Some women are born to be mothers. I don’t think I was. I feel, year on year, I have honed my skills predominantly fuelled by the incomprehensible love I felt for my children from the minute they were born.
Motherhood is one of the most profound voyages of self-discovery in my opinion and has been my steepest learning curve. It is the only area in my life where I truly hold myself to constant, non-negotiable high standards.
Top of the list of things I have learned from motherhood has to be selflessness. I am an only child and not a natural sharer, but that all changed when I became a mother. I am not unusual; most mothers I know are selfless to a fault.
We have all recounted stories about having a split second of not wanting to share that is overridden by what our child wanted; I am thinking of food and clothes examples as I type. But there are days out and events which come to mind that I would have organised very differently if I weren’t considering my children.
I often jokingly say I believe your DNA changes when you give birth ….I wonder if this might be true…
Organisation is another key skill. I have always been organised, but my organisational ability was catapulted to a whole different league when I became a mother.
Motherhood doesn’t just equip us with crazy organisational skills - these skills are coupled with an ability to fit an inordinate amount of necessary things to do in a finite time frame – much like Mary Poppins and her bag…
Decision making and thinking on your feet are also inherent in most mothers’ arsenals. Many years ago there was a “who the kids would call in case of a crisis” conversation – every child around the table said without hesitation that their mother was their go to person. Yes, we might be emotional, but we are able to shelf our meltdowns for a more appropriate time.
Interestingly though, I feel I have learnt my biggest lessons from my kids – and top of that list is perspective.
Having been brought up in a very traditional Indian home, many things were absolutely right or wrong in my parents’ eyes and I suppose, through osmosis, mine too. There was no middle ground whatsoever.
But through raising my kids and watching how they have developed and continue to do so, I have questioned and turned many of my beliefs and the ways I was brought up on their head, as they didn’t serve me well and I don’t believe them anymore.
Motherhood has taught me that when it comes to emotions, routines, and family choices - very little falls into the categories of right or wrong. It is totally down to what suits your family and your relationships.
Similarly, I have learnt to be much more forgiving after becoming a mother. This has been a gradual process for me, and I will be honest - is something I haven’t always been good at.
But as my children became teenagers and now adults I have watched how they are much better at saying their piece and letting things go, a trait I have adopted and try to practise and feel much better for doing so.
My kids now 19 and 20 are fiercely independent – a quality I am extremely proud of and hope I have in some way fostered. But the independence means my motherhood journey is changing again and with it I am experiencing more light bulb moments and learning new things about myself.
I see my children less, so this role that has been at the forefront of my life is diminishing. Perhaps not diminishing exactly, because when they need me – they still need me - and that childish impatience and need for immediacy is still very present.
But on a day-to-day basis – I am not needed in the same way and that is a hard thing to adjust to – especially as I have spent more than half my life being a mother.
So now my mind is turning to possibly the most selfish stance a mother can adopt – putting myself first. It doesn’t feel altogether natural and I have to remind myself constantly that I am not denying my kids anything and the desire to be there for my kids will never wane – it is hardwired.
But, this is the next step on my journey; and so the learning curve continues.