#MoreThanAMutha is all about celebrating the things that women are, as well as being amazing mothers.  In a world where many women feel like they lose their identity when they become a mum, it is important to celebrate and shout that we might be mums, but we are not only that and we are still a force to be reckoned with.

What makes you more than a mother? 

I’m mum to Willow, aged 7, and Albie, aged 6, and I’m also the co-founder and Director of Willow Bug.

Willow Bug is a company specialising in stylish, adaptive clothing for kids and teens. When Willow was 2 years old she was diagnosed with a condition called SMA type 2, a devastating disease that robs children of the ability to walk, crawl, stand, sit and eventually swallow. The first few years after diagnosis were filled with anger, grief, uncertainty and anxiety but as time went on I began to get to grips with my new life as a mum to a physically disabled child and an able bodied child and as a result have set up a business where our aim is to make fashion inclusive for ALL children.

Are people surprised when they realise you are more than a mum? Does that bother you?

 I think people don’t realise what goes on behind the scenes when you have a child with a disability.  Most people are unaware of the sleepless nights you’ve had because your child’s machines have been beeping all night, or how many nights you’ve had to sleep in a hospital chair, or how much your back aches from carrying your child.

It doesn’t really bother me as everyone’s life is different and everyone has their own struggles to deal with big or small.

What challenges do you face when you’re juggling motherhood and being more than a mum?

I don’t think any working mum I’ve spoken to has completely nailed the work/life balance thing.  For me, I rely on school as my childcare, when the kids are at school that’s when I run my business.  But like everyone else, I also have to fit in tidying, washing, shopping, cleaning, house admin and not to mention all of Willow’s appointments and her medical admin.
Because I work from my kitchen table I can get very distracted with household tasks so at least once a week I go to a quiet cafe and work from there so there’s nothing to distract me (apart from eating tonnes of cake!) After school is my time with the kids, well, I say that, most of my time is spent in the car ferrying them to and from their after school activities!

How long did it take you to remember you were more than a mother after you had your child(ren)?

It actually took me a very long time. I had my children very close together, just 18 months apart and when Willow, my eldest was 2 years old she was diagnosed with SMA type 2. It took a year of testing before we got the diagnosis and during this time I fell pregnant with my second child Albie.

Getting Willow’s diagnosis was an extremely difficult time, I had a very physically disabled toddler and a new born baby to deal with and in the beginning every day was mentally, emotionally and physically draining.

It wasn’t until both children started school that I had the time and energy to do something for me. I’d lost all my confidence after Willow’s diagnosis so I needed to ease myself gently back into society, so I started volunteering one day a week at the special needs nursery Willow attended. I knew all the staff there and it was a very relaxed and fun place to be and it gave me a sense of being me again and not just a mum.

I always new that eventually I wanted to run my own business as I needed a job that would fit in with Willow’s hospital appointments and lengthy hospital stays, I just needed to work out what I could do.  As Willow grew bigger, getting her dressed was becoming a huge battle, just getting a coat on her would end up in Willow having a huge meltdown and me losing my patience.  I began searching for children’s adaptive clothing online and everything I found was boring and medical looking.  I began to think whether it was possible for me to set up my own company selling fun, colourful, adaptive clothing.  I knew I couldn’t do it on my own, so, after a drunken conversation with my brother, he agreed to go into business with me and in November 2016 we set up Willow Bug.

Who, or what, helps you to make time for yourself? What do you do to escape the stresses of motherhood?

I have a group of ‘mum friends’ who love a coffee and a natter so, when I can, I join them for a chinwag.  Letting off steam and having a good laugh with your mates is the best therapy!

I try and go for a run twice a week and I do a yoga class every Thursday which is my ‘me time’

What advice would you offer a mum who might not be feeling like they are more than someones mum right now?

You have to remember that being a mum is one of the hardest jobs in the world.  There’s no training for it, we’re just thrown in at the deep end and expected to learn on the job!  There are days when I get it completely wrong and beat myself up about it but I always remember ‘tomorrow is another day’ forget what happened today, kids have short memories, they won’t remember you screamed at them that morning for not getting dressed after the millionth time of asking.

Any advice for someone who is going through the same things as you are right now in their quest to be #MoreThanAMutha?

My advice would be to find something you are passionate about, whether its writing, dancing, yoga, dog walking, drawing, crafting, taking photos, cooking, keeping fit, volunteering.  Whatever it is, make time for it during the week, even if it’s just for half an hour but if you can join a class with like minded people, even better.

Who would you like to see featured next in the #MoreThanAMutha series?

I’ve recently been inspired by the story of Jo Tutchener-Sharp, the mother behind the clothing company Scamp and Dude.  Jo was a busy mum juggling a high profile job working within PR and fashion and looking after her two young boys.  In October 2015 Jo suffered a major brain haemorrhage and had to leave her children for a lengthy stay in hospital to undergo life threatening brain surgery. It was this life changing event that inspired her to set up Scamp and Dude.  From something dark came something light.
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