Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

On Being Mummy

14 Comments

I have been someone’s mother for seven years, three months and thirteen days. I am overwhelmed by how much love – love I’ve received, love I’ve given, love I’ve witnessed – I have experienced in that time. When I was first pregnant, I wondered if I would have enough love for my new baby; when my second and third babies arrived, I wondered if my love could expand to include them. Love, I’ve discovered, is exponential. It feeds on itself and there’s always enough.

One of my three darlings is ever so slightly more challenging than the others. My mother said to me one day when I was having a big moan, “Please don’t love her less than the others.” I responded, “I don’t love her less. I love her differently.” I think that is the key when raising a gang of kids as I am – to love each one differently, according to their needs.

I am enjoying Mother’s Day – having breakfasted on chocolate, received lovely paintings and home-made cards, I am still in bed, with my family in other parts of the house being happy in their own, different ways. I am happy to celebrate, and be celebrated, on this day.

However, I don’t subscribe to being a Mother with a capital letter. I’m far more comfortable being a parent. My children’s father is as good at all the jobs I do: kissing a bump on the forehead, reading a bedtime story, making a hot lunch, admiring a work of art. He is more skilled at teaching people how to ride a bike, crafting weird objects, and explaining the difference between stars and suns and moons. I am better at teaching people how to knit, remembering what day who does which extra-curricular activity, and reading aloud in German. We are both equally good at making and maintaining friendships, earning money and keeping contact with our families. We are raising our children as a unit, with our different but compatible skills.

I remember when we were expecting our first baby. We were walking to our London home past the local pub whose refried grease smell was enough to render me pallid and heaving into the gutter, when my husband said, “When we have our baby, it will be more important than our relationship. The baby will come first.” I was horrified. Conventional wisdom, my girlfriends and every women’s magazine I had ever read told me that the primal relationship had to come first. I disagreed vehemently and felt a frisson of worry. Would we survive this huge change that was already upon us?

Seven years, three months and thirteen days later, I can confidently say that my husband was right. We have put our children first and they are better for it. Neither of us has ever been “jealous of the baby”, we have shared the sleepness nights, the horrendous trips to hospital with puking feverish children, the adrenaline-fuelled charge of a baby’s wondrous safe home-birth. We have shared their triumphs and joys, safe in the knowledge that as they grow up into confident, well-adjusted, friendly and talented people, that they will be big enough to walk away from us and still love us. Together we have learned to be a little more selfless and now we are seeing the rewards of that.

To me, today is Parent’s Day. I celebrate the wise and wonderful man with whom I have had the privilege of raising three children and who has shown me that love grows. I’ll share my chocolate with you, darling.

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Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

14 thoughts on “On Being Mummy

  1. Great post Charlotte, made me choke up a little. Happy Parent Day to you!

  2. This is a lovely post Charlotte. I don’t know if my husband is less well-travelled on the path of enlightenment but I wish he would share some of your hubby’s attitude. Happy Parent’s Day to both of you 🙂

  3. I think your husband said a very wise thing indeed.

    Happy Parent day to both of you.

  4. Oh hurrah hurrah. Thank you for this. Ed (my husband) would shout his hurrahs too if he ever did anything so demonstrative.

    You have hit a crucial nail smack on the head.

    Happy Day of Parenting Love to you too.

  5. Hmm, that is an interesting thought Charlotte. Celebrating “Parent’s Day” rather than “Mother’s Day ” is a great idea – for some. And when ones children are very young, yes they do come first in lots of ways; but ultimately they shouldn’t come first in everything; they are a product of your relationship with their father, not a reason for it; Some years from now they will be gone, thanks to your parenting they will have spread their wings and flown the safe, loving, family nest – ready to make their own way in the world. And then, then you and your husband will be on your own again, and if you have not put the relationship between you at the centre of the family there may be troubled times ahead.

  6. You are so right. Happy Parent’s Day!

    (I’ve had to share my chocolates with everyone today and I don’t mind a bit!)

  7. Amazing how the heart expands further than you thought possible!

  8. Hi Charlotte,
    You can find the picture here: http://dylanjones.nl/blog/MadelineMcCann.jpg
    Regards,
    Dylan

  9. Hi Charlotte, very beautiful sentiments. Its true that raising children is a team effort, and children learn differently from each parent – thank goodness for that. I think my girls benefit from having two people who go about things in different ways to learn from.

    Becoming a parent makes you a better person. Children teach you how to love.

  10. Hurray for parents’ day! Let us publish a parents’ day manifesto, so I can get my share of the chocolate.

  11. Charlotte, I agree with you totally. I am the parent of 3 adult children and, although they have “flown the nest”, they will ALWAYS be our “children” in their parents’ eyes, and, as such, and if and when necessary, come first. We have never had the feeling that when they became adults and left the nest that we are “on our own” again – much as we may have hoped that would be the case!

  12. Hey Charlotte,

    this is such a beautiful post. I am touched more than I can say.

  13. So very, very sweet. Once again, almost, but not quite, makes me wonder if I shouldn’t have had children after all. But then I remember that my dear husband and my talents lie more along the lines of having four-hour-long discussions about such things as Russian v. American writers or “What would you do if we’d been married for fifteen years, and you one day discovered I’d had a sex-change operation before I met you?” and other such conversations that would either bore a child senseless or be completely inappropriate; and that neither one of us would be too good at surviving sleepless nights or reading “Goodnight Moon” for the 2.5 millionth time. I can still remember the feeling of panic I had as a kid when I realized when I grew up, if I had kids of my own, I’D be the one who would have to unknot the shoelaces. How was I ever going to be able to do that?

    You, however, were quite obviously born to parent, and thank goodness for wonderful, wonderful parents like you.

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