Woke Mama: Gemma

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Name: Gemma

Age: 35 

Baby: Sebastian, born on New Years Day 2017

What does being a woke mama mean to you? 

In many ways I feel as though I am woke since having Sebastian.  I am feeling and seeing things in a new way and it is exciting and humbling.

Looking back at the past few years, I had become really selfish.  I was concerned mostly with myself and had made some pretty shit choices.  Having my son has literally woken me up.

He has made me address some of the less attractive attributes of my personality and makes me want to be the best mama, women, partner, sister and friend I can be. 

What made you choose gentle parenting? And what is your favourite aspect of it? 

There’s no one more surprised then me that I have naturally become a gentle parent(er). I am generally a no-nonsense — some might say harsh and to-the-point — person, so in my head I was going to have a similar approach with my baby, but it is simply not the case.

Trusting my instinct has never been as important to me as it is now as a mama. I used to feel as though I wasn’t in touch with or didn’t listen to my instincts, but now I feel them loud and clear — and most importantly I trust them.  Sebastian leads the way.   

But I’m not going to lie and say it is always easy.

I’m still not used to, or raving about the fact that when I come home and just wanna sit on the sofa with a glass of red and a nice dinner, that this has to wait.  Sometimes it’s just hard. But as soon as he grabs my finger with his chubby little hand or looks up at me with his big beautiful brown eyes and smiles, it is all worth it.

I’m suddenly not hungry anymore.  I am pulled back into the present, with him, in whatever activity we are doing.  And I am full. 

My favourite aspect of being a gentle parent would have to be breastfeeding him.  Especially when I may have been out all day without him.  It is the nicest feeling in the world to come back to him and feed him, smell him, kiss him, just take him in.

I try to be as present as I can in these moments, even through bleary eyes at 4am in the morning, because I know they are numbered — and that I will massively miss them when they are no longer there. 

Most awesome moment so far? 

That one’s easy!  We have recently come back from a holiday in Barbados where I got to introduce Sebastian to his great-grandmother. It is a moment I will never forget.

As soon as I knew I was pregnant I booked the flight because as far as I was considered, it had to be done as soon as possible.  So we did it.

We took the plunge and flew 8 hours across the world with a 6-month year old (flight weren’t too bad actually – he slept most of the way). It was 100% worth it to see the look on my nan’s face when she got to hold Sebastian in hers.

My parents are from Barbados so I have grown up visiting the island and it really is a home from home.  My nan helped raise me and my younger sister before she moved back, so we are very close.  She is also the only living grandparent I have now, which made going even more important to me.

The moment was made even more special when a week into the holiday my sister surprised us by turning up on my nan’s doorstep.  She had told me a number of times she couldn’t afford to come, so I was shocked to say the least when she was suddenly there.  All four generations of my family were together.

It was priceless – and I have the 400 odd photos to show for it : )  

Biggest struggle so far? How do you cope with stressful moments? 

This is something that I struggle with every day in one way or another: not being in control or relinquishing control, and giving it to Sebastian.

I am a bit of a control freak.  I like to do things as soon as they need doing, and doing them my way, so having to now do things when Sebastian lets me is taking some getting used to.

Some days this is very frustrating to my being and others I just give in to it and enjoy the fact that I can use him as an excuse as to why the dishes aren’t washed, or why I’ve been in my PJs until noon.

I cope with these moments because I am generally not a very stressed person in the first place, so find the frustrated feelings don’t last too long. I always think about the vibe that I am giving out to Sebastian.

I’m very conscious of not wanting him to pick up on my bad feelings, so I deal with it as quickly as I can. 

If going back to work how do you juggle the parent life ? 

I am a singer/actress and am self-employed.  Being on maternity has coincided with the end of my last contract.  I did however return to the show I was in for its final month, and doing this was a real eye opener.

Having to leave for work after a night of broken sleep, then spending all day with baby was not easy and I spent most of my Westbound train journeys into work asleep on the Central Line.

It has made me realise how challenging and tiring taking a new theatre contract will be, and because of that I will be as picky as I can afford to be with what comes next.  It has to be worthwhile if I’m going to sacrifice putting Sebastian to bed every night and not being home all day Saturdays.

Needless to say, I am not rushing into my next job!  

What advice would you give to new moms? 

I’d try not to give any to be honest.  Sometimes the last thing a new mum needs is advice and someone else’s opinion.   

I would tell them however, to trust their own instinct, be patient and kind to themselves.   

What’s on your soundtrack to your first year being a woke mama? 

You’ve got the love (Joss Stone version) 

Solange’s WHOLE album – A Seat at the Table 

Culture – Stop the fussing and fighting 

And any and everything else that makes Sebastian stop and stare at me whilst I sing it.  I love those moments the most. 

Like what ya see? We’ll be introducing more awesome Woke Mamas. But we want to hear from YOU. Share your stories on social media using #WokeMamas or write your answers here. ❤

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