The Prompt: To be a…

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The Prompt 69: To be a...

When I was a child I wanted to be a vet. Then I discovered my tendency to pass out at the sight of blood.

Then I wanted to be an artist, then a graphic designer. Then an architect. Finally, an engineer.

In my quiet, in between moments, I imagined being a writer.

Through all of that, I never dreamt of being a mother.

I was late to that. Possibly even reluctant.

Until I met my husband, I hadn’t considered children. The thought of them hadn’t formed. I had mellowed from the teenager who proclaimed she didn’t want children, ever, into a young adult who simply didn’t factor them in. I had a career, friends; a fun and free life.

I suspect that I was not alone in that view of the world in my twenties, but I had never had that one day feeling that so many of my friends described. I had no maternal hankering; no dream of babies to cradle, toddlers to tickle, children to cherish. I simply had no desire.

I had no nieces or nephews, no baby cousins, few friends with children. I had avoided holding or playing with babies. Frankly, they scared me. I had little patience, and even less interest.

As my twenties drew to a close I began to think; perhaps, maybe, some day, I guess. But there was still no solidity to those thoughts.

After I met my husband, I was as surprised as anyone when I realised that having children with him seemed like the most obvious thing in the world.

I had my first child a few months before I turned 33.

I had absolutely no idea what it meant to be a mother.

In an abstract sense, I knew that our lives changed the moment my husband and I decided to try for our first. That when I fell pregnant, we held responsibility for another life.

But, emotionally, I had no clue.

And, those first few months with my oldest? They were hard. Really hard.

After a somewhat traumatic and completely exhausting birth, I was left with this screaming, gorgeous, hungry, relentless, amazing, terrifying little person. I arrived on the ward at 11pm, in shock from surgery, still numb from the waist down, and was left alone. It wasn’t a good start.

Four days in hospital broke me and I went home exhausted, overwhelmed, emotional and scared. And only a little bit in love.

Wasn’t it supposed to be immediate, that rush of love? Wasn’t it supposed to be magical? Wasn’t I supposed to know how to be a mother?

Of course, I know now that it isn’t always immediate. That it is scary and hard and overwhelming. That it can take time. And it did.

It was easier the second time, and even easier the third. Of course, each child has had their own challenges; our second didn’t sleep through the night until he was two, our third throws the most spectacular tantrums.

But the early days were different. And for that I am grateful, even as I mourn moments missed with my first.

I adore my children, they are by far the best thing that has ever happened to me. But, I am not a natural. It still doesn’t come easily to me.

I constantly question what it takes to be a mother, or at least, a good one.

I shout too much, I am still impatient and I am truly awful at playing imaginary games.

I get frustrated and bored and tired. I get grumpy.

But, I also bake and craft and paint with them. I take them to the park, to activities, to play dates. I arrange parties and make birthday cakes. I help them with their homework. I chat to them about their days. I hold them when they’re sad and I kiss their hurts away. I discipline them and I teach them. I protect them.

I am interested. I am invested.

In a million little ways I am their mother. In my thoughts, my actions, my priorities, my focus.

And perhaps that’s all it takes to be a mother, an imperfect one, but the only one they need.
 

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60 thoughts on “The Prompt: To be a…”

  1. I know just what you mean !i was young(23) when i hadmy first who’s 34 this year. I so so wanted a baby but when he arrivedthe reality was not what the dream had been. I do know iwas the besti I could be!

  2. A beautiful and honest post. I don’t think anything really prepares you for those early days with a newborn. I always think you come across as an amazing mum on your blog. We are all imperfect and I suspect most of us feel that we shout too much and are too impatient – I know I certainly do. But your children always look so happy in your photos and all those million little ways add up to make you the only mother they need. As long as our children know how loved they are, we are all doing a great job.

    1. Thank you Louise, I think we all wonder and worry and compare, don’t we. But, seeing our kids happy is the important thing, and all we really need to show us we’re doing a good job x

  3. This is a wonderful, honest post. I am not a mother, but everything you said really resonated with me. I, too, never gave children a thought in my late teens or most of my twenties, I was too busy having fun and ‘maybe one day…’ didn’t even cross my mind at that stage at all. I met my ex-boyfriend when I was 24 and by 26/27, I began to think I really wanted to picture a family in my future. Sadly, at 11 years older than me, my boyfriend didn’t think the same and after a few years of struggling towards some resolution, it tore us apart. That time in between realising I wanted children and the break-up with him was painful, as I saw friends around me going on to have children and I so badly wanted the person I loved to want the same thing as me. It took a long time to walk away. Now, I’m settled with a partner who wants the same future and it’s something we can talk about, which is so refreshing. I so hope that one day in the not too distant future it happens for us, but I now think about the kind of mother I would be and worry I’d be terrible at it after all! No one is perfect, though. It sounds like you are doing a truly fantastic job. Thanks for a great post :-)

    1. I’m so glad that you’ve found someone that wants the same as you. You’re right that none of us are perfect, and I think we need to be kinder to ourselves in our expectations of what we can and can’t do. Life is hard work, no one gets it right all the time x

  4. Lovely post Sara. I remember expecting to feel on a massive high after having my first son – that’s what everyone had told me. A friend had even said ‘you won’t mind when he wakes up in the night because you’ll be so happy to see him’ !!!???? (that’s how she felt after her first). That really wasn’t true- I loved him but I felt like I was in the twilightzone and quite lost. After my second and third babies I understood the whole ‘high’ thing (I felt invincible in the immediate aftermath baby no 2!) but I think it’s different every time and for everyone and as a society we should try not to set expectations. You sound like a wonderful mother – perfect in your imperfection. I mean seriously, a ‘perfect’ mother would be such a bad role model for her kids – who could live up to that?! I think all us mums who are doing the best we can for our kids are great mums. Perfect in our imperfection. xx

    1. Thank you Maddy. I do think that we put so much pressure on ourselves, and that our expectations, especially for the early days, are too high. But, it’s all okay, and you’re right, a perfect mother would be a hugely bad role model x

  5. This is so beautiful, Sara. I, like you, am not a natural mother either. Much like your thought process, I never dreamed of having a child of my own. I enjoyed the freedom that my husband and I had, and never thought that one day we’ll trade all that in for the prospect of having children. But now? Now I couldn’t imagine doing anything else, being anything else. And I join you in saying I’m imperfect in every way as well. That the bond between my daughter and I didn’t come as natural as some made it out to be, but I’d like to think that’s ok. No one child is alike, and every one of them is far from perfect. So their moms shouldn’t be perfect either, right?

    Thank you for sharing this, Sara. For making me feel like I’m not alone in my imperfect (but perfect enough for us) journey of motherhood.

    1. Thank you Maria, we are all perfectly imperfect :) I think we do ourselves and others a disservice when we assume that the bond is always immediate and easy; but whether easy or hard fought, it’s all ok and so very worth it.

  6. Like you I never imagined having children and actively thought I didn’t want them until a change of heart. It is quite a journey to go from that to motherhood. Reading your words at the end, it made me think about how we cant be everything all the time to our kids. We all have our own abilities and it is good for children to see that we are human too. Even if there was such a thing as a perfect mother (which there isn’t) they wouldn’t be good for a child because then the real world would be such a shock. Great post #PoCoLo

    1. Absolutely, no one can be everything to everyone, and teaching our children that we’re all human and how to have empathy and consideration and understanding is hugely important x

  7. From what I’ve seen on your blog I think you are an amazing mum! And as others have said I’m not sure anything really prepares you for those early days with a newborn – and then, actually, all the new roles you have to slip into as they grow. I knew I wanted a baby from when I was very young – cared for my younger brothers, became a trampoline coach then a teacher. It still took me till I was in my 30s to get round to actually having a child of my own and I still felt (and feel, most of the time) clueless about what I was doing! It’s pretty awesome though :) xx

    1. It is definitely awesome! But it’s also exhausting and often terrifying. I think if we had more realistic expectations to begin with, we might be kinder to ourselves x

  8. I’m sure your children wouldn’t change you for the world, imperfections and all. Who is a perfect parent anyway? I had my first child at 28 and it was earlier than I’d planned – I wanted the career and would have even let my husband by the stay at home parent if he had wanted. My life view changed when I lost my dad and it made me think life was too short – family was the most important thing in your life. I found out I was pregnant just after he died, so I guess it was meant to be!

    1. Life is short Nicola, you are so right. And. I’m a big believer in things that are meant to be happening x

    1. Thank you Renee, it has certainly had its moments and I found the early days really hard. But, wouldn’t change it for anything x

  9. You are so right about the imperfection of being a mother. It’s a slog some days and you wonder why you ever wanted to be a mum. I’ve had days where I curled up on the floor and wept while my son napped totally convinced that I was so far out of my depth that I was drowning. We both survived and now have a wicked relationship (and I’m still not perfect but don’t tell anyone!)

    1. I suspect we’ve all had those days Jo! But. all we can do is our best, and having a good relationship with our kids is the best reward x

  10. You are a fantastic mum Sara and I will
    Never understand how anyone has the energy to mother 3 energetic children but you are NEVER that old!!!! I thought you were about 8 years younger than I now think you are!!

    1. Thank you Tas x And, thank you on the age thing, that’s really quite lovely, although I am feeling everyone of my 40+ years just at the moment!

  11. What a lovely post, it is so hard some days but watching their little faces scrunch up with excitement or even when they’ve learned something new is so worth it. Few people every really think that they’ll be a mother in their careers, but it’s so worth it isn’t it? x #PoCoLo

  12. Great post, Sara and an honest one!
    I remember feeling different when I had my third son. Maybe it was because I’d had him via emergency C section and wasn’t allowed to hold him at first. I felt pretty numb for a while but my maternal instincts kicked in when the morphine wore off. I think you’re a terrific mum. X

    1. Thank you Tracy, I don’t think I really realised how hard it was first time round until I had my second and it was so much easier x

  13. Such an honest post.
    Love reading posts like this. I know someone like you who did not want kids at all.
    I’ve always known I wanted kids but that may be because I am the eldest out of 6 kids! and out of my cousins.

    xx

    1. Thank you Beth, I think it’s interesting to see that we all come to motherhood from different places x

  14. Funnily enough, I didn’t really plan children either. My husband wanted them but I just didn’t feel ready. Luckily, mother nature had other ideas ;) On another note, I’ve just put two and two together and realised that you must be 40! Have you joined the Post 40 Bloggers network yet? I’ve would love to feature some of your posts as I’m Family Life Editor. x

    1. Mother nature does that sometimes! And, thank you for the prompt about Post40 Bloggers, I am already a member, you’ve reminded me to add the badge :)

  15. Such a lovely post Sara, and I feel I can relate in so many ways. Although I always had a vague idea I wanted kids at some point, I had no idea what it really mean to be a mother and never felt maternal before I became a mother. It is hard but it’s amazing at the same time. For what its worth I think you’re awesome, probably because you are interested and invested like you say. Thanks for linking with #allaboutyou :)

  16. So recognisable Sara – I think you’ve said it before but we are very similar in many ways. I too never really factored children into my life in my 20s. My sister had her children when I was in my late 20s but even then I never really got my hands dirty or got broody at all. Then I had my children and I also feel that I’m exactly the same – I get bored, I get shouty, sometimes I just feel like I can’t be bothered. I can be lazy. But I make time to play games with them. I take them to the park and make play dates for them. I try and cook them healthy food and I comfort them when they need me. EJ is a bit clingy at the moment and I’m often hearing “Oh he wants his mummy” which makes me think I must be doing something right.
    Funnily enough five of my closest and best friends from the past three decades have reached their 40s without having children (or even significant relationships in some cases). I wonder if that says something about me – that I’m the one that bucked that trend.. Thanks for linking up to #thetruthabout – this makes me feel less alone in how I feel about being a parent. Xx

    1. Yes, I think you and I are very alike! Writing this, and reading all the comments, has made me feel less alone too x

  17. Great post, and up til the birth that was me too. I didn’t see myself with kids, until I hit 32, most of my friends had had their second ones and were done, and were saying that there’s no right time, noone’s ever ready for kids etc. Then I realised that if I got to old age and hadn’t at least tried, I’d probably regret it. So I was pregnant at 33, and had N at 34.

    I’m definitely not maternal, I’ve never been broody, I can see that some babies are cute, but that’s about it. But bizarrely and thankfully I was lucky enough that it came naturally to me, helped by N being really easy. I think if he’d been harder work, I’d have been a nightmare mother.

    But being a mother is so different for every single person, in the same way that every child is different. And I suppose that’s what it makes so hard.

    1. You’re right, it is so different for everyone. I’ve never really felt broody, although I knew once I’d had one child that I wanted to have more than one.

  18. Love From Clueless Mum

    I love the honesty of this post, and the perspective that we are imperfect mums but can still be exactly what our children need. #thetruthabout

  19. Such a beautiful and honest post, Sara. I don’t think anyone who knows you, or has ever read a post of yours can doubt you love your children very much. We’re all human, our aspirations change, and life isn’t easy – and it’s even less easy when you have the lives of miniature human beings to be responsible for xxx #ThePrompt

  20. I really enjoyed this post – thank you for sharing in such an eloquent way your experience. You sound like a brilliant mum! #brilliantblogposts

  21. Oh hun, none of us are perfect and I think we are the best mother’s we can be. Regardless of whether or not you have that maternal instinct you are their mum. Warts and all. I love this post because you’re not trying to be ‘perfect’, you’re you, and that’s all they need. xxx

  22. What a beautiful post! And considering they weren’t even factored into your life in your 20s, you’re an amazing mother and you have not 1 but 3 beautiful kids xx

  23. I loved this, you are an incredible mum and I love your honesty, it’s OK to say you get bored and tired and frustrated, we all do, every single parent out there and it doesn’t make you less of a parent or not a natural, it’s just this parenting shizzle is hard, really hard some days and it’s honest posts like this that reassure us all of who normal we are. Thanks so much for linking up xx

  24. OH Sara I love your honest and what a great post written so beautifully where so many of us feel the same and can relate. I don’t think its the rush of gush for everyone or that longing to be one. I was very much the same I didn’t think I would ever have children growing up and into my early twenties I wanted to build a career and it wasn’t until I married my husband I factored them in. So I completely get what you mean. I love my two to pieces for sure. So lovely to read your honesty and others will relate too I know it. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

  25. Found myself nodding along with all of this. I was 27 when I had my little girl and then 33 with my now 1 year old. I never felt the need to have children although now I can’t imagine my life without them. I’m a lot like you too, it doesn’t come so naturally to me, I have to work on my temper and I say no an awful lot. Husband said I should pick my battles with my eldest, we are very similar.
    Great, honest post x

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