Wednesday 28 September 2016

'You can't be the perfect parent - don't even try

Published 09/09/2015 | 02:30

Fashion Designer Joanne Hynes
Fashion Designer Joanne Hynes

Designer Joanne Hynes on what being a mother to Fainche 32 months; Brannagh who is 11 months, and Iseult, her 4-week-old newborn, has taught her.

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I was oblivious to motherhood before I had a child

I had absolutely no interest in children, zero, zilch. I just had no perception of what it would do to your life and your heart. It just puts a different microchip in your brain and then after that you're just different in so many ways.

We have a fairly relaxed parenting style

We're chilled about it usually. With the girls I try to be calm but at times it gets crazy with three under three. I've been "very good" and ticked all the baby book reading boxes. I became quite obsessed by it. It just makes me feel like I'm doing something about it. I really got into it as my first choice of bedtime reading for a while! John [Maher, her partner] was saying, 'What are you doing? You're not reading another baby book…' I know a lot of people don't agree with The Baby Whisperer but it was really good in terms of Brannagh's sleep and feeding routine. I've stopped reading now that I'm a mother of three.

Our daughter Étaín is very much part of the family

We had a stillbirth in October 2013, one year after Fainche was born. Étaín, our beloved daughter would be turning 2 on October 4th. Féileacáin [the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Association of Ireland] have been a great support. We lost her at 39 weeks gestation. We talk about Étaín everyday and Fainche says a prayer for her every night. We visit her grave as a family. I don't think Fainche grasps what it means but I feel that it's important to talk about her little sister Étaín.

You can't be the perfect parent

Don't even try. As Fainche gets older, I hope I am not going to be a stereotypical mother who feels she needs to do gymnastics, ballet, music lessons, Irish dancing and lots more. Sometimes less is more.

Parenting has impacted hugely on my working life

I'm not travelling as much as before. I used to live out of a suitcase and that's a huge change but that's been good for me. I've an awful lot less time to do things but I'm more connected - I know quicker what I need to do. I'm sure everyone says the same thing, but I'm a lot more focussed.

You worry more about small things

Fainche has just turned three and every night it's 'Mummy sleep with me, please sleep with me'. Stupidly, I Googled it and my head was about to explode. There were websites with different mothers talking about the values of co-sleeping. They talked about hearing stories from your child that they wouldn't normally tell you as they drift off to sleep next to you and the bonding experience. I was an emotional wreck when I decided to look up the topic, as I had just been re-admitted to hospital after the birth of Iseult with an infection. There's so much noise on the internet it can drive you insane. These are first world problems, but they do play on your mind.

My way of dressing has changed

I suppose my head has changed in every way. High heels and dry cleanable fabrics have just gone out the window, not that I ever really cared. I'm more about luxury comfort now, whereas before I was more experimental in terms of trying out different textures, silhouettes and fabrics. Now it's like a uniform, which is great. I think very little about what I wear. It's not top of the list.

Support is important

Iseult is sleeping a lot as she's newborn and was three weeks premature. John is on paternity leave and that's been amazing. It's been like a holiday in one sense! We talked about getting an au pair. I'll just see how it goes because like anything else, it's just something that's going to happen naturally. I've good support in that we live near John's parents and we have someone who comes to the house if I need to do some work but I'm trying to spend as much time with my daughters as I can.

I want my daughters to be appreciative

I try not to spoil them too much in terms of material items. Spending time with them, listening and eye contact is my thing. With Fainche again, because she's my firstborn, I'm not putting a big emphasis on buying her things like Frozen or Peppa Pig. That's eventually going to creep in and be a big part of her world I'm imagining, because that's just the way it is. But I try not to focus on commercial things. I'm a creative person and I don't know if she's going to be like that, but I try to encourage that as well.

www.joannehynes.com

Irish Independent

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