Reflections on Motherhood with Libby Carradice
To celebrate Mother's Day, we sat down with Libby, womenswear + kid's stylist and soon-to-be mother of two, who told us about her journey into motherhood.
As she and her family embark on the next step, we discuss the rewards and challenges mothering brings, how becoming a mother has inevitably changed her forever, and how it's okay not to enjoy every moment.
Can you tell us about your journey into motherhood? What have you found easy, and what have you found more challenging?
Before having a baby, I was quite naive to how motherhood would play out. I just imagined loving playing make believe every day and tucking them into bed with a story every night by 6pm. I don't feel like I've had to compromise on my lifestyle, but I didn't realise how much I valued my own time and mental and physical space until there was a small person here 24/7 constantly needing and wanting me. Sleep, or lack of, was a challenge and the anxieties of constantly wondering if this tiny person is okay. Finding a balance between wanting to work and earn, but be present and not miss a moment has been a whirlwind... It has slowly gotten easier as I've found my feet and settled into being a mother, learning how to become more selfless through every new day with Frida.
How did you see yourself before motherhood, and how do you see yourself now?
I saw myself as the most important person in my own life and I saw trivial things as being much more important than they were. Motherhood is giving so much of yourself to someone else, unconditionally, and that will inevitably change you forever.
Congratulations on your second pregnancy! How do you feel about the next step in your journey as a family?
Thank you! Honestly, until the past month or so, we've not really had the chance to indulge and soak it up the way we did with Frida. But now that we're getting the crib set up, doubling up the pram and dusting off Frida's old babygrows, it's feeling more real and exciting! I'm more relaxed the second time around, knowing what's coming with labour and the early months. As our family grows, we're anticipating chaos and new challenges but we always wanted a big family with siblings close in age so it's nice to be realising the life we always talked about.
Do you have any advice for mothers to help them through such a significant life change and how to navigate these new waters?
It's a wild ride. It's okay to feel overwhelmed and not enjoy every single moment without having guilt. I believe it's vital for parents to carve out time to fill their cup and do things that make them feel like themselves and not just the parent version of themselves. Asking for help and accepting it is crucial, no one can be expected to do this job without some respite! There'll be moments that completely elevate you, and moments that will test you but every phase doesn't last as long as they feel in the moment.
Mothers are such a guiding light and can leave a lasting impression on their daughters. What are the most valuable lessons you want to teach Frida?
I want Frida to value herself and have a high standard for herself with who she lets into her life. I hope I teach her kindness and respect, to others and to herself.
Did having a child change the way you feel about your body?
Yes! Having a child puts everything into perspective, that's not to say I don't have days that I think about my body in either a negative or positive light, but I try not to dwell like I used to. It's probably partly because I don't have the time or energy to spend thinking about it but I think ultimately the way I look just doesn't feel as important anymore. I have respect for my body and what it did; growing, birthing, feeding Frida and then returning to feeling my own again. It's all temporary. Right now, my pregnant body feels so different from its usual self and the first time around that made me feel a way about myself, but I know it's doing what it needs to do and it will return to me again.
Have you changed how you talk about your body since having your daughter, especially in front of her? And if so, why?
I'm definitely more conscious about how I speak about myself. She's a sponge and soaks everything up so even if I think she's not listening, it's all going in. She’s such a perfect little person, I’d hate to imagine a day that she’d see herself as anything less!
What does being a mother mean to you?
There's a lot of cliche things I could say and they'd all be true; it's the greatest responsibility, biggest privilege, the most love you could feel for somebody. I think alongside all those things, motherhood keeps you honest in a way you never really were beforehand. Suddenly everything you say and do feels more consequential, because the little person you're trying to raise is soaking it all up. I think there's probably still far too much toxicity and pressure around mothers to be 'perfect' all the time and that's a real issue, but at the same time, holding yourself to a higher standard is important for your kids and yourself.
Text: Libby Carradice, Chelsea Covington
Photography: Lily Brown