Nine years ago I entered the world of motherhood. With the gasp of my baby boy’s first breath my world had changed in the most demanding and beautiful way. In those first moments of holding my baby, I felt a surge of emotion and protectiveness unlike anything I had ever experienced and I was overwhelmed by love for this tiny little person who was so dependent on me. As the years passed I was blessed with two more children. A girl, born with a beautiful and kind soul, who surprises me often with wisdom way beyond her six years and another boy who is just the light of our life. He is adored by his brother and sister and has a pure and inquisitive spirit. Motherhood has changed me in many ways. Although my character has grown and matured over time, the way I think about life has been changed by becoming a mother….
I am less selfish
When we hear the word selfish we think of it as a negative characteristic in someone, after all if you google the word selfish it is defined as “lacking consideration for other people; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure”. I therefore thought for a while before suggesting that before children I was ‘selfish’! Perhaps what I should have said is that I have become more ‘selfless’ defined as “concerned more with the needs and wishes of others than with one’s own; unselfish.”
Whatever the more fitting description, as any mother will know, having children is probably one of the most selfless roles you will undertake in your life. Despite all the love and special moments that keep us rewarded throughout our parenting journey, we also give certain things up to become a parent. Sleep is probably at the top of the list for anyone with a young child, as is the freedom to do whatever we want, whenever we want. When we become parents we make sacrifices in one area of our life to enrich another. It’s that simple.
When I was young, I thought mainly about my own journey and what direction I wanted to take my life. Part of that is still true to this day, as I believe that becoming a mother should not be the end of your own identity as a person and the end of your own dreams in life. However, my journey is now no longer just about me, it is also about my children who are my ultimate priority in life and whose happiness is as important to me as my own, if not more so.
Being a mother can be exhausting both physically and sometimes emotionally and the work never ends but despite all this I am grateful for the experience.
I am more contented
Having children is not a guaranteed recipe for contentment or happiness. It is always possible to feel discontented with something in your life, whether it be work, relationships or even how you feel about yourself. However, that aside, being a mother has definitely impacted greatly on my contentment as a person. I feel I have a greater sense of purpose than I did before and with that a greater sense of responsibility. My children have anchored me and made me appreciate life in ways I perhaps didn’t before. I feel more grounded, more ‘grown up’ and more at peace with myself as a person. My life isn’t all rainbows and flowers because of my children (believe me!) but the love that is there between us all gives me a lot of happiness and satisfaction which in itself makes me feel more content.
I am more risk conscious
As a person, I have always loved adventure. I travelled to Australia in my twenties, with no more than a passport in my pocket, a backpack on my shoulders and my first night’s accommodation planned. I have sky dived, parasailed, snowboarded, dived, caged dived with great white sharks and jet skied. I loved every minute of every experience I had. Becoming a mother did not take that sense of adventure from me but now that I have children I find myself being naturally more risk conscious both for myself and for my children.
I am not saying I will never do any of the things I did before, after all, they are hardly off the scale when it comes to the danger factor but on the other hand, being a mum means I am unlikely to take up base jumping any time soon either! When you are young it seems easy to be fearless because you are ultimately only responsible for yourself but when you become a mother you are also responsible for your children. I have fears sometimes about what would happen to my children if something were to happen to me? I know my children would be cared for if I were no longer there but I also know that the role of motherhood is invaluable to your children’s happiness and development and so instinctively, I am naturally more aware of my own mortality.
I want my children to grow up and experience life to the very full, I want them to be strong, confident individuals who are open to trying new (and highly responsible!!) experiences! This is after all what life is about. I don’t want them to grow up full of fear but I do want them to also grow up into responsible young adults who are conscious of their own safety and who think about the risks, whatever they may be, before they take them.
I am more responsible
When I became a mother, I became greatly aware, very quickly, of the huge responsibility that came with the role. I realised that just loving my child was not enough. I had to think about the sort of parent I was going to be. As they grew, what boundaries would I set, how would I guide and teach them about life and how would I help them grow into confident and respectful people?
I hope I have the balance right but as mothers we always find something to feel guilty about it seems. I know I do my best and I know that my children feel very loved and safe so I hope I am off to a good start. My approach to parenting has, in essence, always been about making life fun and interesting but with responsible boundaries. I have three children with very different natures but I have the responsibility of nurturing them as individuals to get the best I can out of them.
I regularly talk to my children about my values in life, what I believe in and why they are privileged to lead the lives they do. I shower them with praise when they have achieved something and even when they haven’t, I will tell them why I believe in them and what I love about them. I remind them regularly of their positive traits and tell them often how proud I am of them. I do this because I love them but also because I want them to grow up believing in themselves.
My children are not perfect, any more than any of us are and I certainly don’t put pressure on them to be ‘perfect.’ My role is not to change their inherent nature but simply to nurture their growth as best I can. I can help shape their values and pass on my wisdom to them in the hope that they may take it with them and that it might help them in their future journey in life.
How our children turn out is a huge responsibility given to us as parents. We can make or break our children based on what we show them about life, what values we bestow on them and how we ourselves treat others. I work hard because I want them to be proud of me. I want them to be inspired by me and I want them to be grounded because of me. This is partly what I meant when I said earlier – I feel I have a greater sense of purpose and a greater sense of responsibility now that I am a parent.
I am experiencing a second childhood!
It’s funny how we move on from things and then come back to them. When I became a teenager and then a young adult I was no longer interested in ‘childish’ things. I didn’t want to watch kids movies or go to pantomimes. I wanted to dress up in high heels and hit the town! The wonderful thing about growing up and becoming a mother is now I get to do both! Going to a pantomime or sitting down with a box of popcorn to watch ‘Minions’ just wasn’t relevant twenty years ago but now it is back on the map and I’m loving it!
When we grow up we experience our fun in different ways. Perhaps we take ourselves more seriously…but when kids come along we are reminded through our children how fun and uncomplicated life can be if we let it. Christmas means so much more to me now I have children. I get so much excitement myself from wrapping their presents and then watching their little faces as they rip the paper off on Christmas morning. I get to rough and tumble and play nerf wars (I didn’t realise I was such a nerf war bad ass until I had kids). I am secretly excited about the fact I am taking my two eldest to a gaming festival on Easter weekend which they currently know nothing about.
Life with children opens up a whole new world or simply reminds you of an old one and the fun factor really helps balance out all the hard work. Seeing the world through your child’s eyes is a heartwarming and wonderful experience and even if for just a moment, can make you feel like a kid again yourself!
I appreciate my own mother more
I am fortunate in that my mum and I have always had a close and loving relationship. She has always been the first person I’ve turned to for advice and I have always admired her for her incredibly positive outlook, her radiating warmth, beauty (both inside and out) and her strength as a woman. She always walks with a spring in her step and has the energy of a woman half her age.
So safe to say, I have always appreciated my mum as a daughter but it wasn’t until I became a parent myself that I also appreciated and understand her role as a mother. It made me realise just how much work and love she had put into raising me and how hard it must have been for her at times, particularly when she was a single parent holding down two jobs, whilst trying to provide me with a good life without the daily support of her family as they lived far away.
It has also made me understand her fears more and how deeply she loved and continues to love as a mother. I don’t spend my days worrying about my children but when something is as precious to you as your children you have a naturally protective instinct and worrying about them simply comes with the territory. I appreciate how hard it must have been for her to say goodbye to me when I left home in 1993 for the first time to fly to America to work on a summer camp and travel. It was in the days before mobile phones were popular or emails really existed. Facebook was a long way off being invented and the communication we take for granted today just simply wasn’t around. It was a case of waiting for a letter or a phone call from me.
Hard to believe how much life has changed in twenty years. The thought of my own children being out in the world with no means of being able to contact them fills me with dread! I, on the other hand, was of course having the time of my life with friends, travelling from city to city across America while my poor mum worried anxiously at home about me. Only when I became a mum did I think about that and appreciate how difficult that must have been.
I also appreciate how much she has put into nurturing me as a person. She has been a fantastic mother to me, a mentor and a friend. I have taken the values she has taught me and developed my own. I realise how demanding having children can be but am proud that my mum never made me feel like I was, as has always shown me patience and kindness…
“The joy of motherhood comes in moments…There will be hard times and frustrating times but amidst the challenges there are shining moments of joy and satisfaction” Elder M. Russell Ballard
Being a mother has been my greatest challenge and my biggest reward. It has taken me to my lowest lows through sheer exhaustion and the feeling that I am losing myself, to feelings of happiness and raw love that are sometimes so strong they overwhelm me. Motherhood at any stage is a deep, complicated and emotional journey that will touch your soul, sometimes bring you pain but also great joy. It is not a ride you get off once you are on it but a journey where you are both the teacher and the student…
SHOP THE LOOK
For this post I wore clothing by one of my favourite brands, Mint Velvet which has taken the high street by storm. Mint Velvet design gorgeously chic clothing that is the right mix of not too casual or too formal and that can be worn everyday. The story of Mint Velvet is particularly inspiring. The brand was started in 2009 by three working mothers from the fashion industry with modern lifestyles, looking to create a collection which was stylish and contemporary with a luxe everyday feel to it but without the matching price tag. They have achieved huge success in a relatively short amount of time and now have stores across the UK. Their relaxed glamour collection enables you to look effortlessly stylish day or night while feeling like you are wearing a luxury for less label.