great things about being a mum
FEELINGS

11 great things about being a mum (because sometimes we forget)

Becoming a mother is a life changing experience – and no woman is left unmarked by it. There are breathtaking highs, and death defying lows right from the very start. Who knew there were such depths to our emotions!

Sometimes, when times get tough, or we’re so tired we walk into a room carrying an imaginary baby – it’s good to stop and remind ourselves of all the great things about being a mum.

11 great things about being a mum

1. Creation!

For the majority of us, becoming a mother means that you actually created a baby. You grew it, fed it, cared for it, and birthed it. And now a part of you will carry on in the world – separate, but tied to you forever.

For those women that became a mother in a different way there is the forever knowledge that, in a world filled with billions of people, you found each other. Pretty amazing either way!

2. Cuddles

When they throw their little arms around us and melt into our neck – there’s no place on earth either of you would want to be.

3.   Love like you’ve never known it

Sure we’ve felt love before. We’ve been in love. We’ve received love. We’ve loved our own parents and they’ve loved us back. We’ve said ‘I love you’ and meant it will everything in us.

great things about being a mum

But having a baby unlocks a secret vault of love, so big that when you look down into the abyss, you sometimes have to take a step back because the sheer vastness can be terrifying. Hold on to your hats (or breastpads) mamas!

4. Memory banks

One of the great gifts of parenthood is that you get to relive your childhood all over again. You remember the cartoons you used to watch, the ice creams you used to eat, the family holidays you used to go on, the scent of summer evenings and the thrill of learning to ride a bike for the first time.

5. Watching them sleep

great things about being a mum

Is there anything better than watching those perfect little faces, fast asleep and finally, finally(!) still and silent. Our hearts burst each and every time.

6. Chubby hands.

A little hand, gripping hold of our own. They anchor, their security, our everything.

7. Homemade cards

Birthdays, Mother’s Day, Easter, Christmas… every occasion has a homemade card to go with it. All of their love poured into a sticky mess of glitter and glue sticks, just for us.

8. Wonder

Oh look! It’s a dog! And it’s wagging it’s tail! And it’s brown! Isn’t that absolutely amazing! And oh! That flower is purple and all the others are pink! Quick! Lets go over and have a closer look!

great things about being a mum

Children make us reopen our eyes to the wonders of the world. So many years spent sleepwalking through the beauty and craziness of life – time to wake up people!

9. Independence

Watching your child grow in independence is sometimes tinged with sadness – but it proves to you that you are doing your job well. Creating well rounded humans who care for others and can look after themselves is our primary role; and each shared toy, tied shoelace and solo walk to the shops is a step in the right direction.

10. Becoming a better person

Most parents have at some stage had to step up to the plate of parenthood. Whether it’s finding a new job to pay the bills, leaving a job to care for a struggling child, losing weight to live longer and play actively with them, overcoming body hang ups so they aren’t passed on, pretending to be brave so they won’t be crippled by shyness like their mother was, or a whole host of other personal issues. Parenthood makes us do what’s best for our child, and we become better people for it.

11. The joy of family

Families come in all shapes and sizes – single mums, blended families, step dads, co-parents, families of seven, only children, adopted sons, fostered daughters. But it doesn’t matter what the make up is – being part of a family is one of the greatest gifts we could ever be given.

Now if only they would just sleep a bit more…

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Ask Allison

Q My sister-in-law and I both work three-day weeks and we help each
other out with child minding on our working days, which up until recently has worked out really well. Between us, our kids are aged between five and nine years – the problem is that it’s now become quite apparent that we have very different parenting styles. I prefer my two daughters (seven and nine) to have a structured day. For example, in my house, we have allocated times for television and iPads, etc. My sister-in-law, however, lets the kids run loose after school – homework is ignored and my kids end up wired after eating sugary treats all afternoon. I am considering looking at after-school childcare for the kids, but I’m worried that this is going to cause a family argument. Is there a diplomatic way that I can ask my sister-in-law to introduce some discipline into her child-minding days? It certainly doesn’t do her two kids any harm when I am minding them in my own house!

A
In a word, no, there is no diplomatic way to do this as it may very likely seem like your saying that your parenting style is better than
hers. As L’Óreal says, ‘now here comes the science bit.’ Dr. Kaylene
Henderson, a child psychiatrist, wrote a very interesting blog about ‘the
science behind the Mummy Wars’. She explains that before she had
children of her own she hadn’t been aware of how parents have a
very specific sense of the right parenting style. She also found that parents could be very definite in defending their chosen parenting style. Dr. Henderson, who describes herself as a curious, scientific, open-minded person, was surprised at how defensive parents could be and, at times, of their judgemental attitude towards each other. She explained the neurology of the Mummy Wars; okay, I’ll need you to bear with me for a second. Warning; I’m about to use some neuro-techie language.

Why do we judge each other?
As we have all had different experiences, this means that we all have very different memories stored in our brains. Most of our memories are ‘explicit’ memories – these are ones that we can recall easily such as important dates that mean something to us; important birthdays, special events or stories of and about our lives.
There is another type of memory called ‘implicit’ memory that plays a
key role in our parenting. This type of memory is the stuff that you do on autopilot. Psychologists call these heuristics or rules of thumb –
such as tying your shoelace, or driving your car (once you have learnt
to do both first!). Otherwise we’d really waste a huge amount of time
pondering over tasks that we have readily available to us. This seems to be where the science bit of our parenting style kicks in. This implicit memory goes all the way back to when you were an infant being parented by your parents. This is when you started the process of storing up how they did it into your memories.
Unless you make a conscious choice and effort to parent differently, what you saw and unconsciously learnt will be your automatic go-to parenting style.

We learn habits
This can really kick into gear when we feel our parenting style is
being mirrored or highlighted by disapproval from another parent. I know the cold sweat you feel when your child decides to make their outstanding bad behaviour performance at, of course, the most public and worst time. The implicit autopilot of how your parents dealt with these outbursts will flow unconsciously from you if you haven’t worked super hard to be aware and consciously change the old habits.
What’s happening for the on-looking parent is that they see you doing something they are used to doing, but you are doing it all wrong. Simply, because that is not how they know how to do it.

Find a way that works
You both have different parenting styles – who is to say which type is correct? You just need to know what works best for your family and that’s the bottom line. The irksome feelings won’t go away. You can talk to your sister-in-law, but I’m adding a caveat that it would be hard not to hurt her feelings. What we’re possibly looking at is that you prefer a more structured form of parenting, whereas your sister-in-law has a more permissive style. I’m not sure the two styles can mix, the mixture is a bit like oil and water.
If a collaborative shared form of parenting style can be agreed upon, then that is great, but our learnt hardwiring may prove difficult to change despite the intent to do so.
Perhaps, your own instinct of changing childcare might work best for you. In terms of making childcare work; the fit is ultimately the most
important aspect as you want a cohesive congruent feeling of the other caregiver to just ‘getting it’, like in any good partnership. Best of luck
with this and I wish you both well.

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ASK JESSICA

Q. I’m would like to start an exercise programme that will benefit my emotional health as much as my physical health, but I don’t know which type of class would be best. Should I consider choosing from yoga, pilates, tai chi, or could you recommend a class, please?

A It’s great that you have decided to get into exercise. The benefits to you are going to be great. You’ll sleep better, have more energy, better skin, reduced stressed, not to mention all the amazing physical benefits of your clothes fitting better, and looking healthy, trim and toned! My advice to you would be to try them all. Even if some don’t offer pay-as-you-go sessions, if you get in touch directly with the instructor, they will almost always let you try it out first to see if it’s for you. All of the above things that you mentioned are great for mental health, so it really will be a personal preference as to which you go for. On top of the classes you mention, all forms of exercise will give you great mental rewards so consider the not so obvious interval training sessions, bootcamp, and circuits too, as you will also feel on top of the world after a class like that.