Being a Mama to kids is a whole new way of being. Heck, being a Mama to ANY kids involves a drastic change to your outlook on life, your values and also what you now call relaxation - by the way, 'relaxation' for me is going to the toilet with the door locked!
I've personally found that being a Mama has fundamentally changed the way I look at life, how I approach certain situations and also my emotional intelligence. When I became a parent, my rose-coloured spectacles about the outside world slipped a bit and I became all too aware of how rough the world can be. Actually trying to raise a human to be kind, courteous, a good friend, caring and so on, at some point will be influenced by external factors, and you can just hope for the best that they are emotionally strong enough to be able to deal with all that life throws at them.
I became aware of BEING aware of how my thoughts and actions affected my kids, when my eldest (who is now 5) was little and he started to copy words I said. And I realised that when kids are little, essentially they want to be like and to be liked by their parents and so would more than likely copy what their parents did. When I thought about this, I realised the huge sense of responsibility that is on my shoulders as a parent, but also as a Mama, to demonstrate to my son that yes, I am his Mama, but also I am capable of lots of other things as well. A recent example of this was that he wanted to workout with me one morning and as he's seen me do my home workouts hundreds of times before, we got talking about being healthy and exercise and why it's good for our bodies. My son then said, "Exercise is good for boys because it gives them big, strong muscles". My first thought was that he was technically correct so I didn't want to dismiss what he had said out of hand but I also thought it important that we elaborate a bit more on it! I suggested to him that actually exercise is good for girls too as it makes girls strong and means they can get muscles also. He stopped and pondered it for a minute. Maybe somewhere he has seen superhero pictures or images of big muscley men (maybe Thor from The Avengers?) and maybe the women he's seen on TV have all been slim and in a catsuit? But when I explained to him my thoughts, he stopped for a second, processed it and then just said "Okay Mummy" and seemed to accept it as truth, and that was the end of that discussion.
Conversely, I was out shopping recently and a family came into the lift also and stood in front of me. There was a Father and their baby son, and a Mama stood with their eldest daughter who was I would probably guess, maybe 9 or 10 years old. They were obviously enjoying a family shopping day and were smiling and goofing around. As the doors closed and we travelled up to the first floor, the Mama turned around to her partner and daughter and said, "Getting skinny is so expensive!". I'm guessing that she had lost weight and was enjoying treating herself to a new wardrobe while she was out that day, but as we stepped out of the lift and they went on their way, what she had said really stuck with me. Now I don't think there was any malice or deliberate negativity in what she said - none at all. But, the word 'skinny' makes me sad. To me personally, it means thin, not healthy, not strong. You can be skinny and incredibly unhealthy on the inside. To her it obviously meant something else. Maybe that's how her Mama spoke when she was a little girl herself. Maybe it's from social media or advertising. But I began to think about her daughter and how she was processing that message and ultimately got to thinking about my daughter and how she will process messages about herself and her body through the things I say and do.
We as Mamas are all doing the best we can, everyday, to set the right example, and all I can do is hope that I become that role model for my kids aspirations to look after their health, rather than a photo-shopped supermodel or a cartoon character superhero. After all as parent, we ARE the real-life superheros to our kids!