Marlous, Ivan and Alexander

Name: Marlous

Children: Ivan and Alexander (1.5 yrs)

Location: Manchester

Expectations of Motherhood: My boyfriend and I had known each other three weeks when I got pregnant and we weren’t even living in the same country, so there wasn’t time to think much further than how to get us all into the delivery room. Looking back, that has been good for me. I find ‘mother’ quite a loaded term, and if I had had more time to daydream, I would probably have set myself all sorts of unobtainable standards. I have become a mother by changing a nappy at a time – sometimes full of confidence and sometimes desperately unsure of where I was going – rather than by beating myself up about whatever ideal I didn’t meet that day.

Reality of Motherhood: It is different than any other experience. You have only yourself to rely on and I find that incredibly liberating and terrifying at the same time. I love seeing these two tiny squirrels turning into little boys; how they had distinct personalities from the second they were born and how they teach themselves all the things that I thought I was supposed to teach them as a mother. Really, putting the round blocks into the round hole and using a fork to eat rice are skills I would love to take credit for, but they just watched us and started doing it when they were ready.

Taking your children home for the first time: It was dark, cold and we were in a taxi: the babes, my boyfriend, and my friend Sam, who had been with us during labour. Alex and Ivan were wrapped up in about a thousand blankets, and Sam and I held one each close to us while Omid was chatting to the driver. I remember looking outside and realising that I had completely forgotten there was a world bigger than the hospital room where I had spent the first week cosied up with my babies. I was excited and at the same time a little bit sad. My first lesson in letting them go, I suppose.

The best/worst advice: The best advice I got from a website, where a mother explained that she parents by three questions: Is it safe? Is it respectful? Is it kind? If it ticks these three boxes, my kids are allowed to do it. Which is basically the opposite from the worst advice, which came from my dad, who told my sister that by not curbing my children’s desire to touch the cd player or throw food on the floor I am abandoning them to a life of lawless savagery. After that I worried for a while that I was living by my idea of freedom more for my sake than theirs, but actually they are turning into very enterprising, yet responsible, social and considerate kids. Hopefully that will prove to be more than a phase!

The hardest parts of being a mother:

Knowing that all the life decisions I have made so far and make from now on, affect these two little people just as much as me. I have lived quite an adventurous life, with lots of spur of the moment decisions. If I hadn’t been like that, Ivan and Alex wouldn’t be here now. But it also means I am raising them with a man I am still getting to know, in a rented flat I hate, in a city where neither of us have family or close friends.

The best parts of being a mother: Sharing in their happiness. I love how they meet all the everyday stuff like saying hello in the morning, getting breakfast, bringing out the toys, going out, dancing in the living room, and on and on, with smiles and laughter. Being part of so much joy has really changed my outlook on life.

Hopes for your family: To stay a happy band of dancing, singing gypsies that offers a safe place for the four of us and the ones we love, to be who we are and develop into what we want to be. It’s not that much to ask for, is it?

What advice would you offer to new and expectant mums: To women expecting twins I would say: take it one day at a time and remember that it will take you longer to get some (any!) normalcy back than the mums of singletons around you, but it will come back. Also, prepare comebacks to comments such as: Which is the evil one? Are they both yours? And awww, twins, such a blessing – when you just managed to get them and yourself about decent enough to sneak out of the house for some emergency shopping, after failing for four hours.

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