“Mothers are the ultimate executives. Instead of raising profits, they are raising humanity.”
As it was Mother’s Day in the UK on Sunday, my thoughts have turned towards the last seventeen and a half years that I have been a mum. The funny thing is; I never really felt maternal up until I became pregnant, and then something miraculous happened. I was responsible for another life form, and my love for that being was indescribable. It’s a really special and beautiful bond.
Please forgive me if I ramble on a bit, it’s hard to be concise when sharing about one’s kids. I have a lot of raw material to draw on!
My first pregnancy wasn’t easy. I had a high powered job in London, a lengthy commute, and a business trip to Sydney to get through. At the time of the meeting in Australia I didn’t know that I was pregnant. I knew I’d suffer with jetlag, but I could hardly venture out of my hotel I was so exhausted. I had been sent as a representative of the UK Sales Team for Qantas Airways, and I had to be on top of my game, as it was my job to report back to the UK staff on the Annual General Meeting of the airline. This would have been around February 1998. When I got home and did a test it became clear why I barely managed that long-haul trip. I wasn’t a big drinker, but I cut out alcohol altogether, I never smoked, I took folic acid and I went to antenatal classes run by the NCT (National Childbirth Trust). I worried about everything. Would my baby be healthy? What would it look like? Would it be a boy or a girl? How would I manage the birth?
Despite first time nerves my pregnancy went swimmingly. It’s a magical time when you have your first 20 week ultrasound scan, and you can see the little bundle growing inside you. Apart from some mild morning sickness all had gone okay, up until I had a fasting blood test at about 32 weeks. My sugar levels were too high. It turned out I had gestational diabetes. I knew those early morning chocolate bars I scoffed when setting off in my car at 6 am to drive to London were responsible. From then on I had to monitor my blood sugar levels every day. I was assured that after the birth my blood sugar levels would return to normal, and they did.
It wasn’t a problem I had with my other three pregnancies, which all had their own unique characteristics. I suffered with a bit of post natal depression after having Max. I found it such a shock to the system, that loss of freedom, the sleepless nights, getting used to being a feeding machine with much in demand udders, in a seeming endless cycle of nappy changing, feeding, weaning and blending of homemade baby food etc. Thank God I had a circle of friends and family support, because every new mum needs it, no matter how young or old you are. But I eventually got into a routine with him, and went back to work full-time until I had William. At first you feel like a limb is missing.
The main challenge initially is to get the feeding well established. I wrote an earlier blog about breastfeeding.
I remember having extremely strong and sometimes painful Braxton Hicks contractions from about six months on when pregnant with William. My work colleagues used to put their hands on my bump and feel it go rock hard. I suffered with excruciating sacroiliac joint pain after William, as my pelvis had been pulled out of alignment, and because I carried all out front my abdominal muscle wall had separated, which along with hormonal changes aggravated my PGP (pelvic girdle pain). I had a quite a few months of physio therapy to get my muscle imbalances sorted out. I’ll be forever grateful to Mike Ker for his amazing remedial massage skills!
William was such a happy baby, and he loved it when I blew raspberries on his tummy and neck. One of his early words was “shamage” and I later realised he was trying to say sandwich.
Five years later, when I was nine months gone with Emily, my waters broke in a public car park. But I didn’t go straight into labour, (she was too cosy in situ), and twenty four hours later I had to be induced. Not to be recommended! My labour with her was the most difficult of all. Ruby moved around in my womb a lot, (the sign of things to come), but her birth was quick and straightforward. I remember thinking, I should be used to this intense pain by now.
And just as each of my pregnancies was different, so it is with the personalities of my four children. Because I had my daughters close together that brought additional challenges. I was potty training Emily not long after Ruby was born, and usually I’d just sat down with Ruby latched on for a voracious suckle, when Emily would sneak off and do a number two in her nickers without telling me. I think it was her way of saying she didn’t like not being the centre of attention any more. When Ruby was about eighteen months old she broke her arm. Luckily it healed quickly, but she is still a dare devil.
It has been a roller coaster of a ride, with many ups and downs. A learning curve like no other!
I have three main tenets for raising my kids:
- I love them unconditionally. Even when they cause me grief, (which has been regularly over the years). I try to remember that they are not perfect, and I shouldn’t expect perfect behaviour. I’m no saint, so I’ve tried to create an atmosphere of love and harmony where they can be themselves, whilst instilling key values. I won’t tolerate violence between them. Sibling rivalry is an issue with such a range of ages and genders sometimes.
- I never criticise them as people, only ever their actions. Discipline is vital, but it’s also important that it’s done in a kind way. I want them to grow up with confidence and a healthy self-esteem as far as possible, and effective learning happens in a fun environment where they are not afraid to make mistakes.
- They are their own people. It’s hard to let go sometimes and let them make their own decisions, especially if I don’t agree with them. I try to relate to them as individuals with their own unique personalities, talents and challenges. It’s their life and I encourage independence and creativity as these are valuable life skills.
It wasn’t until I became a mother myself that I really appreciated everything my mother had done for me, or understood her protectiveness. Even now she still worries about me, and I know that will always be the case for me with my offspring, as long as my heart beats.
I think there should be a special date marker for motherhood, just like B.C. and A.D. are used for the birth of Jesus, only B.C. would stand for Before Children, and then there would be N.E.E.V. (numquam erit eadem vita), life will never be the same…
Reflections of motherhood:
It’s a massive milestone in a woman’s life. Your body goes through extraordinary physical, hormonal and emotional changes. It’s also a way of measuring your own mortality. I feel the same as I did when I had Max, but when I look at him now and he’s taller than me, I can see where the years have gone!
They grow so rapidly. You never look back wishing you had spent less time with your kids. I’m sure I’m not the only mother to have felt guilty on many occasions that I haven’t spent enough time with them.
Over the years I’ve learned not to beat myself up so much if I don’t have a productive day, it’s part and parcel of being a mum. The priority is always making sure I’m the best parent I can be.
I have enough washing volume to get through each week that I could open a Chinese laundry, or the endless cooking (they are always hungry), the cleaning and tidying up after them, the running around after school to do various sports and activities, the haircuts, the doctor’s and dentist appointments, school plays, assemblies and parents’ evenings, exams, homework, special projects, shoe shopping, birthday parties and sleepovers; it’s a wonder I have any energy left! And sometimes when I have no time, and I’m juggling all that plus my career and a home, and I’m exhausted beyond belief, I moan and get down about my workload.
When this happens I try to remind myself how lucky I am to have four healthy, mostly happy kids. I look at other families around the world living in dire straits. We all have our challenges.
It helps to laugh. I love this sassy rap advert by Fiat, The Motherhood:
Motherhood has so many milestones: the first words, walking, talking, sleeping through the night, the first tooth, learning to read, write and ride a bike. It makes me happy and proud to see my children learning, growing, playing and achieving new goals. I’m sure most parents know the kind of joy I’m talking about. I’ve always been my children’s biggest cheerleader…
They are my gifts – precious gifts that I have been entrusted to bring into the world and raise to the best of my ability. Maybe one day I’ll have a clue what I’m doing!
“Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind.” ~ Howard W. Hunter