Lifestyle

It Takes A Village

Mother of two Leisha Wong spotlights her village

Sunday, May 13, 2018

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I'm not going to lie. I do not have this motherhood thing down pat. And that is the truth. Hey…I try… every day …and sometimes I get closer to the rim than others. But do I always know what I'm doing? Absolutely not!

And thankfully, I am not alone. But it took me a while to realise that. As well as understanding that there is nothing wrong in admitting that you don't have it all together. What I do know is that I love my daughters in ways that I could never have imagined, and that I want to do all that I can to ensure they are happy and healthy, and prepared to live the lives they were destined for. But it's funny that we mothers are expected to know exactly what it means to be the “perfect” mother the moment that these little people are placed in our arms.That's it's innate, it's natural. But it's not. And it's much more than feeding and changing diapers. It's building self-esteem, teaching them to make the right decisions, ensuring they have empathy and compassion for those around them, and also a good work ethic. It's multi-faceted and multi-dimensional, and it's hard!

Practice helps (as does a glass of wine every now and then!), and the support of an understanding and (mostly) patient husband. But what is key is knowing that I'm not alone on this journey. What is key is surrounding myself with a group of women who share my frustrations, my fears and confusion, as well as my joys, laughter and happiness. I'm not failing, I'm not a bad mother, I'm not losing my mind…it's just all part of the chaos that is often parenthood.

My “village” helps keep me grounded. They keep me sane. They understand my frustrations, and don't judge when I call begging them to pick up my children again because I got stuck in a meeting, or just simply forgot. They are known at school as the “second mother”, just as their children have become my extended children. Because motherhood is a team sport. There is no way you can “win” if you go at it alone. Trust me.

In a world ruled by social media, where our timelines are filled with hyper-edited versions of someone's life, expectations are almost unattainable. It's not the moment where homework turns into a shouting match that makes it to our profiles. And yet we all face these daily frustrations of balancing motherhood, sisterhood and boss babe-hood; find ourselves drowning in self-doubt, trying to manage the chaos of children, a household and husband, all the time filled with anxiety about whether we are doing a good job.

I was at an event this past weekend. A young mother came up to me and shared that she was having issues disciplining her young child. She told me that she thought she was “failing” at being a mother because she just wasn't getting through to him. Would he ever listen to her? To that I promptly answered, “You are not alone.” And she isn't. Because, in truth, we have all been there. Screaming at our children to finish dinner, clean their rooms, do their homework. And it is not that we are bad mothers; we are oftentimes just frustrated. Many times we don't have the right tools or outlets to manage this frustration. And this is where our villages come in. Books, elder family members and teachers can also contribute here, to offer advice as to how we can best communicate and interact with them.

I wanted to take the time out to introduce you to mine. And if you find yourself sinking or lost for a moment in this motherhood journey, hopefully their words can let you know that you are not alone.

Leisha Wong
Children: Isabella (7), Layla (5)

What is one of the biggest misconceptions about motherhood?
That we have to be the “perfect” mother the moment we hold our babies for the first time. Motherhood is a journey with a daily destination. Each night when we put them to sleep, congratulate yourself that you made it through another day. Also that once you become a mother you have to cease being everything else. Being a mother is just one facet of who I am.

What is the greatest challenge and how do you overcome this?
Honouring who they are as individuals and allowing them to reach their true potential and destiny. My girls have such strong personalities, which can be so different from mine that it has led to frustration. But, as I come into a more mindful space where I am recognising their individual spirits, I'm conscious about my role as their guide, and allow them to guide me too.

What is the greatest joy of being a mother?
I look at them in awe and amazement, knowing that Brett and I made these two little human beings. It's amazing to watch their journeys of self-discovery, so pure and innocent, and true to the spirit of who they are. I love to see their little hands in mine, knowing also that they feel secure and safe.

How do you balance the different roles you hold?
I don't know if there is a formula for this…and many times I don't find the balance! Some days it works and some days it doesn't! One thing that is important is to honour each and every role. I am not just a mother, I am a friend, a woman, a wife, a daughter, a businesswoman, and I make sure to honour those roles, also. I also honour the fact that there will be days that I don't get it right, and that is OK. Tomorrow is a new day.

What do you dream for your children?
I dream that their dreams come true. Whatever they may be…I dream that they live long, happy, authentic, soulful and fulfilled lives, and make magical memories that they can share with their children. I dream that I can give them everything they need to be able to face the world with honour, strength, passion, kindness and compassion, and be true to who they really are.

Melissa McIntosh
Children: Savannah (7), Harrison (4)

What is one of the biggest misconceptions about motherhood?
One big misconception about motherhood is that there is an ideal time to have kids. I don't think anyone is ever truly “ready” to be a mother. So much changes with motherhood and sometimes you don't even know what hit you. If you have ever been hit by something before you will know that you were definitely caught off guard.

What is the greatest challenge and how do you overcome this?
My greatest challenge was trying to be the perfect mother. I wanted and still want to be perfect for my children, but along the way I have realised that the perfect mother doesn't exist. Now I just do my best, and in my mind that's perfect enough.

What is the greatest joy of being a mother?
One of the greatest joys about being a mother is the sound of little feet coming down the hallway in the middle of the night. They climb into bed with you and all they want is to just have you beside them. The fact that you can provide such security and comfort for them as they do for you is one of the best feelings ever.

How do you balance the different roles you hold?
I have no idea... some days I fail miserably. But then I try again the next day. Wearing this many hats is difficult and sometimes overwhelming, but as I said, you just have to keep at it, learning and improving as you go.

What do you dream for your children?
My dream for my children is happiness, forever happiness.

Danielle Cunningham
Children: Elijah (8), Saharah (5)

What is one of the biggest misconceptions about motherhood?
That women instinctively know what to do when they have children. Yeah, right!

What is the greatest challenge and how do you overcome this?
Disciplining my children, ensuring I follow through with threats.

What is the greatest joy of being a mother?
The unconditional love they have for you. It can turn any bad day into a great one.

How do you balance the different roles you hold?
It is definitely a balancing act, but what I make sure to do is set time aside for friends and family and keep my commitments. I make every effort to see the people who mean the most in my life. And for work, I try my best to keep it working hours, but they too know how important my family is to me.

What do you dream for your children?
To be able to give them a beneficial start in life, a good education, a car, life lessons that will keep them on the right path and make them into decent, caring adults.

Kyanne Jackson-Palmer
Children: Zidan (7)

What is one of the biggest misconceptions about motherhood?
That we are born ready. You are never ready for all that comes at you and the balancing act of motherhood, career and family, which can be daunting at times. But children don't need as much as you think, either. Love them, care for them, support and encourage them and they will be fine. Oh, and do ask for help!

What is the greatest challenge and how do you overcome this?
Homework! (Lol just kidding, Mrs D and Mrs H) OK, seriously. Letting go of the many rules and expectations about how things should be done. I have to remind myself that my child is unique and doesn't fit into anyone else's mould. He's an individual and we are here to guide, not to force.

What is the greatest joy of being a mother?
The truth is I can't imagine anything more rewarding in life. Those moments when he's totally happy and I can see the sheer joy of life in his face. When I feel like I can breathe a sigh of relief and think, OK, we haven't totally ruined this little human…Yet!

How do you balance the different roles you hold?
I think to myself sometimes, this is a tough one, but it has to be done, so put on your big girl panties! Scheduling is key, remembering that, in order to do any of these roles well, you have to first take care of yourself. So I remind myself to slow down, remember to live a little and turn off the autopilot.

What do you dream for your child?
For my child, I hope that he will be happy and healthy and successful in whatever he chooses to do. But also that we would have raised him to be a responsible and caring young man and that his contribution to society will be a positive and impactful one. (Of course, the list goes on and on and on).

Heidi Hanna
Children: Miles (9), Lola (7)

What is one of the biggest misconceptions about motherhood?
That this mother's instinct “they” talk about will kick in at every moment and you will just know what to do at all times...so wrong! There are days when I'm clueless, when things I have tried before worked and all of a sudden they don't. That's where my husband, my friends, family, books, even a stranger can help! Listen to the advice and take what you need from it.

What is the greatest challenge and how do you overcome this?
Understanding my children's true nature and spirit and parenting them around that. They are both so different, not only from each other but they are different from me, and so they require different approaches and different things from me, some of which are just not natural for me. To face this I draw on support from my husband (who is also very different), from books, from friends and ensuring I have time for myself to stay centred and focused and relaxed.

What is the greatest joy of being a mother?
Watching them! Seeing them grow, mature, laugh, cry, play, sleep, articulate, develop thoughts and opinions, give jokes. They are these little humans my husband and I created, yet they are their ownselves...it's amazing!

How do you balance the different roles you hold?
One day at a time! Sometimes it's all so overwhelming...there is just too much to do and too much to be for everyone and yourself. But each day you get up and find the time and the energy to show up. Some days you mess up, big time, but each day you get to try all over again. Prioritising is key...some days it's all about the kids or your marriage or work but some days (or minutes) it's all about me!

What do you dream for your children?
There is so much I dream for them, that's hard to answer in a few sentences. I want them to know themselves, to be confident in who they are and what they want, to be able to express themselves. To be true to who they are. Oh, and I want them to travel the world; there is so much to learn from that!

Elena Lynch
Children: Isabella (9), Isla (4), Seya (1)

What is one of the biggest misconceptions about motherhood?
That your instincts will kick in automatically upon your child's birth. The truth is that, for me, while I was always maternal, those mummy muscles took time to develop and I put a lot of pressure on myself to know all of the answers. But just like life, parenthood is a journey and you can't beat yourself up when you're learning how to adapt to your new normal.

What is the greatest challenge and how do you overcome this?
My greatest challenge has consistently been striking the balance between work and home. As a woman it's hard to attain your own dreams and realise this comes at a cost. As a family, we strive to carve out time weekly to just disconnect and spend time together. I also try my best to have quality time with my girls daily to ensure we remain connected. In today's world they have so many outside influences I want to ensure they remain grounded.

What is the greatest joy of being a mother?
When my children are happy, mannersful and kind! It's such a joy to see the investment we've made in them come out in their behaviour and how they carry themselves. I also particularly love to see them excel in activities where you can just tell they feel confident in their abilities. Recently, my oldest completed her first ballet exam. She worked so hard to catch up with her peers. Watching her succeed and take pride in her achievement has been such a joy.

How do you balance the different roles you hold?
It's a struggle at best, but it genuinely is a balancing act and, for me, I couldn't do it without my village and support system. My husband, my 'mummy tribe' I affectionately refer to as 'my wives', and of course my parents create that security net for me to fall back on when life gets in the way.

What do you dream for your children?
That they're happy and comfortable in their own skin and that they're able to actualise their dreams for themselves without being limited by society or anyone else's expectations.

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