I’m not normally one for reading non-fiction, preferring instead to lose myself in an imaginary world. But I’m such a huge fan Constance Hall and her hilariously relatable blog that I just had to read her book.
My friend, Sophie, was quick to order Like a Queen as soon as it was released in Australia and it’s now making its way around our group of awesome mum friends (more on these incredible ladies in a future post). I can honestly say that it has helped me come to terms with and accept struggles that I’ve had since becoming a mum and also helped me see my relationship and our family in a new light.
You know how sometimes someone will say to you ‘you need to read this book, it changed my life’? I think this might be that book – it even had me on the verge of tears twice, it made me feel that empowered. I just hope the feeling lasts. Here are some of the key things I’ve taken from it.
“The definition of giving birth is ‘the act or extraction of a foetus and its membranes’. So, just to clarify, if you have had a C-section, you have still ‘given birth’. Bravo, you rule.”
I read so many unhelpful online articles/blog posts after having Jenson that are intended to make C-section mums feel like crap. I think I’ve finally accepted that it’s complete and utterly bullshit. Likewise the breast vs bottle debate!
“Don’t judge yourself for being a total fucking drama queen diva about it, you’re absolutely entitled to it. Somewhere along the line in our culture, we were taught that we shouldn’t complain about parenting, like it means that we aren’t a ‘natural’ if we find it hard. So we bottle everything up at the risk of looking like a failure and as a result we FEEL like royal failures, which is so much worse.”
Newsflash: Parenting is fucking hard! You’re responsible for a whole other life. And, with your first one, you’re usually thrown into the deep end. As soon as you walk through the front door with your new bundle of love you’re completely winging it – and sometimes we need a reminder that we’re all winging it. Nothing and no one can prepare you for how hard it is and admitting that it’s hard is not the same as saying you don’t love your child or that you wish you used contraception!
“Self-empowered women are the change this world is in dying need of. There is no stopping the power of a woman who believes in herself.”
Since having Jenson I’ve been struggling with body confidence and self-esteem issues but slowly I’ve started to believe in myself more. I’ve had productive one-to-ones with my Line Manager which make me believe I’m doing a good job and I’m getting great responses to blog posts and opportunities from brands, which encourage me to continue to push my writing. I’m reminded of one of my favourite quotes: she believed she could so she did.
“Inside every relationship is various new relationships. Your relationship needs reinventing as your circumstances change. … When a couple has children, it’s common for a natural divide to take place and if it’s not stopped, it will only grow bigger. You both begin to look elsewhere for your needs, needs that used to be fulfilled by each other. Men tend to go to their friends for fun, they stop seeing their wives as fun, and ladies tend to go to their friends for intimacy, to have deep conversations and feel supported.”
When I read that paragraph I stopped and thought for a bit. I hadn’t realised that’s what had happened. At the end of the day, when we’re both home from work, had dinner and put Jenson to bed, we retire to the office. Luke Skypes his friends and plays computer games and I sit and blog. Any deep conversations are had with my mum friends on a Thursday when we meet for swimming lessons and I often hear Luke laughing harder with his friends than he does with me. Things change and we need to remember to make time for our relationship as well as our family and ‘me time’.
“There comes a time in every Queen’s life when they need to redefine the term ‘clean’. Because if you have children or a job or a life or a creative passion you simply will not have time to have a clean house and stay happy. Something has to give and that something has to be cleanliness. Too often Queens choose happiness as their sacrifice. … Messy is the new clean. If my house doesn’t stink and there is a clean cup for my tea that means my house is clean.”
We haven’t had a tidy house since we moved in nearly six months ago. And I’m finally ok with it! There’s always dishes in the drainer, folded laundry ready to go away, as well as a dryer full of more clothes waiting to be folded, small socks scattered around because Jenson likes to pull them off and exclaim ‘toes!’, building bricks and books everywhere… It’s fine – it’s lived in and it shows that we have bigger priorities. This is a house where children are free to play without being confined to their bedroom and where parents prioritise spending time with their child rather than doing chores.
“Face-to-face socialising is the best therapy you will ever do. … You will feel lighter, more capable, the small insignificant shit that you have been worried about could wash away. Your friend could be going through the exact same shit and you might both sit there cackling like witches at how depressingly hilarious your lives are.”
This totally sums up my Self-Care Sunday post from a couple of weeks ago! I genuinely walked away from our post-swimming coffee feeling lighter and more capable, such is the power of having incredible Queens in my life. When you’re a mum, especially a new mum, it can be hard to muster the energy to leave the house in the early days. I encourage you to attend groups and classes during your pregnancy to meet women who will be giving birth around the same time as you locally and arrange to meet up with them once you’ve given birth. These Queens will prove to be a vital lifeline.
There’s all that and more in the book, including tales of childbirth, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, controlled crying, toilet training, bad relationships, cheating, money, erection-rejection, bullying, body image, abortion and anxiety. It really is essential reading for mothers and mothers-to-be everywhere!
I wish I could afford to buy all of my Queens a copy so they could realise how freaking fabulous they are. Hopefully dedicating this post to them will be a good start. This is for my Queens – you know who you are <3