every child. It’s like all of a sudden my eyes were open and I was awake and the world looked totally different. Motherhood is such a universal state of being, much like we all mother in our own unique way we all do it exactly the same way too. With this crazy love for this little person, it’s something that brings us all together as women, no matter our culture or language or religion. And that is absolutely amazing to me.
I became much more patient, much kinder but also I became fierce in a way I never was before. Fiercely protective of myself and my child.
Is being a mum easier/harder/ very different than what you thought it would be?
Being a mother is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. It’s much harder than I ever imagined it would be. I always knew I wanted to be a mum, but in my head I think I saw motherhood like those beautiful ads on TV. You know where the kid is laughing and the perfectly preened mother is stroking a soft cheek and smiling down at her little angel. Sure there are moments like that, but they are fleeting.
No one makes an ad about the time you found poo on your hand and you had no idea how long it had been there. Or the time you were sick and the baby was sick and at three am the baby threw up on you and then you threw up and then all you wanted to do is curl up in a ball but you couldn’t because you are the adult now. They don’t make motherhood ads like that.
Some days are a battle of wills and the lack of sleep is torture. I honestly don’t have any idea how I’m still a walking talking human being functioning on such little sleep. I look back at my pre-baby self who thought she was so tired after a big weekend and I laugh at her -- that younger-me had no idea what she was talking about.
In saying that though, it’s also a lot more joyful. That actual heart bursting love that you feel, you can’t explain it until you’ve felt it. Where you are so full of love for this sticky little creature that your chest actually feels like it’s going to explode. That’s pretty damn amazing.
What is the hardest part of being a new mum?
I think the hardest part of being a new mum is the loss of self. With all of my energy and focus and time and love pouring into this little person, I found that I got lost along the way. Making time to discover who you are now as a person, I think, it makes you a better parent. It took almost twelve months for me to really understand that, but taking the time to discover who I am now, and making that a priority is really important to me.
What do you love best about being a mum?
I love the innocence and beauty that is the world in the eyes of my toddler. Discovering the littlest things and finding joy in them, like cardboard or snails or birds or sticky tape. Every day things that used to be meaningless all of a sudden look new again. It’s lovely to see the world through fresh eyes.
What is the best parenting advice you’ve been given?
The best parenting advice was given to me by my doula. It’s the same advice that she gave me when I was in labour and the same advice she gave me when I discovered my marriage was ending, “tell that baby you love her and breathe through it.”
Is there any advice you’d like to give new mums?
If I were to give advice to a new mum, I’d tell her not to worry about being a good enough mother. All your baby wants is you; you are already the perfect mother for your child.
Thank you for sharing your experiences with us Sash! You can read Sash at Inked in Colour. I suggest you make a cuppa and be ready to sit and soak for a while.