Ellie, Lucas, Aurora and Jake

Name: Ellie

Children: Lucas, 4,  Aurora, 2, Jake, 2 – they are twins

Location: Stockport

Expectations of Motherhood: Before I had Lucas, I planned to return to work after 6 months. I had a promising career in PR and communications and I didn’t want to lose everything I’d worked hard for. I thought maternity leave would be so much fun – meeting new mum friends for coffee while my newborn slept peacefully in a pram. I anticipated I’d have time for hobbies, such as knitting and reading. I think my whole expectation of parenthood was based on films and TV programmes.

Reality of Motherhood: It was like someone took the pieces of my life and threw them into the air – when they landed, my life was unrecognisable.
When Lucas was born, I struggled to bond with him and by the time I had, I knew I wouldn’t be ready to return to work as soon as I had planned. However, my post was made redundant when Lucas was 5 months old and after lots of discussion with my husband, I decided to put my career on hold and stay at home with our son. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Taking your children home for the first time: When we took Lucas home, I kept looking behind us, sure that a midwife would come and rescue him from his clueless parents. I couldn’t believe we were allowed to walk out of hospital with him! At home, we all sat and stared at him sleeping in his Moses basket (first and last time). We had no idea what we should have been doing.Our twins were born at home in a planned water birth, so there was no ‘taking home’. It was still very surreal, but I loved being at home. We put Lucas to bed, ate pizza and drank champagne.

The best/worst advice: My dad once told me that his best parenting advice was ‘fake it til you make it’. I was flabbergasted – he usually seemed to have it all together raising me as a single parent, but he was faking it! I always come back to that advice, and I think he was encouraging me to trust my instincts.

I’ve had lots of poor advice, but the one thing I’m still cross about is the suggestion to buy a top and tail bowl. I cannot think of a more useless object to purchase.

The hardest parts of being a mother: The relentlessness. We have 3 children under 5; there is no break. We are always rushing, always on a knife-edge, and it is very difficult. For a long time I struggled with my new identity as a stay-at-home-parent. I now run 3 businesses and do some volunteer work, and this has helped me to feel like me again. Parenting is such a thankless job, isn’t it?

The best parts of being a mother: My children. I sometimes sneak a glance at them and I cannot believe they are ours. They are little miracles, and watching them grow up is a magnificent gift. I feel incredibly lucky that we are happy, healthy, and financially secure.

Has becoming a mother changed you? My priorities have changed. My family will always come first, and after being out of the workplace for 5 years, I cannot imagine returning. My previous job would have been hard to balance with a young family, and the truth is I like being there for school runs, school events, and playgroups. Some of my pre-children friends have found this hard to understand – I would have too before having my son. At the social enterprise that I run, we want to help parents to develop their skills and experience while raising young families, without sacrificing time with their children.

Hopes for your family: I hope they are, and continue to be, happy. I hope they always know how much we love them; how hard we try, even when we don’t get it right. I hope they will come to us when they are struggling, and that we will be a safe space for them.

What advice would you offer to new and expectant mums? Talk about how you feel. You might think you’re the only one feeling overwhelmed, but you aren’t! We need to talk about how hard the transition to parent can be – it is life-changing in the truest sense of the phrase.

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