*for disclosure purposes I was flown to the Baby Dove launch to be a part of the panel and was paid a small fee*
**for further disclosure I would have done it for free for two reasons. One, the first night away from home on my own in a very very long time and two, because I have only used Dove soap on Emma as she really battles with UTIs and eczema**
When the mail arrived asking if I would like to be a part of a panel of moms for the launch of Baby Dove, Unilever’s new range of skin care for babies, I was over the moon excited. Yay! People finally respected me as an ‘expert’ mom I thought to myself.
On reading further my ego deflated a little like my left boob – the panel was more about how there is no such thing as ‘the perfect mom’ only ordinary moms doing their best and trusting their own way. Not so yay anymore – I’d been caught out as an imposter, as a not-so-perfect mom, and now I was being asked to talk about all my failures in front of a group of media, influencers, mom bloggers and other important people.
How wrong was I? I had the most amazing time. In fact, maybe one of my best EVER! I met amazing moms and inspiring career women. I met a young 24 year old (who happened to be black) who works as part of the the R&D team at Unilever. She was an intergral part of this new range and when I looked at her I just saw all the possibilities that lie ahead for Emma.
I also met one of only two paediatric dermatologists in SA, Dr. Hlela, who has more dregrees than I have issues, and again I was excited for Emma’s future while feeling a little underachieved myself. But this wasn’t about me.
The day before the actual launch we had a dry run, which turned out to be little wet, with a few tears shed as we discussed miscarriages, our (perceived) failures as moms and how it’s so easy to feel judged or be judging of each other.
There were also loads of laughs and in the evening Mark phoned so Ben and Emma could say goodnight. I told them I was a little nervous and Ben said I should just be myself (‘because who else are you going to be’ which is what he tells me when I say the same thing to him). He also wanted to know if it was snowing and what the time difference is between Joburg and Cape Town.
The day arrived and there I was. As a mom. On a panel with other moms. One of the questions during the discussion was “how as a mother, with all the advice from others (well meant or not) do we trust our own way?” My answer was that as a mom, who literally had a stork deliver our babies, there was no time for reading and Google. I wasn’t pregnant so no one felt inclined to rub my tummy while passing on advice like a baby/parent whisperer.
With Emma I literally got to change her nappy once while she was still at the shelter and was given a quick run through on how to bath her. That was it. The rest was on a wing and a pile of Xanor.
But flying home that night I sat on the plane thinking what ‘trusting your way’ really meant. And I realized it meant so much, even before becoming a mom. When I came to terms with the fact that I wasn’t going to be the mom of my own destiny I had to trust my way of becoming one through adoption. There weren’t any cheerleaders in my corner. Even my mom, hopefully her soul is resting in peace, couldn’t quite come to terms with it. When I told her I had found my baby she couldn’t hide her disappointment and asked me whether adoption didn’t feel like 2nd surprise? Other family members asked if we would consider surrogacy and IVF. Even Mark, from a much more pragmatic point of view, asked the real questions I didn’t/hadn’t/wouldn’t consider – could I love someone else’s baby? Could I really love a baby of another color? But Emma, from the moment I saw her, was mine. And there was no way of changing my mind.
I had to trust that my way was going to lead to unhappiness within my very own family; it was going to rock boat socially and politically but I didn’t care. As a woman I had to trust that this was the only way I was ever going to have my own children. When Ben arrived there was no second guessing or doubt. Again I trusted my way and look where we are today. A funny and strange little family making our way in the world.
Thank you to Unilever and Dove for allowing me to share my story. Thank you to the other amazing women on the panel, and in the group, who opened up to a room full of strangers. As other women told their stories heads nodded in agreement, a few tears were shed where common experiences were shared and relived. We all realised we’re on this journey together and while we’re all struggling each and every day, our way, our instinct, is what gets us through.
PS I was given the most amazing hamper of Baby Dove products to use and review but when I was checking in to fly home the lady behind the desk asks if I was expecting (I’m assuming because of the box of goodies and NOT my untoned belly). I replied that no, I wasn’t, and asked if she had little ones. “Yes, I’ve got a 3-year old and a 10 month old” and so I asked her if she would like the hamper.
I will be buying the new range of Dove, for all of us, especially for Emma, and I’ll definitely be buying their baby wipes, regardless of free products or not.
I’m also hoping to do a giveaway soon and go into the far more technical side of range, share the necessary links and Facebook details. It’s definitely a skincare range you want to consider for your precious bundle…
How have you, as a parent, had to trust your own way? Would love to hear from you xxx