Since my orientation into this crazy place called motherhood I've engaged with some amazing women, Mums who all have a different story to tell about their journey before and after motherhood, and into the future. They have kindly agreed to share with me their story, thoughts and advice about navigating this new season of life.
Over the next two months I'll be sharing their stories with you in the hope that by showcasing this community of amazing women I can help to make valuable connections on some common ground and that we can share any lessons we've learned along the way with one another. Please join me in welcoming Emma Gibb.
Emma Gibb is That Gypsy Mum, a wife, mama and manifester from Perth, WA. By day Emma is a retail property manager, but by night she co-runs That Gypsy Shop. Emma is a mama of two; James (1) and Will (3). Emma loves all things out of the ordinary like crystals and spiritual shit and believes laughter is the key to happiness. Emma has recently overcome a long struggle with anxiety and has recently discovered a love of gardening.
Hi Em! I came across your profile during your second pregnancy and you've had me hooked on your hilarious take on mum life ever since. You've clearly got a flair for the creative, what did you do before you became a Mum?
Haha, nothing creative at all! Before I became a mum I worked as a leasing agent for a boutique residential real estate agency. I was definitely a workaholic, working long hours for little reward. I was a total stress head, always getting worked up and rushing around, literally running to the toilet because I didn’t have time to walk.
I was always running late to appointments, waking up in the middle of the night worrying about how much work I had to do the next day. My house was OCD spotless and minimalistic. Every Saturday I would write up a to do list and spend the weekend cleaning and washing. All the towels were folded a particular way, I would do a leisurely grocery shop and cooked every meal from scratch. I was basically a Stepford Wife... without being a wife.
Now I am the complete opposite, I’m super relaxed and my house is a dump. I've only recently returned to work full time as a retail property manager, so we are working that balance out as we go.
Have you found motherhood has changed your approach to work?
I didn’t realise how uptight I was. I always thought of myself as a capable and strong woman but I was basically just a nut case trying to control the world around me. I didn’t think I would have a messy house, that I would be able to leave work on time, not feel stressed or overwhelmed.
This last weekend was the first weekend in a really long time that I didn’t feel like I had to do anything or be anywhere. I was just mum and it was lovely. Sure, I no longer have a display home but I have realised that this moment in time is only temporary and I don’t always have to be striving towards something professionally or personally. It is ok to just let go and be a mum, enjoy the boys while they are little.
So, working full-time with two little ones, that's got to be seriously hectic. What does a typical day in the Gibb house look like?
When I wake up it is all about getting the boys ready for the day. I work full time so I get to enjoy an hour drive to work each morning listening to crime podcasts.
When we're at home together I just love experiencing all the firsts. Every day it feels like there is something new to enjoy – James has just started to stand on his own so we anticipate he’ll be walking soon and Will is toilet training so is transitioning from nappies.
Your online persona is very confident, but also very real. Have there been points on this journey where you have questioned yourself?
Oh for sure. Initially I found motherhood so restrictive. I felt like my life was on hold and I was so resentful. I went overboard on the OCD trying to force my newborn into a routine which never worked. I was so hard on myself and anyone else. I realised later that I had PND & PNA and went back to work when Will was nine months, I realise now I was clearly struggling at home.
I found it difficult to find a part time job so took on a job way below my previous pay level. My confidence took a hit and I felt like I wasn’t as capable as I used to be. By the time my second boy came along, I took another year off and I stopped being so uptight. Mostly thanks to a good psychiatrist, a psychologist, hypnotherapy and a strong prescription but thankfully it put things in perspective for me and I know I need to be kinder to myself. I now have a great job and feel like my old pre-mum confident self.
If we had a time machine, what would you tell pre-Mum Emma?
Ohh I would tell her to just chill the fuck out. Just do whatever you need to get through each day and don’t get so caught up in having to be the best at everything. Some days you can just relax.
You've got a heap on your plate - full time work, two little boys, a side hustle that's going gangbusters! How do you make sure you take care of yourself?
With a 1 year old and 3 year old self care involves trying to sneak in day naps on the weekends. I have also found a real joy in gardening that has surprised me so I’ve been doing a lot of that. I also love listening to self hypnosis recordings, I feel so relaxed afterwards. I now see a psychologist fortnightly which I am really enjoying, especially for someone who HATES talking about feelings.
Any final tips for Mums embarking on a similar journey?
Transitioning into any phase is difficult, whether that is becoming a mum for the first time, the second time, returning to work etc, it all feels overwhelming at some point. You can do it all but it doesn’t have to be all at the same time, be kinder to yourself and be present with your babies. Don’t be afraid to seek out help if you need it, it’s actually way more common than you probably realise.
You can find Emma over on Instagram. She co-owns her online store That Gypsy Shop with another Perth Mama Ari, and together they source and sell a range of crystals, divination tools and gorgeous bohemian style clothing.
You should probably also do yourself a favour and check out Em's preggo belly labour inducing dance, which is among my favourite personal highlights... and read her captions because they make me laugh snort in my coffee on the daily.
If you or someone you know is struggling - please seek help. Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA) supports women, men and families across Australia affected by anxiety and depression during pregnancy and in the first year of parenthood. PANDA operates Australia’s only National Helpline for individuals and their families to recover from perinatal anxiety and depression, you can call them on 1300 726 306.
If you would like to share your story about before you became a Mum and your journey to now I would love to hear from you. Head on over on my Instagram or Facebook comments, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
This post is a part of the Before She Was A Mum Series.