This feature is all about celebrating real mums. Mums are amazing and come in all shapes and sizes but sometimes we can feel alone, we can feel as though we are the only ones struggling to keep on top of things. I want to lift the lid on motherhood so we can all feel part of a sisterhood, to feel proud about our own achievements and know that we are doing the best we can!
Without further a do let me hand over to Laura!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.
I’m Laura, I’m 32 and live with my husband Russ and our two-year-old son Edward (Teddy) in Essex. Plus Archie, the world’s most beautiful but anti-social cat! In addition to my role as a mum, I also work two days a week as a PA in a finance company.
Describe a typical day in your life
Teddy usually wakes me at about 6.30am and I attempt to convince him to snuggle in our bed for as long as possible while I try to figure out what day it is and where I am (I’m NOT a morning person!). Then it’s downstairs for CBeebies, followed by breakfast and the first of a million trips to the toilet as we’re potty training at the moment.
We usually go to a toddler group or class of some kind in the morning, we’re big fans of Talking Tots and it’s really helped Teddy’s speech and socialising. And, frankly, I like to get out of the house as keeping a toddler entertained for 12 solid hours is pretty challenging for me!
In the afternoon we sometimes meet up with a friend or a family member, or we just go home for a nap (just Ted although I have been known to join him!). I’m not particularly skilled at imaginative play, if you put me in front of some toy cars or Duplo I really draw a blank. Thankfully, Teddy is getting pretty good at playing on his own so when we do things together it’s usually reading or crafts instead. I’m not very arty but since he’s only two anything I help him with can be passed off as his so it doesn’t matter too much how amateur it looks! This week we made a card for Grandad’s birthday.
By 4.30pm I’m flagging, I’ll admit. I’m dreaming about bedtime and a chilled glass of cider. Hubs comes home and takes Teddy for his bath. Then it’s milk, story and cuddling – this is actually my favourite part of the day. Teddy is always so cute and funny at bedtime and I love reading to him.
By 7.30pm it’s adult time – and so commences the battle to stay awake long enough to watch a TV show and have a good chat with my husband!
What is the best thing about being a mum?
Kisses and cuddles are pretty damn amazing. Teddy does this adorable thing called a “hands kiss” where he grabs your face with both hands and gives you a big smooch on the lips, it is so cute and pretty much makes my heart burst out of my chest. Also, I am LOVING his developing speech right now. He is saying lots of full sentences and coming out with such entertaining, funny, sweet or wonderfully surprising stuff.
What have you found hardest about motherhood?
After Teddy was born I felt constantly anxious, miserable and lost. I put it down to “baby blues” at first but eight weeks later I had a full breakdown – I couldn’t sleep, or eat and suffered from horrible intrusive thoughts and derealisation. I was diagnosed with Postnatal Depression and intense anxiety. I was lucky enough to be able to access some brilliant treatment and began to climb out of the hole a few months later. Full recovery has been a very slow and painful process though – I have spent a really long time questioning my abilities as a mother, and my view on life in general. I’m in a really strong place now, my outlook on life has almost completely shifted which is quite unnerving but I’m adjusting. My confidence as Teddy’s mum, and my love for him, continues to grow and grow every single day. This illness has definitely been the most devastating and difficult thing I’ve ever experienced in motherhood, and in my entire life. I’ve always loved to write and five months ago I began my blog, The Butterfly Mother, so called because of the huge transformation I’ve been through. Sharing my experiences has been very cathartic, and will hopefully help other sufferers feel less alone and more hopeful.
How has your body changed?
To be completely honest I’ve not felt too worried about my body. I was pretty overweight and out of shape even before I got pregnant so I think it helped that I didn’t have anywhere close to a “perfect” body to ruin ha ha! Teddy was born by c-section but they did a great job and my scar is really neat. I joined Slimming World a year ago and have so far lost three stone so actually I love my body far more now than before I got pregnant.
Do you wear make-up? If so, what does your routine look like?
It’s very hit and miss for me. Completely depends on my mood, how much time I have and what I have planned for that day. If I’m just meeting my parents or going to the playground I might not bother at all. If I’m going to a toddler class or meeting friends (or on work days) I’ll probably use BB cream, powder, blusher, eye shadow and mascara. If I’m going “out out” I’ll step it up by adding eyebrow pencil, eye liner and lip gloss. BC (Before Child) I was obsessed with Benefit make-up and spent a lot of money on it. Now that we don’t have as much to spend I’ve had to scale down my tastes to Avon and Boots No. 7. I’m currently using an Avon eye shadow pallet that I love though! I may be from Essex but you won’t find any fake tan or hair extensions, I’m just too lazy for all that.
What’s in your handbag?
On work days I can have a lovely (giant!) grown up handbag again – purse, keys, two phones, iPod, earphones, a book, a magazine, bottle of water for the train, tons of receipts, hairbrush and a little makeup. On Teddy days it’s mostly spare pants, travel potty, countless snacks and spare dummies and muslins.
What is your relationship with housework?
I SUCK at housework. I’m so, so lazy. My husband is brilliant and does the lion’s share but I’m in charge of the bathroom, washing and I do all the cooking.
How do you relax?
A really large glass of wine and bad reality TV! Because of my struggles with depression and anxiety, self-care and relaxation is really, really important. I began listening to a mindfulness app a few months ago which really helps me to be more calm and present. I also have an adult colouring book, play a lot of Candy Crush and – don’t laugh – love making loom bracelets! I find the repetitive nature of all those things can really help me to unwind and relax ready for a good night’s sleep which is so vital for wellbeing.
What’s the best parenting advice you have ever been given?
EVERYTHING is a phase, even the good stuff. So I try to absorb all the good and remember that the tricky times will pass. And they always do.
For any new mums out there, what would you like to tell them?
Wow, I have so much to say on this (pretty much what my blog is all about) but top two would be: if you don’t feel that immediate, overwhelming, life-altering love you were promised when you first set eyes on your baby please don’t panic. I personally believe it was my anxieties about not bonding with Teddy enough that led to PND. I wish someone has told me that it’s OKAY if that bond takes time to develop, that you simply fall in love more and more each day as your child grows and you get to know each other.
Secondly, don’t try and be a ‘perfect’ mother and just concentrate on being the best mother you can be. No mum is perfect but we are perfect FOR our own kids and that’s all that matters.
What makes you happy?
Days out and fun trips, seeing Teddy growing up into such a cute and funny character and seeing how much joy he brings to our extended family as well as me and my husband. Date nights with my husband and girly nights with my besties. My job, those two days at work a week really help me to stay in touch with my other identities outside of ‘mummy’. And, finally, blogging makes me very happy – I had no idea how much relief and satisfaction I could get from sharing my story of PND and motherhood with others and, in the process, joining a wonderful online community.
And finally, complete this sentence:
I am a great mum because….. I give Teddy the best of myself as often as I can. I’m not perfect and I sometimes still question my abilities as a parent but I think, deep down, every mum does from time to time. But whenever I feel that way I simply look at the evidence; I have a happy, healthy (albeit somewhat rebellious!) two year old and I allow myself to take a good chunk of credit for that.
I love how your blog name represents the changes you have gone through. You are a great inspiration for other mothers who may be feeling the same. You are right, every mum doubts herself but you have to remember that Teddy loves you no matter what and that makes you the best mum in he world. xx
You can find out more about Laura and her world over at her blog, The Butterfly Mother.
She is also on Twitter so go say hi!
I am not accepting any more submissions for this feature. xx