Java, Gryffin and Elwin

Name: Java

Children and ages: Gryffin (practically 4) and Elwin 1

Location: Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire

Previous blog entry:

Life since the last blog post: We have since moved from Manchester to rural West Yorkshire, renovated a small terraced house, had another baby, cancelled a wedding due to the unexpected pregnancy, started three new businesses between us and now we’re planning for a civil partnership celebration in the summer. Everything feels like it has accelerated and slowed down simultaneously since having kids.

Motherhood since last being on the blog: We are now four, the sound and madness in our home has multiplied. I am both more patient and irritable. Tired and determined. I am more confident in making decisions than I used to be, probably because they need to be made quicker.  

Has motherhood changed you?: Motherhood has changed me in countless ways. A year and a half ago I decided to focus on my illustration and styling work, alongside selling vintage homewares. They are all things I have done over the years but had never taken particularly seriously. Having Gryffin made me consider them seriously as a job instead of a hobby, and having Elwin was the final catalyst. I needed something to do that didn’t involve mothering. In some ways losing myself to the all absorption of motherhood helped me find myself in more personal ways. A combination of frustration, boredom and a need to earn money again helped seal the deal. 

My body has changed. I never seem to sit down, I climb hills with the pram or the hiking rucksack and rarely eat an uninterrupted meal, yet am heavier than I have ever been. I am sturdy and comfortable like a sofa for the boys to pull apart and climb on. 

My first experience of motherhood was five years ago when we lost our daughter Alma at six months of pregnancy. She had been diagnosed with DiGeorge syndrome and an interrupted aortic arch, so we made the earth shattering decision to have her life terminated. Nothing has really been the same since then. To be on the cusp of motherhood and then lose her, it changed me irrevocably. It woke me up to the chaos and unpredictability of life, something that I have experienced in many other ways since Gryffin and Elwin came along. I am still working on my ability to be at peace with this chaos, I hope to embrace it with far more humility than I have previously.

Hardest parts of being a mother: Frustration and losing my temper are the two things I struggle with the most. It probably doesn’t help that I have been running on adrenaline for the last four years as our boys aren’t great sleepers. I permanently feel like I’m gasping for air, grabbing at time, snapping at Gryffin after asking him a million times to put his shoes on, and then instantly feeling the pit of regret and guilt in my stomach. In one respect I need to do my own work for my sanity, but trying to juggle it with parenting has added a whole new dimension of frustration. I need to remember that this will change.

Another awful thing about being a mother is witnessing another child not wanting to play with your child. Utterly heartbreaking. 

Best parts of being a mother: I never knew how much fun it could be. Hearing the boys laughing at a poo or bogey joke is one of the greatest sounds on earth. 

It’s fascinating getting to know these two people who have their own clear personalities and interests from birth. 

And the tender moments of affection that are so different to any other kind I have ever experienced. 

The hugs, the kisses, the snuggles in bed when they’re not tossing and turning. 

The honour of being witness to a child’s first experience of so many things…eating a strawberry, seeing snow, discovering they love punk music. It’s impossible not to be completely delighted by life in that moment. 

They have broadened my mind and stretched my heart. 

And taught me a lot about poo.

What you wish you’d known before having children: I wish I’d known just how naive I was to expect babies to simply slot into our life and adapt to our ways. I kept on expecting things to return to ‘normal’, but they never will, and that’s fine, great even. I just wish I’d had more of an idea. And I wish I had been prepared for just how exhausted it is possible to be.

Any more advice for mothers and expectant mums: Take help where you can get it, don’t be shy, ask for it, demand it, accept it. Set up a childcare swap system with friends and family, try and find a community. Swap photos with other mums of just how awful your days can end up being. Be honest and unashamed of the full spectrum of emotions you will go through, I guarantee there will be at least one other mum out there who has felt exactly the same.

You can find Java here:

Instagram: @javabere


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