Introducing this month's Motherhood Muse, Jules Carey. London based Jules is Mum to 8 year old Ella. We chatted to Jules about what it's like tackling Motherhood so far away from her own mum and family, and what being a mum means to her.
Tell us about Ella and what becoming her mum has taught you?
The best thing about Ella is her sense of humour. It is so amazing when your kid starts ‘getting it’, and making quips and doing voices, or just bad jokes. I laugh with her every day – long may that last. She’s also really getting into music and dancing now, which I’d love to do with her but for the most part I’m not allowed.
Being her Mum has opened my eyes to what an amazing job my mother did, without any of the gadgets and nice-to-have’s, and as a single mum. Even the conversation around motherhood – now it’s everywhere, but then it was still pretty much just ‘deal with it yourself’. That AND the safety pin nappies!
What was it like being pregnant and giving birth to Ella so far away from your own mum and family?
The first thing I remember about being pregnant is I was still scared to tell my Mum -even though I was 38! The good news is she didn’t tell me off, and the even better news was I was lucky enough to have a fairly trouble-free pregnancy. I’d already lost half a fallopian tube from an ectopic pregnancy, so it was a blessing this all went to plan.
It did feel sad not to have my Mum and my family see me physically growing this bump, but I was working right up until D-Day, and moving house a month before, so I didn’t have too much time to dwell on it. My Mum is not a gushy ‘let’s create your nursery’ type anyway, she just wanted me to be healthy and looking after myself.
Giving birth in the UK all felt pretty normal. I wanted doctors and drugs and shiny tools more than a zen spa retreat, and got my wish as my waters broke and nothing happened for over 24 hours. After being induced I stuck out the pain as long as I could (probably not that long), and then asked for an epidural. As soon as I had that we put Prince on the stereo and rocked on till she came knocking. I was sure I was having a boy, so I was both confused and overwhelmed to be told it was a she. Telling my Mum and family was really really lovely. At least I think it was. I felt like I’d just run a marathon so don’t remember the details super well!
What characteristics do you most admire in Ella?
Ella has a big heart, which is pretty lovely to watch. She always tries to help the kid who is too scared to go down the slide by themselves, or doesn’t know how to drop-in to the scooter park. That comes naturally to her, but I think what I admire most is when I see her really trying to overcome an adverse default reaction to something. If she were to have an anxious reaction normally, I see her slowing her breathing down, talking positively to herself. It’s a lot harder to do the things we have to mentally work at, so I’m always so proud and impressed when she does this.
Motherhood is one epic role, but like everyone says, it takes a village; who are some people who are part of your village that have helped you be the awesome mum to Ella that you are?
This is so true! In the UK a lot of couples do an NCT (National Childbirth Trust) course before giving birth. These are supposed to tell you how it’s all going to be once junior arrives, but more importantly, it gave me a bunch of women I might not have met otherwise, all going though the same stages of WTF at the same time I was- indeed this is what my friendship with them was based on! So they definitely got me through the first year.
But the village is so many people – the woman on the bus who told a bright red me that my screaming baby only sounded loud to me – that no one else cared, so not to worry. To be fair they probably did care, she was pretty damn loud – but it was exactly what I needed to hear. The person in the park who told my kid off for being a dick – I’m totally up for that, I thanked them. I honestly think things would be better if we didn’t feel so scared of doing things like this. My family in NZ for always being there, even if not physically, and my husband’s family here in the UK – having a Nana that will take your child at the drop of a hat is a godsend I wish for every new parent.
Biggest challenge vs biggest reward of motherhood?
Challenge – Learning patience I didn’t know I didn’t have, and the all-encompassing impact on your life. My work-life has never been the same since having her, and anything and everything you thing you might want to do afterwards – go to the movies, learn an instrument, buy a new laptop, meet friends for dinner, train for a marathon… it all requires time (away from your child), or money, or both. So there is always a trade-off. You certainly have to become less selfish, fast.
The biggest reward is the love and the relationship. I feel so lucky to have gotten to be a mum, and to have this little dudette, who (currently anyway) wants to cuddle the hell out of me, and laugh and be stupid. So of course the sacrifices are worth it. Watching her grow up and change year on year honestly feels like a privilege.
What’s your favourite thing to do with Ella?
This is where I sound like a bad mum – my favourite thing to do is grab her, her Dad, and cuddle up on the sofa to watch some family TV. She does some pretty serious cuddling, so I’m taking all I can get knowing it might end in a couple years!
Who are you outside of being a mum, what do you get up to when you’re not in mum mode?
I worked in live event production for years, but the waste really got to me. There were no live events over the year of lockdown we’ve had here, so now that I’m not home-schooling anymore I’m focusing on sustainability. Other than that I help organise a few community projects, I have an unachievable dream of being an adventure athlete, I have an ever-growing collection of house-plants, and I’m excitedly catching up with friends most weekends now that we’re allowed to. These Saturday’s often lead to the Sunday TV cuddles on the sofa!