Motherhood: Editor Georgie Abay On What She’s Learnt



If you were to journal a list of the joys that mothering has brought you, what would you write? For me, it’s simple. Love...

But when I say love, it’s the most extraordinary love you’ll ever experience. It’s also riddled with highs and lows. Long days where you don’t know how you’ll cope, and then shorter days where your heart explodes with love at everything they do. Weeks of sleepless nights where you experience exhaustion, unlike anything you’ve ever gone through, and then nights where they sleep through and you sit there listening to the sweet sound of their breath. Moments where you question if you’re doing a good enough job. Where you question if you’re worthy. And then moments where you feel like you’ve got it all under control (my five-year-old told me the other day she “loves me more than a dog”. Given her love of dogs, I’ll take that as a sign I’m doing an ok job). So ahead of Mother’s Day, I thought I’d reflect on what I’ve learnt over the last few years. Here I go…


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Like most, my journey has been one of ups and downs. Your path to motherhood is rarely how you’d imagined it…

I managed to fall pregnant easily, which I was grateful for, but staying pregnant proved to be the challenge. Both girls were premature and Lottie (born at 33 weeks) was especially difficult. When she was six weeks old, I started bleeding and was rushed to hospital in an ambulance. I had a post-partum haemorrhage and a week later, after multiple blood transfusions, I was sent home to my baby who would only sleep in my arms. So that’s how we slept for the next four months – it was the only way either of us would get any sleep. And after the difficult pregnancy, I needed to be close to her as much as she needed me. Thank god for sugar and coffee.

We all have our own individual journey. Everyone has a story. And you never know what goes on behind closed doors, so don’t believe everything you see on Instagram. When I was pregnant, my mother would look at me knowingly, but it wasn’t until I became a mother that I understood what she was trying to say to me. It’s not easy. But it will get easier. Now, she just tells me time and again: “it’s just a phase”. I never knew that motherhood would test me in ways I’ve never imagined. How sometimes, after a tough day, I’d feel like I was going crazy. Even now, the sound of a newborn baby crying makes me feel anxious – it takes me back to those days where my babies would cry from 4pm into the night.

The thing is, even when it’s hard, becoming a mother is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. I can’t imagine a time when my two girls weren’t in this world – their arrival made my life feel complete. It made me feel whole. It made me feel so proud – prouder than I’ve ever felt before.


Five years in, I feel a little like my old self, even though I know I’ll never really be who I was before I had kids…

In those early days, I went from being an editor at VOGUE to a sleep-deprived mother searching for something clean to wear each day. Motherhood changes you as a person forever. There’s no going back. Ever. I know the old me is still in there and occasionally, there are moments where I do feel like the old me. Not the mum me. They’re usually when I’m out with my husband or girlfriends – no kids – and I treasure those times, but they also remind me that I wouldn’t change being a mum for a world. I can’t wait to get home to my girls (especially if they’re asleep – is there anything sweeter than sleeping kids?). Being a mother is the most wonderful (albeit messy) privilege and I still pinch myself sometimes when I look at my girls.


Motherhood is full of surprises too…

I’ve learnt more about myself in the last five years than all the years before that. I always imagined I’d have three or four kids. I’d love a big family, but I don’t have it in me – physically or mentally. I discovered that the career I’d worked so hard for, didn’t seem so important after I had kids. That was one of the biggest surprises. I never expected to fall out of love with a job I was so passionate about. But I also learnt that motherhood will inspire you to throw your career in a different direction. I wasn’t up for the corporate juggle – I didn’t have it in me after my second child was born. So I left. But after leaving my corporate career, I’ve also learnt that I love working so I pursued The Grace Tales with everything I had. It’s part of who I am and even though I’m a mother, I also need work to make me feel whole. I just make sure my work, works for my girls. Having flexibility is key.


The struggle is real…

I thought I knew what anxiety was before I had kids – I had no idea. I still battle with anxiety (feeling worried and on edge). Certain situations – sibling fighting, running late, the girls’ screaming – will trigger it and I can feel the anxiety taking over my body. I know that exercise and breathing (and meditation when I do it) helps but I also know that you need a village around you. I’ve never needed my family and friends more. Surround yourself with people who will listen and who will make you laugh. And make sure you listen to them too.


Finally, I’ve learnt how important self-love is…

I’m sure that like me, you’re guilty of being too hard on yourself. Of not valuing your role as a mother as much as you should. We interviewed TV presenter and mother of two boys Catriona Rowntree the other week and she told us: “I’ve always known the force of my personality is far greater than the look of my face. I think the fact I’m married to someone who makes me feel loved plays a huge part, but self-esteem aside, I’ve created not one but TWO near ten pounds, healthy babies. What a dead set legend! I refuse to be disrespectful to a body that has the ability to create a human being”. Value yourself, always.

So as Mother’s Day approaches, take a moment to reflect on what you’ve learnt. And a moment to celebrate yourself. Because you’ve got this, mama.

Photography: Alice Mahran | In association with Forever New


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