What is it really like to be a mother?

As children we imagine it, as teenagers we think it’s over rated, as new mothers we wonder at our own mothers, until one day we look back and we know exactly what it took to be a mother.

This day twenty four years ago my first born child arrived in the world and I became a mother. That was the end of my life as I’d known it. I’d given away my identity when I’d taken my husbands name a year earlier, but this was different. Becoming a mother changed me completely. In that moment, as I held my daughter for the first time, the girl I used to be, the young nurse and wife, was gone forever. Now I was ‘Mum’. As I spent hour upon hour gazing at her. I couldn’t imagine loving anyone ever again, as much as I loved her. In that moment I thought I knew what being a ‘mum’ was.

As the years passed I added to my brood three more children and minded others who became as important to me as my own. As you can imagine with a large brood motherhood was busy, but it was not always easy or enjoyable. At times I will admit it felt incredibly lonely and I felt unfulfilled. Was this going to be my life forever? Surely there was more to this role of ‘mother’? Was this what school and my nursing studies had been for? Restless I believed I’d much more to give the world. Looking around at others in the workplace I’d think ‘I could do that’. I read of friends of mine doing well in life and was jealous as I stood with a crying child in my arms, supervising homework for many, while keeping an eye on toddlers, stepping over toys, cooking and wasting my time trying to tidy up. Somedays, especially in the winter, time ticked by very slowly.

Before the youngest arrived.
Before the youngest arrived.

The years passed and despite my doubts and frustrations I stuck with it, for even though I believed I could be successful in anything I did, I couldn’t imagine not being a full time mother, watching someone else caring for my crew. The days got a little easier as they got older, but no less busy.photo 1 (4)

Then, it seemed without warning, the day arrived when one by one they left. The children I minded no longer needed full time care. Even though we stayed in regular contact my house became a whole lot quieter. It was only then I began to fully appreciate the many wonderful days we had shared together, the fun, the noise, the madness. I mourned the baby I’d never again feed, the little arms raised to be carried, the endless quarrels, the rush in from school, the noise in the back garden and the continuous requests for food or drinks.

Sitting here today I feel a mix of sadness, joy and pride. Being a mother was, at times, a hard slog, but now I have time to reflect I’d not change a day of it. The house is still full but in two weeks my eldest pair will head back to college, leaving two siblings behind. This time next year another will join them, leaving just one at home. The busy house, filled with children will be but a memory.

Xmas 2014 with Santa
Xmas 2014 with Santa

Twenty four years ago today as I held my first born child and caught my breath, I thought ‘I’m a mother’. As I reflect on the past many years, the joys, fears, frustrations, pride, anger and exhaustion they brought to my life I understand what being a mother really means. There was a time when I hated to admit being ‘just’ a mother. Now as I look back at what it took to be a mother and see the wonderful young adults this gang have become I couldn’t be more proud.

Happy Birthday Sweetheart.
Love always.

39 thoughts on “What is it really like to be a mother?

    1. Thank you. It’s amazing to see my eldest and remember it all began with her birth so long ago, yet seems just like yesterday. Cake was enjoyed.

    1. Thank you Sadhbh. It’s been great but in many ways I’m glad to be out the other side, and older kids are really enjoyable company.

  1. What a sweet tribute. Thanks for sharing. Your darling g have grown wonderfully. Blessings to you all. Happy weekend!

  2. All those children! You are a lucky woman! I have 5 of my own, and they are the biggest treasure of my life!

    1. It was a very busy time but at least a couple of them were collected each evening. I was though very lucky and the gang had a great life playing and living together.

  3. Just beautiful! Especially touching for me now, knowing that my oldest is going through that phase of early motherhood, gazing at her own first born and thinking “I never knew I could love anyone this much!”

  4. aw, bittersweet. i’m so happy you’re proud to be their mum, there can be no better calling than helping to make little people into kind big people. it takes a mum, and a village, at times )

  5. Although your posts can often be hysterically funny, Tric — I still chuckle at the image of you and that staff member at the hotel wrestling over your handbag — you do beautifully with the touching ones too. Luckily my wife’s not in the room so I don’t have to lie about having a bit of dust in my eye.

    I’m guessing this will not come as a major revelation to you, but my knowledge of how it feels to be a mother is rather sketchy. From your description, though, it seems there is a fair bit of overlap with how it feels to be a father.

    Although I will probably never rise to lofty heights in my job or achieve great and mighty things in the world, I can honestly say that I feel my life has been a happy and successful one because of my wife and children. There is literally nothing I would rather have done with my time on the planet than become a happily married father.

    Anyway, the trouble with writing great posts like this one is that now you have to top it…

    1. Thank you. Reading your comment I thought of my own OH (much maligned on this blog sometimes). I’ve no doubt he would share your sentiments re being a happily married father. It’s a good place to be despite all the other nonsense that goes on in our lives.
      As for writing more posts of a reasonable standard, only time will tell. Maybe I’ll take a train and look at some stones! (now where did I read that great post?)

      1. I’m sure he must feel much the same way. After all, he obviously thinks enough of you to fit some time into his busy football schedule!:-)

        I quite often use my wife a bit unfairly as a comic foil too, but I’d be lost without her. (Of course, if you ever told her that, I’d deny it under torture.)

  6. Tric, what a beautiful post. No one is ever just a “Mum”. You are a guide as they travel the road to adulthood, a nurse when they are sick or hurt, a teacher when then need help with their lessons, a playmate when they are bored, a cook when they are hungry, warm caring arms to hug them when they are sad. You are all this and more.
    Like you, it was hard for me to let them go, but they do come back and bring their lovely families for dinner, holidays, or just because they want to be near their parents.
    Yes, there are days that are really hard, days you work to exhaustion, but there is no other job that offers such wonderful benefits. At the end of the day, the “pay” is without equal.
    Hugs, my friend.

    1. What a lovely comment, the way you describe motherhood is just perfect and beautifully written (could do for a post of your own perhaps?).
      Thankfully they are not quite gone yet but the young child madness is definitely over. As you say the future will hopefully see a return to some of this with their own young children.

    1. I know, I think many who saw me out and about would have thought the same. Four are mine, but the other two I minded since they were babies and we remain close. I also minded my other friends children for a time (one is my godchild) so that explains the numbers. Happy days. πŸ™‚

  7. It seems like no time ago when you were anticipating the two oldest coming home for the summer. That went by so fast! Before you know it, they’ll be home again. My 32 yr old daughter still comes home for a little pampering, and she brings the grankid. πŸ™‚

    1. I know it’s amazing to think that I was writing about them returning and now it’s time for them to go again.
      As this gang seem more than happy to be home I’m hoping that will continue to be the case when they get older.

  8. A lovely testament to motherhood, Tric and a beautiful crew. A happy birthday to your daughter and to you. Well, we really should get to call it our birthday too, don’t you think? πŸ™‚

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