28 June 2012

Fruits and Nuts!

The lovely Tania from Larger Family Life blog, who I mentioned meeting on my recent VLOG about people who are fabulous, is expecting her 12th child.  This is not an easy statement to make without incurring quite a reaction from most people nowadays and it is with the utmost pleasure I introduce her here to speak for herself about how she sees things:

Tania with eight month old twins Anna and Libby

Mums.  All fruit and maybe a little bit nuts.

One of the last scenes of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”  has Toula’s father Gus, making a speech at her wedding to non-Greek Ian Miller.  Gus explains how both surnames are a fruit.  It doesn’t matter that they’re different fruit.  As he put it, “We’re all fruit!”
Anya and I met at a recent cooking event.  Anya was lovely but I have to admit I was more bowled over by her boys who were both extremely smart, polite and oh so entertaining!  We kept in touch and I invited Anya to guest post which I’m thrilled to say she agreed to.  I was honoured to be asked to guest post on Older Single Mum even though I am not single although most definitely older and a mum.  Admittedly, the event is not actually that recent any more and this post should have been handed over a long time ago.  My excuse is that busyness, a new family business, keeping up with my existing workload and just plain laziness means I have only just got around to it.  Sorry, Anya!
On talking with Anya and others it quickly became clear that it doesn’t matter who you are, what your lifestyle or circumstances, or what you do – there will always be some degree of stereotypical thinking that folk tend to jump to when you introduce yourself.
Much like Anya’s quest to dispel the image of the single mum, I began my blog over three years ago to share our life in a little more detail and to address the questions and hopefully shed the preconceptions that they tend to have about large families.  After all, large families often seem to get bad press too!
But this post isn’t one in which I’ll be standing on my large family soap box. 
You see, when you read that I had eleven children you probably thought several things. 
“I could never do that!”
“I’d go mad!”
“Wow, she must be Superwoman!”
“She must be crazy!”
And a fair few more. 
You probably thought of me differently to the way you think of yourselves – purely because I have a few more children than you usually hear of someone having.
These are the usual reactions and nothing new to hear.  But I’m not really any different to any of you.
My oldest child is 19.  The youngest are eight month old twins.  In those almost twenty years of motherhood I have touched upon every different kind of lifestyle I possibly could have, I think.
I went from a teen mum in an abusive relationship to a single mum of two.
I went from a single mum of two, reunited with my childhood sweetheart (now my husband). I went from vowing not to have any more children after my second to desperately trying for a third and experiencing three miscarriages instead.
I grieved with each of the five further miscarriages I experienced. 
I suffered terrible depression ten years ago.  Not related to being a mum, but believing I wasn’t the mum I should be due to two years of circumstances.  I reached the very bowels of depression that had me believing my life was worth nothing. 
I worked, worked, worked, sometimes feeling I was struggling uphill to try to make a better life.  Still do.  We all do it every day in some way don’t we?
I cursed the laundry, I ran around doing the same bits of housework over and over again with no difference to show for my efforts, I cooked meals. I loved being a mum some days and found it downright knackering on others.  I still do all that too.
Whilst I no longer feel depressed and am not mad (or haven’t yet been certified!), I am surely not Supermum in any way, shape or form.  If I’m honest I could be a far better mum, I reckon.
You see, no matter which stage I was at, or what my circumstances were at any of these points I was always a mum and each stage had its own burdens and its own blessings too.  And at each of those different stages there were good bits and bad bits.  Yes, even the experience of depression taught me a valuable lesson.
How many of you can identify with any of the stops I made along the way to where I am now?  The thing is, it doesn’t matter how many children we have, whether we are married or single, old or young - we’re mums.  
And we’re all fruit. 
And perhaps a little bit nuts too!