**A personal post on finding my voice again after becoming a mother
Mum. Is there a simpler, yet more complicated word in any language? It can mean so many different things to so many different people. Love, comfort, loss, abandonment, security, estrangement, nurture, grief, hope, care, food. Mostly food, if we’re being honest. At least that’s the case in our home… (sorry, got sidetracked by my 14-year-old asking what’s for dinner at 10.43am).
Becoming a Mother Changes You Forever
For me, the word Mum stirs up mixed emotions. The minutiae of daily drudgery versus the unmatched delight of watching your child become their own person. The excessive whining (mostly from me) versus the sheer wonder of those first steps towards you or towards a life of their own. I think of the impossible things we expect from mothers and everything motherhood demands from us. The overwhelming burst of love when a baby squeezes your thumb. No matter how it happens, the moment you accept the call to parent another human being, you are forever changed.
I’ll never forget staring into my newborn’s eyes, feeling that sense of recognition and also of being sucked into a portal, almost like entering a parallel universe. Time and space expanding and shrinking around us. It’s easy to lose yourself in this new world, especially in the early stages. I remember being out and about with the stroller and catching glimpses of myself in a passing window — bleary eyes, milk stains on my top — and wondering who the hell was that and whatever happened to Uju?
Finding My Way Back to Myself
What helped me clamber back into my own skin was the other calling I answered long ago: the call to write. I started this blog back in ye olden days when people would nod and smile blankly when I tried to explain what blogging was and why anybody would do it. Babes About Town became a lifeline for parents looking for fun things to do beyond the sand pit and baby rhyme time. It was also a lifesaver for me. As a former arts journalist, blogging helped me rediscover my voice and reconnect with my passions for culture, creativity and the people who make it happen.
It’s wild to look back to those years of picking my kids’ crap off the floor every minute (quite literally when they were potty training) to think how far I’ve come. Whatever happened to Uju? Today, she’s the author of two books (third book imminent), a sought after speaker and consultant, and a Top 10 UK Mum blogger.
Building a Career from Your Kitchen Table
Since my debut book Bringing Up Race: How to Raise a Kind Child in a Prejudiced World came out in 2020, I’ve delivered dozens of talks to thousands of people around the world. I love being able to meet readers in person, however the power of Zoom in the pandemic also allowed me to reach global audiences in organisations like UN Women, Brooklyn Public Library and even the space agency NASA!
Who would have guessed when I was reading Good Night Moon on repeat that one day I’d be educating the astronaut community on how to treat people better here on earth? It is astonishing what you can start building from your kitchen table, the corner of your living room, during your toddler’s naps, or that teeny sandwich of time and mental clarity when your little one attends nursery.
I’m not pretending it’s been a smooth and easy route. The juggle of work and parenting has never been straightforward. Shout out to the millions of mums making it work despite minimal support from the powers that be.
When I started blogging 13 years ago, I had no idea where it would lead or frankly, what I was doing. Sometimes you just have to put your foot out and believe that the floor will appear if you start dancing.
Every Mother is A Badass
Motherhood is the hardest thing I’ve ever done but it’s also my most badass endeavour. People ask how I get everything done and I say there’s no work/life balance, certainly not for the average mum. I believe in rhythm and flow. I believe in seasons of hustle and seasons of Netflix. I believe in finding success on your own terms and not according to other people’s rules or expectations.
Earlier, I described motherhood as a parallel universe, but most days it’s more like finding your way back to yourself through a forest. It’s only as you emerge from the thickets that you realise, you were never truly lost. The forest has become a part of you.
In essence, becoming a mother helped me reclaim my voice. Everything I do has been made richer and more layered because of my experiences raising sons. I am a writer, a speaker, a consultant and a boy wrangler. I have never been “just” a mum. Yet, without question, motherhood was the making of me.
**In collaboration with Relate. For more content on motherhood and identity, visit their Not ‘Just’ a Mum campaign website or check them out on Instagram.
your DIY family
Love this Uju. So beautifully said. So proud of you and all that you have achieved as a writer and a mum. x
but what did you answer Mummy? What’s for dinner…we wanna know too …hehehe…..we are not just mum’s…so perfectly said Uju…