Being a Mum- the hardest role you’ll ever play
As a model I’m used to attending castings for all kind of jobs. I’ve played a zombie, I’ve been a policewoman, I’ve even been Marilyn Monroe’s stunt bottom but nothing could have prepared me for my hardest role to date.
When you arrive at a big casting as a model, you have to fill in some paperwork, you are given a brief to read and then all the models sit around scoping each other out. You’ll be trying to work out who your main competitors are, trying and get any hints or tips from the girls leaving the casting before being called one by one in to perform the role you’ve been briefed on. Its pretty standard stuff, and once you’ve attended one casting; they are all kind of the same.
Well, I guess in some ways being a mum is similar, there’s lots of paperwork, and if you attend any NCT classes or antenatal appointments you’ll see all the other mums scoping each other out, comparing bumps, and trying to see if her ankles are more swollen than yours. The only difference being, as a parent nobody gives you a nice neat typed brief of what’s expected from you. It’s like the ‘mother’ of all improvised performances. You just throw yourself at the role and hope for the best.
In a modeling situation, you can relax once you know the casting was a success and the role is yours – Only in parenting, the real challenge starts once you’ve got the job and you’re a mum. Once you become a parent, you have to totally take on this new role. There is lots of etiquette that unless you have “mum friends” you just don’t know about.
I was the first of my direct friends to have a child, and I’ll be honest I found it incredibly lonely. It felt like my friends were either really career focused or models themselves that were busy globe trotting and partying, certainly not used to talking about episiotomy stitches or trapped wind.
So I spent a lot of the first few months either alone or with my mum, but then I moved to a new area and decided it was time to put myself out there and try and make some “mummy friends” for my sons sake, if not for mine. My new health visitor told about local play groups and I found one just around the corner to my new house that sounded ideal.
The big day comes, my son and I are all ready and raring to go and make new buddies. I was one of the first parents to arrive at the group so I took a seat in the middle of the semicircle of chairs and set my son down to play. Gradually the other mums start arriving and filling up the spaces, only the seats directly next to me remain empty. It was like being the last girl to be picked at PE. So I just sit there, look at my phone, look around the room doing my best “I’m a great mummy smile” slowly cringing inside.
Trying not to take any of it personally, I chose the group of mums on my left to speak to, and they were polite enough but made their excuses and turned their backs. Fair enough I thought, “They don’t know me”. So I ended up on the floor playing with my son and finally one of the other mums approaches me. It was such a relief. I think I’ve made a friend I thought to myself with visions of play dates dancing through my mind. So, I decide we will defiantly come back next week.
Fast-forward a week, I’m back playing on the floor, when the same mum comes over to chat and conversation steers round to asking me what we do for a living, when I reply I’m a model, she immediately asks what kind of modelling I do. I tell her, and the conversation just ends right there. She had nothing more to say to me. I did go back to the toddler group a couple more times, but it really felt like “my card was marked” and on my final visit, some mums actively got up and moved away from me when I sat with them. Like the taint of being a topless model might rub off on them. It was then and there I decided what kind of mum I was going to be. A totally “ME” mum.
Nobody is given a brief when they became a parent, and I try every day to be the kind of mum that I would have liked as a child. I take huge influence from my own mum who is a legend in her own right and have decided I don’t need stuffy toddler groups, cheap biscuits and dishwater tea to make me feel like I’m doing the right job.
Kids need love, they need playtime, they need cuddles and walks to the park. If you can offer your child that, you are a successful parent already. No amount of sitting in a semicircle singing Twinkle Twinkle proves it.
In the last 3 years I have learned I’m not going to change me just to try and fit in, and I wasn’t going to lie about whom I was just to make mummy friends. I’m Ethan’s mum, who happens who have a pretty cool day job. It doesn’t totally define me and it doesn’t make me a bad person. This time around, when I have my second baby I have some friends who are having babies the same time, so I’ll see them and obviously have my son for company too, so hopefully I wont feel like I did before. But, if I’m ever out and about and I see another mum alone in the park, or the pool – I always smile and say hello, because you just don’t know what kind of challenges they are facing playing their most difficult role to date.