A few weeks ago, one of my greatest and oldest friends wrote an article about her battle with post natal depression.
Whilst I am incredibly proud of her for sharing such a personal experience, I sometimes wish it wasn’t always negative occurrences that got mothers into the press.
I had my first child at 26, relatively young in today’s society and certainly the first of my friends.
Now 33, I have had four healthy children and two miscarriages. My husband is a teacher and we met when we were 19. He’s a brilliant, hands on father and my rock. I am at home with the children.
That’s it, it’s not glamorous and it’s certainly not life in the fast lane but it’s pretty close to perfect as far as I’m concerned.
Before children I was a PA in an innovative law firm. I was lucky enough to join the company as a start-up and was therefore involved in many different areas. It was exciting and inspiring and I had a fun, charismatic boss. I toyed with the idea of training as a solicitor but never too seriously! From a young age, ask my mother, I had always wanted to have a family.
“Be single for at least a term, darling”, were my mother’s parting words as she left me at Leeds University.
Fortuitously, fate had other ideas when she lead an irresistibly handsome boy to my table by the bar on the first evening.
My births were natural; my husband was there and a midwife. I had gas and air and the NHS was outstanding each time. There was no doctor, no gynecologist, no consultant.
My girls are 7 and 4 and my boys 3 and 10 months. “How clever!” people say, for having two of each. After a miscarriage, or two, you’re just elated to have a healthy baby. Still, I take the compliment!
When people ask me what I do, the reply does not seem to satisfy them. “What will you do when the children are older?” they ask.
To be honest, I don’t know. At the moment this is my life, it is all consuming. Motherhood is emotionally and physically tiring and it’s the most wonderful experience I know I will ever have.
Much of the time I feel guilty that I love it so much, when I catch up with friends who are struggling I feel as though I should say that I am too. The truth is, so far, I’m not.
That’s not to say it’s all plain sailing. But what of value is gained without sacrifice, hard work, patience and a few tears?
A few years ago I was in the supermarket when my daughter asked for a magazine. As we already had about eight, unread, at home I said no.
This resulted in an Oscar worthy tantrum which slightly floored me. I knew I couldn’t give in so I rounded up the other children and started walking away, pondering my next move.
A lady of about my mother’s age walked up to me, and I readied myself, presuming she was going to complain about the noise. She didn’t. She put her arm on my shoulder and, with a squeeze, said “You’re doing a brilliant job”. And on she walked.
Five simple words that meant the world to me and bolstered me to deal with the situation.
Being a full time mother is not for everyone but I wish, as a society, we could be as proud of our stay at home mothers as we are of the women that reach the top of their careers.
Why do mothers only get into the press for the negative experiences? Have we come so far down the feminism route that we are no longer able to celebrate the strength and capability of women as mothers?
Perhaps if we had more of a maternal society we would raise women better able to cope with the challenges of motherhood.
When my daughters start to read magazines and newspapers, I hope that they are exposed to as many stories about the positive birth experiences and the joys of motherhood as they are to the challenges.
What will I do when they’re older? I think I’ll have a lie in.