The Mummy Eclipse

Monday Melfie February 2015

A mum is the sum of her kids. True or false?

“Hello gorgeous!” Says everyone to your baby. Completely ignoring you, the one holding him, the one who grew him in your body and brought him into the world: surely the biggest achievement of all time.

“Boy 1 got 10/10 in spelling today!” I tell my husband. Not adding: And I had a week of blazing rows trying to get him to write them out in the evening to learn them.

The first shock happens immediately. As soon as you have your baby, your own needs become eclipsed by his. It may not go black and the temperature won’t drop, but this is totality: the realisation that now and forever more, your needs come second.

The eclipse of desires is more gradual – perhaps for many parents it never happens. But for me, after a while the work promotions and other “life goals” I’d always aspired to began to shimmer like a mirage. I could see them, but not touch.

It used to concern me. I used to have an urgent sense that I needed to achieve something, quickly, to make them proud of me. To make me feel like I am more than a mother. To show the world that having children has not robbed me of my ambition.

But a shift happened. My second baby arrived. Then my third. I became too busy, too tired to worry about my CV points.

And I came to realise that people’s interest in your children is a compliment to you, not a sign that you are no longer valid as a person. They care about you, so they care about your children, and their times table test and their teething struggles. I know this, because I do it too. I ask how my friend’s children are doing because I know that this is a major, if not the only, measure of their sense of success and happiness. I do also ask how their jobs are going too. They usually roll their eyes and say they wish they had more time to spend with the kids.

Of course, I’m not saying that people can’t achieve monumental things after having children. Of course they can. I myself started this blog, which I see as an achievement in some small way. If people respond well to a post, I am on cloud nine for a day. But if one of the children comes home with a headteacher’s award, it goes on the fridge for months.

It’s not martyrdom, or false modesty, or fake: I genuinely do value and prioritise my children’s achievements above my own. It’s not that I’ve given up having goals and ambitions of my own. But I have a deep-seated sense, that I have already achieved the highest accolade I could hope to reach. I have given birth to three wonderful sons. One day they might be famous artists, or engineers, or Prime Minister.

Maybe when I emerge from the sleep-deprived early years, I will scoff at my sentiment, consider resting on the laurels of “having had kids” as a bit of a cop-out.

But I suspect not. And for now certainly, I am happy to stay here. In their shadow.



The Reading Residence ‘Eclipsed’
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  • I love this! So very true. I’m excited because this weekend we have a ballet show and a rugby tournament. Those things are literally the most important thing in the world to me.
    Sarah MumofThree World recently posted…The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel JoyceMy Profile

  • Life at the Little Wood says:

    You write so beautifully Jess and what a perfect metaphor for Motherhood. It’s definitely how I feel too – the biggest compliment anyone can pay me is the one they give to my children. That always means so much more! Gorgeous post! Xxx

  • Tim says:

    This is so beautiful, Jess, and I know exactly how you feel. Even as the main bread-winner in our family (Heather works part-time), my career choices – from which jobs I put myself forward for to how long I choose to spend in the office – have been increasingly informed by a desire to spend time with our kids and not to miss the school plays and the parents’ evenings and the clubs and activities that are part and parcel of life with children. Could I have a better job with more money? Yes, probably. Would I be richer for it as a parent? Absolutely not.

    ‘Eclipse’ is 100% the right word. We live forever in their shadow. And we do so because we want to.
    Tim recently posted…Seeing the lightMy Profile

  • Amy Ransom says:

    Oh I just love this Jess. And it’s timely (funny how that happens isn’t it) because I’ve been wondering the past couple of weeks why I’m always striving towards the next thing when actually now isn’t really the time. Raising three kids is no small feat is it? And these early years (whilst stressful and physically demanding) are precious. Fabulous post x
    Amy Ransom recently posted…‘Mum on the (school) Run’ make-upMy Profile

  • Ahhh lovely bab! You are right. When something big happens to me at work my rents follow up the news by telling me something funny my girl did when they were looking after her. But you know what? That’s OK! x
    brummymummyof2 recently posted…Family Festival Fun at WychwoodMy Profile

  • Oh, all so true! And like you, I’m OK with it, and also happy with it being that way. Fab post, thanks for sharing it with #WotW x
    The Reading Residence recently posted…The CousinsMy Profile

  • I think this is quite possibly one of the best posts you’ve ever written. It’s brilliant, clever and very beautiful. A very poignant metaphor. Love this. X

  • Emma T says:

    Fab post. Being eclipsed by your children isn’t quite what you expect when pregnant…or at least not to the extreme. It’s like an automatic mental shift that you can’t fight against when you become a parent. (or at least I can’t, I think the OH’s managed it pretty well)
    Emma T recently posted…5 Ways to make the childbirth experience more comfortableMy Profile

  • HonestMum says:

    Oh darling, this is so beautiful. I felt such a sense of calm and self fulfillment after my boys, like those lost/tangled jigsaw pieces falling together, a family. It made me somehow less and more ambitious all in one go. Oxymoronic I know. Or something. Basically I wanted to achieve for them but if I didn’t/don’t it’s OK because I have the best thing in the world already-the unconditional love of my sons. Somehow not being so hungry to achieve yet still working hard has meant greater success but more so, feeling so content and happy. Motherhood has made me feel empowered. Like shit, I’m surviving the tough times, I can do anything!

    As a filmmaker, I was chasing this dream of directing and I worked as a director, successfully, won awards yet I wasn’t happy. Not truly. I see directing again in my future, in some way although I love being a blogger so alongside this, I hope. I felt after kids that I could redefine myself, I could be whomever I wanted to be. Sorry this turned into an essay. Really resonated xx
    HonestMum recently posted…Top 5 Tips For Growing Your Social MediaMy Profile

  • Suzanne says:

    Ah it’s nice to see your serious side every now and again Jess. I totally agree with you – once you have the third child, there really is no escaping the eclipse! It’s hard at first isn’t it? Then I think it just happens naturally. I wonder if we’ll ever truly emerge?
    Suzanne recently posted…The Big 5 Life LessonsMy Profile

  • I love what you said about people’s interest in our children is a compliment to us 😉 The needs and happiness of my daughter definitely comes first and it’s not bad at all 😉 #sharewithme.
    Dean of Little Steps recently posted…Small Joys in PaperMy Profile

  • I feel exactly the same Jess, and genuinely have done since my eldest came along. By the time I became a mum a few weeks before turning thirty I felt that I’d lived enough to fully embrace motherhood, and not feel I was missing out. I have the odd pang here and there of longing after a social life, but I’m such a lightweight these days I can barley stay awake past 9:30! For the most part my life revolves around my three and I honestly would not have it any other way.

    Utterly fab post lovely, really enjoyed reading xxx
    Renee @ Mummy Tries recently posted…My Social Media PresenceMy Profile

  • WallyMummy says:

    I so feel this too! But now I’ve had my second I now the off-work-gin-party (full-time motherhood) is over… because that’s all my kids had now… So i’m gonna have to go be a real person in a year’s time after having 5 years off… brings me out in a cold sweat even thinking about it tbh! x

  • Jenny says:

    I love this and so true Jess we really don’t disappear we are a compliment of our children indeed hunny. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me. #sharewithme
    Jenny recently posted…Traveling, new goals and an interview #littlelovesMy Profile

  • teacuptoria says:

    Ahh so very true Jess. It’s funny how people who haven’t had children can sometimes judge you a bit on this too. Then they go and have kids and join you in a total eclipse! My son is 9 now so I’m starting to get a bit more interested in myself once more but who knows, maybe they’ll be another baby and then I can be eclipsed all over again. I guess it’s mother nature’s way of making sure we do the best job we can with our little people. x
    teacuptoria recently posted…How To Be A Tough CookieMy Profile

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