I have been on the most incredible journey. I have travelled through the brightest sunshine and the darkest tunnels, I have experienced the most amazing highs, and sometimes the lowest of the lows. This is what my life has been like as mum to three daughters. I remember so clearly those first precious days with a new baby. The rollercoaster of emotions, bone weary tiredness, insecurities, fear but above all love. Fiercely protective and totally all-consuming love. Now twenty one years later those emotions are taking over again.
When my eldest was born I never thought about the time when she would eventually fly the nest. Subconsciously as each new birthday arrived I was aware that she was becoming more independent, that I was not the centre of her world anymore, and that she was beginning to need me less and less. This was a gradual process and certainly didn’t happen overnight so I thought that when the time came for her to go away to university I would be prepared. I so was not. Those heightened emotions I had experienced with each of my new arrivals literally overwhelmed me and took control of my day to day living. I wanted her to enjoy living away from home, the excitement of new experiences, but inside I was devastated. The realisation that my girls were growing up hit me hard, and this coupled with the knowledge that for me there would be no more pregnancies, no more babies left a gaping hole in my life. What was my role now? What was my purpose? I felt surplus to requirements and struggled to find my way back onto the parenting path. Most of my adult life has been spent being as a mum and now I felt like I was being made redundant with no other job to go to. Over the years I had lost my identity. I had been a daughter, then a wife and a mum and I had always had a role to play. One that I had cherished and valued. Now, with my eldest moving away I had lost that sense of purpose, almost as if a part of me had died. These intense feelings of sadness and desperation were kept locked away. To the outside world I was fine, something I think as mums we are often guilty of, and I felt under pressure to pretend I was happy, that I was content with my lot in life. Slowly, as the weeks passed I developed new routines, started studying again, and began to open up about how I was feeling. I began to accept that my role within our family home was gradually changing, that I could occasionally start prioritising my own needs, that I was still a strong, confident woman and that I was still the vital link in our home. I allowed myself space and time to accept my new role and with it different responsibilities. So much was changing within our family life and each day presented new experiences and challenges for us all, but time does not stop and as the days, weeks and months went by we all settled into new routines. Yes, there were many times when emotions ran high, when tears and angry words were shared, but our strong family values held firm. Now three years have passed and my eldest is just about to graduate. She starts her new career in September and already has a job and a house to move into. She is my friend, my first born and I already do, and always will miss her being here with me, but I am so excited for this journey that she is about to embark on.
“'I began to accept that my role within Our family home was gradually changing'”
Now we are about to repeat this whole process again as my middle daughter steps forward to begin her own solo journey. She is standing at the edge and can see before her choices and opportunities like never before. I should be prepared, I should be able to cope with this huge change much better second time around. I am so excited for the wonderful life experiences that my two girls are soon to enjoy, but I also feel so sad. Often. This rollercoaster journey that I am on cannot be stopped, and nor would I want it to be, but it is so hard to let them go, to not be the centre of their world. Amidst all of this my baby, my youngest little girl is getting ready to go to Senior School. In my head I am still that young mum, cradling a new baby and worrying about developmental milestones, and yet eleven years have passed. She is excited and nervous all at the same time and I am terrified. She is my last one. At this moment I am still the most important person in her life, she still listens intently to me, we bake together, choose her clothes together, and yet I am already sensing a shift in our relationship. Her confidence and independence, her ability to make decisions are all showing signs of maturity. I cannot think beyond now as she has always been my security blanket. Birthdays for my older girls have come and gone but I have always felt safe in the knowledge that I still had a baby to care for. That feeling of wanting more children of wishing that I could have just one more baby never seems to pass. Being a hands on mum is a job I have loved so much and I am not ready to give it up just yet. I know that I will always be mum and that hopefully the relationships I have built with my daughters over the years will stand the test of time, but that hands on parenting, the noise and chatter and often chaos of a busy family home, the sharing of meals, the cuddles, the emotional highs and lows, the endless laundry, the tiredness, I do not want it to end. Not ever. I know that I can resurrect hobbies I once enjoyed or arrange an impromptu night out with a friend, and part of me feels excited about this new chapter in my parenting journey. As time passes I know that I will find another road to travel on, one that fulfils me and ignites my passion and excitement. I know that these feelings of sadness and bewilderment will eventually pass and as I look at my daughters, at the beautiful, confident young women they are becoming, I know without doubt that there is no other more rewarding, exciting, demanding, challenging, fulfilling, life changing job anywhere in the world other than that of being a mum.
Lisa is a mum to three amazing, confident, individuals. She writes about her life at seasonswellbeing.co.uk. She loves learning about naturopathic nutrition, baking wholesome, breads and being outside in nature; being barefoot on the grass is ideal!
NURTURING FROM WITHIN - HOW TO LOOK AFTER YOURSELF
- WHOLESOME EATS Nourishing food has been a vital part of my self-care. Wholesome soups, comforting bakes and fruit and vegetable smoothies have been my staples when the days have been long and dark. I have always prepared simple, healthy foods for my family, but often eating well ourselves becomes less of a priority when our days become busy and chaotic.
- GET OUTSIDE Taking time each day for exercise benefits not only our physical health but for me primarily my emotional wellbeing. Being outside, walking our dog, gentle stretches, ten minutes walking barefoot on the grass, these have become part of my day.
- FIND SUPPORT Being able to share the highs and lows of being a mum with other like-minded women can be a source of great support. I am so grateful to my group of (mostly online forums) female friends, many of whom I have never met for their patient reassurance and never judgemental words.
- GO BACK TO STUDY Igniting a passion for a hobby or interest, learning about a subject which fascinates you, opting to do a short course in something you would like to know more about are all ways to nurture our emotional well-being. For me choosing to study a subject I was already passionate about has been exciting and rewarding.