The Evolution of Mummy

the evolution of motherhoodA group of bewildered young woman are sitting together in a coffee shop in a shopping centre. They are new friends – their babies born within a few weeks of each other. Some of those babies are asleep in the humongous prams their mothers are only just learning to drive. Others are cuddled peacefully in laps. Yet others are being fed. Those breastfeeding are anxiously looking around to ensure that they are not embarrassing themselves or anyone around them. Those bottle-feeding are hoping desperately that no-one is going to judge them. And they ask each other the rhetorical question all new mother’s ask: “Did you think it was going to be this hard?” 

Another young mother walks slowly past them. She holds her toddler’s hand and awkwardly pushes an empty pram.  The toddler has insisted she walk and the ten minute shopping trip has turned into a two hour long adventure. That mother looks over at the newly formed mothers group and smiles ruefully. She remembers those days. How hard it all seemed then. She thinks, “you ain’t seen nothing yet ladies”.  She looks back fondly on the days filled with baby sleep, cuddles, coffee and friends on maternity leave. Nowadays, she meets her mother friends (the few that have not returned to work) at the local park. Coffee shops are a nightmare with children that refuse to sit still. She checks her watch and realises that her parking will soon expire and hurries into the supermarket to pick up the milk that never lasts for more than a day.

There, another mother is arguing with her son. I WANT IT NOW! He screams and sits down in the aisle, stubbornly refusing to budge. This mother looks to the heavens and wishes the ground would swallow her whole. Onlookers either smile understandingly or scowl, depending on how long ago they had to deal with exactly the same situation. She watches the sweet, toddling, little girl, who is gurgling to herself in a language of entirely her own making. She remembers those days. When everything slowed down to the pace of a fascinated child just learning about the world. When the new words and new discoveries delighted her and her son in equal measure. When opinions weren’t as hotly contested and distraction was always the solution. She closes her eyes briefly and stands her ground. Her son eventually quietens, stands and hugs her legs.

As she scans her groceries, she tries to catch the woman’s eye. To convey some sympathy, understanding and acknowledgement of parenting well done. It wasn’t so very long ago that her own children were throwing tantrums in supermarkets.  But they are in school now and their worlds have expanded beyond her. Her days are filled with ferrying children to and from school and sports commitments. She is searching for that elusive job that would allow her to work school hours. She worries about grades and good schools and her children making wise choices. She wonders what her life will look like now that she has the deceptively short hours of 9:00 to 3:00 to herself. She longs for the days when they were babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers.  When she was the single brightly shining star of their life. When they were each others’ everything.

The lady behind the service desk watches the prams, the babies and the children parade past her every day. She hears the mewling cries of newborns, the delighted whoops of pre-schoolers, the demands of toddlers and the exhaustion in their mothers’ voices. She wonders if they know how lucky they are. To have these children in their lives. She had always wanted a child, but life didn’t turn out that way for her. And she hopes that, even amidst the hardships, these mothers know the exact, precious weight of the children bundled in their arms.

 Do you think certain stages of motherhood always seem easier looking back? Do you have a favourite stage? I love newborn cuddles.

22 thoughts on “The Evolution of Mummy

  1. rachel_ourtownbrisbane says:

    This is so beautiful – you are a truly talented writer. And what’s more you’ve nailed it – the things that the mum of school kids is thinking about are exactly the things i think about all the time. Well done xx

    • Robyna says:

      Thank you Rachel – what a lovely thing to say. I feel caught between such a large age gap with my boys that I have a foot in both the very little and the schoolboy camps.

  2. Heike Herrling says:

    SO beautifully written. I’m the first-time pregnant woman wadding past to get to the chocolate aisle, making a long sideways glance at every pram to see if they look better than the one I have sitting at home waiting to get on its wheels. Silently and naively hoping I get that elusive child which seems happy to smile and do as they are asked in the shopping centre. *sigh* In reality, I know there is no such thing, but there’s already so much to be nervous about, so I like to pretend to myself that things won’t be that hard for me!! I have to take it one waddle step at a time 😉

    • Robyna says:

      You will be great – my boys were always much more charming in public than at home. Hence we went on a lot of outings. You figure it all out and I truly think we don the rose coloured glasses when we look backwards.

  3. Sara | Kid Magazine says:

    What a beautiful post! I’m at the toddler stage of the two hour long trips to the shops and play dates at the park. It does seem like this stage is the hardest but I also think that time helps us to forget how hard earlier stages were. Motherhood brings with it so many challenges but for every challenge there is buckets of joy!

  4. Anna@BombardedMum says:

    Great post! My last daughter went to school this year and I miss my kids a lot! I am not quite at the stage where I want to go back to being home with three kids under 4 as right now I am enjoying the novelty of freedom in my days between 9am and 3pm and the opportunity to focus on one single task for almost 5 hours is immense! But every time I see a tiny, new born baby, I have an urge to be close and talk to the mum about her new baby and revel in the miracle of a new life. I could have 100 more new born babies right now and would love to experience that again with what I have learnt from being a parent for 10 years, but I also know they grow up. Thanks for sharing.

    • Robyna says:

      Oh I know what you mean – that magical moment when your baby greets you for the first time. I could relive that a million times. But yes, they do grow up into wonderful, challenging little people

  5. Erika @ Ever-changing Life of a Mum says:

    What a gorgeous piece of writing – love it! I have two daughters in school – my youngest started this year. BUT I now have another one on the way (due at the end of the week actually – eeek!) so I’ll be heading back to the baby stage again. Many say it gets easier as they get older, but I don’t think that is necessarily the case. Each stage has it’s own joys and challenges, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    • Robyna says:

      Oh, congratulations! How wonderful. I don’t think it gets easier (there are plenty of days my six year old is more of a challenge that the 19 month old!) but I do think you become more confident.

  6. Mumma McD says:

    Beautiful post, that last line really got me!

    Every new stage we get to I look back wistfully and wish I hadn’t hurried the last one along so quickly… as the saying goes, the days are long but the years are short.

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