BBC News

Stories show 'reality of motherhood'

By Caroline Le Marechal
BBC News, Bristol

image copyrightKWMC
image captionArts project Mother in the Mother explores maternal lineage and the relationships between mothers and their children

A collection of stories about the "reality of motherhood" from mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers has gone on show in Bristol.

Artist Pippa Robinson said the aim of the project was to "enable women to articulate the reality, rather than the ideal of motherhood, in their own words".

The stories have been collected from a wide range of families, some with five generations of women, over two years.

Over the past two years Ms Robinson has gathered stories from women across Bristol.

She said: "The stories take in themes including absent mothers, mending broken relationships, emergency Caesareans, and being a young mother."

Mother in the Mother is on at the Knowle West Media Centre until 14 April.

Harriet's story: Keeping Mum's memory alive

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image captionHarriet "feels sad" her son will not know "his granny in person"

Harriet, 35, lost her mother at the age of 13 when she died suddenly from a brain haemorrhage. She said her father "never really got over the loss" and died in 2006.

She said: "Of course I deeply miss both my parents, and in becoming a mother myself there are endless times where I wish I could just pick up the phone and chat to my mum.

"Knowing that my mum lives on in my boys is an amazing thought for me too. I feel so sad that they won't know their granny in person, but she is very present in our lives, in pictures, stories, and through other family members."

Chantelle's story: Recovering from post-natal depression

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image captionChantelle said the births of her three children were all "very difficult"

Chantelle, 26, has three children and said her "transition into motherhood was very emotional". She first became a mother at 18 and said she had "very little support" and suffered with post-natal depression.

She said: "But during my recovery I found my identity as a woman, a mother, reborn, and embraced my new role.

"Mine and my mother's relationship has always been quite strained but over the last years has gone from strength to strength. It's grown in strength. She has been supportive at times and she is a doting nanny.

"Motherhood is not what I expected, it's not the stress, mess and toddler tantrums I thought it would be. It's fun, enchanting and every day I learn something new."

Charlotte's story: Doing things differently

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image captionCharlotte, pictured with her son and her mother, said becoming a mother had made her more "compassionate" to her own mother

Charlotte, 43, has two children and said her own childhood had been "overcome with fear" because her mother is "an addict and chronic alcoholic".

She said: "I loved my mother so very much. I was overlooked and grew up with great longing. She was loving, kind and cuddly but not consistently so.

"I think she is a lovely narcissist - if there can be such a thing. The way I was mothered has definitely affected the way I mother. I constantly feel I am not giving, being, doing enough.

"Since becoming a mother I have felt both a little more compassionate towards my mother and a little more angry. Being a good mother is such a momentous task, one that is of great value to another little vulnerable human being and one that requires and deserves great commitment."

Ella's story: Healing through motherhood

image copyrightKWMC
image captionElla said motherhood helped her to "find" her own mother again

Ella, 35, has two children and said becoming a mother herself helped to "resolve a 20-year battle of miscommunication" with her own mother.

She said: "Somehow the mother of my childhood got muddled, distorted, lost and misunderstood over time. But finally we resolved.

"We found each other. Motherhood brought us together again. It reopened the channels of communication between us."

Joy's story: Being a grandmother

image copyrightKWMC
image captionJoy's mother pictured with Joy's daughter - Joy said her relationship with her own mother was "difficult"

Joy, 60, has two children aged 35 and 31, and two grandchildren.

She said: "My relationship with my mother was difficult. I wanted to be close to her but it was as though we both had this barrier stopping us from getting too close.

"I was very, very conscious of the wish to not be the cold mother that my mum had been. But I did find myself acting in ways that my mum had and it was difficult to break the patterns that were deeply ingrained in me.

"When my mum got dementia, all the pain and anger of both her childhood and mine erupted like a volcano.

"Since having grandchildren, I have a deeper understanding and compassion for my mum, my daughter and for myself."

Related Topics

  • Family
  • Bristol
  • Children
  • Pregnancy

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