Blog Motherhood

What is a mum supposed to look like?

I started writing this and stopped. The long weekend got in the way. And I was trying to work out exactly what I wanted to say.

But let’s get down to it.

I nipped out in my lunch break last Thursday. It felt like a treat – I usually end up
sat at my desk getting overenthusiastic about a Boots Meal Deal and forcing
myself to write a blog post.

But Manchester was sunny that day. And I wanted to visit the
fruit market that pops up near my office every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I
bought bananas, two punnets of strawberries, blueberries, nectarines and
easy-peelers – and a random pomegranate – all for £6. I was feeling very Deliciously Ella. 
I also nipped into Primark for a £3 pair of pumps and I
ended up at the till with a pair of those, plus some comfy pants, a burn-out
tea and some trainer socks. Because that’s what happens when you go to Primark.
I genuinely think I did well.
As I was queuing to pay, there was a mother with what looked
to be one year-old in a buggy. The little girl was wriggling about and looked a
bit bored and I remember smiling and thinking back to when Bill was like that.
I used to avoid shops in that first year, because it just wasn’t worth it and I
was pretty big at that point.
The girl dropped her Jellycat rabbit – well-loved and grubby
as all favourite toys are – and pouted as she realised.
Primark queues are a nightmare and the mum was struggling to
reach, so I smiled and grabbed it for her, because I think we both expecting a
crying outburst any second and I could see she was stressed.
“She’s cute!” I said, as I handed it to her little girl.
The mum gave me a tired smile and said: “Wait until you have
one of your own. They aren’t always like that!”
And I replied and said: “Oh! I do! I have a little boy. He’s
a bit older than your little one. He’s three in June.”
And then she looked surprised. Her eyebrows raised. And she
said: “Oh sorry. I would have never had you down as a mum!”

And then you could tell she immediately regretted it.

Cashier number five was called, and I just stood in the queue and thought.
What was a mum supposed to look like?
I had this strange urge to show her my tiger stripes. And a
photo of Bill and I. I felt this overwhelming urge to prove it.
I’m a mum. I am.

I can change nappies at the speed of lightning. I know the theme tune to Sheriff Callie and Doc McStuffins. I have felt the true pain of standing on a tiny toy. And I know what sleep deprivation is actually like.

But it’s more than that. I am head over heels in love with my wonderful little boy. I feel that completely, absolutely, 110%.

And it has no bearing whatsoever on what I look like.

Of course there are physical changes that come with motherhood. The stretch marks. The looser stomach. The dark circles. And maybe even a dress size or two.

But that doesn’t make us mothers.

And it made me think. What does a mother look like anyway?

Is there a mumiform? Are we supposed to wear our hair a certain way? Cut it short? Or choose Converse over boots? Or skip make-up? Or wear ‘mum jeans’?

William’s mum looks the way she should. He likes to sit on her knee and help with her makeup. Even if sometimes she’s at risk of losing an eye. She has stretch marks, which he stroked last night as she explained where they came from.

“Mama! You eyes! They green!” That’s what he says. “Very green Mama!” And they are the exact same eyes he has too, except, where there’s green, for him there’s blue.

William’s mother has long hair. Hair that used to be entwined in a baby’s fingers, as he fed. She never cut it short, in fact, she grew it longer, because she hates her round face and she thinks it suits her better that way. She also likes to play with it absentmindedly. Especially when she’s nervous.

William’s mother likes to wear the clothes she likes to wear. Because they make her feel better about herself. And because ‘mum jeans’ that you can buy in Topshop make her hips look better than they are. And according to her midwife “they are some childbearing hips”.

William’s mother has been mistaken for a teen mother before. A mistake she doesn’t mind one bit about, because age also doesn’t make a mother either. But she wishes the opinions that came with it would stop.

William’s mother bares her stomach. She wears heels that she can’t quite walk in sometimes. And she’ll always have a thing for midi rings.

One day she might cut her hair off. She might lose weight. She might put it on. She might invest in a better eye cream, as her eyes wrinkle a little. She might pack the crop tops (which she wears tastefully she must add) away. She may be smiley. She may be sad. She may just stay exactly as she is.

And any changes she might make, stem from being her. Being Charlotte. Or whatever her name might be. Women still make choices for themselves, even though they might be mothers.

But in the same way that she can easily seek out her son in the sea of toddlers that might run towards her on the rare chances she gets to pick him up from nursery, he’ll be right there, and he’ll see her first, every other mother will blur in the background.

Because that’s his mother. His mother, just as she is.

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No Comments

  • Reply
    Leigh Kendall
    9th April 2015 at 8:13 am

    A lovely post, Charlotte. Being a mother has nothing to do with how you look. I wrote last week about how you don't need a 'mum tum' to be a 'real mum'. We have too many preconceived ideas about how mums are supposed to look, and be. I don't have a baby in my arms, I go to the shops without a pram, yet I am a mother

  • Reply
    Lamb & Bear
    9th April 2015 at 8:24 am

    Lovely post Hun xx

  • Reply
    Gemma Louise
    9th April 2015 at 8:25 am

    A great post as always Charlotte 🙂 I totally agree with you on this post and have been left in situations similar to this. No idea how a mum is supposed to look. I feel the same about my Corey as you do about William, whilst reading this I was thinking to myself 'ah that is so me' kind of thing!! It is always when I don't have Corey with me, because well he is in full time school and it does feel weird without him – especially when I am shopping with friends who have their children with us. But because I don't have him with me, doing some 'me' time and going about my business it means I'm not a mum?! No one looks like a mum, they just are one!! xx

  • Reply
    Nicki Kinickie
    9th April 2015 at 8:35 am

    Lovely read. In this day and age mothers look different from one person to the next. We love our children dearly and they are our world and their needs come first but I think it extremely important to maintain your identity too. You are still you. Yes you are mum and thats amazing, I love hearing Savannah call out 'mumumumumum' but I love being Nicki with my friends / family and being a grown up or a wife to Patrick too. I love my stuff, love how I dress and love to do things I enjoy too – away from being a mum. I dont always dress up every day and wear make up but I dont see the need every day now I am not at work. Mums independance teaches children that you are still human and are grown up with your own needs and desires too I think. I had people tell me how I would dress when I was a mum and say 'you wont be blogging when you become a mum' and I am exactly the same person I was before having Savannah except I now have an additional extra special reason to get up each day. Xx

  • Reply
    9th April 2015 at 9:01 am

    Beautifully put! What I look like doesn't make me a mother though there are some fairly big clues if you look (the spit up on my shoulder and banana handprint on my knee for two) it's the love for my children and theirs for me and that's something you can't see directly, only its effects!

  • Reply
    Charlotte A
    9th April 2015 at 1:13 pm

    I agree, there is no correct way to look like a mother and as long as you love and take care of your children then who cares what you look like. That said I am a complete slummy mummy and I really struggle to look presentable so I am always surprised when I see a glamorous mummy because I can't work out how she does it! It's not that she doesn't look like a mum, it's that she looks like she has time and energy to focus on herself which is an alien concept to me 🙂

    • Reply
      Abigail Taylor
      9th April 2015 at 3:17 pm

      Im glad this isnt just me. even today though ove got a summer dress on the rest of me looks rough as anything lol x

  • Reply
    Hollie Brackenridge
    9th April 2015 at 3:29 pm

    Yep I have this too! Their faces when I say I have three aged 9, 7 and 5 are a picture. Roll into the mix or being married and workinh full time and I turn alien I'm sure. Stay as you are!

  • Reply
    Jo Middleton
    9th April 2015 at 3:54 pm

    I totally got this. I look pretty young for my age and often when I meet people I feel the urge to drop my parenthood into the conversation as soon as possible, like I have something to prove!

  • Reply
    Kim Carberry
    9th April 2015 at 4:49 pm

    What a lovely read….

  • Reply
    Jess @ Along Came Cherry
    9th April 2015 at 6:12 pm

    I just wrote a comment but I'm not sure it went through!

    It said something along the lines of… What a strange thing for her to say to you, there isn't any way a mother should look! I always wonder if people would guess I was 30 with two kids when I'm out without them, feel like I need to buy some nappies or something just to prove it 😉 x

  • Reply
    Jess Helicopter
    9th April 2015 at 6:37 pm

    This is great. I am not mistaken for a mum cos I am old but it doesn't mean I don't wear shed loads of make up and spend hours and hours epilating and plucking etc!

  • Reply
    Fiona Peacock
    9th April 2015 at 6:53 pm

    Lovely post, just beautiful. I bet that mum thought about what she'd said later and wished it hadn't slipped out… maybe she's read this now! x

  • Reply
    9th April 2015 at 7:39 pm

    It was strange what she said but i am a very quick judgemental person and then regret it straight after. I am one of these people that see beautiful and slim mothers pushing buggies and wishing i looked like that. I am the worst at comparing and i too have been told that i don't look like a mother. I was told when Elle was first born that i looked like a baby having a baby (i was 22 and married!). x

  • Reply
    9th April 2015 at 8:02 pm

    I think the bags under my eyes give away the fact that I am a mum, but I often had people presuming that Finn was my first during the pregnancy and it seemed strange when I knew I had 2 babies already

  • Reply
    Emma Lofthouse-Burch
    9th April 2015 at 8:46 pm

    Great post, there is not certain way a mum should look. We are all different, even day to day we change how we look; one day i'll be wearing no make up and flats and another day i'll be in heels and full make up. X

  • Reply
    Donna Wishart
    9th April 2015 at 9:04 pm

    This is a beautiful post. Mothers come in every single shape and size and there is no right or wrong, no tick sheet and what we look like definitely doesn't define whether we are a mother or what kind of mother we are x

  • Reply
    9th April 2015 at 9:26 pm

    I get surprised looks too when I say I have 3 young ones or maybe it's just the general look of sheer horror ha ha! Bit of a weird way for her to phrase it to you though xx

  • Reply
    Jenny Ripatti-Taylor
    10th April 2015 at 9:25 am

    Oh Charlotte what a beautiful post. Lovely captures and your little boy is so very lucky to have you.

  • Reply
    Kerry Dyer
    10th April 2015 at 12:05 pm

    Gorgeous post Charlotte xx

  • Reply
    Cheryl Wooodman
    10th April 2015 at 3:01 pm

    Lovely post!!

  • Reply
    Maria Noell
    10th April 2015 at 4:26 pm

    Absolutely beautiful post and so very true. I get comments like this very often from people in passing and I have always thought the same thing- almost like I should be wearing a big badge that says 'Mum of Two'. Also, it shouldn't matter if you are a Mum…or not! Women should be empowering each other, not finding a reason to segregate themselves or divide by a simple labelling method. William is incredibly lucky to have you chick and he absolutely wouldn't want you any other way. You also have the right as a person in this world to be, dress and look exactly as you are!!! Great Post! xxxx

  • Reply
    Ellen O'Keeffe
    13th April 2015 at 7:51 pm

    Love this! Your life doesn't stop when you become a Mom it just alter direction a little. That photo of bath time at the end is lovely – you look great! X

  • Reply
    Josie Mowatt
    8th May 2015 at 10:52 pm

    This is such a beautiful post. I've just found your blog and it's adorable!
    I'm currently an Au Pair for a Caribbean family and have fallen so insanely deeply in love with the three little boys I look after, especially the youngest, who's about to turn 2.

    I'm not their mum, but I am so privileged to have the opportunity to be able to love them as much as their family does. And I think they're incredibly lucky to get that extra amount of love.

    Often when I'm out with the youngest I get mistaken for being his mum, and I'd always waved it off with a "but I don't look like a mum!" but you make such a good point, that it doesn't matter what a mum looks like, she should look like her, and nobody else!


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