Opinion with Elise Van Aken: On my first Mother’s Day, I am extra grateful for my own mother

Headshot of Elise Van Aken
Elise Van AkenGeraldton Guardian
Elise Van Aken with baby Logan and her mother Anne.
Camera IconElise Van Aken with baby Logan and her mother Anne. Credit: Supplied

New mum and Geraldton Guardian deputy editor Elise Van Aken is celebrating her first Mother’s Day this Sunday after welcoming son Logan last month. Here, she opens up on what she has learnt on her motherhood journey so far.

Having been a mum for just over four weeks — if you don’t include the nine months baking my new little boy — I know I still have a lot to learn about what it takes.

But one thing I have already learned on this journey is how much sacrifice it takes to be a parent, especially a birthing and breastfeeding one.

It’s something both widely spoken about but also dismissed. Even if we haven’t experienced it, we all “know” motherhood is a difficult and all-consuming role, however you find yourself there.

But most people do it right, so how hard can it really be?

Elise Van Aken with her baby son Logan Gately.
Camera IconElise Van Aken with her baby son Logan Gately. Credit: Supplied

Millennial discourse in person and online can slam parents for having no interests outside their kids, not being able to relate to their friends about anything outside changing nappies and baby milestones and losing their identities outside motherhood.

I am one of those people now. I don’t have much to talk about outside my baby’s bodily functions and sleep schedule as every waking hour is spent devoted to fulfilling his needs, or cleaning up after them.

But this attitude I had internalised about mothers even spilled out from me towards my own mum when hearing stories about how hard early motherhood, was especially with twins.

“Yes mum I know,” I would say, “you had two.”

Many women have had babies before, and many will again.

I’ve had some of the best support anyone could hope for in all aspects of my journey through motherhood so far, and it still has been exhausting, isolating, and painful — physically and mentally.

It’s all sacrifice.

To breastfeed around the clock, to make sure he’s clean and happy, to get all the doctors appointments scheduled. The list goes on and on and has come at the expense of taking care of myself in a way I used to take for granted.

But yes, I’m not the first person to cry because my brain felt fried and both sides of my chest ached during his last growth spurt.

But my mum, she couldn’t have a break, because she had two to feed.

This Mother’s Day, while I’m so happy to have my boy and to have been able to bring him into the world, I will celebrate my mum and now myself for something so difficult — mothering a newborn.

Yes, billions of women have, and will do it. But I have finally learned that it doesn’t mean it’s easy. It’s a testament to how strong and dedicated parents can be.

Especially my mum, and she did it with two!

So thank you mum for everything you’ve done for me, from juggling my brother and I at the same time, right through to holding Logan for me so I can finally sit down with two hands free to write this.

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