When we become Mum we gain so much more than a child, and it’s hard to see that in the early days, weeks, months and, let’s be honest, years. So let these mums remind you.
As we ponder Mother’s Day origins and which Mother’s Day activities will actually get the family together, some thoughts may turn to what we lose when we become Mum. We can lose ourselves, our space, our career, our relationships. It makes it hard to see what we gain – apart from the very real baby. “Yeah, I gained 12 lbs and sleepless nights”, was my friend’s jokey response to this.
And, as Family Editor here at goodto.com I laughed, because it’s true. But, fundamentally, we gain insight. Stay with me… we do, we find out so much more about ourselves. And, what we find can be unexpected, freeing, and incredibly rewarding. Motherhood isn’t an either or, loss or gain, it’s collaboration and sharing space (sometimes too much space) and its living for the full spectrum of experiences and learning together.
I spoke to 14 mums from across the UK to discover what they like better about themselves since having children. Some said newfound confidence, curiosity, playfulness, while others said; patience and peace with the body they have, and courage to let go of the body they think they should have.
1. “I’ve become a better daughter”
Jess Bowden, mum-of-one; “Since having my daughter, I’ve become a much better daughter. I now have so much compassion for my mum. I now look at her and think ‘I get it’ and then I think, ‘you’re a superhero!’ She was a such a young mum with three kids and just… wow. She is amazing, and while I always thought it in the way most people do, having my daughter made me truly marvel at Mum and all that she is and does.”
2. “I feel proud every day”
Emma Robertson, mum-of-three; “I never knew the sense of pride you could get from teaching your children the little things. When my daughter finally nailed riding a bike I felt the same sense of achievement as I would’ve done over a massive career win. Seeing her confidence build as she peddled off taught me that it’s down to me to boost her confidence and to make her realise she can achieve anything.”
3. “I found patience”
Catherine Hudson, mum-of-two; “My daughter taught me the value of being patient. Patience has never been my strong point. I suffer FOMO, set itineraries and get anxious waiting for, well, anything. Having a baby tests that to the max. Waiting for my girl to toddle home in her own time, or finish her dinner, has made me slow down and appreciate the beauty in the ‘inbetween’ moments. Those bits often bring the most laughs. You can’t rush a child into anything; and now I know you shouldn’t always try to, anyway.”
4. “I now know that I’m worth it”
Sarah Patel, mum-of-two; “I have always been very self critical and often put myself last. But, having Ivy and George has made me celebrate and acknowledge the things I am good at. They’ve made me think about looking after myself more because its want I want for them, so I know that I need to model that and show them how to do it.”
5. “I discovered my love of adventure”
Carla Challis, mum-of-one; “Since having Viv, I’ve found I’m much more adventurous. I used to love a day at home and would turn down invitations with friends to veg out on the sofa instead. Now, I love nothing more than getting out and about, going on adventures with my little mini-me in tow. I used to be nervous to take public transport with her or take part in new situations, but I face them head on and am so proud of myself for it. From making a supermarket trip a cycling adventure to hopping on the train to the next town to explore the cakes, now I just do it.”
6. “I accept my body”
Alison Perry, mum-of-three; “Becoming a mum of daughters has really made me work hard on my body image issues. I spent my 20s (and some of my 30s) hating my body, dieting, doing all I could to lose weight and conform to a ‘body ideal’ set by our culture. When I became a mum, I realised how easily these feelings and fears can be passed down from mother to daughter and that terrified me. I made a vow to never criticise my body in front of my daughters and talk lots about how brilliant wobbly tummies are. A lot of it is me trying to convince myself but it actually helps!”
7. “I discovered my long-lost curiosity”
Thandi Maqubela, mum-of-one: “Becoming a mother has brought many things to the fore for me, one of them being my capacity for wonder. I think this has very much been encouraged by now seeing the world through our son’s eyes. It’s fascinating to watch him as he explores his new world which is slowly opening up to him as he becomes more and more mobile. It’s a capacity I hope to tap into for myself as I think we can very quickly become jaded by life which can get challenging at times, knowing that the simple things can provide so much pleasure is surely something very sweet.”
8. “I found my voice”
Stephanie Lowe, mum-of-one: “The word ‘shy’ littered my school reports, and while I grew into my confidence I would still avoid any confrontation. That is, until I had Ted and I realised that I was his voice. He needed me to be his advocate and to speak up for him. It took a trip to the hairdressers to realise this. He was two years old, he was sat on my lap while the uninterested hairdresser pushed his head this way and that, ignoring my son’s obvious distress. I sat quietly, head down, shh’ing him so that this rude hairdresser-I didn’t-know wouldn’t get mad at us. I let my son get distressed to keep a stranger happy. When we left I was so disappointed in myself for not being stronger or more vocal for Ted, and I promised I would never let that happen again.”
9. “I realised I was strong and resilient”
Kiran Moyo, mum-of-one; “My son taught me how much strength I actually have within me to keep going even when it felt like in those sleep deprived, exhausted and emotionally charged moments there was nothing more to give. He needed me and I needed him, more than he knew. His cuddles and tiny hands and innocent questions pushed me along and I knew in those moments I could do so much more than I thought possible. He also gave me the courage to question the norms of the society I am raising him in and to confidently try to forge my own conscious parenting style.”
10. “I have the strength to do things my way”
Kirsty Ketley, mum-of-two: “Especially now Ella is 9 I have realised that just because my parents did things with me in a certain way, it doesn’t mean I have to do the same with my kids. Having children has made me feel brave enough to trust in myself to make my own decisions and not just do things because ‘that’s how it’s always been done’.
11. “I found confidence”
Jess Dady, mum-of-two: “My kids have taught me so much over the years; how to be more confident in myself and how to be more patient. They’ve made me realise how strong I am and brave I can be. They’ve taken me out of my comfort zone more times than I can count and have taught me how to embrace silliness, and make a fool of myself without being embarrassed or worried what other people think. I’m the mum that throws herself down the slide at soft play, the one that stands in goal with the worst hand-eye coordination going. Life is for living and it really doesn’t have to be serious all the time and my kids have helped me to realise that.”
12. “I remembered my childhood moments”
Lydia House, mum-of-two; “Learning and seeing the world through my children’s’ eyes, reignites my playful side and brings back childhood memories that I’d stored away and almost forgotten about. But now I revel in their warmth as I share them with my two boys.”
Credit: Heidi / Future
13. “I re-discovered my self-esteem”
Heidi Scrimgeour, mum-of-three; “My daughter is (so far) completely untainted by low self-esteem or body hang ups whereas I pretty much loathe what I see in the mirror. I do try hard not to let that out in her presence, but I sometimes comment on my size or the fit of something I’ve bought to try on and she always says, without missing a beat, something positive about the way I look that feels exactly like someone opening a window and letting a stream of air and sunlight into the room.”
14. “I’m more adaptable than I thought”
Jasmine Chandler, Mum-of-two: “Having my two boys has made me realise that I do have the ability to be flexible and make changes. In my pre-mum days I’d say that this was a weakness but these days not so much. Quite often plans go awry, due to weather, illness or general life and since becoming a mum I’ve realised that I’m actually good at thinking on my feet and coming up with alternatives.”
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