Being a Mum is a complicated thing. A lot of the experience goes unspoken as there really aren’t the right words to explain and besides, who has the time anyway?
The best thing you can hope for is to have friends alongside you who are experiencing the same thing in some way, some people who just “get it” and some who help you to decode the mystery.
As they rightly say, it takes a village to raise a child.
At this stage in my life, the “parenting experts” give me the shudders. They are everywhere and they are full of advice, a lot of it conflicting, and I never really found them particularly helpful.
How much more helpful is it to have someone just show you the way, rather than wag their finger at you when you veer off course.
I’m talking about those awesome friends who just get all into being a Mum in all its beautiful, disgusting, inspiring, gorgeous, complex, grotesque, hilarious, exquisite, awe-inspiring mess.
Some of the more memorable mottos that I have seen lived out in my fellow parents lives include
- You can sleep when you are dead.
- Up you pop, you’ll be alright.
- I just love every moment.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff.
I gained most courage and inspiration from those people who found joy in parenting and spoke of the love and happiness that children bring. This kind of approach isn’t really popular because being a Mum is definitely too hard a lot of the time, but I found it very uplifting anyway.
But the real life savers were the people who got along side me in a practical way. My heart is infinitely grateful for the friends who took my children to help me out or who stepped in to lift the load when I was being buried. Asking never came easy for me so an offer or an easy “sure, I’ll do it” was a sweet little survival miracle.
A lot of these people probably don’t even remember what they did but each one is imprinted fair and square across my heart, my marriage and my family.
I have definitely made too many mistakes to count in my 13 years as a Mum. I’ve often whispered a little apology to my daughter who is in the firing line of a lot of them. Then I whisper a prayer for her too and I feel thankful that it is not all just up to me.
Today marks the day that my daughter becomes a teenager. I feel really emotional and thankful to have gotten her safely this far. I also think she is a super human being and I love watching her live her life. My mother- story with my first-born was a complex and complicated anecdote that she’ll never really understand, but some of you know and for that I am thankful.
Today’s celebrations should really be shared with Bella’s Grandma & Nanna. Unfortunately Grandma is no longer with us although when I look at my daughter I am strongly reminded of the role her Grandma played in her life. The knitting, the sewing, the cooking and cleaning and all the help with my washing.
“Now I don’t want to intrude but would you mind if I pegged out some of the washing for you?”
Grandma also used to take me to the supermarket in the early days of sleepless delirium and buy me food and snacks and meals to just get me through and these little lifelines of support made such a wonderful difference to my life as a new Mum.
Her greatest parenting advice revolves around these two mantras
- Children are made of washable material and
- I have never broken one yet.
She also gave me the miraculous gift of time out in those early days when it was still becoming evident that my life was no longer my own. I wish she was here to celebrate today and share a little more advice about the intoxicating teenage years to come.
Nanna shared with us the infectious joy of having children. Yes my Mum was one of the madsters who just loved having children and decided that 6 daughters would be a good idea. My own three children often seem like an overwhelming handful so I cannot imagine doubling that number although my own lived experience testifies to the joy and goodness of a large family. Cousins, friendship, noise and endless parties to attend, a large family is rich in blessing in many ways although occasionally poor in more tangible pursuits.
After 6 children my own Mum still maintains that lovely precious, pearl-like belief that children and family are a wonderful, luscious blessing and I am constantly uplifted by her enthusiasm.
The year after my first child was born was the most difficult and most amazing year of my life. My life was changed that day and thirteen years later it is still being changed every day. So thank you to my little (wide-spread, far-flung) village and thank you to my daughter.
Happy Birthday BB.