VOICES: THE MOTHER
I should begin by saying that I have tried writing this introduction six times and every single time I end up crying. So I will try and keep this short.
While I have always treasured my girlfriends, I don’t think any of us expected to learn just how important sisterhood is like we have in this past year. I firmly believe that life unfolds in the exact way it is supposed to, and things are brought into our life only when we are ready. That couldn’t be more true for the next ‘Voice’ in my series.
I’ve known Georgie since we were 10 weeks old, and while I can’t speak for the ten weeks prior to our first introduction, there are a few things I know to be true. She is incredibly intelligent. She is fiercely loyal to those she loves. And she is outrageously funny, not just on the good days, but when life is really shitty too. She has a way of finding the humour in anything, which is a more valuable quality in a friend than you might expect.
This is Georgie’s story. About motherhood, about strength and about the power of love. I couldn’t be more proud.
May 2016, Aged 3 1/2 months
To my darling Hudson Harlow,
I always imagined what it would be like to have a little girl, a mini-me, and to be honest the idea scared me shitless. I was cute as a kid, hell-raising as a teenager and a drunken mess as an early twenty-something. So to think that I would have to go through what my parents did…well, it would take a lot of wine to get through it alive. However, sometimes reality doesn’t quite play out the way we imagined it. Sitting with your Poppa at the age of 13 in a fertility doctor’s room to be told I would very likely never have children was heartbreaking. While some women decide that children aren’t for them, I always knew that somewhere along the track I wanted to have a big family just like my own. So “devastated” doesn’t even begin to describe the sinking feeling we both felt leaving that office.
Fast forward ten years and I was making my way through the typical “school-Uni-travel-job” path that most twenty-somethings fall into. Doing well at Uni and planning my next adventure – taking on The Big Apple post-graduation- was all my days consisted of, with wild nights at Little Easy taking up the rest of my time. Until one fateful afternoon, battling what I thought was a terrible hangover, I found out that there you were, in my belly, the size of a pea, but there nonetheless (you were affectionally to be known as Peanut from then on).
I won’t lie, it wasn’t all perfectly-staged instagram ‘bump’ pics and eating excessive amounts of McDonald’s disguised as “cravings”, the next nine months were tough. While falling pregnant was apparently the easy part, the journey it took us on was trying and testing, and pushed me to limits that I thought would break me. To begin with, your daddy and I had only been together for a few months and the thought of telling a 23 year old boy (I know he would prefer I said ‘man’ but his inability to do his own washing would beg to differ) that you are pregnant is daunting. Would he want anything to do with the baby? Would he still want anything to do with me? Would I be left to face this all on my own? While I knew how amazing your daddy was, being told you are going to be a father at our age isn’t like being asked if you would like to become Facebook official. But as I had imagined, he was all in and in love with you from the very moment he saw you on the screen. I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive, loving and comforting boyfriend than your daddy, and the first motto of our journey was made, “We can do it if we do it together.” To this day it is teamwork that get’s us through.
Telling your Poppa was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. We never really spoke about the news the fertility doctor had given me because it just wasn’t “time”. I was in my last year of my BCom/LLB, with plans to do a year in New York as a bit of break before settling down into a grad position. Poppa was counting down the days until he could finally cut up my credit card and I would enter into adulthood with little to no savings but a fantastic wardrobe (thank you Karen Walker). Driving out to meet him I felt sick, I felt like a failure, I felt like I was going to be letting him down and, most of all, I felt like I was a disappointment. How could I be in this position when I had done everything right to prevent it? But just like your daddy, Poppa took the news of this incredible miracle on board and said he believed in me with all his heart and knew that I could do it if I set my mind to it. It was there that the second motto of our journey came to be, “I can do this. I just have to believe in myself as much as others believe in me.”
With everything going on during my pregnancy (trying to get through uni, Law Profs, and life in general), plus the stress of making sure the chicken sandwich I had just eaten hadn’t given me Listeria, I didnt have much time to think about what I was going to be like as a mummy. It was this ignorance to the fact that soon you wouldn’t just be a peanut but in fact a real-life princess, that has made my job a lot easier. I never built up expectations of an “ideal mother”, and thus have not found myself to be disappointed. The only type of mother I knew I wanted to be, was a loving one.
As I have learnt by meeting other mums, both young and old, the idea that society generates of who – or what – makes a good mum is, in simple terms, bullsh*t. Sure, being in your thirties, married, with a house and having dominated your career for the past 10 years might make you an incredible mum, but so can being 23 and having the amount of love that I have for you. It may mean that later on I have to give up valuable time with you to start climbing the corporate ladder but this is now driven by my love for you and only wanting the best for your future. I truly believe that age is just a number and anyone who becomes a mummy will understand it. The overwhelming, unconditional feeling of love that entered my life when I looked into your eyes for the first time made any concept of a “perfect” mum redundant. No age, no amount of money, nor success in your career can create that. Just having you did. And here the third motto of our journey emerges, “Be the best mum YOU can be.” Use your relationships with other mums to build yourself up but never, ever, compare yourself because that will only break you down. (P.S. Instagram can be hella-deceiving. No mum has her shit together 24/7, despite that well-dressed baby smiling back at you on what looks like a studio backdrop.)
The reality of being a young mum can be hard and sometimes I get jealous. Jealous seeing all of my fabulous girlfriends doing fabulous things. Impressing people at work and talking about promotions, making travel plans, going out and having wild memory-making (albeit memory-lacking..) nights. It’s hard not too, especially when people are always saying “live it up” in your twenties, they say it’s the best time to make (sometimes dignity-depleting) mistakes that you learn from and use when you are older. But see, my girl, this jealousy doesn’t eat at me, this jealousy drives me. There is a massive world out there for us to see, and we will do it together (and daddy can come too if he understands that shopping takes priority over sporting events).
While I may not be any older than my friends, sometimes I have to act like I am and I know there are still many mistakes out there for me to make (vastly different ones than I had imagined experiencing at this age). But what I have come to realise is that making mistakes, whether it be drunkenly sleeping with a random guy or learning the best way to hold a baby while feeding to stop power chucking, is all part of being in your twenties, and it doesn’t matter if you are a young mummy or a young single professional, making mistakes is the only way to grow.
Being your mummy has been my single greatest achievement kiddo. No amount of words could ever express how grateful I am for you choosing me. It’s been hella scary so far, there have been many tears- both yours and mine- and yes I admit there have been times when I have hid in the shower during one of your meltdowns thinking “What the hell am I doing? I’m still a kid myself, how can I be raising one?”, but there is no other way I would want my life to be. Having you has made my life plan (or lack thereof) even clearer: I want to be successful in my career for you, I want to travel the world with you, and I want to be the best I can be because of you. You are the inspiration I never knew I needed.
With the tears come triumph, with the meltdowns come memories and with every day we spend together my love for you grows. The beauty of being a young mummy is knowing we have so much growing up to do together. While I still have 7 more years of my twenties to navigate through and really have no idea what direction I am going in, having you by my side is all I need to help me make the right decisions for our little family. The next 7 years will be filled with many firsts which I am so excited to achieve with you. Your first words, and my first job. Your first steps and my first promotion (incredibly wishful thinking). Your first day of school and my first investment, and so on. While three years ago, when entering my twenties, I could never have pictured these being the ‘firsts’ I would be experiencing, on this day I can’t imagine anything that would make me more proud.
I have learnt in three and a half short months that being a mother involves learning about strengths you didn’t know you had and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed.
Hudson Harlow May, you are my greatest achievement, my greatest love and my greatest inspiration. You have made me a stronger and more determined person and give me a drive to succeed like no other motivation ever could.
No one else will ever know the strength of the love I have for you my girl. After all, you are the only one who knows what my heart sounds like from the inside.
Forever and Always,
Your Mummy XX
Words by Georgina Sanders