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A Celebration of Motherhood

Here, in this celebration of motherhood, we shine the light on just a handful of some of the amazing mothers who are raising children amidst a global pandemic. 
  • Hannah Bradford
  • March 08, 2021

Today is International Women’s Day . A day when the world stops to recognise the inequalities and biases that women across the globe face every day. This year, the theme is “Choose To Challenge”.

With women predominantly shouldering the burdens of care and homeschooling amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, here at DockATot we choose to challenge the hidden pressures that mothers face. The often unrecognised and thankless tasks of daily mothering that really need to be celebrated, particularly in these unprecedented times.

We want to recognise you, the mothers of the world’s next generation, as heroes of this pandemic. The mothers protecting their children from scary truths, the mothers homeschooling by day and working by night, the mothers nurturing newborns in isolation - all of you who continue to care, to teach, to nurture and protect so often at the expense of your own wellbeing. You are all heroes.

So here, in this celebration of motherhood, we shine the light on just a handful of some of the amazing mothers who are raising children amidst a global pandemic.

Jess

For Jess, this last year has involved growing a baby, raising a toddler and battling a pandemic on the frontline with the NHS. She’s a medical researcher and surgeon-in-training, living in London with her husband and two boys - a 3 year old and a 3 week old. You can follow her journey over on her Instagram, @thesurgeonmum. Here Jess tells us honestly what pregnancy and mothering has been like for her over the last year.

What does motherhood mean to you?

Becoming a mother is probably the hardest, but also the most rewarding thing I have ever done. The immense responsibility (and sleep deprivation!) is overwhelming at times, but it's incredible seeing these tiny humans you made develop their own unique personalities. Motherhood is juggling a million jobs and multitasking to the nth degree - making dinner whilst breastfeeding and entertaining a toddler! But it puts all my other problems into perspective- nothing is as important to me as being a good mum.

What’s been your most challenging moment since becoming a mother?

This last year has been a really tough year for a lot of parents. There has been so much out of our control, and the anxiety over the effect this pandemic has had on our children has added extra stress. My 3 year old has missed seeing his grandparents, and it’s been so hard not being able to tell him when he can see them again. Explaining to him on trips to the park why he can’t play in the playground, or why he can’t see his friends has been heart-breaking.

Tell us how it felt to be working for the NHS through the pandemic whilst expecting a baby.

I found out I was pregnant during the first lockdown. We were so happy and excited, but also anxious about what coronavirus would mean for my pregnancy. The risks of coronavirus in pregnancy were still relatively unknown at the time, and as I saw increasing numbers of my colleagues get very ill with coronavirus it felt inevitable that I would catch the virus at some point in my pregnancy. Every scan or midwife appointment I was convinced they would find something wrong, and this was made worse by the fact I had to attend all appointments on my own. I love my job but felt a lot of guilt that by going to work I might be putting my family and pregnancy at risk.

This period in the NHS is unprecedented, but I’m so proud of how all my colleagues in the NHS have gone above and beyond to provide the best care possible. Unfortunately, I think this has often been to the detriment of their own mental and physical health.

Describe mothering through the Covid-19 pandemic in 3 words.

Stressful, Surreal, Rewarding (in that I get to spend so much more time with my family).

What is the single most useful piece of advice that you were given as a new mum?

Trust your instincts. You will receive endless parenting advice and opinions from friends, family and strangers, but ultimately you need to do what is best for you and your family. You know your baby better than anyone else so if you feel something is wrong then trust that instinct and get it checked out.

If you could have anything as a gift for Mother’s Day this year, what would you choose?

I think this last year has made me really appreciate things I used to take for granted. I would love to have a family day out somewhere for Mother’s Day or take the kids swimming, but unfortunately that isn’t possible this year. While we wait for restrictions to ease, I'll settle for my husband taking the kids for a few hours in the morning so I can get a quick lie-in before the baby needs another feed!

Alice

Alice lives in Leicestershire with her husband and two children, Ralph (3) and Winnie (1). She’s a pastoral support worker at a local secondary school and a keen photographer. Check out her Instagram feed to see the beautiful photos she takes of her family as well as her open and raw account of battling cancer. Alice tells us about what it was like to be diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer last summer whilst continuing to nurture and protect her two young children through a pandemic.

What does motherhood mean to you?

Everything. Motherhood makes you put the safety and happiness of these little extensions of yourself before everything else, and it makes it automatic. Don’t get me wrong: sometimes they can get on your last nerve, but all it takes is one cuddle or an, “I love you Mummy” and it becomes the best thing ever all over again.

What’s been your most challenging moment since becoming a mother?

The most challenging moment I’ve had as a mother was being diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer last July. Having to carry on as if nothing is wrong when I’m with the kids has been incredibly hard, but focusing on parenting has really helped me during this time and the love they give back means everything to me.

What do you find most rewarding about being a mother?

The fact that your kids give you unconditional love, regardless of what’s happening with you or with the world. They also draw you into their way of seeing the world, which makes things that you might normally consider mundane become magical.

Describe mothering through the Covid-19 pandemic in 3 words.

My Saving Grace.

And the best piece of advice that you were given as a new mum?

Just do you! When you become a mum, everyone will try and give you advice. Ultimately, do what you think is best for your kids.

If you could have anything as a gift for Mother’s Day this year, what would you choose?

My health (although I don’t think you can buy that in a shop).

Mary

Managing a small business whilst homeschooling and caring for a newborn baby is no mean feat! Mary tells us about her experiences of mothering over the last year whilst running NeuOil, a natural aromatherapy brand that makes essential oil blends for babies.

What does motherhood mean to you?

Motherhood has been a real journey of exploration into my own character and flaws! It really is like holding up a mirror to yourself in the worst (and also sometimes better) times of the day and being confronted with the most extreme sides of your personality. I love how being a parent takes the focus well and truly off yourself and teaches you how to love and prioritise another little soul. It's very liberating!

What’s been your most challenging moment since becoming a mother?

I would say that the last year has been the biggest challenge for me. My last pregnancy and birth of our third child has all been during the covid era and it was a huge challenge to homeschool a reception child, look after a three-nager and grow another little one all at the same time. All whilst continuing to run my own business.

A real low-point has been realising the emotional impact this last year has had on my 5 year old. You feel so powerless when you can't offer them the answers and you have so little in the tank yourself. I'm so glad that it's (hopefully) nearly over...and that we decided to get some chickens to entertain us all!

What do you find most rewarding about being a mother?

Seeing the way my girls love and cherish each other. I am so proud of the little people they are becoming - and seeing the fierce love they have for our baby boy makes me so proud to call them mine.

Describe mothering through the Covid-19 pandemic in 3 words.

Unrelenting. Surprising. Remote.

What is the single most useful piece of advice that you were given as a new mum?

A happy mummy means a happy baby so do what is right for you...whether that's breast or bottle, baby-led or routine focused. I’ve got better at this third time round and learnt (finally) to listen to my instincts.

Sophie

Sophie has worked in the world of glossy magazines for the last twenty years. Ten of these years were taken-up with a breast cancer diagnosis, recovery and then an epic quest to become a mother after chemo stole her fertility. In her own words, Sophie says this last year has been ‘very well spent, locked-in but raising my beautiful daughter, born via our wonderful surrogate Rebecca’. She told us all about her first experiences of motherhood.

What does motherhood mean to you?

Well so far it is totally undefinable, but what it represents because of the way we got here is huge. It means incredible collaboration, heart breaking kindness, the biggest project of my life and the most magical outcome possible. A child that couldn’t be more adored and that now makes every minute of my day more meaningful. Even the bad ones!

What’s been your most challenging moment since becoming a mother?

My most challenging moment since becoming a mother is more a collection of moments. I feel constantly anxious about what I’m not able to do and therefore what she isn’t doing. I had it mapped out in my head - maternity leave would be baby classes and socialising, baby swimming, baby play dates. She is so isolated and cries when she sees another person. And she can’t swim! Argh! It bothers me every day.

Describe mothering through the Covid-19 pandemic in 3 words.

Not As Expected.

And your perfect Mother’s Day gift?

A high rate of pre-orders of my book The Mother Project which is out on 27th May! In all seriousness I’m very excited for it to come out, it was a real labour of love (if you’ll pardon the pun) and I hope it will help encourage anyone at any stage of their journey to parenthood - from just thinking about it, to those struggling like I did - that you can laugh through the tears. Because there will be tears!

Other than that a sleep-in would be magic, thanks!

Nadia

Nadia is mum to four beautiful children - Mason, aged five, and one-year-old triplets - Carson, Carter and Wynter. Take a look at her Instagram, @nadia_thorburn, for an insight into her life. We talked to Nadia about her experiences of motherhood and the highs and lows of parenting over the last year.

What does motherhood mean to you?

Motherhood to me is an exhausting, incredible PRIVILEGE! It’s full of challenges and rewards that are bound together by the unconditional love I feel for my four tiny humans. Motherhood is a gift! 

What’s been your most challenging moment since becoming a mother? 

One thing I do find most challenging is finding balance between keeping everyone else’s cup full and keeping my own full as we go. As a working mum to a five-year-old and one-year-old triplets, I put too much pressure on myself at times with everything I would like to do vs what I can actually achieve realistically. I’m learning that mum can’t pour from an empty cup - I can only do my best and that is enough! 

And your most challenging parenting moment over the last year? 

It would be dealing with mum guilt and personal anxieties of hoping Mason is coping with not only having just had three new siblings, but also a lockdown that has completely changed life as he knows it. I’m so proud of how he’s taken on his big brother role.

What do you find most rewarding about being a mother?

My children have honestly been the making of me. I’m better for and because of them, so that in itself is a huge reward. The hugs and kisses from your little ones are the best reward you could ever have.. there’s no better feeling! 

Describe mothering through the Covid-19 pandemic in 3 words.

Challenging, Repetitive, Empowering.

I chose to finish with empowering because honestly, if we can parent through this pandemic we can parent through anything!

What is the single most useful piece of advice that you were given as a new mum?

Don’t sweat the small stuff. If you’re not on top of your washing, haven’t batch cooked meals, haven’t got your makeup on, or you’re eating nutella out the jar at 3am to get you through the night feeds (guilty!)... don’t sweat it, you're doing amazing! 

If you could have anything as a gift for Mother’s Day this year, what would you choose?

If i could have anything as a gift for this mother’s day it would definitely be SLEEP, no doubt!!!

A Note To Fathers

Dads, where would we be without you? This celebration of motherhood isn’t intended as a dismissal of all the amazing fathers who continue to care for their children throughout the pandemic. It’s a recognition of the fact that Coronavirus lockdowns have turned back the clock when it comes to gender equality. Research has shown that women are more likely to lose work and take on extra childcare duties as a result of the pandemic.

We choose to challenge the traditional gender stereotypes and social norms that have driven this pattern. And who knows, perhaps the flexible ways of working that the pandemic has induced may give fathers more freedom and opportunity to take on a greater caregiving role in the home.

Let’s continue to #ChooseToChallenge as we move closer towards a world of gender equality, both in the workplace and at home with the family.

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