Thoughts on Motherhood
To celebrate Mother's Day, Elise, our co-founder, and her Mum reflected on motherhood and what it means to them and their relationship.
No matter what ‘mother’ means to you, we have endless gratitude for those who have raised the children of this world.
What does Motherhood mean to you?
Mary: Being a mother is the most amazing and daunting adventure that I have ever thrown myself into, and like all adventures, there are moments of great highs as well as immense lows whilst navigating the motherhood journey.
I delayed the process for a long time because I had no idea if I would be a very competent mother, and I knew that it was a very important and defining job for the future generations of my family.
No matter what other mothers told me, or what I read or saw, it was not until I immersed myself in all that chaos that motherhood brings, that I realised what a wonderful, enlightening, fun, tiring, frustrating and selfless experience it is.
What I learned was that you need to trust yourself, your instincts, and your intuition, and do the best you can with the knowledge you have. You need to try not to doubt yourself, which can be quite difficult because there is a surfeit of distracting information and advice proffered to new mothers ad Infinitum.
I feel that the only way to mother is to “tread lightly”, and the way to do this is to love unreservedly, to have faith in your child and yourself and guide gently, and to try to not stress the small things. This can prove to be a very problematic challenge when you are in amongst it, and tired and overwhelmed, especially when your children are young, but also when they are teenagers.
I found it was important to acknowledge that each child has a unique personality and that you are put on the planet as their mother to assist their growth and development as individuals, not to mould them as you see fit, but to let them blossom into their own person.
It is only when I take time to reflect, that I realise I didn’t do too badly at mothering. During the time that I was up to my elbows in amongst it all, mothering, homemaking, whilst also working and trying to organise family life, I failed to appreciate my newfound skill.
I really feel that many parts of our western society fail to value the importance of parenting. Doing your best job at being a parent has such societal and humanitarian benefits that it is priceless, but it seems to be diminished and not recognised, at the cost and peril of our future. We should be celebrating and valuing both mothers and fathers at every opportunity.
Elise: Motherhood is pure, much like the babies we birth.
It has been my biggest lesson in surrender and vulnerability. Motherhood has forced me to explore depths of myself I wouldn’t have reached without the birth of our son. It’s stripped me to my core and asked me to unlearn and relearn who I am, as both an individual and a mother to our child — and to remain open, always.
It’s an unnerving experience that leaves me constantly questioning whether or not I have done something or responded in the best possible way, and it’s easy to overcomplicate it all. It’s in those moments of raw uncertainty, when I’m at the edge, that I realise it’s actually very simple.
For me, it’s really shifted my perspective on what I value and see as important. Everything else has fallen away, this little being has become the centre of our universe, and it’s the most beautiful and fulfilling journey I’ve ever experienced.
Motherhood is a privilege, one that should never be taken lightly. It is through the endless love that we give our children that we have the opportunity to indirectly shape this world.
Has your relationship with and understanding of your own mother changed since becoming a mother yourself?
Mary: My own mother was a wonderful woman and mother, remarkable for her care, patience, kindness, wisdom, resilience, and sense of fun.
When I became a mother myself, I really appreciated all that effort, love, and selflessness that my own mother had gone through during her youthful years, which I had not really thought about or appreciated until I had my own children.
Prior to becoming a mother, I think I just took for granted all that she had sacrificed for us and I never really valued that not only was she a mother but a housekeeper, cook, organiser, financial advisor, psychologist, gardener, dressmaker, mediator and all those other skills that seem to develop as you journey through motherhood.
Not every mother has the opportunity to have a great role model as their mother as I was lucky enough to, but somewhere in their community, wherever they are in the world, I hope there are women who can guide young mothers and fulfil that role. I feel that the saying “it takes a village to raise a child”, is very true — so seek out your village.
Elise: My relationship with my mother and my understanding of her have both definitely changed. For the first time in my life, I see her. Not just for who she is as my mother but who she is without me.
The birth of our son reignited a connectedness I felt for my mother — this need to be near her and to have her deeply woven into this next chapter of my life. Almost as though this new portal had opened, and it allowed me to go back and acknowledge and appreciate the sacrifices she made in birthing and raising me.
We’ve reached a new level in our relationship as mother and daughter, where there is a newfound love and respect for each other as women, doing our best and being each other's greatest support. She’s my biggest advocate and offers unconditional love, support, and judgement-free advice. I hope all parents are lucky enough to find their tribe whilst doing life's most important work.
What is it like watching your daughter become a mother?
Mary: Watching your daughter become a mother is a spine-tingling experience because suddenly, your little girl is a real grown-up. I suppose in some ways it validates your own mothering journey. You begin to realise that maybe you did impart some of your own values and learned skills down to her. It was only when I was lucky enough to reach the point where my daughter was having my grandchildren and making a fantastic journey of it, that the revelation came that I may have managed to be a pretty competent mother and role model.
Watching her protect her newborn from an overzealous health system when the baby was just born, to her initial struggles to feed her baby through those first weeks of life, whilst recovering from the birth process and suffering extreme tiredness was a revelation of her resilience and endeavour to nurture her precious baby. Then seeing that inherent protectiveness of her “cub” in the ensuing years whilst also attempting to achieve the best work-life ratio, creating an inclusive business model with a newborn and now a toddler has been a magnificent achievement, and wonderful to observe.
She continues to amaze me by juggling her life so capably, while her overarching objective is her family and its number one importance in her life.
Text: Elise Wallbank, Mary Wallbank
Photography: Ebony Talijancich