‘I never imagined not being a mother’ - Bestselling author Sinéad Moriarty
Bestselling author Sinéad Moriarty, who is mum to Hugo (11), Geordy (9) and Amy (7), reveals what she's learnt from parenting wrong
I worry about getting it
You think you've an idea of what kind of mother you will be, but actually, the reality is you deal with each day and each problem and each mini-drama as it comes. The fear of saying the wrong thing or giving the wrong advice is probably the hardest thing.
Kids really make you see what's important
They make you stop worrying about things that don't matter. Even if something great happens workwise, you have a moment of feeling thrilled about it but then it's about their needs and they keep you very grounded. Being a mother makes you more selfless because it's not about you; it's about them and their happiness.
I wasn't particularly judgemental before and I'm 100pc not now
I would never, ever judge anyone or presume to know what their day was like before they react in a certain way. You see people in supermarkets roaring at their kids and I've been that person, so I wouldn't judge anybody. Everybody is just trying to do their best. I think we sometimes might need to remember that and to be supportive because everybody has a bad day at times.
I'm probably the disciplinarian in the family
I think I'm strict when I need to be and hopefully not when I don't have to. Every day is different though. You might think you'll wake up having one kind of a day and then something comes up. One of the things you don't expect is how emotionally invested you are in your kids. There's a famous quote, 'You're only as happy as your unhappiest child' and that's really true. Their mood and their wellbeing, that's what your life becomes about and it affects you very strongly emotionally.
I always wanted to be a mum
I would have had children by hook or by crook. I just never imagined not being a mother and I just felt it was something that would happen. My own family is very important to me and the family I've subsequently created is very important to me. I really don't take having children for granted and I know how lucky I am and there are people who haven't been so lucky and I am even more grateful. Obviously, I can say this because I'm in a nice place now, but I'm kind of glad that I struggled [to become pregnant] because I really know how lucky I am.
The beauty of having children is that you see the world through their eyes
It brings you back to your youth as well and even looking at them now, I can bring myself back to when I was 11 quite easily, which is a good thing. And also, it can make you feel quite old. I was posting a letter and my son was 'Why don't you text it? It's so old fashioned putting it into a post box.' It's funny - you might think you're still relatively okay, but actually you're just an old person to them and that just makes me laugh. It also brings you straight back down to earth.
I say to my children not to sit on the fence
Engage in life and don't be beige. Be scarlet or sunflower yellow. Life is there to be lived and I don't think there's any point in sitting on the sidelines and watching it go by. Do everything you can do.
We put huge amounts of pressure on ourselves
I think we're trying to have it all, but I'm not sure we're succeeding. Certainly, when I look around, everybody around me seems stressed and I think maybe that's just the 40s and the 50s - it's a very busy time, parents getting older and children growing up and health issues often come into play. There's a huge turn towards meditation and mindfulness and there's a reason for that. People are desperate to just slow down, take an hour off and stop running around like headless chickens, which we all do. I've just started a mindfulness course because I just wanted to switch off and I think that everybody is seeking to quieten the mind.
I always say trust your instincts
You know your child more than anybody else, so if you think there's something wrong, there probably is. If you think they're not well, they probably aren't and don't listen to all the advice that you're going to get. You have to trust your own instincts and you are the expert of your child.
my children have taught me to try and live in the moment
Kids are very much about what's happening right now and you should try and just enjoy what you have and not worry about the future because it's a waste of energy. But it's something that I need to work on.