Do you ever feeling like you’re desperately trying to ‘play the part’ of being a mum ‘right’? This week, Emma-Jane Leeson talks about finding the magic number for your family, settling into the role of being a mum, and what every mum needs more of.
With a decade between my eldest and youngest daughter, daily motherhood usually means playing different roles to different kids e.g. I’m a proper ‘baddy’ to the teenager but a ‘spy’ to the 4-year-old!
On a whole though, motherhood finally feels like it’s something I’ve a right to be doing. Having my first baba at 18 meant I started mothering feeling like I wasn’t good enough and was too young to be doing it (which of course turned out to be absolute nonsense!). I was like a big sister, not a mother, at the school gate with all the other mothers in their 30’s and 40’s. I didn’t ‘fit in’ or so I kept telling myself, which resulted in me keeping to myself.
Even at 28 I still had a complex that I was ‘too young’ to be having my second and final bundle of joy and could see eyebrows raised when I mentioned this in hospital waiting room chats. I may have only made two of them but there’s a third too in the form of my wonderful stepson, and three is the magic number for us!
So motherhood to me means being at the helm of a ‘modern family’ if you want to put a tag on it.
I’m not sure why but when I turned 30, I finally felt like I was mature enough to ‘play the part’ even though I’d been living it for 12 years previous. Pitching at the junior infant school gate again at 32 I felt comfortable and confident; I looked the part being there this time.
Pitching at the secondary school gates though was a bit surreal in the sense that my daughter’s teachers were my classmates not so long ago and most of my old teachers are still teaching. But she’s a remarkably clever and athletic young lady so I don’t have time to consider ‘time’ as I’m too busy watching her in awe.
So, motherhood has always meant a lot, but lately, it means more.
At this exact moment of writing; I’ve just turned 33 and I’ve decided to hit pause on my other fulltime career as an HR professional in a successful Irish multinational to give motherhood all the attention it deserves.
It’ll be the first time in nearly 15 years that motherhood will mean a daily routine of dropping and collecting from school and doing homework. It’ll mean properly of all the usual clichés that motherhood means to most mothers: Being a taxi, a chef, a bank, a supporter, a teacher, a chastiser (at times!), a mentor, a sounding board, a plaything, an enabler, a referee, a pillow, a rubbish bin, a playmate, a servant, a nurse, a counsellor… and so on and so forth. Everything it’s always meant, just more of it now than ever before.
Have I left it a little late starting? Maybe to some but to me not. I think I needed that time to grow and mature and also financially provide for my family. Everything is as it should be, and life is good, and maybe just about to get great!
What one piece of advice would I share with every mum?
Read to your children every night. It’s the one piece of advice that I cannot emphasise the importance of enough. It’s developing their imagination, comprehension and vocabulary.
It’s carving out a bedtime routine and it’s most importantly giving your little person the best send-off to dreamland possible by just being close to them and discovering worlds and characters you’ve never even dreamt of before.
What most surprised me about motherhood?
It was the key to unlocking my writing career – I would have never written a series of children’s books, if I didn’t have countless sleepless nights on my eldest daughter!
What does every mum need more of?
Fresh air. Being outside with nature will not only work wonders for your physical and mental health but also your little person’s…. Win-Win!
Emma-Jane, or EJ, is an author, writer and general tomboy from county Kildare. EJ grew up outside in nature and is on a mission to encourage all children to do the same. Her children’s books series The Adventures of Johnny Magory aims to educate and encourage a sense of pride and passion in children about Irish wildlife, heritage and culture – in a fun, non-boring way! She is currently working on her first YA novel along with a number of children’s picture books.