I never expected to be a mother. I just never imagined myself as one, so when I discovered I was pregnant it was a surprise entry onto a path I’d not thought about walking. I had never been around babies as an only child with very little contact with extended family. The first baby I ever held was a little boy born about 2 months before a midwife was telling me to pick up my own daughter from the birthing pool. Nothing could have prepared me for the rush of emotions, the rush of love, happiness, and worry about the responsibility that was now mine. The early months were a steep learning curve and a battle to breastfeed left me feeling like I wasn’t cut out for this motherhood thing. Over time though, with support and encouragement from friends, family and online communities I have settled into this unexpected role. I don’t think any mother ever escapes worrying about her child, but it is worth every worry, every tear, every sleepless night to watch with pride the person growing and developing before my eyes. Five years into this unplanned journey I am do thankful to have someone that calls me Mummy.
I grew up in a matriarchal family with my mother as a single mother supported by her widowed mother, both of whom were greatly influenced by my great grandmother, a strong figure who raised 12 children in 20s and 30s Ireland. They weren’t women to verbalise love and emotions, but you knew it was there. My grandmother was like a second parent in my childhood and losing her to dementia was a big blow. They both made their expectations clear, but neither ever used physical discipline and rarely used harsh words. This has greatly influenced my own parenting style for my daughter as a fifth generation firstborn female in a family shaped by women of strength. The three generations before me have faced many struggles in their lives but have shone through to the next generation as loving mothers.
Your Mother, You, Your Children
During my teenage years the relationship between my mother and I became strained and my move to university was an important change. Distance between us helped us to communicate in a much better way. Now, however, as we still live far apart, the distance makes me sadder than before. My mother and daughter cannot have the relationship my grandmother and I enjoyed and since my mother in law died before my daughter arrived she does not have someone to enjoy that with. I have followed my mother in not using physical discipline and I try not to use harsh words too. I remember my experience of my mother’s mental illness though, as as I too have struggles with this I know that I want to change things for my daughter in how she experiences what I may be going through. My daughter may not have the experience of a grandmother I was thankful to enjoy, but I know that thanks to the women before me we can hopefully enjoy what they did too.