Since our Prime Minister gave birth to baby Neve, motherhood has been thrust into the public eye in a way it never has before.
By finding a way to balance motherhood with her duty as Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern has reinforced the true value and versatility of motherhood in a very public yet accessible way. However, our Prime Minister is not the first mother to juggle a demanding work life with the responsibility of being a hands on parent. This month, we thought it was fitting to talk to some Ponsonby News mothers to find out their most treasured mothering moments, their best mothering advice and what they really want this Mother’s Day.
Helene Ravlich - writer (pictured above)
Helene is a writer with over 20 years’ experience in her career covering beauty, fashion and commercial copywriting. As a freelance writer working from home, she needs to strike the balance between work and homelife with 10-year-old son, Wolf, and his dad. “I still do the 3pm walk to school and feel guilty when I have to ask for help as I’m technically ‘just at home’, albeit often on a deadline,” says Helene. It’s a theme common to so many mothers who juggle so much, so often yet still feel they aren’t doing enough either at work or at home with their families.
I asked Helene to tell me her favourite mothering memory and her answer speaks volumes to the huge amount of joy our children give us despite the graft and the guilt. "There are too many to name just one! Most involve the simplest of things – a long cuddle, a secret conversation, a special note.Just enjoying being with each other, wherever that may be,” says Helene.
Mothering advice is often something we receive without request and Helene has the perfect answer for this. “Don’t take anyone else’s advice – listen to your intuition, your heart, and act in a way that works for you and your child,” she emphasises. “We found the early days so damn hard and resorted to calling on advice from everything from online forums to endless books and friends. In the end it all came down to what made us happy, and usually involved the simplest of actions.”
So what does Helene want for Mother’s Day? Not much really. She’s feeling pretty satisfied. “I have everything I could possibly want – my health, happiness and a beautiful, unique little family. Perrier Jouët Champagne would be nice though! And cuddles, always cuddles,” laughs Helene. www.mshelene.com
Angie Redfern - Ripe Cafe (pictured above)
Our children have a great way of keeping us young and reminding us how important it is to slow down and enjoy just being. Angie from Ripe has a five-year-old girl and six-year-old boy to help her do this. “Some of my favourite mothering memories are ones spent on the beaches where I live when hardly anyone is there and the kids are just happy playing. You know those early evening walks on a lovely still beach, with no wind, that just naturally finish off with playing at the park,” says Angie.
The world has become so busy and as mothers so many of us are always rushing. Rushing to get everyone ready, rushing to school, rushing to work, rushing to sports activities, rushing to get dinner on so that sometimes in all that forward motion we lose our connection with the present. To keep bringing yourself back to the moment means slowing down. “The kids remind you of this constantly, when you are trying to get somewhere and they are in their own world which looks very different from yours – that old expression slow down and smell the roses sums it up well!” says Angie.
Angie has been running Ripe Cafe for 16 years and since the birth her children has been conscious of the need to get the balance right between work and kids. “So far it hasn’t been too hard and that’s been because I have an amazing team. The biggest challenge is leaving work thoughts at work and, when home, switching roles. I have a car journey which helps with this as it gives me time to chat with friends or listen to music or the great National programme so by the time I am home I have usually let go,” explains Angie.
Like many mothers, Angie does a lot of her work from home as well. “Feeling guilty you're not working so much on site and instead being at home as a mum, too, can play on my mind. I have been clear that I am a mum foremost and haven’t wanted to look back and wish I had spent more time at home,” says Angie.
So what would Angie love this Mother’s Day? “Slippers, slippers, slippers. I love winter and all it brings like great food and warm clothes. Her favourites are the Briarwood Scuffy slippers sold at Dalston in Grey Lynn. www.ripedeli.co.nz
Helen Wadsworth - co-owner of Dorothy Butler Children’s Bookshop (pictured above)
In a digital age when screen media dominates so many aspects of our lives, books remain a rich source of joy and endearing memories in ways a small screen seldom does. Helen Wadsworth has co-owned the Dorothy Butler Children’s bookshop for three-and-a-half years and, like many parents, finds juggling the responsibilities difficult at times. “Trying to be a great mum and business woman and wife and home-maker all at the same time can be overwhelming,” she explains. But her love of books and her family have helped her manage the balance.
It’s not surprising that among all the amazing things her children do, one standout memory is of reading with them. “I have a very happy memory of reading and singing 'The Wreck of the Diddley' by Fat Cat and Fishface to my kids (aged about three and seven at the time) so many times that they knew it off by heart. They loved sitting down together to read and sing it with each other,” says Helen.
Similarly, Helen’s mothering advice is from a favourite parenting book. "We have a beautiful parenting book in store at the moment called Nuture and it has several one-line parenting gems. One that resonates with me is: Actions speak louder than words. Teach humanity by showcasing humanity,” says Helen.
And what does a book-loving business mum want for Mother’s Day? “If my kids give me a big hug and tell me how wonderful I am, I'll be happy! Ooh and breakfast in bed and an adult book would be great too!” Helen says. www.dorothybutler.co.nz
Anna Lim - The Garden Party Gift Shop, Ponsonby Road (pictured above)
Anna describes herself as being at the end of her intensive mothering days. Her daughter Poppy is 14 and her son Felix has just turned 17. While we have all heard how precious those younger years are and how quickly time passes, we are often still amazed that time moves so quickly. "They are both pretty self-sufficient and independent, Felix just got his restricted licence. My advice is to have fun with your kids while you can. Obviously you want them to be well mannered and have done their homework, etc, but time flies and suddenly they are older and thinking about leaving home. It’s important to enjoy good times with them. It makes you feel wonderful when you belly laugh with your children,” says Anna.
Children make us cry, laugh and despair but they also fill us with great pride and one of Anna’s favourite mothering moments was a recent one that did just that. “I was amazed by Poppy who shaved her hair off for charity last month. It was totally her own idea and I felt very proud of her,” says Anna.
Even though it was 17 years ago, Anna still remembers the wisdom shared with her when her son was born prematurely. “The best advice I got when Felix was born, was in hospital from a lovely old nurse with years of experience with babies. She told me never to keep the house quiet or dark for the baby to sleep so they learn to sleep through anything.”
Making family life work when both parents run demanding businesses is something Anna has her own advice on. “Teach your kids to cook, both the kids cook once a week. They are pretty good cooks and it really helps,” says Anna.
So what does a woman who has a gift shop full of beautiful things want for Mother’s Day?
"My kids say I am a nightmare to buy presents for as I have owned a gift shop since before they were born. But every Mother's Day, Poppy gets me a tube of Body Shop Pink Grapefruit hand cream. It smells divine,” says Anna.
For people whose mothers don’t own gift shops, Anna suggests going to the new Garden Party – 130 Ponsonby Road – they have lots of great ideas to make your mum feel special. "Owned and operated by two mothers, we’ve chosen some perfect products that we know your lovely mum will enjoy,” says Anna. www.thegardenparty.co.nz
Isabel Pasch - Bread and Butter Bakery and Cafe
Owner of the incredible Bread and Butter Bakery and Cafe in Grey Lynn and Little Bread and Butter in Ponsonby Central, Isabel Pasch is the mother of two boys aged 10 and 13. As a business owner, Isabel has often had to sacrifice precious time with her boys when work demanded. “I feel I missed out on a lot of ‘firsts’. Running your own business and raising small children is not very compatible. Luckily my partner has always picked up the slack and has been there for the boys when I couldn’t be,” explains Isabel.
Up there with mother guilt is regret, and Isabella feels this keenly when she notes how fast time has past. “I started a business in New Zealand nine years ago, when my children were still very little. It’s hard though, as this time, when they are little, passes so quickly and you will never get it back. Not spending more time with them is something I will regret until the end of my days. If I was to do it again, I would rather get a nine to five job until they were the age they are now.”
Despite working so hard while her boys were little, Isabel has many fond memories and it’s fitting that one of her favourites is anchored in her passion for baking. “I have always loved baking with my kids at home. Especially for Christmas. We bake all sorts of small Christmas biscuits. Seeing the kids engrossed in this, icing sugar and sprinkles all over the kitchen, little sticky hands, and the kids' excited little faces is wonderful. And although they are not that little anymore, they still love doing this every year.”
So how does a successful business woman manage it? Isabel has a secret weapon, her partner. “I have had the great fortune that my partner has been always very involved with the raising of our boys and much of their good behaviour and attitude is due to his hard work,” explains Isabel.
So what advice does Isabel offer for mothering boys? “My boys have plenty of time for rough and tumble and living out their energies through sport and with their friends. As their mother, I try to be there for them when they need to talk about things that may be difficult to say to another male, and I try and give them plenty of hugs and cuddles because I feel that softness and a place to be unguarded might sometimes be missing from the quite masculine culture in New Zealand.”
It’s not surprising to hear what Isabel would love for Mother’s Day. It’s a series of wishes that is probably common to many mothers of tweens and teens. “A sleep in, a long brunch and a whole day without arguments about devices.”
This Mother’s Day, let’s celebrate our mothers for all the wonderful things they do because we know they will be hard enough on themselves for all the things they don’t get perfectly right. In the words of the glamorous Sophia Loren: “When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child." www.breadandbutter.nz
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