The Joyous Imperfection of Motherhood.

 

Oohh how I knew it all! how I thought I knew it all. What an amazing Mum I was going to be.

 Confidence, overconfident, too cocky, mothers day

 

Suddenly you realise that motherhood does not come with an instruction manual. When I ponder on this, I would probably have bypassed it anyway – like who… reads a manual?

 All those things my mother did (that I thought could be improved upon) …I was never going to do. All those things other people did to appease their children…I was not going to do them either. Because I knew better, I knew it all.

 Motherhood is not a straight line to success. It is like the image that shows a straight line for success then there is the one that wiggles all over the place. That is motherhood. It is the most exhilarating, exciting, loving, deep and fantastic thing that can happen to any women. It satisfies our deepest need that of reproduction, it creates a bond that is there for life, it creates the next dimension in the relationship with your beloved. Then add into the mix the frustrations, sleepless nights, agonies over am I doing the right thing, tearing your hair out and you have the perfect mix – the joyous imperfection of motherhood.

 To set the scene I am looking back over motherhood from the age of 70 so I have many experiences ranging from the miniscule to the monumental to reflect back over. I thought I would do it over the decades. There have been so many opportunities for self-growth through my years of motherhood.

 Reflecting on my Mum from when I was a child – she taught me was unconditional love and a love of reading – my fondest memories were of sitting before the wood stove in winter all curled up listening to her soft voice reading the same stories over and over. She also taught me about love, respect and listening. She never tired of hearing about what I was up to until she passed away aged 92.

 

 babyhood, no pics with mum, smiling, motherhood,

In my teens, I was a victim of pack rape. A pregnancy and adoption followed, they were my darkest days. It skewed my idea of motherhood for a number of years. The welfare workers of the day (this was the 1960’s) told me I was beyond redemption, a disgrace to myself and everyone else up to and including the Universe. ‘Go nursing’ they said, ‘no decent man will ever want you’. So I did, I did not think marriage or motherhood was ever going to be for me.

 Moving into my 20’s I met this wonderful man who thought the sun, moon and stars shone out of me and we married. I was 24 and he had 4 children aged 10-16. Being a stepmother was never in the plan and in the 70’s it made me an oddity in the community, blended families were a change from the norm… A year later we had a son together. Having 5 children blew every notion I had about motherhood out the window. I was so busy doing what had to be done all fancy thoughts, judgements and high and mighty ideas disappeared. Looking back now there were so many things I could have done better. A wise friend told me in later years that ‘I did the best with the skills I had at that time.’ Sure, I would do it differently today, hindsight is a wonderful thing.

 

Motherhood, happiness, unconditional love

Into my 30’s I became a mother -in -law and a grandmother. I was definitely not ready to be ‘Granny’ at 35. My 30’s and 40 saw me as a mediator, supporter, sometimes the enemy, organiser, fixer and confidante. The kids grew up, the grandchildren grew up and my role changed with every season.

 My thoughts today are that motherhood is not a right and children are not possessions, we do not own them. It is the greatest privilege that can be bestowed on a couple to become a Mum and a Dad. We are their caretakers, there to love, cherish and guide them into adulthood. To give your children the skills to fly alone, to support them through difficult years, be that shoulder to cry one, the best cheerleader in the world and to teach them to be independent is a huge responsibility.

 In my mid-fifties, I became a widow and the children came to my aid. It changed the relationships and they became the carer when I was again in a dark place. Today my grandchildren ranging in age from 6 to 36 and there are now great grandchildren. Families are not all about everlasting happiness, not about never having a challenge, not about agreeing all the time. Things happen, life happens. What is important is to always leave the door open and use your unconditional love in the way that best suits your situation.

 My wish now is to be a role model for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren so in time they will look back with love and fondness and cherish their memories of Grannie Di. For them to she had her ways, but it is Ok that she was ‘perfectly imperfect’.

 Parenting has changed and I am in awe of how young mothers cope today. Each generation has their own challenges and triumphs.

 Wherever you are in your years of your motherhood, know you are beautiful, watched over and you enjoy the privilege of experiencing the joyous imperfection of being a mother. I urge you lose yourself in your unconditional love and to forgive yourself for the times when it goes belly up. It truly is the most rewarding role you will have ever.

 Even when your Mum drives you crazy, remember she brought you into this world and made sacrifice’s you may never be aware of…love her anyway.

 Huge hugs and happy mothering.

Di Riddell

Confidence for Women 50+ after facing a life-changing challenge

Author of “Beyond Abuse’

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