Children: Rose, 4 and Cerys, 21 months-ish (I’ve forgotten how to calculate months the second time around. Let’s say 1 and 3/4)
Expectations of Motherhood: My mum was 18 when she had my oldest sister and she was 26 by the time she finished with her third daughter (me). Both my parents were really hard working and we spent a lot of time with my grandparents growing up. And then when my oldest sister had kids (she is 8 years older than me) they were always around and my mum helped her out as did my other sister and me. So I guess I expected that having kids was going to be a group effort really. But being 3000 miles away from my parents and sisters (they are all in Canada) it hasn’t necessarily worked out that way! Tom’s parents are incredible though and when we get to Canada my family are all in there. So I guess we get the best of both.
I grew up in a very alternative household; my mum and dad split up, both parents remarried, both to women! I feel very lucky to have grown up in a gay household – my kids have so many grandmas! When we go home the whole family gets together, including my dad and his wife, and we have such a good time. Its getting harder to leave every time we go.
My mum loves to look after people, she was a nurse before she retired, and she was always looking after friends and family who needed a place to stay or were having troubles. My best friend practically lived with us when I was in high school and she still calls my mum, mum. I can really see that in myself as I get older. I imagine being the main host of sleepovers and picking the girls up in the middle of the night when they spent all their money with none left for the bus or taxi. My mum did that for me, I expect its my turn to do the same.
I expected motherhood to be an all round messy, painful, emotional and wonderful experience I think.
Reality of Motherhood: More or less what I expected except I’m surprisingly more tolerant to poo and far less tolerant to vomit than I thought, which surprised me. I don’t know why but it did. I held plenty of my friends hair over the loo after a night out and wiped their mascara smudged faces. But give me a child’s vomit and I go running to the hills. Poo on the other hand, is nothing. Its no worse than a wee (unless they poo in the bath; that’s difficult). So I guess the reality of motherhood is poo is alright, vomit is bad. Basically, your kids are just tiny versions of your drunk friend whose hair you held over the loo. But stickier. And cuter. And CBeebies was the best thing ever invented. As were raisins.
Taking your children home for the first time: It was great because my mum was there, but she lives in Canada and had to leave about 3 days later (with my first) and a week later (with my second). I remember having the grandparents round looking after the babies so Tom and I could go out for a drink alone, and there was actual semi-serious talk of absconding to Mexico or similar. At the age of 28 (and still cracking really crude innuendo jokes all the time) I felt a bit out of my depth and far too immature to be having children! But thanks to the wonders of the Internet, my family group were not far away! My poor sister got texts at 5am sometimes! But then both my girls have my sisters names as middle names, so that’s a fair trade-off, right?
The first time we took them to my home (Canada) was an amazing feeling. I left there one person and came back another, as a mother. That was hard for a lot of people to come to terms with! It’s really important to us that the girls know that they are both British and Canadian so I painstakingly recreate all Canadian holidays from our tiny house in Levenshulme and school and nursery are forced to comply!
It’s hard to remember our house without them in it now. I think we had a coffee table, I saw a picture of it the other day.
The best/worst advice: I can’t put my finger on anything in particular. I got a lot of good advice and a lot of bad advice when I was pregnant the first time. Some people like to say that there is no manual to having kids – but Waterstones is absolutely full of them!
The hardest parts of being a mother: Breastfeeding – doing it, not doing it, coming to terms with it, finding peace with it. I still struggle all this time later. For me, this was the hardest part, which made all other things seem so very easy.
The best parts of being a mother: That smug feeling when you look at your children and think, ‘I produced these gorgeous tiny people who are actually going to change the world’. And getting to do loads of fun crafts that you loved doing when you were little. And getting to read kids books. And making them laugh. People always think dads are the ones who make their kids laugh. They might do when they are older, but while they are babies mum is the comedian of the family.
I love seeing who my girls are turning out to be. They could not be more different, but you can really tell that they love each other. And they really love us. And we really love them. It’s a great big love in at our little place in Levenshulme! They will be amazing, no matter what they decide to do in life. I can tell that already.
Has becoming a mother changed you? Considering some of my family are kind-of still shocked that I have children, I would say so, yes! But all in good ways. Except now my older one is in school, I’m becoming ‘that parent’… But I make the claim that I am still as cool as I was before. I have a laugh at work and don’t bombard my colleagues with stories and photos (I don’t think – they might totally disagree with this) and I still like the things that I like. I think changing a little bit is good, but these kids are only on loan until they grow up and have kids themselves and so I don’t want to lose too much of who I was before. I’m probably not even that cool but one can dream!
We were the fist of our peer group to have children so we still had to kind-of be ourselves with all our single, childless friends. I complained so much that they didn’t have kids but actually, they kind of helped us to keep us as us. And I feel like we have paved the way for them now they are finally starting to settle down.
Hopes for your family: I hope the girls want to play games and hang out with us as they grow up. I remember always, until I was 25 and moved away, having a ‘family’ birthday party in addition to a kids party (which turned into clubbing when I was old enough to drink). We used to have Saturday nights every so often staying in and playing cards with my grandma, mum and my sisters. Those memories are so important. I hope that no matter where we are in the world, the UK, Canada, we will always look forward to being together when we can. I hope Tom and I can maintain our coolness as parents. When the kids are going out all the time, when they become teenagers, I’d like it if Tom and I still go to gigs and play games with friends and do the fun stuff that we enjoyed, and still enjoy, before the kids and while the kids are small.
What advice would you offer to new and expectant mums: The best advice I can offer is to have a contingency plan for everything! I’m an event planner by day so this is quite natural for me. But motherhood is definitely an event! Prepare for things to work, prepare for things not to work, prepare to have to change everything really quickly. And always have lots of food in case – it is the best way to combat any situation. And bibs. Think of as many bibs as you could possibly need and then double it. And get a few more just in case.
And go your own way. Motherhood is the strongest instinct I have ever physically felt; more than hunger or thirst. When I was in labour with Cerys, the only thing I could think about or focus on was Rose. Needing to get back to her, needing her to know that I was okay. It got me through labour. It got me home the same day. Go with your gut, you know what is right for your children and that is usually what was right for you as well.
Kate is a (nearly) full-time event planner for the University of Manchester, a mum, a wife and a hobby seeker (she’s started trying to knit, sew, cook, bake, garden, DIY, etc. Just about EVERYTHING so that as the kids grow up she can sort anything they need!). Kate is Canadian but moved here for a holiday in 2005 and never left due to an acquisition of a visa by marrying an Englishman. They are still married nearly 8 years on and has had two of his children, so this is the most elaborate sham marriage ever.