Better Together

Hello blog people! For this weeks post I interviewed the loveliest, kindest, and most insightful mother. I asked her some simple questions and her responses were so beautiful and inspirational. If your interested continue reading!
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What made your experience of being a mother different than someone else.
“Everyone’s experience is so unique. I guess what made mine a little difference is that  for as long as i can remember i desperately wanted to become a mother. I couldn’t wait to have kids, as i little girl i was always wanting to find babies to hold and cuddle. So when i had my first child, i was genuinely shocked and confused as to why i was finding it way harder than i had imaged to be a mum, when it was something that i had wanted for so long. I was quite young (24) and didn’t live close to my parents, who were always traveling with work and was literally the first of my friends to have a baby, so I had no one to ask the million and one questions that you have when you are pregnant and wondering what on earth is going on with your body and to calm my nerves about being a first time mother. My partner was also away most of the time working, so i really spent a lot of time trying to figure it all out alone!  I have said to my daughter who is my first child a number of times, that I am learning all this mothering stuff on the fly and that she is my test run, and that at times i will make mistakes, but i will learn from them and won’t repeat them.”
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What advice would you give to future mothers or young girls.
“The very first thing that i would tell them is that not only do you have to give birth to a baby, but then you also have to give birth to a placenta!!! In all my birthing classes, nobody had mentioned that! So after I gave birth to my daughter and the midwife said, ‘ok are you ready to push again?’, i honestly thought she was joking and refused! Infact, i believe i said ‘I’ve just pushed for all these hours, why don’t you pull’!!!!!
I would also say want them to know that there is no magic formula for raising a child. What works for one, probably won’t work for the next. All i know for certain now that my children are 21 and 17,  is that I truly don’t know very much at all, other than every day as a parent is subject to change and that change is sometimes amazing and beautiful and sometimes so damn hard.
I would also tell them, you can’t do this alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help to reach out. Mothering isn’t a competition of who can do it the best, (although sometimes it feels that way), it’s a collaboration, with friends, family members, your community and  maybe even strangers. Sometimes being a mother can be lonely and frightening, but all around you are woman, mothers, who understand. There is no shame in reaching out, as women we are better together, looking after each other, supporting each other and fighting for the rights of other women, mothers, who have been silenced and can’t fight for themselves. I remember my daughter being 6 weeks old and i was sitting in a cafe, when she started crying needing to be fed. I put a blanket over my upper body and breast fed my daughter. This lady came up to me and told me that i was disgusting and should take myself to the toilet to feed my child. I was so shocked. I asked her if she would ever eat her lunch in the toilet and then burst into tears. A woman sitting next to me who heard the exchange, came over to me and gave me a hug and welcomed me to the world of mothering, where you are constantly being judged. The hug and the words from that stranger have never left me, i am still grateful to her for reaching out to my young vulnerable self and making me feel better and she is was right, sometimes it does feel like everyone has an opinion and a judgement about how you should raise your child, but ignore those judgemental people!!
Finally i would say ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff’. It’s tough enough being a woman, we are always being subjected opinions and pressure and we are always made to feel like we aren’t good enough, so the last thing we need to do is be hard on ourselves, make ourselves feel like a failure and beat ourselves up over the small stuff…… So if the only vegetable they will eat is a raw carrot, so what! If they throw a tantrum in the grocery store, who cares!  If they don’t want to give Grandpa a kiss, no problem! If they want to read the same book over and over, great, at least they are reading!! Pick your battles…..Although listening to Barney sing on repeat is a deal breaker, that will drive you insane!!!”
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How has your mother influenced your own experience of having a child.
My mother was unlike every mother i knew and unlike any mother i had seen in a film or TV show. There was nothing traditional or conventional about her. I hated it and loved it. She was an activist and a vocal campaigner on many issues and from as early on as i can remember i know that she was always teaching us and telling us about people who needed help. My mum was amazing at making the world seem so interesting and encouraging us to explore it all, everything was an adventure and she made it that way for us. But sometimes i was envious of my friends who had a mother who had kleenex in her purse, or would stay home with them when they were sick, who came to their sport games and dance performances. When I had my kids, i tried hard to be a more conventional mum, to give them the things I had wanted from my own mother, i was always available, went to all their school events, went on field trips and always tried hard to be a little more traditional. But it turned out that I mother my kids more like i was mothered than i thought I would, being as conventional as i would like is apparently hard for me!”
What are some hardships you have had to over come.
“I had very bad post natal depression after my first baby. That was very hard and difficult, i truly didn’t know if i would ever feel ok again. There wasn’t a lot of information or support for it or me at that time either. Luckily, with my 2nd baby I knew what to expect and thankfully my post natal depression was quite mild by comparison. My children’s father and i separated when my 2nd baby was less than a year old. It was very hard parenting two small children alone for a while, but my friends and family really rallied and helped me out. That was tough period though and i have enormous respect and empathy for women (and men) who parent alone.”
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What are the joys and rewards that come with being a mother in your opinion.
“The biggest joy and reward for me is the journey itself and being on this journey with my two children. Our journey is unique to us, it has been messy, exhausting, painful, confusing and sometimes scary, but more importantly the journey is so beautiful, exhilarating, surprising, consuming and so full of love. Someone cleverer than i said ‘There really are places in the heart that you don’t even know exist until you love a child’. It’s so true.”
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