What It’s Like Being a Mum

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They say it’s the toughest job in the world. They say mum’s carry the brunt of parenting, and they say a whole lot more about motherhood – and in my experience as a single mother of 11 year old twins, it’s all true.

But this mother’s day I want to shout out to my many amazing friends and women everywhere who have chosen not to become mothers. They can feel judged today, and maybe even that they are missing out. And I guess in some ways they do miss the experiences mothers are having. But what are they gaining in return? Some would argue, a lot.

Renae Leith-Manos and her twins

And dare I ask which side of the life path is better? Neither from what I see, they are just two halves of the whole challenging, painful (at times), human experience. Everyone has parents, so we all know what it is like to be a child, even if we are adopted.

And having children can be a roller coaster of love, commitment, learning, sharing, caring, growing, challenges and fun. In any order on any day.

But mum’s do miss out on a heck of a lot by choosing their life path – although no-one says it out loud for fear of being judged. There’s the lost time, so lost hobbies, study, career trajectories, social lives, friendships, fitness, sex life, …as any mum knows, I could go on.

All mums have sat around with other mums and secretly speculated on life without their children over a chardonnay. If they had gone a different way, they ask, how different would their lives be? Would they be living in Paris or New York or drive a sports car and have a seaside mansion?

Renae Leith-Manos
Renae Leith-Manos and her twins

Because children are expensive. Obviously income brackets vary significantly, but a 2018 study guestimated $500,000 per child if they are attending private schools on education alone, making the grand total from 0-18 somewhere between $700,000-$1000000 per child, and that does not include post-tertiary study. Ouch.

Renae and her son Mason, in Penang last month.

And don’t get me started on life as a single parent – I have written a lot about the added challenges that brings before, you can read an article here.

In The Times last week, Kylie Minogue lamented the fact that at 50 she will never be a mum, explaining her cancer diagnosis was the reason she never had a child.

I guess my conclusion is to be happy exactly where you are right now with whatever you have – and celebrate those closest to you and where they are also at within their lives. All we can control is the present moment and the decisions we have made to lead us here.

And to the many Bondi Beauty readers who have not yet had children and are unsure, the universe does show you the way if you just read the signs, so keep calm and carry on…

And as the American professor emeritus of medicine Jon Kabat Zinn says, “wherever you go, there you are”.

My twins are super lucky to have so many amazing women around them – mothers and non-mothers, and to all of you, have a happy day today. And to my gorgeous two children? Thanks for coming into my life, and thank you being you (please clean your rooms now and for mother’s day? I’d like just 30 minutes with no-one saying the three letter word, mum).

Renae Leith-Manos and her daughter, Stella
Renae Leith-Manos and her daughter, Stella.

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Renae Leith-Manos

CONTRIBUTOR

Renae Leith-Manos travels the world writing (www.renaesworld.com.au). She has had a colourful media career as a journalist in many magazines and newspapers, and spends her time writing, consulting to new businesses, running, doing yoga, swimming & cycling.
She's likes healthy eating, but thinks chocolate cake is just as important as kale chips.
She spends most weekends hanging out with her gorgeous twins.

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