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The meaning of motherhood as an unlikely mum

Meg Law

Meg Law

Meg Law is a travel writer and avid explorer who lives on Victoria’s famous coastline: the Great Ocean Road. With a journalism degree and background as a radio newsreader, content developer, media and lifestyle/travel photographer, Meg is happiest when she has a camera or pen in hand to document her latest adventures; traveling the globe with her husband and two mini...
Created on May 07, 2024 · 10 mins read
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"Hi, my name is Meg and I’m an alcoholic. Oops, did I get the wrong class? Sorry, I mean, I’m a new mum."


That’s what it felt like at my first ever Mothers Group class. One big AA meeting gone wrong.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for being ‘open’ and sharing hidden truths and ‘feelings ‘with others. Growing up in a large family of seven siblings means you share everything, and your life is an open book. But it’s quite a different story when you’re in a room full of complete strangers with nothing in common except sleep deprivation and each of us holding a little E.T. baby on our laps, as we sit awkwardly in a small circle singing ‘Kumbaya’. 

There I was, a brand new mum with zero qualifications in parenthood. This was the weird, nerdy kid who was half tomboy, half princess, who grew up climbing trees, playing ‘armies’ with her brothers, who dreamed of one day being Walt Disney’s apprentice, and who hated Barbie dolls with a passion.

I didn’t see myself as one of those ‘boring’ mums that wear elasticised pants, have Tupperware parties, and only talk about baby things. Instead of the girl who daydreamed of having children and wrote out baby name lists, I was the person who awkwardly and begrudgingly held a baby before (two seconds) it started squealing. 

Yet here I was holding my very own child with a serious case of imposter syndrome.

All the reasons I didn’t fit the ‘mum’ bill


I remember the midwife saying to my husband and I after our first child was born, that we looked like ‘Wendy and Michael entering Neverland; wide-eyed, startled, and full of utter incredulous excitement!’

Which isn’t far off, in the sense that I’ve always held a child-like wonder. Going about each adventure with a rampant enthusiasm for life. Blessed with a wondrous, yet excruciatingly vivid imagination, I like to dream BIG and have a fierce determination to suck life through a straw at an alarmingly rapid rate – sometimes causing burps and hiccups on the way. 

I thrive on the unknown and detest routine and planning. To this day, I have no idea ‘where I’m going in life’, but as long as I am happy, skipping, looking good, and come with my own theme song, then I don’t really mind. 

I never mapped out my life or had goals and five-year plans – quite the opposite. 

Heck, if I’m truthful, I am a serious commitment-phobe. There’s not a practical bone in my body (as my husband will vouch for), and the thought of raising a child, quite frankly, terrified me. How was I supposed to be in charge of a beautiful human (now two beautiful children), to guide and nurture them through life until they can carve their own way? 

Little did I know that in my mid-30s, I’d be sitting in a room full of strangers exchanging birth stories and discussing the joys and pitfalls of rearing a baby in the modern world. 

I was fresh, naive, young, and unknowingly about to embark on a grand adventure.

 


The unexpected joy, and consequent guilt


Fast forward 11 years, and it’s a role I feel honoured and blessed to fulfill.

In fact, being a mum has made me the happiest I have ever been. I absolutely cherish every waking day. Which, conversely, can invoke feelings of guilt

I emphathise and understand that many women struggle with aspects of motherhood; who might feel trapped, lost, or like they can’t stay afloat with all the competing priorities. Others who have longed for a child and, for whatever cruel reason, can’t experience it. As a result, I’m guilty of often hiding my happiness to protect those who aren’t in the same headspace.

I’m aware that motherhood is a blessing, a gift – not a given. Some people can accept the gift, others give the gift away, some long for the gift but it’s not attainable, and some are simply not interested. For me, it is a completely personal journey and should be an individual choice. 

“You do you” –  isn’t that what the young people say these days?


How my own mum shaped my motherhood


I was fortunate to grow up with the most gracious, selfless, kind, and nurturing mother on this planet. This positive experience with my own mum greatly impacted my decision to start my own family and has categorically shaped how I approach parenthood. 

Growing up in a hectic household with seven children running amok, mum was my constant, my ‘go to’, my stabilizer. The calm force with a nurturing touch, those warm arms to hug when things weren’t going my way, the cheeky glint in her eye when we would get up to mischief together. 

Mum was the one who would move mountains to ensure she was there at the drop of a hat for us kids, often waking at dawn to have her quiet moment of peace before we all woke and the chaos of the day began. I can still picture her at the table every morning in her pale blue dressing gown, always greeting me with that beautiful, warm smile. 

Mum was always smiling, always laughing, and always so darn calm (how did she do it?).  She had a huge household to run with kids of all ages to cater to and mouths to feed – from the toddler tantrums through to the teen meltdowns – but that never seemed to phase her. She would move about her day with quiet grace and inner happiness. 

Mum was our taxi driver, cheerleader, counselor, cook, cleaner, advocate, motivator, and expert in all things life. She and Dad shared the most incredibly loving relationship. I recall being young, watching them dance around the kitchen and laughing together, and thinking to myself ‘I will never settle for anything less than this.’ 

Mum was at the school gate every time the bell rang, casually flipping through her New Idea magazine or doing a crossword in the front seat of the car with her trusty role of ‘original Werther’s toffees’ for us all to divvy up and share. The countless cuppas that lady would have shared with my siblings and me around the kitchen table, solving our problems and leaning in with her listening ear. 

But what I didn’t know back then was how hard she would have had it, and how much she had to do behind the scenes. It’s only now as a mother of two that I have an insight into running a household and what Mum would have done daily to keep the domestic cogs turning. The mountains of washing, cleaning, cooking, food shops, sports runs, music lessons, school pick-ups, and sports injuries she tended to, not to mention the tears she mopped up with five girls all going through teen breakups over the years. Plus, there’s the financial load she and Dad would have carried raising all of us back then.

I certainly didn’t inherit Mum’s calmness or grace, but I did inherit her ability to move from one day to the next wearing the different hats that we all wear in life as women, and I will always be grateful for that. 

Things I’ve seen and learned about the ‘art of parenthood’


When I reflect on the ‘art of parenthood’ and the various traits I learned from Mum (and Dad), the ones that spring to mind are:

  • The ability to not sweat the small stuff or whine about the things that don’t go our way. No one wants to listen to it anyway.
  • Always see the ‘sunny side up’ and face each day with positivity and vigour.
  • Be present. For example, I always make the time to have our morning coffee in bed each morning with the kids chatting away about what they have on that day. It’s these little moments in time that we will all remember.
  • A non-negotiable for us is ensuring we always sit around the dinner table at night as a family. I am vigilant about this as it is a precious ritual that allows us to connect, engage, and be grateful for what we all have. 
  • Resilience. Always get back up when you’ve been knocked down as this phase shall pass. 
  • Let go of those things you can’t control. 
  • Have fun along the way and never take life too seriously.
  • Keep a clean, clutter free house so that your mind is free.
  • Always make time for cuddles and a hug no matter what you are doing.
  • Always be organised.
  • The art of compartmentalising: the ability to divide your day into distinct segments, each dedicated to a specific task or project moving swiftly from one task to another. 
  • Always make time for yourself. I can already hear people getting riled up over this one, but I am a big believer in this, and this is not being selfish at all. It is about creating healthy, happy habits that allow you to be the best version of yourself – which in turn, will only enhance your family’s wellbeing. 

For me, that ‘me time’ can include anything from kayaking along my local river, visits to the gym and Pilates classes, regular coffee and wine dates with my girlfriends, walks along the beach, playing piano, reading, writing, and drawing. 

All these areas are important to me, not just because they allow me to escape the mundane life of domesticity and errands, but also because they fulfill my passions, allow for a growth mindset, create space in my ever-cluttered mind and most importantly, allow me to be ‘me’ rather than always playing one of the roles in life. 

The escapism and freedom that comes with placing my paddle in the river, the magic that comes from sketching or putting pen to paper, the creative freedom that stems from tinkering on the white and black ebony keys, the mental clarity that comes from dipping my toes in the sand, the belly laughs that come from some time spent with my girlfriends…all of this, allows me to be me.

This is what motherhood means to me


Being a mum for me is about being happy in your own skin, always evolving and always being true to yourself. It is all about balance. 

As each year passes, my gratitude soars for this opportunity to be the best mum I can possibly be for my kids. It isn’t always easy and smooth sailing, but heck, where would the fun be in that if it was? 

Motherhood is a beautiful experience that has unleashed a soft, nurturing side within me that I never knew existed. It has provided me with a sense of purpose, and a longing to deep dive into this role and absolutely rock it. 

I never do things in halves, so I knew from the minute I looked at my husband in disbelief holding a positive pregnancy test, that we were ‘all in’ and about to buckle up for the ride of our lives. I certainly wasn’t wrong. 

It is hectic, crazy, tumultuous, and downright nuts at times, but it is equally wondrous, wild, precious, fun, and an exquisite adventure!

So remember, if you ever find yourself sitting in a room full of strangers at a Mother’s Group meeting or find that pesky imposter syndrome creeping in as the years pass by – hold your head high, own the role, pull up your big girl pants and remember, you’ve so got this. 

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