Introducing our Motherhood Muse for August, my older sister Felicity Turner – mother of Isabella who is just turning 2. We chatted to Felicity about balancing work/mum life, the bond she has grown with Isabella and all the little surprises she has learnt about herself.
Tell us about Isabella and what becoming her mum has taught you?
Isabella is about to turn 2 and is full of beans. She is cheeky and energetic and very loving. She is super routine and loves to sleep which I’m so grateful for. She continues to amaze me every day with the way she finds joy in the smallest things in life. Everything is a game, I just love it when she looks at me with that eye like she’s saying ‘come on mama let’s have some fun’. She is going to be trouble when she’s older, and I just know she will be the class clown. But at the same time she loves ballet and dollies and when she has a dress on she parades around and loves to be told how beautiful she looks!
The biggest thing she has taught me is what really matters in life. It’s unbelievable the love you develop for your child, and that only gets stronger by the day. It’s funny because she’s so reliant on me but at the same time I am now so reliant on her. She is my entire reason for being and makes me want to work harder, be a better partner, daughter, sister and friend. It’s hard to explain but it’s like becoming a mum has taught me to really value even the smallest things, and to make the most of every moment. I guess seeing how quickly she changes and develops has highlighted the fragility of life for me.
I’ve also learnt a little more about me as a person. While I’m really passionate about development and encouraging learning and experiences, I’m not that mum that has a playroom at home with all the activities set up and ready to go. My brain just doesn’t work that way, and while I love watching Isabella develop and be a part of that, I have learnt that I’m better doing my thing to build my career and Isabella can learn with the experts. Then at the end of the day and on the weekend, I’m a much better mother and we have a wonderful time together.
What advice would you give yourself in the early days of motherhood?
This too shall pass! And it’s the same advice I continue to give myself just about every day. And when it does pass, I often miss whatever it was because in the moment it is always so much worse than in your memory. So when I find myself saying that, I also try to savour a bit of the moment. Not always the terrible two tantrums though! But honestly I just feel so lucky to have Isabella and the good comes with the bad. It’s all just part of it, right?
Absolutely. Mum and I have always been incredibly close but there is nothing quite like seeing your mother hold your daughter, and watching their bond develop. I love that I’ve been able to give mum that joy as well.
Of course I have a whole new sense of respect for mum, especially since she raised four of us and I am just scraping by with 1! I also feel a lot of guilt about how I treated her when I was a teenager (I’ve got all the teenage girl fun to look forward to now as punishment!) and the times I’ve caused her worry or pain. Only now do I really understand what that must have felt like so in some small way I try to make up for it now.
I think the biggest change in our relationship is that we can bond as mothers, she is the most wonderful support for me and is always there to listen and give advice but most of the time it's just about having someone get what you’re going through.
Biggest challenge vs biggest reward of motherhood?
My biggest challenge is wanting to do it all, and I think this is pretty typical of any mum these days. The social media society that we live in shows us everyone’s ‘life highlight reels’ which tends to leave us in constant comparison mode. And for me, when I feel I’m not giving my daughter the big birthday party, or the holiday or enough of my time, I struggle with feeling like I’m not doing enough for her. Then I worry I’m not giving enough to my work, or to my partner, or having the house clean and tidy enough. It’s just a constant battle.
The biggest reward is when I walk in the door at night when I get home from work and this gorgeous little tot waddles towards me yelling ‘mama’ to give me a big hug. And she’s just started saying ‘I love you’ which is pretty rewarding too! There’s nothing better than coming home to that, especially after a bad day at work!
What has surprised you the most about motherhood?
Before you have a child it’s impossible to imagine just how much you will love that little human. Everyone tells you that it’s this unbelievable, intense love but I have to say I’ve been surprised at exactly what that feels like. It’s like having a piece of my heart outside of my body.
I also catch myself out just staring at her a lot. I love watching her little face and she plays and thinks and learns. I never thought I’d find it so fascinating. There is something about watching her that blows me away – this being I’ve created, who is 100% reliant on me, is developing bit by bit in to her own little person. It makes me think a lot about cultural evolution and how and why we develop the way we do.
I think I’ve also been surprised about how much I’ve put myself last, but also realised that I have to put myself first sometimes so that I can be in shape (mentally and physically) to be the best mum. And its super hard to do this in amongst everything else that I want to be doing! But I have to force myself to get the exercise in, get the sleep, and do some things for me. This doesn’t happen much by the way!
What’s your favourite thing to do with Isabella?
I love doing the simple things with Isabella. We read books together, well she turns the pages and talks in her little language as she does it, but we sit next to each other as its happening! I like walking with her, and watching her as she sees something that catches her eye and stops to explore it. She’s not the cuddliest but there is nothing better than sitting on the couch snuggling while we watch silly animal videos on You Tube (her latest fav). Lately one of my favourite things to do with her is have conversations! I’ve always talked to her a lot, but now she is starting to converse back with me. I don’t often understand what she is saying but every now and then a word comes out that’s new and that’s just the best!
Who are you outside of being a mum, what do you get up to when you’re not in mum mode?
Honestly there isn’t a lot to me these days outside of work and being a mum. I’m either doing one or the other, but am trying to put more time in to my family and friends. I love to create things, baking, crafts, writing etc, so sometimes I get to do a bit of that but there is always something else to be done.
How are you planning to celebrate Isabella’s second birthday?
Because Isabella has no idea it’s her birthday or what a birthday is, her birthday will be low key but we will still have all the rituals of the cake, presents, family to visit etc. My partner and I have decided that every year on her birthday we will take the day off and spend it together. She loves animals so this year we are going to Kiwi Valley Farm in the morning then her cousins, Nana and Aunty and Uncles will come over for cake and an early dinner. And maybe a glass of champagne for mum!