A friend phoned me last night. She asked me if I imagined my life would be like this, when I met David, when I was 17. She asked me if I ever imagined I would have so many children. The simple answer to that is; no.
I knew that I wanted kids from a young age. When we talked about children, David wanted two and I wanted four. The only thing we could agree on was that we wanted an even number of children so nobody was left out. I certainly didn’t think about the logistics of being a mum.
So what is Motherhood to me?
It’s all those things that everyone said it would be, it’s sacrifice, it’s full on, it’s the hardest job I have ever done. It’s wonderous and amazing and brings me so much happiness. It’s love and contentment and brings a fullness to each and every day in mind, body and soul.
Mostly though motherhood is about learning.
As a mum, you are always teaching life skills but as a mum, I am also the perpetual student. I learn new things every day. About myself, about my children and I am still learning life skills!
When I first became a mum to twins, Imogen and Madeline, they taught me about selflessness, about the big picture. They taught me about patience (It took three years to conceive them) and understanding. I think they also taught me about time management and the importance of boundaries. On a funny note, they also taught me never to carry two babies upstairs, naked, when they have gastro…very messy!
Lily came into my life (about 9 months after the above bout of gastro). Lily taught me to really enjoy motherhood. She taught me to appreciate all the little things. When Lily came into my life, my father told me I was stupid for having more children, that I should be concentrating on a career, a house and having all the finer things in life. It was Lily’s birth that gave me the strength to stand up to him, tell him that family was more important to me than anything else. Although she was a surprise, she was a Godsend.
AJ and Malachy came into our home when they were four and three. I am not their biological mother but they are still my children. Through the boys I know about compromise. I know about overcoming terrible situations, adaptation, about hanging in there when you want to give up. I know about a longing to protect and a different kind of love, one that I have sometimes had to work at but one that is very much alive.
Four years after Lily, our first son, William, was born and died five days later. From Will I learnt about absolute devastation, a love that is so strong that I can still feel its presence every day. I learnt the beauty of letting go, I learnt to find and rely on my mother strength and I learnt that I could keep going, fuelled by the love of my children.
My last set of twins, Ivy and Noah, were born at 30 weeks in 2005 about a year and a half after William’s death and after a very scary pregnancy but it is with these children, my last, that I have learnt some of the most valuable lessons. As a mother to these precious miracles I have learnt to hope. Over the last twenty one months, they have taught me to feel joyous about motherhood again, at times when I felt there was no joy left in me. I have realised that I am a mother first and foremost and that, even though it can be a difficult, exhausting, sometimes thankless job, motherhood means everything to me.
It’s my life.
Oh, and I also learnt to appreciate my own mother much more than I ever did as a child.
Why don’t you give it a go?