As we head to our second year celebrating a socially-distanced Mother’s Day, this week’s Mauda’s post is dedicated to all the mothers out there! Distance or no distance, you will always have a special place in your children’s hearts.
A lot has changed recently, but how much has motherhood changed throughout the years? I decided to ask my mum and my dear friend Rute. Two mothers from different generations, who became parents at completely different political, social and economic times. To start with, I thought I’d probably be able to guess their answers… nope!
When did you think you’d become a mother and when did you become a mother?
Unsurprisingly, the generational gap between the 80s and 2010s stood out on this one evidencing the trend seen in Europe with women having their first child later in life. My mum planned to become a mother in her early 20s, whereas my friend didn’t expect that until her 30s. Despite the generational gap both mums had planned precisely for when motherhood would come:
Mum: By the age of 23.
Rute: By the age of 34.
Best thing about being pregnant?
Too sweet and I’m sure most mums will relate to this one. I genuinely had no idea what the mothers were going to answer, but after reading a few blog posts on the “top best things about being pregnant” I read a few blogs and thought I’d get an answer I’d read before. Turns out the common denominator on both was something I have not read anywhere: feeling your baby!
Mum: Feeling your baby moving.
Rute: Feeling the baby inside me, the caring and the attention that we receive from people and having finally proper adult-size breasts!
Worst thing about being pregnant?
Not sure if this is a reflection on my mum’s personality or a reflection on the 80s in general, but my mum didn’t seem to have been affected by any body image concerns. I wish I’d inherited that from her… Anyway, every person is different and from other blog posts the initial stages seem to be most challenging across mums-to-be.
Mum: The initial stages. I fainted constantly and that wasn’t a good experience.
Rute: The anxiety before each ultrasound scan to know if everything is OK and the body transformation, especially the belly weight.
Did you have any cravings?
Apparently, there’s no consensual explanation as to why pregnant women have cravings, but hormonal changes seem to be a favoured reason. As expected, cravings aren’t normally for the healthiest choices, but the good news is that these aren’t long lasting. It appears that cravings start declining in the third trimster of pregnancy and very unlikely a new mother will continue eating strange things post-partum.
Mum: Green (unripe) fruit. – Strangely enough that’s how I prefer fruit to this day… would this be reason?
Rute: Not much, a cheeseburger from McDonald’s and “Lulas recheadas” (stuffed squid – a traditional dish in Portugal) cooked by my mum. – oh I miss those student days when we’d meet for a cheeky burger in the Chiado McDonald’s (Lisbon)…
How did you prepare for childbirth?
One of things I was impressed with when I moved to the UK was the concept of the “midwife“. It’s not something available in Portugal (at least I never heard of this before) and although I don’t have first hand experience on this not being a mother myself, it must be comforting to know there’s someone there to help you and your baby. Someone who has seen it and done it so many times, they will be able to share things with you that otherwise you’d be struggling to manage (perhaps).
For this blog I went through some information and found out the NHS even provides birth plan templates to help new parents prepare. Ata time when there’s so much information it becomes difficult to filter authentic from fake-facts it’s good to know there is professional help available to guide you during this special journey.
Mum: There were no childbirth classes, or doctor advice. Simply advice from other mums or friends. That’s how I prepared.
Rute: I had classes and it helped me a lot understanding the process. Normally, the testimonials from other mothers tend to be quite dramatic.
How long was your maternity leave?
Mum: I didn’t work at the time. 7 months after having the baby I got a new job. – how about that? I have always known my mum to work firstly as an employee, then acquiring her business with my dad. Had it not been for this interview I’d still be thinking my mum was a working wife/mum when I was born!! I wish I could remember those 7 months by the way.
Rute: 6 months. – Yup! Working mum, 6 months… get back to work!
In one sentence, what did you learn about motherhood that no one told you about?
Mum: Pretty much every care with the baby. There wasn’t anyone there to prepare me for anything, so I had to learn as I went along on my own. No family nearby to help either, so self-taught on baby matters, really. Couldn’t compare, but every child is different, so every parent will leanr their own way of doing things.
Rute: It’s a kind of love that you can’t understand just by hearing from someone else. Motherhood is a kind of emotional rollercoaster; you feel lost all the time. Always follow your instinct rather than other peoples’ tips.
What about you? What have you learned about motherhood that no one told you about?
How many children did you want?
After the first experience, how many children did you have / do you think you’ll have and why?
Unsurprisingly, the increase in age when becoming a mother for the first time is met with decreasing chilbearing rates. The answers and reasons behind those decisions here reflect this trend: Mother’s Day
Mum: Ended up only having one. Kept waiting for a better “life” to welcome a second baby, but the right time never arrived. Maybe when I retire. I’ll have the time to raise a second child then (lol) – I honestly thought this is where I was going to be hit with the usual “when-are-you-giving-me-grandchildren” chat, but no. It was left at this. Phewwwww…
Rute: None. Although everything went well during my pregnancy and labour, I don’t want to go through the body transformation and the postpartum again. Also, due to my professional life, I feel that I don’t dedicate enough time to my daughter or myself as is, never mind to a second child.
Best thing of being a mother? Mother’s Day
Mum: The fact that there’s a little being that is part of me and will always be a part of me.
Rute: The unconditional love that I feel. Also, it’s amazing seeing her grow and watching all the new things that she learns and accomplishes.
Worst thing? Mother’s Day
Mum: The concerns with children, the issues you come across that no one prepares you for can leave you on edge. You eventually manage to sort things out somehow, but it’s tough.
Rute: Managing the temper tantrums, managing the professional life with motherhood and the effort of having time for myself and for love.
What’s a physical similarity between you and your child? Mother’s Day
Do you know what they say about sons taking after their mothers and daughters taking after their fathers?
Rute: Not much! Nose, cheeks, lips and ears.
Want to bet I’d get a completely different answer if I spoke to the dads?
What’s a personality similarity between you and your child?
Mum: Stubbornness and not giving up until she manages to do what she intends to!
Rute: We smell food before eating and we are quite picky with bad odours. She doesn’t like to greet people with a kiss. – Love it!
What’s something your child does that makes your heart melt?
Mum: Sticking to a goal and regardless of how long it takes, doing something about it. – Yup… it took me almost 10 years to get this brand idea off the ground but it’s done now.
Rute: When she hugs me and says that she loves me and that I’m beautiful. – Awwwww <3
What’s something your child does that makes your blood boil?
Mum: Biting her nails! And the nail-biting solution. Anything went for that horrible habit! – I’ve stopped it now by the way!
Rute: When she screams and makes a scene because I said “no”. – Rute’s daughter can be very… persuasive to get a “yes” instead! Love her determination!
What’s an insecurity you have as a mother? Mother’s Day
Mum: When you wanted to chat about school or childhood problems and I had to go look after the customers rather than take the time to listen.
Rute: Not having enough time to dedicate to her. My work/life balance isn’t the best, with work commitments interfering with family time far too often. Also, when she behaves badly, people tend to say that I don’t establish rules and that I’m spoiling her. It’s really hard to manage the tantrums, I tried so many methods and it looks that nothing works. And you wonder, why? Why me? What am I doing wrong?
Two mothers from different generations and I get similar answers. No one is doing anything wrong and kids will always want all the attention you can give them, but it’s healthy to let them have “me-time” on their own. I can’t even remember my um not having time, I remember the time she made helping me with homework on one hand and doing chores at the same time… I remember the hard work she put in it, not the times when she couldn’t give me any at all. Don’t worry. If you think you’re not giving your child enough time, you’re giving them more thought than you know. But what do I know. Read it from an insecure mum directly.
What advice would you give a new mother that no one gave you?
Mum: Don’t disregard yourself as an individual. Put your child first, but always fight for your goals. Don’t give up on yourself and don’t forget who you are.
Rute: Follow what you feel is right, don’t compare your child to others. Each child is unique and different. This is the hardest challenge that you will have. Frustration and happiness go hand in hand. Believe that you are doing your best and that your child is loved.
Happy Mother’s Day!
PS: If you need some last minute ideas for Mother’s Day gifts or celebration during lockdown check these tips by Rachel Avery.