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The Mama Diaries: Introducing new columnist Natalie O’Brien!

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Bonjour! (Kidding, I’m not French.) Before I start waffling on about random acts of mummyhood as Sassy Mama’s new resident columnist, I thought I best introduce myself: My name is Nat, I live in the blissful city of Hong Kong where ne’er a crowd was seen, and I’m a writer-holic. I’m also a wife to a cute Canadian, a daughter (duh – biology), a sister, a try-hard cook, a besotted traveller and a proud Australian. I once decided my life goal was to write a musical (I can’t even play the triangle… ), I change my mind like Brad Pitt does his hair, I’ve probably seen every TV series you can think of, and sometimes I think Bigfoot might be a real dude. Oh, yeah, and I’m also a mother to a little animal cracker called Brady.

Do you sometimes feel like you need to mention that last bit first? Not the part where you have an animal cracker called Brady (because, if you do, we REALLY need to meet), but that you have a child? Because I know you’ll hear me when I say that, when you decide to give a little something back to nature (literally) and become a mother, sometimes it can feel like that’s ALL you are. You’re not really a writer anymore, or a crap cook, or a dorky mistress of musicals, are you? You’re a mum. Someone whose body has been kidnapped and recycled to support somebody else’s health, interests and dreams. And I guess sometimes I just want to shout from the rooftops like a nutter that I’m still alive inside. That I’m still me. And that I have needs, too.

Does that sound selfish? (Mothers think they are selfish ALL the time.) Don’t get me wrong, I know there is no fleeing the changes of motherhood. Tell me you sleep in every Sunday and I might smack you and then hug you. I once was a girl with far less droopy bits, I have become a ‘late person’ (and I hate being late – I sweat), I used to read trashy romances in the bath and now I read parenting mags, and I have fallen so head over heels for a boy named Brady that I literally have to sit on my hands to stop the suffocating hugs and kisses. Yeah, that last part’s pretty awesome.


But, to be honest, in some ways the change hasn’t felt as gargantuan as some people made out to me when I was pregnant. I had figured I’d come home from the hospital with wild eyes, carrying nothing but a baby and a fading memory of a girl called Nat. “Enjoy your life now,” my mummy friends would caution my pregnant belly. “You’ll never be the same!” Except that I kind of was.

I remember sitting in my hospital bed at 2am watching Fawlty Towers while I breastfed day-old Brady. As I munched on some snacks and giggled at Manuel, I thought, “Hang on, I recognise this. What? This is just like my old life.” Well, apart from the suckling babe. And it was when I was back eating something horrifically overpriced with friends in a Soho restaurant that it hit me that I was still Nat – wife, sister and writer, but now I’d added another hashtag to my profile: #mother. I was still me, I just had more to do, incomprehensibly less sleep and an incredible, brand spanking new, beautiful person in my life. Yet, reminding myself of that compromise is turning out to require some serious reinforcement and inspirational quotes taped to the fridge.

So, from now on, this is where I plan to share the ride of motherhood without losing myself in the process. Isn’t that pretty much what we’re all trying to do? 

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