June 03, 2020
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What Happens To Your Sense Of Self In Motherhood? Listen To Our Podcast
In this week’s episode of Am I Making You Uncomfortable? we wanted to tackle another underreported topic – identity in motherhood – specifically, how your sense of self changes when you become a parent and as your children grow up – and how the intersection of other identities plays into parenthood as a whole.
Co-host Rachel Moss and I were thrilled to be joined by two Women on the podcast who are each carving out spaces for all mothers to feel represented: Candice Brathwaite, author of I Am Not Your Baby Mother and the founder of Make Motherhood Diverse, and Kate Everall of LesBeMums, an award-winning blog documenting the life of her two-mum family and other LGBTQ+ issues.Related... 'I've Been Teaching My Kids Life Skills': These Parents Say Lockdown Has Its Upsides You can subscribe, download and listen to Am I Making You Uncomfortable? on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and all major podcasting platforms and you’ll also find a transcript of our chat below to make the podcast accessible to more of HuffPost’s readers and listeners.Join in the conversation on Social Media by using the hashtag #AIMYU – and go behind the scenes by subscribing to our podcast newsletter to hear what inspired us to tackle the topics you’re probably too squeamish to talk about.Episode 6: Transcript Brogan Driscoll:
Hello, and welcome to HuffPost’s brand new weekly podcast, Am I Making You Uncomfortable? Presented by me Brogan Driscoll.
Rachel Moss:
And me, Rachel Moss. This podcast is a frank, honest conversation about women’s bodies, health and private lives. This week, we’re discussing motherhood and identity. We’ll be joined by Candice Brathwaite, author of I Am Not Your Baby Mother, and Kate Everall who runs the same sex family blog, LesBeMums.
Brogan:
You’re listening to Am I Making You Uncomfortable? And if you want to join the conversation the hashtag is #AIMYU.
Testimonial 1:
The thing about motherhood is that it’s a permanent state of being. I’m the same person, but it’s like a new lens descended through which I have to look, so everything is the same but tinted. The way I work, celebrate love is colored slightly differently. It’s in my body too, I think, because it’s not entirely mine anymore. That might not be permanent, but while the children are small, they need to cling and on a hot night when they’re sad and hot and tetchy, the edges of you and the edges of them blur. Maybe that is permanent, I don’t know.
Testimonial 2:
The thing I wish I’d known is that there’s a lot of pressure with being a parent. There’s a lot of pressure on yourself. There’s a lot of outward pressure from working. There’s a lot of outward pressure from other mothers who see you and think you should be doing things differently. And the one thing I would say is that you have to be able to compartmentalise what’s important and what’s not. That only comes from experience, and that’s the hardest part of being a mum, it’s how things change. Your identity changes and how relationships change. And it’s really hard to get your head around, but it happens. And you have to.
Brogan:
First I think, considering we’re talking about motherhood, we need to front up the fact that neither Rachel nor I are mothers, but we are at an age where a lot of our Friends are becoming mothers and learning indirectly how all-consuming it can be. Although I have been warned by a lot of my mum friends that you never know quite what it is to be a mum until you are suddenly a mum. What’s really interesting is to hear about, I guess, how they’re navigating the many expectations and pressures.
Rachel:
Yeah, I’ve heard that a lot from friends as well. I think we’ve got a few mums now, but for quite a while there was just one person who was a mum by themselves and no one else was. And I think that’s quite a hard thing to deal with. And she was kind of saying you don’t want to be that person who says, “Oh, you don’t really understand because you’re not a mum.” Because, on the one hand, that can be quite irritating to us non-mums but actually, the reality is we don’t understand because we’re not mums.
And I think as a non parent, it is super helpful and just insightful to have these conversations because it helps you help your pals. But it also helps you make decisions about your own life as well later down the line. And if you don’t talk about it as a non-parent, literally you have even less idea about what it’s going to be like. Do you know what I mean?
Brogan:
Yeah, definitely. I think, even more so in lockdown, that I’ve become just so much more aware of children, because how many video chat meetings have we had where suddenly one of our colleague’s kids just legs into the room and starts clambering all over their mum or dad, and they’re trying to have a conversation with their colleague? For someone who’s not a parent to see a window, literally via my screen, into what my friends and colleagues’ homes are like with their children is just really eye-opening.
Rachel:
Yeah. It’s interesting you say about the colleagues: one of the things one of our colleagues said that’s really stuck with me, so she’s a mum, and we were talking about how bizarrely we’re really missing commuting at the moment. And she said that, “When I’m at home, I’m mum. When I’m at work, I’m a manager, I’m a professional self.” And commuting, that hour on a train, is the only time she just gets to be ‘me’. She was… In terms of identity she was just, without that hour, there is no me-time. There is no answering texts to my friends, plugging into a podcast without interruptions, any of that stuff.
And it just really highlighted for me how I think we all wear so many hats anyway, our self with our friends, our self with our parents, our selves at work. But then if you’re a mum, it’s a whole other hat that you have to put on that really you can’t take off. It’s on there. There’s no changing.
Brogan:
It’s like a bonnet, tied under your chin.
Rachel:
Yeah. Locked down.
Brogan:
Also, I think it’s so important that when we’re talking about motherhood that we make sure that we are including a diverse range of voices in that conversation. Because in my experience, and a kind of indirect experience, all of the mothers I’m talking about are white, middle class, straight women. And their experience of motherhood is not the motherhood that every woman experiences. And it’s so important to make sure that we’re including all women in this conversation.
Rachel:
Yeah, definitely. And I think if either of us are ever mums, we don’t know what type of mums… even though I hate the word type… But, we don’t know what type of mums we will be. And, therefore, the more voices you hear the better.
Brogan:
Definitely.
Testimonial 3:
When my second child was born, I was diagnosed with postnatal anxiety. I visited my GP and got cognitive behavioural therapy as a result. This helped me realise that I had probably suffered from this after the birth of my first child, but I’d also lived with low level anxiety without really realisng. I coped with my anxiety by, sort of, withdrawing from the world and thought that this was kind of normal. But once I had small children, that wasn’t really possible so becoming a mother changed my outlook on my own mental health completely. And I’ve had to develop new strategies to cope with anxiety when it does kick in.
Testimonial 4:
I’d been a mother for 40 years when I lost both of my children, some five years apart, after a decade of supporting them through physical and mental illness. My grief was compounded by a profound sense of loss of identity. I didn’t know who I was anymore, what my life was about. How could I be a mother when I no longer had children? How could I not be a mother when I’d given birth and raised two sons? I’d become an oxymoron, a childless parent.
Testimonial 5:
I wish someone had warned me about that massive transition from having to give almost our entire lives and energy to care for our tiny newborn baby and being the very centre of their world for so long, to being a mum of a teenager where you are lucky if you actually feature in their world at all; to that huge sense of loss, and grief, and bewilderment mixed in with pride. But that massive loss, when they finally leave home, it’s a massive shift.
Brogan:
Today we’re joined by Candice Brathwaite, the author of I Am Not Your Baby Mother and the founder of Make Motherhood Diverse, an initiative described as an act of inclusion. We’re also joined by Kate Everall who runs award-winning blog, LesBeMums, writing about life as a two mum family.
Rachel:
Thank you so much to both of you for joining us. We’re really, really excited to have you both on the show. And, we thought we’d kick things off with the mother of all questions, to excuse the pun, did you always know that you wanted to be mums? Maybe let’s start with Candice first. Did you always know that you want it to be a mum?
Candice Brathwaite:
Oh, no, completely not. I think the opposite. I’ve always thought I didn’t want to be a mum. I’m the eldest to three siblings and my mum was a single parent, and there are seven years between each of us. And I always felt like I had to lose a lot of my childhood to being a mum to them. And so having children of my own was never in the picture for me.
Rachel:
And you’re really open about that in your book. In the first chapter you say, “I knew I didn’t always want to be a mum.” And you shared your experience of before you were a mum now to your two children. You were pregnant in the past and decided it wasn’t the right time....
Candice:
Yeah.
Rachel:
Was that hard to talk about, because we don’t often hear a lot about mums talking about abortion or just talking about their pre-mum lives really in the mum community.
Candice:
I don’t think it was hard for me, but I think that’s because even online I just present as a naturally open book. I appreciate the many who present online, especially in the parenting space, they feel they have to be glossy and this cookie-cutter type parent. Not me, mate. I’m just a black girl from South London, so even trying to be cookie-cutter would be really silly. So, in some ways that is my privilege. I don’t have to fit in because I never even would. And so it didn’t feel difficult being honest about that at all.
Rachel:
Yeah. I love that. That’s really great.
Kate Everall:
Oh, God. I love that so much.
Rachel:
Kate, how about you? Did you always want to be a mum?
Kate:
No, not really at all. It was quite the opposite. If my colleagues would bring a baby into the office I would sort of go, “Eeee.” But if they brought a dog into the office or a puppy I’d be like, “Oh, puppies.” And I wasn’t maternal. Nothing when ping, ping, ping when I saw a baby. But it’s when I think I’d been with my wife for a number of years that suddenly I just got a bit… I don’t know. Something happened where I just started yearning to expand my family.
I mean, we had a dog, we had cats. We pretty much ticked everything off, even in an aquarium. And I thought, “You know what? Let’s do something a bit different.” Which is an understatement for two mums. And we just started to go with it. And obviously when you’re in a same sex relationship, you obviously have to have the discussion over who would carry and things like that, but I was pretty keen on doing it myself from the start anyway. Obviously if Sharon had a bigger urge to do it then obviously I would have let her go first, so to speak, but I was quite happy to go first with it.
Rachel:
Thank you for sharing that. Obviously we’re talking about identity so was there a moment, after becoming mothers, that you really started to identify with the notion of motherhood?
Candice:
My one moment was I got really sick after having Esme, my first kid, and I had to stay in intensive care while she went home with my mum. Looking back, it was just this energy of me not even caring about my own health. I was just like: this overwhelming urgency of needing to see my kid, “Is my kid alright? Is my kid…” And even the surgeons and everyone looking after me was like, “No. Actually, you have to be the focus now, if not your kid doesn’t get a mum.” I think that moment was really powerful, because even when she was born I didn’t have that immediate rush of Oxytocin, or whatever you have for your kids. It just didn’t… It took a while.
But it’s not until there was even the idea that maybe four days old I can’t see her, I can’t feed her. The panic that came over me, I think that’s when I was like, “Oh, you’re really a mum now. This is what they describe as that need to just always protect them.” Which, I have to say, doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Because even my relationship with my mum: she’s definitely not that way with me. So, it’s really important to note that not everyone has that feeling, so I also don’t want people to think, “Oh, I’ve never felt that. Am I not a mum?” That’s just what it was for me.
Rachel:
We also wanted to talk to you about health inequality today because we know that it’s something that you’ve talked about a lot in the past, certainly Candice, in terms of being a black mother. Black women are five times more likely to die in childbirth. It’s a huge part of black motherhood. Is this something that you… – this might be quite ignorant of me to ask but I’m going to ask you, because I think a lot of listeners will want to ask the same – Is this something that you grew up knowing, or something that you suddenly learn when you’re a black woman who is pregnant?
Candice:
Oh, you definitely suddenly learn it. I had no concept of that data, and the data didn’t publicly become available til the end of 2018 anyway. So, even though I think we know as a group of people that there is unconscious bias towards us in many spaces, it’s always one of those things where you have to come with the data. And so when the data became available it was like, “Oh, now we have the numbers to back up what we already intrinsically feel but couldn’t get our point across, because no one in parliament wants to hear that you feel like something bad is being done to you.”
And I think even… especially now in this space where in with this pandemic, we’re seeing the same data with the amount of deaths in regards to BAME people. And there’s nothing positive about this, but it really is bringing some things into the forefront. America have been very ahead of the UK in admitting the discrepancies in health care when it comes to black, pregnant women. Beyonce and Serena Williams’ birth experience shows us that money doesn’t change anything.
Rachel:
Yeah, absolutely.
Candice:
You could still be on your death bed as a millionaire/billionaire, and you’d be written off.
Testimonial 6:
My advice that I would give to any parent, particularly mothers, is to trust your instinct.  You do build an instinct as to what is right and what is the best decision or the best needs for your child.  There’s so much conflicting advice and information out there, so I would say trust your instincts, know when you have to fight for your child and know that you, as the parent, know your child best.
Rachel:
Yeah. We were talking, before you two joined the call, about how… So, Brogan and I aren’t mums, but we’ve got more and more friends who are becoming them, so we’re fascinated by watching them from afar, sort of their identities change and the way that they talk and operate change. But they’re still, at the core, the same person. I feel, like with my group of friends, there’s such a split between… One of my friends always makes jokes that she forgets that she’s a mum on a regular basis. She’s like, “Shit, where’s the baby?” Like, she’s not that kind of person.
Brogan:
I think that’d be me. I’m so bad.
Rachel:
Oh, then I’ve got another friend who’s like, “I feel like a different person. It’s consumed me so much.” So, it’s kind of two ends of the scale. For you two, how has motherhood impacted your own sense of self? Does any of that resonate with you?
Kate:
For me, absolutely. I don’t often see myself represented in society, so I found it very difficult to try and fit in. And certainly, as well as a mother, I’m a woman and I’m a gay woman so I’m trying to balance those different parts of my identity together. And I felt, when I became a mother, that as soon as I became a mother I couldn’t… not identify as a lesbian but certainly I couldn’t do the things that were important to me, because suddenly I became a mother and that was a priority. But actually you can be all of that all at one time.
And if anything, sometimes some things will improve other parts of you. I feel as my son has got older he’s made my activism for gay rights a lot stronger, because actually I’m seeing the effects of the inequalities on him. You know, he’s not represented in the media, in children’s books. So actually, by becoming a mother, I’ve seen things that still need to be done in society whereas before I had a very almost rudimentary outlook on what was needed. But actually, since having him, I’ve been able to improve on that and other things, if that makes sense
Candice:
For me, I really see my motherhood and me really separate; and my friends always say I’ve got two layers, mogul or mum. Lock down has totally done a number on me mum-wise, like I’m obsessed with ironing bed linen and just the most random stuff. But before lockdown, it was always, “Right, business, money. What’s the next deal? Oh yeah, don’t forget to pick up the kids.” And that’s not to say they weren’t a priority. I’m just really focused on making my life as rich as possible in all the ways that mean outside of my kids, because I totally get that they’re going to turn 21 and not give a damn about me.
And I never want to be some yearning, empty nester or just moping around. I want to have a full life where it’s, when they go, a face time a day is enough for all of us. It’s not me going, “What do I do now?” I’ve seen so many great women pause their lives for their kids, and not expecting anything in return. but then when the time comes, when their kids rightfully want to be adults, they’re really annoyed about it. And that is my worst nightmare.
Rachel:
I love you talking about building up yourself so that you’re there when your kids leave home. But I also think that that will be such an inspiration to your kids as well. Hearing you talk, it reminds me a lot of my own mum who was a single mum for a chunk of my childhood and she was a working mum, she kind of taught me all these values, and was super strong, and had her own thing going on. And actually shapes the identity of your kids in quite a positive way, I think as well.
Kate:
Yeah, my mum was a single mum as well and she did exactly that. She reminds me of how I was treated. She was a full time nurse and I was looked after by my Nan. And so when I was ready to move out there she was like not so much, “See you”, but very much, “Go for it, go for it.” She wasn’t sort of, “You can move, but you’ve got to keep this bit of rope around your waist.” She was almost booting me out, her Job was complete and it felt amazing, as I didn’t feel… I felt willing to come back rather than reluctantly to come back.
Brogan:
That’s so interesting. It makes me think of the kind of “women can have it all / can they / can’t they have it all” debate, which I feel like we definitely need to move on from. So do you think that, are you free to be that person or have you ever felt judgement about that ‘dual ness’ of your life? I feel like they are obviously connected as you said but that is such a big priority to you, is that always received well? 
Candice:
No. I speak about a bit in my book, but I was raised by my granddad. My granddad got mugged and was left blind in one eye, so he had to quit work and then my Nan worked full time and paid the mortgage. And so from the time I could remember men washed up, men ironed, men put ribbons in your hair, they picked you up after school. And for some reason that very much reflects the relationship I’m in now. My other half doesn’t even blink at doing things that would be classified as the ‘feminine roles’, but he is from a Nigerian heritage who sees this happening and a lot of their minds are blown.
You know, when his dad first saw him change a nappy, the house just fell so silent. Like, “Whoa, what is going on?” Whilst I was like, “Bye, see you, got to go to a meeting.” I’m never offended by those kinds of looks and judgments. I’m quite happy about them, because it shows that I’m trying to push the needle along. And also this isn’t to say that that flow will always be that way. When I first quit my job in publishing, I was a stay at home mum. I made next to no money, and so I took on the more ‘feminine duties’. And who knows what will happen in 20 years: it could shift again. He might want to go and start a business. And so, yeah, I try not to pay attention to it to be honest.
Brogan:
I love the idea of how life and there are shifting roles and things aren’t fixed. Is that something that you kind of believe in as well, Kate?
Kate:
Absolutely. Being two mums, people we speak to are naturally very curious as to whether we naturally fall into those gender roles. And I think because I was birth mum, they automatically assume that I’m going to be the one that cooks and cleans. And although naturally I do a lot of the cooking, because that’s just how my shifts fall, but we share the cooking, we share the cleaning. And we don’t even have to discuss. It just naturally falls...We just do it.
And so our son just doesn’t see those sorts of “you gave birth to me and your mum, which means you’ve got to do that sort of ‘feminine bit’”. And my mama is obviously not the birth parent, so she’s obviously got to fall into the ‘daddy roles’. And he just doesn’t see that, and it’s so alien to him.
We’re quite lucky that we live in quite a diverse area so there isn’t really that… The kids aren’t in a heteronormative outlet, but it’s still very… You see the looks on people’s faces sometimes when they’re just dying to ask, “Who’s mummy and who’s daddy?”
Rachel Moss:
And you’re like, “Why does it matter?”
Kate:
There isn’t one. That’s the point.
Brogan:
Yeah. There’s no dad here.
Kate:
There is no daddy: that’s lesson one. But, yeah, so it’s really interesting.
Brogan:
We’re going to come back to that conversation shortly but here are some HuffPost listeners who have shared their experience.
Testimonial 7:
You can’t be a working mother who goes to work eight hours a day, comes home and collects the kids and makes their own yoghurt and puts the kids to sleep and they sleep just as you turn the light out, they softly go off to sleep - it doesn’t happen. And I wish somebody had said: “Take your own pace, don’t listen to other people, listen to yourself, listen to your children, listen to what needs to give in order for you to have that happy medium.” I wish that other mothers would look at themselves and go: “I’m doing a good job getting through the day and making sure my kids are happy and healthy and well-rounded.” Don’t think you can have it all, because you can’t.
Testimonial 8: 
Everything in my entire life shifted. Some of it was beyond recognition, some of it was recognisable but it was like I was coming from a completely different perspective. It literally was I was born again.
Rachel:
And now back to our conversation with Candice Brathwaite and Kate Everall.
Brogan:
Both of you, Candice and Kate, set out to create spaces for mothers that feel more inclusive and representative of your own experiences and identities. Can you tell us a bit about why it was so important to you both to create those spaces and start those conversations? 
Candice:
I just wanted to create a space where motherhood was equal and everyone’s story was valid. And then somewhere, way down the line, it would be a hub where brands and businesses would turn to when they knew they were screwing up, because they already were. And that’s where the idea of Make Motherhood Diverse even came from. And it’s been an absolute journey thus far, because I can’t lie: opening up that space made me realise that I can be judgmental or biased. I was consciously only going on social media or looking at magazines only looking for myself.
I wasn’t looking to see if same sex parents were represented, or mums with disabilities. I was just, “Oh, no black face. That’s really annoying.” And so now having a space like Make Motherhood Diverse it makes me check myself, which maybe some people wouldn’t admit but it’s been very, very eye-opening for me.
Kate:
So, initially I started a blog just to document our conception journey, because there wasn’t anything out there in the UK: a lot of the blogs I followed were in Australia or America, but, again, they had different healthcare systems so I couldn’t really relate.  And a lot of the NHS spoke about was IVF: we didn’t go via that route, so I wanted to document it just to be a resource for other people. But as it grew, and as our community grew, I realised that there actually were quite a few families out there. And that’s where it grew. We also connected via Instagram when it was still very much in the early days, and we just documented everything.
And then when our son came along, we documented the things we were doing, places we were going, books we were reading. And, over time, we’ve just added to that and opened up discussions about LGBT teachings in school, we’ve talked about marriage equality, and it’s just grown. And I honestly don’t know what the plan is, because it’s still very much a hobby for me, but it’s fun. 
Rachel: 
I love how you have both massively opened up this area, and you’ve made all these conversations about different types of motherhood come to the forefront. But then also is really hard, I think, for a lot of mums to shake off those ideas of what motherhood is. Candice, there was a bit in your book that I love because it really… it made me laugh, even though it had a very serious message behind it. And you spoke about getting absolutely obsessed with a particular buggy which I’ve never heard of: a bugaboo.
Candice:
*laughs*
Rachel:
I love how you said, it’s not just as Destiny’s Child song. And I was like, “Hell yeah. I love that reference.” I’m a huge Destiny’s Child fan. Can you tell us about that? Because I think it’s got a huge part to do with identity, right? The reason why you were so caught up in this idea that you needed a bugaboo? Tell us.
Candice:Yeah, completely. Because I already realised that I’m a young-ish, black mum. I fell pregnant at 25. Just walking down the street pregnant, there was just always these spoken and unspoken judgments. And in my mind very much like how…and I say this all the time. I hate when young kids – not just black but kids from working class spaces – they always get ripped into because they want the latest trainers and all of that. It’s a form of protection. It’s a form of presenting what you think the world wants to see.
And so locking in on that brand of pushchair, I feel right, I make it adjust for all the other stuff. But you cannot look at that pushchair and not think I don’t have my stuff together, which is so warped. But those kinds of things follow us throughout life so of course, at the doors of motherhood, you’re just trying to present the best image of yourself.
Rachel:
Yeah, and you really went above and beyond to get this pushchair... And, I joke about it [the Bugaboo obsession], but I was reading about it, you managed to find one on Gumtree, and when I read the interaction that you had with the woman who was selling that pushchair I just couldn’t believe it. Do you mind summing that up and how that felt for anyone who hasn’t picked your book yet?
Candice: 
Yeah, so I found it on Gumtree, and my name is really non-racial it’s Candice Brathwaite. We turn up at this really, really nice road and when she opens the door, number one she thinks we’re charity workers and she’s quickly trying to shut the door hastily.
Rachel:
... that’s so bad.
Candice:
And when she realises I’ve come to get the pushchair she doesn’t even take the security latch off, she just whispers through the latch and then closes the door to get the buggy, and is really trying to get us off the doorstep.
And I just thought: this is so insane. And it made me think, you know, good thing you didn’t know what I looked like because you might have even not sold the buggy to me. It’s important to remember that, I might not have even been able to get it. So yeah, that was just one of the ways I tried to highlight the micro-aggressions that happen when you don’t look like what the world says you should – especially when it comes to motherhood.
Brogan:
I guess I have the privilege of saying that’s unbelievable, but I’m sure for many women that’s completely believable  – and expected. Your book is so incredible, reading it as a white woman there are so many things in this that I would have never expected or anticipated. And I guess that’s what’s so important about your work: you are allowing other black women to feel seen, and you are also making other people see you.
Candice: 
Yeah.
Brogan:
Kate, in terms of this idealised version of motherhood, you mentioned earlier about how, as a masculine-looking woman you didn’t yourself represented in a typical pregnancy body. Can you talk to us a bit about that experience?
Kate:
Oh my god, where do I start? When you fall pregnant, I mean sat in...take a pregnancy test and you go to your midwife’s appointment and even the forms: the narrative is like, “Mother, father”.  There’s no mother or parent or donor, there’s nothing like that and it’s things like that. And then when the bump starts to grow you go Mothercare or you go to wherever and the t-shirts are v-line necks or they’re very...tugging at the boobs and the jeans.  There’s no ‘butch-wear’ for pregnant women.  There’s no shirts - you know shirts sat over me and I looked like I had a beer belly and it just looked ridiculous.  
And then obviously as it grew you then had the baby books that then had, “Mummy and Daddy did this today” and then the books...we’re lucky in that we’ve - I shouldn’t even say lucky: it sounds like I’m grateful - but I have books that we read to Thomas, I sometimes purposefully go, “Mummy and Mama.” So it’s never really stopped and as brands have been more inclusive to LGBT people, which again I am grateful for, I’m still not seeing in, as a short haired masculine woman.  So it’s never really stopped.  But certainly when I was pregnant that idea of femininity certainly got challenged in my head because I was feminine, but being pregnant and breastfeeding and everything like that is very much a feminine, maternal thing, so a lot of conflict going on in my head.  People looked at me and they thought, “Oh god that man’s pregnant” or kids would be, “Are you mummy or a daddy?” and I’m like, “Well I’m a mummy, but I appreciate I’ve got short hair” and it’s just, yeh, it’s just everything. It’s just constant.  
Rachel:
It’s a lot to deal with, yeah. 
Kate:
Yeah, yeah it is but you just hope that by being visible, and a blatant lesbian, hopefully you are coming out to people almost every day, you’re..hopefully that visibility is educating someone somewhere that may be they go home and go, “I saw a pregnant lesbian today, Barry!” and it just gets that conversation going hopefully. You just don’t know who they… you know what I mean, it’s just...you just hope that they have a conversation and yeh…
Rachel:
So you have both developed your own communities and are comfortable with your identities now.  For any new mums who are “Where am I in this strange new mum world?” can you recommend any resources or anyone to follow or just any really great spaces that mums who do not feel seen need to go and check out?
Kate:
Yeah. I mean, if it’s just a case of wanting to see yourself represented there’s a lovely Instagram page called the Same Sex Families, and they’re a global page. I think the owner is based in the UK but they have all sorts of families, really diverse. And they obviously celebrate lots of different things like Trans Awareness Week and Black History Month and things like that. But other than that, resources-wise, obviously I’d look at Stonewall. We are lucky that we’re in an age now that we have access to this information; where even when Thomas was born, and that was five years ago, I didn’t have that. So, it’s growing, which I’m grateful for.
Rachel:
Candice, how about you? What resources, Instagram pages, anything else, would you recommend to mums?
Candice:
Of course, Make Motherhood Diverse.
Rachel:
Of course.
Candice:
It’s American, but if you’re a black mum looking for your tribe Mater Mea, I think they’re called. There’s a great book actually called Julian Is a Mermaid. It’s very beautiful.
Kate:
*gasps* I love that book.
Candice:
It’s beautiful. Yes. And now – okay, you might know more than me [to Kate] – but from my eye, reading that book to my daughter, being in a heterosexual relationship, it really is just this quiet story about a boy perhaps exploring the idea of being trans, or wanting to dress up in what would be determined as women’s clothes. And it’s so beautifully told and opens up such wonderful natural conversation.
Also, Lupita, the Actress, wrote a book called Sulwe, which really touched me because it’s a story about colourism within the black community, which if I had that read to me when I was about four or five it would have really helped me understand some of the challenges which were really just around the corner in regards to the times of how dark my skin is as a black person. Because there is still that in our community. You’re not just black. You’re light-skinned or dark skinned. And I find for Esme, who is lighter than me, she’s really taken to that book. So, I love that.
Brogan:
When you’re raising your children, do you feel kind of a responsibility to shape their identity or give them, I guess, options? Trying to feed them with a rich variety of content and books so that they can explore themselves?
Kate:
Absolutely. I think I’d be doing him a disservice if I didn’t open his eyes to make sure that he had this information, this knowledge in front of him and he’d go out there and get it. But yeah, I think I’d be doing them a disservice if I didn’t do… And my community a disservice, if I didn’t… And again, I don’t want to say I’m educating him but just making him aware that this is what our community has been through, and what’s out there, and who’s out there. And equally, I wouldn’t be a very good ally to other communities if I didn’t have those books like Julian Is a Mermaid and things like that on his bookshelves. Because why should I expect allies of our community if I’m not going to be an ally to other communities either.
Rachel:
Obviously, this week, we are talking about motherhood and identity, how our identity pre-motherhood shapes what we’re like as mums, how our identity changes when we become mums, and we’ve been hearing from loads of our listeners about what identity means to them. And we wanted to play one for you both now. So, this is from someone who sent it in called Rebecca. Thank you so much for sending this in, Rebecca. It’s really lovely.
Testimonial 9:
Something that I wish I’d known is it comes back. That part of you, for a lot of people, disappears and you lose sight of when you’ve got a very young child. It comes back and I wish that I’d been told that it does go and it does come back because then perhaps I would have found the first two years easier.
Rachel:
How do you feel hearing that? She obviously touched on the fact that you can lose yourself when you become a mum, but don’t panic. All is not lost. And I thought it was a nice note to touch on towards the end of our podcast, to ask you both where are you on that journey? Where are you at? Kate, do you feel like you’ve re-found yourself or is it still a work in progress?
Kate:
I am in a better place than I was perhaps even maybe a year ago, because I felt like you couldn’t be both a mum, a wife, a gamer, a comic book lover. You know, you couldn’t be all those things at once. Something had to give. And while some things did have to give, you couldn’t do it all. But as some people say, I’ve been selfish and I’ve gone, “No, I’m not going to do that. I’m going to take an hour to myself because my mental health is important as well.” And I think, yeah, if I’d been told that that is allowed and actually you are still you, it’s just got to take a bit of a time out whilst you settle into your own routine, then I probably would have been and felt more reassured; and probably not in such a rush to try and then get back there if that makes sense.
Because I felt like everything was been taken forcefully away from me, I was then trying to fight against that. And then I felt like I’d miss some opportunities or miss some milestones whilst I was trying to battle with my own identity and where I sat in that.
Rachel:
Yeah. I love that. How about you Candice? Where are you on the journey? Have you found the true Candice again?
Candice:
I haven’t found myself again. It’s just a new self. And, to be honest, I’m not embarrassed of the woman I was before my kids, but I see them as really separate entities because there are just some risks now or things I did back then that I just wouldn’t do now because I have a responsibility to another two humans here. And, actually, I prefer this version. She’s more measured. She’s calmer.
You know, I can’t just react out of anger because I have to think of the repercussions on my children. All the work I do, I have to think of my children. It’s a different person. I think I’ve only come to that realisation now there’s two of them and I have experiences that can be compared. I think with Esme, I was very obsessed, pre-baby body, pre-baby life, pre-baby social calendar. And it was… Everything was geared towards people understanding that I’m Candice before I’m a mum whereas now I’m like just a completely different person to be fair.
Brogan:
It’s so interesting to have both your experiences. Thank you for sharing them. At the end of each podcast we ask our guests the same question, and so we’re going to come first to you Candice. What makes you uncomfortable? It can be anything so it can be… We’ve had like pantomimes, we’ve had small talk. We’ve had some deep ones. We had emotional vulnerability.
Candice:
Do you know what makes me uncomfortable? Going to dinner parties or house parties. I hate small talk. I hate getting to know people. Oh, blurgh, yuck.
Rachel:
Just hang out in the kitchen.
Brogan:
Specifically going to parties or dinner parties where you don’t know many people there...?
Candice:
Yes. Yeah. Yeah. That makes me so uncomfortable. Yeah.
Brogan:
And what about you, Kate?
Kate:
I know... I’m trying to think whether I want to say something profound like tokenism or something like that. But I’m just like… I’m thinking it’s team-building days at work where you’re… Or just… I think that just to unnecessarily be touched, like team building days where you then have to put your hands on each other’s shoulders. I don’t want to touch you. I have OCD anyway, and I don’t like it. I think it’s that contact, and team-building days especially if you then have to touch someone, whether you know them or not. Yeah, touching. But yeah.
Brogan:
Thank you both so much for coming onto the podcast today.
Kate:
Well, thank you for inviting me.
Brogan:
It’s such a great conversation.
Candice:
Thank you.
Rachel:
That’s it this week from Am I Making You Uncomfortable? Don’t forget to subscribe and review; but only nice reviews, five stars only. I am Rachel Moss and you can find me @rachelmoss_.
Brogan:
And I’m Brogan Driscoll and you can find me @brogan_driscoll. Thanks to our producer Crystal Genesis, our assistant producer Rachel Porter, and our sound engineer Nag Kirinde.
Rachel:
You’ve just listened to Am I Making You Uncomfortable? Our hashtag is #AIMYU.Related... 'I Walked Out Of Hospital And A Woman Screamed At Me To Cover My Baby's Face' We're Two Women Who Wanted A Baby: This Is How We Chose Who Carried Our Child 'Infertility Doesn't Discriminate' So Why Are Women Of Colour Suffering In Silence?
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