Welcome to Parent Portraits, where we paint a picture of parenthood – which, naturally, looks a little different each and every time – and celebrate the endless variety of family life, and the unconditional love that gives it so much texture.
We asked Tropic HR Manager, Laura, about life as a mum and the moments she’s loved the most. Here’s what she said...
Have you always known that you wanted to be a parent?
I've never been someone who’s been desperate to be a parent, well until I became one I guess. I wouldn't change it for the world but I never felt like all I wanted was to get married and have kids. Now I have Seb (and my husband) I wouldn't change a thing.
Please can you tell us about when you found out you were expecting?
So actually, it was the work Christmas party – the night before I’d had my husband's work Christmas party and I just hadn't been feeling 100 per cent – something felt different. We’d been actively trying but we'd only been married for about seven weeks, and you just don't expect it to happen that fast. I went and did the pregnancy test and obviously it was positive.
My husband was in the living room and I walked out and said “oh my god, it's positive!” and then his friend knocked at the door ready to come and pick us up for the Christmas party. We were in shock and I had to make excuses for the fact I suddenly wasn't drinking. It was extremely surreal and I couldn't quite believe it!
How has your life changed since having children?
It truly has been non-stop. I used to love my sleep and Seb, fortunately, was a great sleeper in the beginning, but as soon as he reached a year he decided he didn't want to go to sleep anymore. So, I survive most nights on about six hours of sleep and I used to really need my eight! I can't remember life without having him now and we just relish everything about him the majority of the time.
What's your favourite thing about being a parent?
Celebrating his milestones. Sebastian has Down syndrome and things generally take him a little bit longer, but you cannot imagine the love and the pride that you feel for your children, and I feel that even more so because of how hard he works to reach his goals. He’s just started to walk, and it's been months and months of physio and different therapies so it's so amazing to see – I could watch him walk all day! It’s definitely the hardest but most rewarding job I’ve ever done.
What have you found most challenging about becoming a parent?
Probably the lack of sleep because I really did love my sleep, but it's like anything, if you start exercising loads you build up stamina and you do get used to it. Juggling work and life and having that balance is so important but it is a challenge when it comes to having enough time with Seb – as he's obviously at nursery when I’m at work – and also having some time for myself and alone time with my husband on top of that is hard.
What's the most rewarding part of your day?
First thing in the morning when I see his smiling face and he gives me cuddles! Sebastian has taught me more than anyone has ever taught me in my whole life. With his diagnosis there's a lot to learn but I’m so passionate about him and learning what it means to be a mother is something I cherish each and every day.
What's the most challenging part of your day?
Getting Sebastian to sleep! Seb battles with going to sleep because he doesn't want to miss out – it's like he gets serious FOMO. I think sometimes as well, my husband works from seven in the morning and getting myself and Seb ready before getting him to nursery is a bit of a challenge, especially now he’s so on the go.
Also, if you need to pop to the toilet, you need to bring him with you or if you want to do your makeup, you need to have one eye on him, one eye on doing your mascara. During the pandemic, it's been a little easier because of working from home, so that’s one thing I’m really grateful for.
What would you say to someone who thinks parenting is easy?
It’s hard work but it's about just learning to adapt, and it's so so worth it. It’s definitely not easy but it's like most things – if you have the right outlook, you’ll be fine. It may be tough but it really is such a privilege, don’t take it for granted.
Has parenthood been what you expected?
No, but in so many ways it's been better. There’s a lot to juggle and as Sebastian has additional needs, we attend varied hospital appointments and therapies to aid his development, but I wouldn't change it at all! I don't know what I expected, because you just don't know what to expect to be honest, but it's even more rewarding than I could have imagined.
Is there anything you like to do to take time for yourself?
I like getting my hair done. I do occasionally like going for a run and normally (when we’re not in a global pandemic) I like meeting friends and going to the theatre. Selfcare and TLC are so important!
What's been the biggest help to you during parenthood?
Supportive family and friends are so important as I think motherhood can be quite lonely. I obviously still work full time so I’m constantly surrounded by people that support me, but knowing that they're there is invaluable. We had a shock diagnosis for Seb, so everyone was probably present a lot more than they might have been, but I think if we didn't have people around us who show us so much love, it could have been really lonely.
Are there any special moments you can share?
He's just started to walk – he was about 31-32 months, but that has been something that I’ve been desperate for him to do for so long and we’ve worked so hard on it, so it's amazing! I think as well, when he reaches all his milestones they are just so special and you never forget them! He’s such a little character now and I'm so proud of the little man he is becoming.