To Mabel and Greta,
If you decide to become Mothers… of course I’d be lying if I said I don’t hope that you have Motherhood in your future, and at the moment I am guiltily pleased that when asked what you want to be when you grow up Mabel, you simply reply ‘a Mummy’. Becoming a Mum had been the absolute defining experience of my life so far, and I would love for you both to experience it too, in all it’s intense, all-consuming, glory. But that is not my decision, or assumption to make and who knows where your life will take you? Indeed, who knows where life will take me? When I look ahead to the future, to the three of you all grown up, I dare to dream of the five of us as a happy family unit, still living close enough to pop in for Sunday lunch or Friday night dinner, still getting on well enough to share secrets and giggles, hopes and fears. And I do know that I will do everything possible to be the Mum that you need at all stages of your life and I would love nothing more than to still be your trusted confident in 20 years time. But just in case, I want to write you these letters now, because if for any reason it’s not possible for you to speak to me directly when you are going through the momentous experience of becoming a Mother, I still want you to be able to read my words, and benefit from my advice, and my experience.
You see, I have spent the last 5 years of my life making and raising babies, I’ve probably never mentioned it before (or maybe only several hundred times) but I had three babies in four years… Since July 2011, I’ve been pregnant for a total of 27 months, in between that I’ve breastfed for 36 months and counting, and I’ve been in labour for a combined total of roughly 28 hours (what exactly counts as labour anyway?) and breathed (and sometimes screamed) though god knows how many contractions. Now, of course this doesn’t make me an expert, far from it! I don’t think anyone can be an expert on Motherhood really because we’ve all only lived our own experience of it, and if there’s one thing that the internet has taught me it’s that there are as many different experiences of motherhood as there are people on the planet. But I know what worked for me and what didn’t, I know what parts were a struggle, I know where the little bumps were along the way that made me stumble and fall, and I know the things that helped me to get back up and going again. I can’t tell you how to be good Mothers, my darlings. These letters aren’t going to be a series of ‘life manuals’, there’s no such thing as the perfect way to do things (which is why I never bothered with any of the parenting books… even the good ones). Of course you’ll beat your own path of Motherhood, and your future children have never been on this earth before, so I’m not pretending that you need to or should do everything the way I did it.
I just need to get it out of me, I need to write what’s in my heart, and at the moment that’s you guys, my babies and every part of becoming a new Mum. But I want you the future you to know what I know, and I need to get it written down now. Now, while it’s fresh in my head and raw in my heart. Now, before it all turns to mush and gets replaced in my brain with how to build Cinderella’s castle out of Lego.
So, I’m going to start writing letters to you now about things that I hope will help you at some point in your own journeys of Motherhood. I’m going to write to you about pregnancy and labour, breastfeeding and babywearing, routines and weaning, about everything that I think a new Mum needs to know. Mabel and Greta, If you’re reading this in the future, I hope that you know I’m only ever a phone call away, and I hope that you know you can tell me anything. And if that is the case, then I guess I’ve done my job well.
Love, Mum xxx
Disclaimer: Ernie if you are reading this I’m sorry, it’s not that I want to leave you out and I hope that one day if you decide to become a Dad you will find these letters a useful insight into parenting in general. It’s just that you’ll never be a Mother my dear, I always tell you three that you can be anything you want to be, but I’m afraid to say the miracle of childbirth and breastfeeding is not something that you will ever be able to experience first hand (well, assuming there are no amazing breakthroughs in modern science in the next 40 years). I will write to you soon about Fatherhood, or at least I will get your Dad too, since he will know an awful lot more about the male perspective than I do.
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