In two days, on 19 November 2016, it will be 24 years that I have been a mother.
As much as that seems impossible, because … you know … I don’t look old enough to have children THAT old … it is true!
At 11:19 am on Thursday 19 November 1992, the first of my twins (Twin 1) was pulled from my belly via caesarean section. One minute later at 11:20 am the second twin (Twin 2) was pulled from my belly. My Gynecologist had a warped and dry sense of humour that appealed to me. He made me laugh a lot and that calmed my nerves. As each of the boys were born, I remember him sitting their little balls and bottoms on my face to show me they were boys. Both boys had a good set of lungs when they were born. They were born at 36 weeks gestation – 4 weeks early. I was meant to be having them at 38 weeks, by caesarean still, because they were breach (though one turned before being born), but I went into labour.
Twin 1 was 5 lb 3 1/2 oz and Twin 2 was 5 lb 1oz. As they were born early, they had to go to the Special Care Unit, but I did get quite a lot of time with them when I first got back to my room, before they were wheeled away. During that first week, I was regularly wheeled to the Special Care Unit to deliver my expressed breast milk to be tube fed to them and to visit and cuddle and to try feeding them until the day came that they had matured enough to learn the sucking reflex and they could then come up to the room with me. One started feeding before the other, so I had one with me for a few days before his brother joined him. I felt a bit guilty about that but it wasn’t too long before the second twin joined us. I was in hospital for 2 weeks. I was pretty weak. I’d had major surgery after a long, long pregnancy most of which I had spent in bed due to a threatened miscarriage at 14 weeks (a long story for another day).
Anyway, HOLY SMOKES, I was now a mother!!
I was so euphoric! However, I do recall having ‘a moment’ when the reality of the responsibility descended on me and I felt a moment of blind panic and questioned if I would be up to the job. Would I cope? Was I good enough? Could I be a proper mother? Could I keep these little miracles alive?!! Could I ever be as good a mother as my own mother (oh it’s so true that it takes becoming a mother to truly appreciate and understand your own mother)? Does everyone have this moment I wondered? Is this normal? And then it passed …. as euphoria took over and I could not get enough of those two beautiful little faces … and nature took it’s course … and I naturally became a fiercely protective and devoted mama to those babies.
Of course, a bit over two years later, I had another baby – my beautiful daughter.
So after 24 years of mothering, I thought I’d share 12 things (1 for every 2 years I’ve been mothering) I have learnt along the way:
- Gratefully listen to advice from others. They always mean well. Ultimately though, do what feels right for you, not what you are told is the way to do it by others.
- Don’t expect perfection from yourself. Mothering is a tough gig! Give yourself a break where you can. Housework can wait, for example.
- Every stage eventually ends. Try and remember that when you’re exhausted and feeling like it will never end. Ever heard the saying “this too will pass” – yep that – it’s true!
- Ask for help when you need it. There is no shame in doing this. It does not mean you are a failure as a mother. In actual fact it means the opposite. You are awesome to recognise when you need some support and to ask for it!
- Take lots of photos and home videos so you can relive precious moments when the kids are all grown and so they can show their own kids one day! Don’t forget to get yourself in some of those photo’s and video’s too!
- When you’re at wits end and feel like you’re losing it or about to, put the baby or toddler somewhere they are safe (like in the cot or playpen) and get yourself away from them and the situation for a while. Take some deep breaths. Make yourself a coffee. Step outside in some fresh air. Whatever you need to do. Regroup and then return. If things are still no good, refer to No. 4.
- Start as you plan to go on. For example, if you want to be a family who eat together around the table, have kids with good table manners, and use this time to communicate with each other and find out about each other’s day … introduce this early so that it becomes the norm. Think about traditions/routines you would like as part of your family and get started with them early.
- Don’t be a martyr mother – a mother who puts herself last all the time, who never does a nice thing for herself ever, who gives up all that she enjoys in order to serve her family. Don’t do it! Take time out for yourself – regularly! Look after yourself. Don’t forget to keep up your regular dental and medical appointments. Keep in tune with who you are, what you like to do and what makes you happy. You are a mother now YES but you are also still YOU. So still do the things that make you YOU. See your friends. Do that sport. See that movie. Have that manicure. Whatever it is – do it. You will be happier and you will be a better mother and will therefore have a happier family.
- Keep the lines of communication open with your kids, through all their ages and stages, even the teens. This is particularly important for those boys who seem to lose their conversational skills (only with parents) and can only manage a grunt. Don’t let that stop you – still talk to them, still try and get them to talk to you and still hug them (even if it IS like hugging a board). They still need you and they still need to know they are loved.
- Don’t take the words ‘I hate you’ from your kids to heart. Trust me, at some stage through the parenting ‘journey’ you are most likely to hear these words. They don’t mean it – it’s just their frustrations and anger coming out and who better to take it out on then the one closest to them?!
- Pick your battles. Honestly, some things are not worth the energy and mayhem caused. Save it for important stuff.
- Look after your friendships with your best gal pals. They are most likely in the trenches too, they understand and will save the day, lift your spirits, make you smile and laugh many times over. These friendships are like gold!
If you’re a mum – how many years have you been mothering? What’s one thing you’ve learnt along the way? Did you have ‘a moment’ like I did when you had your first child (or children, as was the case for me!)? Did you spot Grandma Betty in the collage? She used to make THE BEST chocolate pudding – find the recipe HERE.
Ciao for now,
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