Today was Mothers Day in the UK and as my toddler drifted to sleep last night, I sat on his bedroom floor, holding his little hand, looking at his bookshelf, at all the books I loved as a child (Roald Dahl’s collection in particular, although he’s not quite ready to read those yet) and new ones we’ve discovered together (Julia Donaldson, Jon Klassen, Giles Paley-Phillips) and I reflected on my journey into motherhood so far.
No one can prepare you for becoming a Mother because as much as you anxiously question other mums and read up on parenthood, it’s impossible to get a glimpse at quite how overwhelming, rewarding, challenging, enlightening and life changing it really is.
I’ve been maternal for as far back as I remember (mothering my younger brother and dressing him up in girl’s clothes as a toddler which always resulted in him exposing himself to prove his gender (but that’s a whole other post) to to making sure my friends ate enough at Uni…and were sure to dump bad boyfriends to leading my crew on set, caring, nurturing and getting the best from them to now: having my own little family of two perfect boys. I love being a Mum. It isn’t always easy but I consider it my biggest success of all. I live for my kids and here are a few things I’ve learned since becoming a Mother of two:
My bed will never be my own. Just when I think we’ve nailed the sleep routine, small feet dig into my back and some nights, my baby finds itself asleep on my chest. At least with all nighters pre kids, I could look forward to catching up on zzz’s the following day, now I simply invest in more expensive eye cream (when I can remember in my sleep disrupted haze) and convince myself that sleep is for the weak. I mean Maggie Thatcher survived on 3 hours right and look what happened there…Oh.
That all the things I judged mothers on, before babies, was big baloney sandwiches and folks need to walk a mile in sicked up shoes to truly understand kids (or become a Nanny). Toddlers are meant to be barbaric neanderthals-tantrums are necessary, formulative behaviour and people need to treat kids with greater compassion, warmth and generosity… in the form of free wine and maltesers for said parents of screaming toddlers in supermarkets. This should actually be the law.
It’s OK to not always know or want to give the answer to everything. When Oliver recently asked me why our boiled eggs don’t have chickens in them over breakfast, our feathered friends’ menstrual cycles were not really an area I felt I or he were quite ready to delve into just yet (he turned 3 in January). I sidetracked the issue and now the kid eats Weetabix.
Your body will never be the same after kids. It simply can’t be. Yes you can get back to your pre baby size or even smaller if you so wish, but you grew life in there and may have pushed or had your babies air lifted out (I, the latter) so something’s gotta give and it’s usually your tummy/vagina/breasts or all of the above. “Must do kegels” is now your life mantra. For those who can’t be bothered, there’s always Spanx, oh beautiful sucky fleshy and bumps-be-gone, Spanx.
You might never get through a whole film in one sitting ever again. Or Coronation Street. Or even an advert for that new 120 hour long lasting lipstick you’ve been lusting after forever (so you can kiss your kids lip stain free or if you’re Greek, create the illusion of lips (kidding!). Peppa Pig, Thomas, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (why must his voice shriek so) are of course, naturally never ending and interruption free. Oh yes, M-I-C-K-E-Y….
With one giggle, laugh, “I love you”, your life feels complete.
Your lioness instinct to protect and love your child/ren unconditionally makes you feel like an all powerful, impregnated She-Ra (if He-Man wasn’t her long lost twin brother and they made babies)-you can see Mattel didn’t really think that one through. Being a Master of the Universe would really help with controlled crying and baby led weaning I hope He-Man got to use his ‘sword’ anyway. Where were we, trust those Mama instincts, they’re there for a reason.
Second babies tend to be easier. That’s probably because you’re more chilled, so the baby’s more chilled and you’re doing things differently this time round (trusting your instincts more and not following everyone and their Gran’s advice because you’re a first time Mum) or mostly because you’re simply too tired to stress anymore.
Motherhood has also taught me patience (see Mickey Mouse Club reference), greater empathy, kindness and in all honesty, strength I never knew I had. It’s also, above all, given me even more respect for my own mother who is simply incredible, the strongest of role models, the most loving of Mums, a successful lecturer then restaurateur whiles always putting her kids first. I salute her and hope to one day be as great a Mum as she is.
Today, we spent Mothers Day all together, celebrating how lucky we are to have beautiful children and each other. Thinking of all those who found today difficult without their mothers or children, who were in my thoughts.
Photograph ©Vicki Psarias-Broadbent.