#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?
Apart from being known as MAMA for the last 12 years, I am a wife to my best friend, I’ve been a college and university student for 6 years, a BSc Honours Midwifery Graduate, I have worked as a midwife, own two businesses and am currently planning a third project with my 7 year old daughter.
I have an on-off relationship with anxiety, which worsened when my health took a hit a couple of years ago but is now more like a distant relative who comes to visit every now and then. It’s taken me a while to pluck up the courage to do this interview because it’s about ME. I struggle with self-promotion. Even now, in my mind I’m thinking – “Don’t do it, you fool!”, yet when reading the other interviews in this series I think “WOW! What brave, inspiring women!” I will do it though.
Just like I did when I graduated as a midwife despite the difficulties of working and studying full time with 2 tiny humans (One born during my midwifery training), and how I lived with mum guilt hanging over me like a dark cloud and when I blamed myself for the reason baby no. 3 started having night terror’s, and screamed “STOP IT MAMA, GO AWAY MAMA” every night in her sleep for 18 long months.
And, just like I gained the strength to make it from one day to the next when pain was at its worst and the most productive thing I could do that day was to get out of bed and breathe, and how I carried on when I felt like I’d failed before I’d even started properly planning my first business, Little Black Box.
I will do it, because everything I have been through, and every time I have achieved something, somewhere, behind the scenes has been my biggest supporter – my Super Hero, doing what he does best – lifting me higher, supporting me and being my rock. Whether it was driving up to college with our 4 month old baby boy during my break times with lunch and snacks in hand, just so that I could continue to breastfeed our son, learning how to cook so that I didn’t have to after a 12 hour shift on labour ward, or driving for hours, when I’ve been unable to, just so that I could attend business meetings and events.
You name it, this man has done it for me. So yes, there is so much more to me than being known as MAMA, but, nothing makes me more than a mother than my Hubsy. After all, I would be none of the other things without him, not even a MOTHER!
Are people surprised when they realise you are more than a mum? Does that bother you?
I don’t think people know very much about me to be surprised. Everyone that knows me, knows I’m married – It was breaking news back then, but that’s a whole other story!
I think most people know I’m a mother but people that don’t know me usually are surprised to find out that I’m a mother let alone anything more than a mother! Then they’re shocked when they find out I’m a mother of 3 and flabbergasted when I tell them my eldest is nearly 12. The next question that usually follows is “So, how old are you actually then cos you look 15?!” (I wish!)
I like telling people that I’m a midwife because I love the conversations that happen after they find out. I think people are pleasantly surprised to find out that I’m a midwife. And that’s probably the most, that people know.
Anything beyond married and mother usually surprises people. It’s so easy to control people’s perception of you through social media by only sharing with them what we want them to see. But, just because you’re ‘friends’ with someone on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter it doesn’t mean you know THEM.
Most people are surprised to hear that I have anxiety. Sometimes It takes so much energy to build myself up to do something I really want to do. People may see the end result, but only a handful of people know the struggle it takes to get to that point.
I’ve recently started to attend networking events and it’s been such a boost for my confidence. I’ve started to take ownership of my achievements, even though the little voice does pop up every now and then to say “Oooohh look at this one trying to act all Entrepreneur!”. I actually delayed the launch of my business, Little Black Box for so long due to the little voice of doubt telling me I wasn’t ready. During this time, although I started building up a good following on Instagram, I didn’t openly admit that it was me creating Little Black Box.
After going through a difficult time, the importance of building strong relationships, practicing mindfulness and being present to celebrate everyday moments became our goal as a family. Little Black Box was created with a vision to strengthen relationships through the art of thoughtful gifting, and a mission to make gifting personal, meaningful and easy – leaving more time for you to be present to celebrate life’s little moments alongside the big occasions.
Customers can choose from one of our ready to go Little Black Boxes that are filled with luxurious, thoughtful gifts or they can create a bespoke gift box by using the Build-a-Box option. We source the gifts, we wrap them up in our signature black and gold packaging, we hand write your words on a notecard and we send it off to your loved ones – leaving you to get all the hugs and kisses.
I’ve put this interview off for so long because of the whole self-promotion thing. But, at the same time I know that by doing so I’m just holding myself back. I build myself up, and then my anxiety talks me down, then I build myself up again only to be talked back down, and the battle continues until I either win or give up. These days I’m winning more!
Does it bother me if people are surprised? Yes and No – it just depends on where I am (mentally) in that moment, and it depends on the situation. A few years ago, it would really have bothered me. But, when you go through difficulties caused by people who you thought cared about you the same way you cared about them, it teaches you to stop worrying too much about what people think because negative people will always shout about your flaws regardless of what you do or don’t do for them and people who are good for you will appreciate you and see beyond your flaws and focus on all your goodness. I think I’ll always be one of those people that overthinks everything. It’s hard work being this way, but it’s what makes me a perfectionist and it’s the reason why I can’t do anything half-heartedly.
What challenges do you face when you’re juggling motherhood and being more than a mum?
The biggest challenge used to be trying to do absolutely EVERYTHING and then not having enough TIME to do everything.
I never said NO to anyone. I would rather burden myself with difficulties than let someone down, and I had plenty of people in my life that were happy to take advantage of that. I didn’t realise how damaging that could be until I ran myself into the ground.
That was when I learnt the value of self-care and putting myself first. And, as if by magic that feeling of not being good enough started to disappear.
Mum guilt was another struggle. But, I’m so blessed to have my awesome kiddies who were the ones that taught me to stop being so hard on myself – Here I was feeling guilty about the missed assembly or having to use breakfast club and after school club for childcare and there were my tiny humans proud as could be, telling people “My mummy makes babies at work” or asking me “Can you leave work late tomorrow too so we can go to after school club again, Mama?” Now, I take each new challenge as it comes – I’ve got this! (She says whilst leaning on her rock!). I’m doing the best I can, and I know I’m enough – for me and my special people.
How long did it take you to remember you were more than a mother after you had your child(ren)?
I’d just turned 17 when I met my hubsy, and at the age of 21 when people our age were out travelling or studying at uni, we got married and a year later started a new adventure when we became parents. I always knew I was more than a mother and knew I wanted to do something, and so when hubsy suggested that I should go to university – without a second thought, that’s just what I did!
Who, or what, helps you to make time for yourself? What do you do to escape the stresses of motherhood?
Actually, the biggest stresses I wanted to escape in my life were from toxic relationships not motherhood. These relationships made me feel I was inadequate in every way and is the root cause of my anxiety. One of the best things I did was to distance myself from anyone and anything that wasn’t good for me or my family. My only regret is not doing it sooner!
I wasted so much of my precious time and energy trying to make these relationships work. Relationships with toxic people are only one sided. You give your all and are left drained of your health and mental well being. I felt an instant sense of calmness and for the first time in years I found peace!
Parenting is hard work. It never gets easier, but you learn to evolve as the needs of your little humans change. You learn new things and grow as a person.
Motherhood really is a roller coaster ride. but my little people are good beans – most of the time – and the Hubsy can read me like a book and regularly reminds me to get off the roller coaster to take the slow train and take time out for self-care and relaxation.
I listen to music – a lot. I love how a song can instantly change my mood. I don’t have one favourite song. Any song that I feel a connection to is my favourite song for that moment in time. Since changing my mind set and outlook on life, I don’t really feel the need to escape from anything or to anywhere.
But, because every day is generally a busy day, I make sure I have time for myself every day. Working for myself requires constant, hard work but I have found a way to utilise my time efficiently to achieve a productive day so that when it comes to relaxation time, I can completely switch off to be present in that moment. I must fit in a lot of work into small blocks of time when the kiddies are at school or otherwise occupied.
Every day is generally a busy, non-stop day split between the needs of me and my family and my work. For this reason, I like to wake up really early and start my day off slowly. I love being awake when the rest of the house is sleeping. I think it’s the most serene time of day. I use this time to gather my thoughts and do some reflection and morning prayers.
I do a quick scan of my schedule and then I sit peacefully with the strongest mug of coffee, or two, to set me up for the day before everyone else starts waking up. It’s a huge change from the chaotic mornings I used to have with the mad rush to get out of the front door to get the kids to school on time. Now, I have more work and responsibilities but am more productive and less stressed.
What advice would you offer a mum who might not be feeling like they are more than someones mum right now?
Firstly, distance yourself from toxic people. They are not good for you. Trust me, you WILL find peace and calm.
Secondly, don’t be so hard on yourself. Being a mother is difficult and stressful and fulfilling and rewarding at the same time. Nothing truly prepares you for it and you face different challenges with each child.
The role of a mother requires constant adaptation and consists of a million different roles combined into one. You were chosen to be the world to your little humans because you have it in you to fulfil this role.
Ask yourself, if you saw an individual doing all the roles you do as a mother simultaneously, day in day out, wouldn’t you think they were amazing? You already are more than a mother – You just need to believe it.
Lastly, don’t compare yourself to anyone else. The next time you see THAT mother who you aspire to be because she is amazing and has it all so together is probably looking at you and thinking the same thing about YOU. Oh, and if you’re doing this parenting thing on your own, or with health issues, or financial burdens, or any other life stresses – then YOU are a SUPERHERO!
Any advice for someone who is going through the same things as you are right now in their quest to be #MoreThanAMutha?
Do it! Just start. Start from where you are right now and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. Not even yourself!
Honestly, my biggest regret is listening to the voice of doubt and holding myself back. Just start. Yes, you might make mistakes on the way, but you’ll learn and grow massively as a person. Push yourself beyond your boundaries and when you reach your goals – set yourself new, bigger goals.
The key thing is to start and keep moving forward. And remember forward is forward, the speed doesn’t matter! Unless your goal is to be on the tracks, hitting faster speeds than Usain Bolt – in which case “Run, Forrest, Run!”
Who would you like to see featured next in the #MoreThanAMutha series?
Are you #MoreThanAMutha? Get in touch to share your story.