My daughter is very reflective – she gets that from me. I thought it would be a good idea to ask her what she’d do differently with her kids when she becomes a mother. She told me she’d give them more chores. Lauren said she’d get them cleaning and cooking and contributing to the family more. She’s probably right, I’ve always been aware of being a little bit softer than maybe I should’ve been, but motherhood is a journey and boundaries and rules didn’t always come easy to me.
The early years
I remember the sheer joy of meeting Lauren. There’s nothing more terrifying and wonderful than meeting your child for the first time. Our life together didn’t get off to the smoothest start, my marriage ended when Lauren was one, and I found myself single with a little someone who was entirely dependent on my every decision. Single, but soon to discover that I was very far from alone.
Lauren’s grandparents on both sides were amazing. I’d probably go as far to say that family was my saviour. Those early years gave me a whole new level of appreciation of family and what that meant. I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated my parents as much as I did during that season. My antenatal groups were also really important as I navigated the ups and downs of teething and lack of sleep. They gave me a place to share the realities of what I was going through. Young mums reading this – if I can encourage you to do anything, get along to one of those.
It actually does take a village
Parenting has taught me very distinctly that it’s not all about having a tight tidy little family unit. It extends out. It truly takes a village, and my village is made up of pieces of all of our families and friends – Lauren’s dad, my husband’s, and mine. Sometimes I wish someone had told me how important those things would be, and how grateful I’d come to be for them. I’m also deeply grateful for my daughter. I’m pretty lucky to have a nineteen year old daughter who texts me every day and openly tells people that I’m her best friend.
Friendship and communication
My daughter is amazing (said every mother ever, but I’m telling the truth about mine I promise). She’s on a sporting scholarship and she’s studying science. I have no idea where she got it from, but she’s so passionate about science. Lauren is thoughtful and intelligent and capable and I am so proud of who she is and who I know she will become.
I think we became best friends because I discovered early on that communication was going to be key. That’s the single most important piece of parenting advice I think I was ever given – keep talking, keep listening. Don’t jump in and criticise, even when hearing what she’s saying is hard. And if what is being shared with you is beyond what you know how to deal with, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
We’ve always invested in time with one another. We used to always do afternoon dates over the weekend. They didn’t have to be expensive, sometimes it would be as simple as heading to the pond and feeding the ducks (which I’ve since learnt is dangerous for ducks, but I’m sure you could still go and have a look at them together). Time together in the car was also invaluable, it’s possible I’m the only person in Auckland who has ever been grateful for terrible traffic. It created time for us to sit together, screens down, and just chat through what was going on in our worlds.
My dream for my daughter
My hope for Lauren is similar to that of any other parent, albeit cheesy, and it’s just that she has the courage to chase after her dreams and the confidence to make her own decisions. When I was her age, my life was expected to be very structured and follow a very linear path. I don’t dream that for my daughter, I dream the opposite. I hope she pursues her passions and finds joy through those journeys.
One of the best moments of my life as a mum, and actually just my life in general, was a day when I got a text from my daughter to ask me what time I was coming home. I drove into the garage and Lauren came down the stairs with a small bouquet of flowers. She hugged me and just said “I love you and I don’t know what I’d do without you.” I cried. Lauren had been at home studying that day, so she’d taken all the pocket money she’d saved up to the florist up the road, just to get me what she could. It was the effort, the thought, and the words.
What to do this Mother’s Day
It’s the morning of Mother’s Day, and I’m aware that the younger of you will be reading this in the hopes Parenting Place will provide a magic last minute Mother’s day gift for you to give to your mum in an hour or two. I’d suggest a phone call. That, or a handmade card (that’s the only thing better than the sound of a child who loves you and is trying to articulate that somewhat awkwardly over the phone). Just make an effort, put in some thought, and use your words. That’s all your mum ever wanted from you anyway.
This article was written by Sue Morse, Parenting Place’s Fundraising Manager. She’s passionate about helping families in Aotearoa and believes in the power of authentic stories.