Mothers Day brings about some funny old emotions doesn’t it?
This year was a hard one but it got me thinking, as I sat there torn between sadness that my husband was spending his first Mothers Day without his own mother and a thankful happiness at my own lovely children telling me how much they love me, what is motherhood really all about?
Becoming a mother, unplanned, at 24 changed my life overnight. I was scared, petrified in fact, about what would happen to me. I went back to work too soon after her birth just to prove I could cope (turned out I couldn’t) and tried to be as ‘un-mumsy’ as I could in all aspects of life. By trying to ensure motherhood didn’t define me I think I sadly missed out on a lot the first time round.
However life is about learning, and both times I became a mother taught me more than any other experience life has thrown my way.
So now, almost seven years since I first uttered those two words that changed my life forever, I am ready to look back on all that becoming a mum has taught me.
Life is short
Suddenly you worry about dying. What would happen to the children? How would your husband cope? Does he know how they like their sandwiches cut?
Everything becomes so much more precious, time is not something to be wasted. I’m pretty sure toddlers wake up early just because they are exited to be alive and experience another day here on planet Earth….us adults could learn a lot from that.
Friends come in all shapes and sizes
Pre children I had a clique, we were inseparable. I honestly thought they’d be my BFFs for life. I haven’t spoken to them since a week before my wedding. Everything changes with children.
Priorities change, opinions change, life goals change….you change.
It took me 2 years after S was born to realise it, but those friends were my good time girls. They weren’t there for the long haul.
My very best friends now, the two girls I’ve recently chosen to be Godmother to our daughters, are people who, had I not had children, I may never have met. They aren’t the perma-tanned, Faces going, Essex girls I used to be a part of (thank goodness), they are strong, intelligent, interesting woman who humor my stories of what the children have been up to and care about my family as if they were their own.
One I met in the swimming pool cafe, the other happened to live in the house opposite me. Our children are the same age, but all completely different. We are *almost* all the same age (I’m quite happy to be the baby) and also all very different, but it works. It’s real life. I know these will be the girls I’m causing havoc with in the old people’s home.
Motherhood is a great leveler
Motherhood is like a secret society, once you join you find members everywhere. Even when they are not with their own children mothers will stop and smile, chat and support you at every turn (yes there are the judgemental ones too, but there is a special place in hell reserved for them!)
I’ve been at press events and seen a-listers struggling to get their children to listen to them. I’ve leant wet wipes to soap actors at Lollibop and maypole danced with my Blue Peter hero while our children collectively looked on in despair at Camp Bestival.
Whoever you are, however much you may earn, whatever privilege or poverty you may have been born into – when you are holding your sleeping baby in your arms at 3am just to marvel in the wonder of life….you are all the same.
There is no right way
There really isn’t. From Gina Ford to Myleene Class, everyone has an opinion. But that it all they are; opinions. Listen to them, analyse them, pick out the bits that suit your life and move on.
My biggest parenting revelation was when S was about 18 months old and I realised that every parent I knew was just winging it and hoping for the best.
There and then I stopped stressing about what everyone else thought of me. I gave up work to spend time with my baby (even thought I worried everyone would think I was lazy), I married S’s dad (despite my insecurities that everyone would say we were only together for the baby) and I started to relax.
From that moment on I have never looked back.
This is the big one. The deal breaker. Motherhood is the most painful thing you will ever do.
Heartburn, backache, labour, mastitis – this is all small fry compared to the emotional pain children cause.
I look at my sleeping children each night before bed and the love I feel physically hurts me. I look at them when they hold hands with each other and skip off to have fun and it knocks the wind out of me.
I cry at their pain and cry with pride at their achievements.
You will spend your life wishing you could predict the future and know it all turns out OK.
I once burst into flood of tears when I came to the realisation that one day, when the girls have left home, a day may pass in my life when I didn’t speak to my children. That still brings tears to my eyes now.
If someone hurts them, emotionally or physically, it hurts me too. Parenting brings out your inner animal instinct.
It’s a time-consuming, heart breaking, tiring, thankless task…..but once you’ve got on the ride, you will never EVER want to get off.
Motherhood: it’s not for the faint hearted.
What has motherhood taught you?