Just For Mamma Mamma need to know

What I wish I knew before becoming a mother (3 times over)

May 12, 2019

Becoming a mother is life changing, redefining, challenging, overwhelming, exciting, tiring, the biggest blessing any woman can imagine… every single time.

Our girls may share a gene pool but they were all born with their own needs, personality and preferences.

Becoming a mother, 3 times over has meant redefining motherhood, 3 times over.

Yes, our values and parenting goals are the same for all our kids but my approach to mothering them isn’t.

Eliana is driven, independent and self-critical by nature. She is a “rough-and-tumble” kind of gal with Olympic dreams. She is fearless and already challenges societal convention.


I am her biggest cheerleader and also the giver of many “unwanted” (but needed) cuddles. Raising a confident little lady is top priority for us.

As a first time mama, she stripped me bare, to my core – Challenging everything I thought I knew about parenting and being a woman. I made countless mistakes with her. I simply did not know any better, but Eli never loved me less for any of them. In fact, she’s thought me and still teaches me forgiveness. Especially self-forgiveness.


Lia is our dreamer, our fun-loving, giggling little girl. She has confidence and personality to spare and there’s always room for one more friend, time for one more hug or an extra bedtime story. At only 4years old she shares her mama’s love for photography and together we capture every family memory.


I need to teach Lia about boundaries and protecting her beautiful heart. Preserving her optimistic approach to life and the wonder she has for all things big and small is a must. Lia showed me how strong I really am. As a baby she was very sick, regularly. She stopped breathing TWICE and the paediatric ward was our second home for the first 2 years of her life. Now I know the endless depth of strength that resides in EVERY MOM.


You would think becoming a mother to three would be easy. I should know everything by now, right? WRONG! Ava couldn’t be more different from her sisters… Fierce, feisty and demanding! Ava is our tiny fighter (and biter). At only 1 she’s already ruling the house with an iron fist and so much cuteness -We all melt at her feet.


For Ava, I am still learning and discovering what exactly she needs from me. At this stage it’s been 22 months of breastfeeding, lots of time in my arms and trying to help her express her frustration in words – not attacks. Ava has however awakened my sense of appreciation. Appreciation for being a mom, having happy healthy children and enjoying the ups and downs of momlife.


For me having 3 kids means being 3 moms all in one!

Mothering isn’t something you learn in a book. It’s silly to expect moms to approach Motherhood in the same way.

Why do we put so much pressure on our fellow moms?

Who decided what the “right way of mothering” is?

Why do we approach other moms from a place of judgement and comparison, instead of an open mind?

Wouldn’t becoming a mother be so much easier if there wasn’t so many rules? 


What if instead we all started nurturing ourselves and other moms in our diverse Motherhood journeys?

Country Road held a Mother’s Day event over the weekend to “Celebrate those who care”. #ToNurture.
Together with a group of women and moms from every walk of life we spent the morning in conversation about what it means “to nurture”. Incredible women shared their experiences and tips on “nurturing”. The panel included Dr Nandipha Magudumana, Jackie Burger and Swaady Martin to name a few.

I met wonderful new moms, daughters and friends – all eager to break free from the pressure and conventions we as a society have built around what it means to “mother”.

What does it mean “to mother”?

At the heart of being a mom is the ability “to nurture” but as women we have the capacity to nurture so much more than only our kids.

We CAN nurture our careers, our marriages, our friendships, our families and OURSELVES too.


We can do this by breaking free from the expectations that’s been set for us!

– Set boundaries. This include work and personal boundaries. People will push you as far as you let them.

– No more crazy goals or deadlines. Know when to say “NO”. Also know your worth and don’t let others bully you into their unrealistic plans for the future.

– Don’t force a square peg into a round hole. Create your own “normal” and do what works best for the entire family. If parenting books knew it all, the writers would be millionaires.

– Forget about perfect harmony. Celebrate “wins for the week”. This week family time might have won, next week you may be experiencing a work victory or a breakthrough in a marital struggle – all parents have them. Celebrate those and stop trying to have everything in the precise balance. (I’ve been trying unsuccessfully for 7 years -it’s impossible and really tiring.)

– Schedule your life by priorities. Take time to think about what YOU NEED to be a good mom. Whether it is regular exercise, an afternoon walk alone, quiet time to start your day, a weekly coffee with friends or a monthly massage… Whatever it is put it into the calendar FIRST.

– Bring presence to everyone and everything you do. When you are with your kids, be with them fully. Put every other thing on the “to-do” list and your phone away. When you are with your friends – soak up the laughter (and wine). While you are with your husband – see him, hear him, appreciate him and remember the man he is outside being a dad.

– No more crazy goals. We (and our kids) are told to reach milestones, financial gains and life success at certain ages and stages of life. WHY? Mostly to drive us crazy. Obviously it’s not about letting go or ignoring warning signs of development but rather about giving ourselves and our families some grace to “just be”.

– Embrace your own unique journey in becoming a mother and trust your gut. For some women becoming a mother is second nature, a calling that’s been waiting to be awakened. For others it may take a little longer getting the hang of momming. It’s all good. You have got this, no matter how long it takes for you to feel like a mom.


Motherhood looks different for every woman…

To the mom who doesn’t want to be left alone with her baby, the woman who craves a life outside her home, the mom rocking it as a domestic goddess, the baller climbing the corporate ladder or the entrepreneur working while the world sleeps … Your kid(s) have been given to YOU, and you are the only one that knows how to be the perfect mom for them, creating the perfect life for your family.

I hope that today, on Mother’s Day you feel celebrated for being an incredible mom (no matter how harshly you judge yourself). Most of all I hope the celebration continues every single day from today and that after reading this post you will feel confident in yourself! Even if you haven’t got all the answers, even if you’re in a phase of motherhood that you hate or maybe you need some help, a lot of help. You are still an incredible mom! Your kids are still blessed to have you!

Happy Mother’s Day to everyone who nurtures. Whether you’re a mom, a grandmother, a sister, an aunt or friend.


PHOTO CREDIT | Anje-Ilana van Dalen from Madison & West Lifestyle Division.

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  • Reply Jenna schoeman May 12, 2019 at 6:54 pm

    Love it all. Especially love that we are all different and everything is different for everyone. I have a lovely bunch of mom friends and we all understand different things work for each of us. I think that’s why the 5 of us get on so well. Working mums, part time mums and stay at home mums we all so different yet we have one common love… our children. And without our children we would have never found each other. Motherhood is amazing and finding amazing mothers to share it with is even better. We all trying our best and supporting each other is the best we can do for each other and our kids. Keep loving and keep trying to be the best you can be for that is all your children need!!

    • Reply Mari-Louise May 13, 2019 at 2:23 pm

      Wow Jenna, what an inspiring testimony to the power (and possibility) of women supporting each other. You are so blessed and also such a blessing to these families. Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply Robynne May 12, 2019 at 7:03 pm

    You write with such soul in every post! Thank you for always being open and honest with us.

    • Reply Mari-Louise May 13, 2019 at 2:07 pm

      Robynne, I can’t tell you how much it means getting incredible comments and words of encouragement like this. It’s thanks to loyal readers, like yourself that I keep writing. THANK YOU.

  • Reply Mahnaaz May 12, 2019 at 7:04 pm

    So beautifully written. Thank you for this ❤️

    • Reply Mari-Louise May 13, 2019 at 2:11 pm

      Thank you for reading and leaving a comment. It’s the best getting to hear from my fellow mamas.

  • Reply Danelle Hess May 12, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    Wow. What an awesome post… Thank you for sharing. As a new mom of 3 I have really been struggling with how to be there for each of the girls and their individual needs and this post has given me some perspective and a place to start. X

    • Reply Mari-Louise May 13, 2019 at 2:13 pm

      It’s hard trying to be everything to everyone mama. I felt such a relief the moment I realised my girls are different, their needs are different and therefor I am allowed to approach them differently.

  • Reply Alicia Compton May 12, 2019 at 7:50 pm

    Here’s to giving our families a little more space to just be… a little more grace ? I love that, thank you! Thank you for a lovely article!

    • Reply Mari-Louise May 13, 2019 at 2:05 pm

      Such a pleasure Alicia, glad it has meant something to you too.

  • Reply Nicke Theron May 13, 2019 at 4:03 am

    So beautifully written. I often think we judge other moms so easily because we are judging ourselves so harshly. Maybe if we can nurture ourselves more, we will have more love for other moms too. xxx

    • Reply Mari-Louise May 13, 2019 at 2:14 pm

      I think you are 100% correct mama. Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply Judy Thompson May 13, 2019 at 6:29 am

    Your articles are always well thought through Mari-Louise. I really think you live up to your goal of being helpful and motivating to mothers. Your account celebrates the beauty of motherhood with beautiful images but I appreciate how you always write about the less perfect things as well – it really inspires me.

    • Reply Mari-Louise May 13, 2019 at 2:21 pm

      THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU Judy! Reading this means so much. It is exactly what I strive to bring into the parenting space. Really appreciate, value and treasure your feedback.

  • Reply Melissa Javan May 13, 2019 at 12:05 pm

    I love these tips you gave especially this one: to celebrate “wins for the week”.

    • Reply Mari-Louise May 13, 2019 at 2:16 pm

      I’m just the messenger for today. The tips came from the panel of women Country Road put together. That specifically also touched my heart.

  • Reply Megan May 13, 2019 at 1:13 pm

    What a beautiful read. I am 19 months in to parenting one son and am still battling to prioritise exercise for myself which is what I need to turn my mind off. I have just started a new job so I need to figure out my new routine incorporating exercise and adapt it until I find what works. I do enjoy reading parenting books from time to time, not because they have all the answers but they create talking points to discuss with your husband or just to think about yourself. I had a lot of preconceptions before having my son and realising that many things do not go according to plan so it’s better not to judge because all children are different ♡

    • Reply Mari-Louise May 13, 2019 at 2:19 pm

      Hi there Megan. Thank you so much for your lovely comment. You are so right about books being good talking points and a lot of the time they do hold many parenting truths. It’s also amazing to hear you haven’t put exercise out of the picture just because you are a new mom. I hope you can somehow find a rhythm that works for you and your beautiful family.x

  • Reply Hanneke Barlow May 14, 2019 at 6:40 pm

    Ek LOVE dit om jou te volg! Het een keer jou en die girls gesien in Atterbury Value Mart en moes myself keer om nie te skree ‘hallo julle’ lol… Jou post oor modern cloth doeke het my geinspireer om my eerste stel te koop en nou twee jaar later spaar ek ‘n paar duisend rand ‘n maand met twee in doeke! Love hoe jy motherhood embrace! As jy nog nie het nie, doen tog die Evergreen Parenting kursus, jy sal ‘n goudmyn ontdek oor hoe om elke persoonlikheid te nurture! xxx

    • Reply Mari-Louise May 18, 2019 at 2:14 pm

      Jy moes dadelik kom hello sê het dame – asb doen volgende keer. Ek is so bly julle geniet lap doeke so baie soos ons en BAIE dankie vir jou mooi woorde. Dit beteken regtig die wêreld vir my. Ek gaan beslis kyk na die kurses. Klink vir my baie soos Hettie Brits se boom profiele. Ook oulik wanneer hulle ouer is.

  • Reply Caley May 23, 2019 at 9:59 am

    What a beautiful post – and so beautifully written. I couldn’t agree more that motherhood is so different for everyone!
    You are an amazing mama, you are raising strong women and you are influencing women around the world with your words. x

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