Ahead of Mother’s Day 2020 I had the chance to speak to five expectant mothers as part of The DC Edit’s ‘Zoom Conversations’ series. Over the trusty video conference platform I got to ‘meet’ these mums-to-be, who were well into at least the second trimester of their pregnancy. They entertained my sometimes awkward questions and shared stories with me — from their first thoughts upon discovering they were pregnant, to their biggest fears about impending motherhood and the precious lessons learnt from their own mothers.
Even though we were really just strangers to one another, I left each conversation feeling encouraged and oddly connected to these women. Perhaps what was more surprising to me was the personal lessons I took away, lessons that are relatable to every woman.
1. Sometimes the Best Plans Go Awry, and That’s Okay. Cross Each Bridge When You Reach It.
Co-founder of local cake shop In The Brickyard, Jia Min, 32 years old, is seven months into her second pregnancy. Bright, cheerful, and enthusiastic, you couldn’t tell this was someone who barely ate a proper meal each day balancing working full-time, while being less than eight weeks away from welcoming her second child. Jia Min’s first born Christopher, passed away at birth a year ago. That journey taught her a sobering life lesson: that even the best plans can fall through, because we simply can’t control everything.
What was a smooth sailing pregnancy didn’t end the way she thought it would. Although, she has turned what was a tragedy into a time of reflection and learning. It is a lesson she applies to her work too; as she faces new challenges for the business brought about from the coronavirus situation, all while preparing to welcome a newborn.
“There’s so much that you don’t know and you can’t control. Take each day at a time, cross each bridge when you reach it, instead of trying to pre-empt everything and prepare for everything.”, said Jia Min. “You have to be okay with it. Just go with the flow and everything that is coming to you, be okay and be accepting of it. If you’re in that mindset, there’s a lot less expectation and stress on yourself.”
2. Trust Your Instincts — Don’t Be Swayed by the Naysayers
I consider myself to be an independent and self-sufficient person. That’s something I quickly connected with Bertilla on early in our conversation. 30 years old and seven months into her first pregnancy, Bertilla is highly independent and full of drive — someone who distinctly knows what she wants. Perhaps it’s her fashion entrepreneur background talking, when just a few months into pregnancy, she already had the exact shape, colour and style of everything her baby will have in his nursery.
Funnily enough, my favourite story and lesson from the conversation with Bertilla was about a rattan basket. A seemingly innocuous choice of a rattan basket for a baby led to an avalanche of parenting advice and comments. Something which left Bertilla feeling really insecure about her abilities to be a mother, even though there was really nothing to worry or be judged for. But as her favourite artist Taylor Swift once said, “shake it off”.
“I started to feel like, am I a very lousy mother? Why am I not thinking about the safety of my kid and that I just want this beautiful looking rattan basket? I just learnt that you shouldn’t compare — this is your kid. Mothers have your own instincts and just work it your own way and go at your own pace,” shared Bertilla.
3. Motherhood: Constantly Worrying If You’re Good Enough — So Be Kind!
Being a mother is constantly questioning if you’re good enough for the job — even before you’ve started on it. For Sue Maine, 30, thoughts about whether she would be a good enough mother started as early as when she first found out she was pregnant. Feelings of self-doubt and excitement emerged with the news of the pregnancy. “There were no immediate fears but when that (pregnancy) settled in, I had concerns about whether I would be a good enough mum; would I be able to be a good role-model, bring up the child resources-wise etc”, recalled Sue Maine.
Like Sue Maine, the four mothers all had a story to share about worrying over their abilities as a mother. Very often, these thoughts come as they wrestle with different advice and opinions from others. So the lesson here is to be kind — to be mindful when we share our opinion because we never know how it would make someone feel. Don’t just dish opinions because it’s “good advice”. Instead, have a think first about whether it will be helpful to the person you’re talking to!
4. Find Your Support System & Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
Finding a community and a support system sounds like a very obvious lesson. But how many of us actually practice it? Kurtrina, 24, shared with me that her pregnancy emphasised to her the importance of community and support.
To Kurtrina, news about being pregnant came as a surprise to her and had upended her plans. She had planned to be married to her long-term boyfriend and was in the throes of planning her wedding when she discovered she was pregnant. Naturally, she faced different challenges including an initially worried father. But now that she’s seven months along and mere weeks from welcoming her baby boy, Kurtrina says that the experience has left her feeling deeply appreciative of her support system. “Pregnancy is not just about me, myself and my child. It’s about the people around me. Through this pregnancy I was very thankful and blessed for the kind of love and attention I’ve received. Not just from my husband, but from the people around me.”
We all need our support system not just for the challenges we’ll encounter. Sometimes we need them just as a reminder to pace ourselves and to not get caught up with unrealistic self-expectations. Mother to an energetic three year old and seven months into her second pregnancy, Adilah relies on her Telegram group of “mother friends” for not only her support system, but a reminder that each individual and parenting journey is unique, to fight against any unrealistic expectations. “Try to find the positive things and appreciate the little things that you get to achieve on a day0-to-day basis. For example, you get to vacuum the floor today, celebrate that, that’s good enough! Try to reach out to your friends, play some online games. Don’t put too much expectations on yourself, be realistic about what you can do in a day.”
A Reflection: Lessons In Motherhood
Needless to say, each of these women I spoke to still have — as they acknowledged — a lifetime of lessons to share while they look forward to experiencing life (and all its ups and downs) with their yet unborn child. Mother or not, lessons in motherhood are applicable to anyone, even myself.
So to all mothers out there — past, present, future — thank you for your unconditional love, for your bravery and for daily making the choice to be a mother; for giving us your whole heart, and so much more.
Watch the full video: