Glimmers of Life

Archive for the ‘Being a mum’ Category

Heidi Klum revealed this week that she finds the hair of her mixed raced children a new challenge… reportedly explaining in the Huffington Post:

“Having four children, with one having straight hair and three curly, it’s a bit of a new world for me. Growing up with straight hair myself, that was all I really knew how to work with. It was pretty straightforward: wash, air, dry, done.Henry, Johan and Lou – my three youngest – have super-beautiful locks. Their hair definitely requires a different kind of care than my daughter Leni’s hair.”

Taken from this article on Made for Mums

Welcome to the club Heidi! I remember reading someone’s blog last year that disparagingly talked about white mothers with mixed race children who did not understand black hair… but actually I am black and I don’t understand my daughter’s hair – it’s another thing to add to the list of unexpected aspects of parenting.

I remember in the distant past having those “what if” conversations with my partner, what if we had a child, would they be this or that colour, what if they had hair like this person on the TV or that person in a magazine. And I also remember saving an article from Black Hair magazine that talked about different hair types… all way before my daughter was born. What didn’t cross my mind is how I would care for whatever hair any child I had would have.

So my daughter was born and when we first saw her she was very light-skinned, with straight dark hair and blue eyes. I couldn’t help but notice how not-black she was which was disappointing but I was a little relieved that her hair was straight. As the months went by people assured me that she would get darker and that her eyes would turn brown but the only thing that was changing was the straight dark hair was getting longer and fuzzier as it curled up into a funky little mohawk. Now two years on she has a full head of sandy brown hair (like her father) except that the texture walks the kinky line between her father’s and mine. Funnily enough her father calls it ‘fro but it really is a far cry from the full on afro that I have sported throughout my life. And despite me trying to educate him by regularly comparing strands of my hair and hers he persists in this misdiagnosis, and proudly tells his friends and his family about his daughter’s “cool ‘fro”.

In the meantime it is left to me to care for this new hair type that has entered our family. At the moment because she is young and prone to change I am not doing anything drastic (or chemical). I just use a child’s conditioning spray on a day-to-day basis (occasionally a bit of Pink) to make it easier to comb, then wash and condition it once a week with my shampoo and whatever conditioner is handy and monitor the results. Oh sometimes I oil it too but have only done this 3 times I think. It’s not fallen out yet and mostly looks shiny and cared for so I must be on the right track…(oh I say “mostly” to cover the days when she’s put sand, mud, paint, flour or some other substance in it). My plan is to take her to a hairdresser when she’s a little older for some expert advice (and a hair cut but don’t tell her father!) – although unlike Heidi I don’t have a celebrity hairstylist in my circle of friends who I can call on for an expert consultation, so I’m not sure where I’ll go yet but always on the lookout. Does Angela Griffiths (the woman who’s been in Corrie as Steve’s girlfriend, Cutting It and had her own chat show on Sky) still live in Manchester? Maybe she can recommend someone for me???!

So I thought I would just share my experience of trying to lose weight after having my daughter. The reason I thought I’d share is because it’s not been as straight-forward as I thought it would be.

About two months ago I joined a gym. It was supposed to be a distraction while I found myself a hobby that was much more engaging, but as you may be able to tell from my previous post on the subject, I am hooked. It’s the feel good feeling… Or is it the feel good feeling of being able to eat several biscuits in a day but maintain my weight… I’m not sure. But I thought a by-product of more exercise would be a certain amount of weight loss.

I really am not one for diets. I think they’re pointless because you eat in an uncomfortable way for a while but then when the diet is finished you go back to your old ways – and you hear so many people say they’ve put on the any weight they lost dieting, so why start? My “diets” are based on one simple principle – eat less, exercise more get skinny.  So when I started with my “balanced” lifestyle (biscuits for exercise) I wasn’t expecting much. Then I thought if I just eat a bit less then I’ll lose weight – so I banished the biscuits. However this had no effect. So I started skipping lunch and having a bit of fruit instead. It had no effect. I just stayed the same. Then about 6 weeks in I had a breakthrough – I’d lost 2lbs – fantastic, just in time to spur me on. But then the next week I had my period and was horrified to discover that I seemed to have put on 5 lbs. Probably dodgy scales I assumed but when I went on the next day the reading was the same – I was gutted.

However all the while I was concentrating on my weight people were telling me I looked like I’d lost weight. I also felt as if my clothes were a little looser.

I kept going to the gym, working harder and eating less. I found that I was unnervingly delighted if I had been busy and worked through my usual eating breaks. Then I picked up a tummy bug from my daughter and when I weighed myself after that I’d lost 8lbs.

This is not the right way to lose weight. But the reason I am sharing is because I am surprised at how quickly I became obsessed. I wasn’t even that bothered about losing weight when I started at the gym, but then this insanity just sort of took hold. I really like food. Right or wrong I know I use it as a bit of a comfort – treating myself to “something nice” if I’ve done well, feel down or can find some other excuse. This meant that surviving for a whole day (til dinner) on two slices of toast was an alien experience, but I got such a kick out of it. What particularly worrying is that I can see myself doing it and I know it’s stupid but I just want to the boost.

This weekend I’ve enjoyed a take away and biscuits so no doubt I’ve already started to put the weight back on…

But this experience has taught me a few things…

1. I don’t need to consume as much food as I think I do.

2. That losing weight somehow doesn’t automatically mean a better figure.

3. The plank (the stationary press up type exercise) seems to have more impact on shaping my figure than losing weight.

4. That whether I’m losing weight or not I like exercise.

Not sure if this will help anyone but it’s something to think about.

p.s. tummy still wobbly so there’s still work to do!

So this week new mum’s losing their baby weight has hit the headlines. Not for the first time, but this time there was a slightly different take. It wasn’t just about celeb mums losing their baby weight super quick (again), it was mum’s complaining that they don’t get enough support from their midwives on slimming down. My opinion is that at the time a midwife is in your life you shouldn’t really be thinking about losing weight – and I know myself that that’s not realistic because as you stare at your old wardrobe through tired eyes trying to find something to fit, you can’t help but wish for slimmer days but actually that won’t fix the problem.

I was never really “body confident” before I had a baby. I had the odd day where I knew I looked good, but most of the time I was in clothes that were a size or two too big to hide the “problem areas”.  But this meant that after a few weeks of breast-feeding I was actually able to get back into the clothes I had had before. I remember thinking, “Great” as I slid back into my size 16 jeans and slightly fitted shirt, but while I could get into the clothes they didn’t actually fit. They no longer felt like the comfortable staple to go out on a Saturday afternoon, they just felt….wrong, that meant was that what little body confidence I’d gained from being small enough to get back into my old clothes, was quickly lost by not looking as good in them as before.

Losing the weight shouldn’t have been my priority, finding ways to gain confidence should have been. Because with a little confidence you just feel better about yourself even if you are in ill-fitting clothes.  With me I started by going to the odd mother and baby session, there I saw mums with babies the same age looking good, it made me then want to take a bit of pride in myself, so I took myself and my baby off to the shops. I remember the day quite clearly, going into Debenhams picking up all sorts of clothes and then taking my the large dressing room for ages. Most of it didn’t look right but there was the odd thing that I could carry off. To be honest I didn’t actually buy any of it but I then knew what to look for and the road a happier me had begun. I began to understand that it wasn’t just a weight issue but a body issue. My body had changed – old problem areas (small boobs) had disappeared and new ones had taken their place (wobbly tummy). I had to learn about this new body and adjust accordingly. Now for some it may be a bigger body for others it may be just changed but so soon after having a baby learning to work with what you’ve got is key, while your body recovers.

I think this may come across as a little cheesy and cliché but it’s experience and advice that I have been sharing with my friends and it seems to help (especially for those whose husbands or mother-in-laws call them fat). I mean the midwife told me it takes two years for your body to fully recover from childbirth, so unless you’re at a serious dangerous weight, I wouldn’t even think about slimming until baby is at least a year old.  And I’m not saying just go out and buy new clothes and all your problems will be solved, I’m saying that while your body is in transition, give it a bit of time, build up some confidence so you work with what you’ve been lumbered with.

You may be as new to this blog as I am so you may not have realised I’m a mum too. Recently I went for a job interview, two in fact as I managed to get through to the “final round” and as it happened I didn’t get selected – but all the way through the process it just made me wonder if going back to work full time is the right thing.

Now this topic is really not new, there are all sorts of forums and advice pieces about it. Ultimately I think the consensus is:

If you want to work full time, do it. A happy mum is a happy baby.

If you need to work full time, then do it and don’t feel guilty about it as you’re working towards a stable home.

If you don’t want to work – that’s fine too, and you needn’t feel guilty about that either – different strokes for different folks.

The thing I wrestle with though is that I don’t have any strong desire to work full time, we’re just about managing with me doing part time so there’s no immediate need either, and I don’t think I could be a stay at home mum, but I know that the current situation is just not working for me.

I mean the days I’m at home, I think I’m short changing my kid, is she really enjoying being pushed around town all day while I post things and pay bills? And on the days I’m at work I just feel a bit stuck – like I’m only doing enough to keep afloat rather than get going.

Honestly I’m not complaining about working part time, from what I’ve read elsewhere online other people would love just to have the option… I just need to find a way to make it fulfilling. Or maybe I should just go to work full time….

Hmmm….the one thing they don’t really tell you about when you become a mum is the continuous cocktail of guilt and worry you end up sipping everyday.