Love, wisdom, courage, unselfishness, surrendering… Tuija, Irina, Saara, Tytti-Lotta, Gudrun and Susanne tell here what motherhood means to them.

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Every motherhood is unique

“The myth of motherhood is still strong when thinking about the concept of motherhood and what kind of a mother is a good mother. Motherhood is linked to the role of the woman in society and womanhood in general. We easily compare ourselves to others, and the fear of being marked as a bad mother prevents us from speaking about the whole spectrum of emotions.

A journey to become a mother does not show outwards. When the story is told by a mother herself, it’s not corrected by anyone to fit the generic narrative. In our book, Traces of Motherhood – Stories of Nordic Mothers, we wanted to let different kinds of mothers tell their own stories, each of them precious just as they are.

For me, the idea of this book project arose when someone wrote that the joy of her motherhood was overshadowed by the shame of her own story – a sad, heart-rending thought. I wish that every mother could feel happy on her journey of motherhood and seek for the happiness in life, just like you do without being a mother. I wish that every mother could feel gorgeous as herself with all her thoughts and emotions – and that nobody would doubt her motherly love or sufficiency, especially because of the models defined by others.”

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“Motherly love is often mirrored onto mother’s love towards her own child, and I was also surprised how I was overcome with strong love when my first child was born. But I have also thought about this concept the other way around, as a child’s love towards his or her mother or mother figure. That is also affection, trust, sincere caring – an invisible bond that carries even when the other one is no longer around. When I think about my own Mum, who passed away one year ago, I understand that, at best, motherly love is a chain of generations.

On my desk there are two photos of my Mum in the Aland archipelago. They remind me of warm summers and ease during my childhood. Even as an adult, longing for motherly love is strong. Every day I dream of my Mum’s warm hugs that accepted everything. I mostly miss our mutual humour – we were on the very same wavelength, and there is no-one else who I would burst out laughing with from just a half thought.

I want to surrender to motherhood wherever it takes me. Life is continuous growth and our children are a daily mirror to ourselves. However, I try to think that I have succeeded well enough as a mother. I trust that love will do.” 

– Tytti-Lotta, 41

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Happy mother, happy child 

“In my childhood we couldn’t have hobbies or travel like nowadays, but my parents gave us children all their experience and wisdom. From my Mum I got willpower, sense of responsibility and a desire to always try something new. The same I want to pass on to my child. 

I was almost 41 when I became a mother. My son, my pride, has my eyes and character. ‘I was waiting for him for a very, very long time, so he could not be different’, I always say and smile to those wondering it.  

I remember Gordey’s first steps. How he wanted to watch birds, released my hand and went on his own. So easily and naturally! From the very beginning, determination and desire for independence have been characteristic for him.  

When my maternity leave began, it was not easy to settle down as my life had been full of work and travelling for such a long time. When Gordey was a bit over one year old, I got a very interesting work offer. I spent sleepless nights thinking over my decision, because a challenging job would require full dedication. And Mum helped me again. ‘You must think about yourself as well, your own growth. If you’re interested in the proposal, accept it. Your son doesn’t need your sacrifice, he needs a happy mother,’ she said. When bad conscience sometimes sneaks into my mind, I remember Mum’s advice. Happy mother, happy child.” 

– Irina, 43

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 Lots of motherly love, for my friends too 

 “’If you do something, do it properly – or don’t do it at all”. This Mum’s advice has accompanied me all my life. 

My Mum is 82 years old, but she sometimes still works in the same place where she has been working for 60 years – in the hospital. When I’m thinking about her three words come into my mind: youthful, stylish and active. She is a good role model for me, and I still learn from her every day.  

My Mum loves me unconditionally, and there is enough of this love for my friends as well. Many of them have already lost their Mum so they turn to mine with their concerns. I’m the only child, so my friends are my siblings and like own children for my Mum. 

The most memorable moments with my Mum are from our trips around the world. Every year we try to discover new countries and cities, and we already have visited lots of them. My Mum remembers especially our amazing trip to Australia and small penguins who came to the shore. She loves telling the story of this unforgettable meeting in the night of Tasmania.” 

–Gudrun, 48

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Be brave to choose your own way as a mother 

“‘I love most to snuggle into Mum’s lap to read a book,’ says my 8-year-old daughter Peppi. 

I remember the same kind of tender, peaceful reading moments in my own childhood. My Mum read me a lot, and I want to show the world of stories for my own children as well. 

Otso, 5, is excited about football and floorball. Our common thing is Legos. Sometimes we sit for hours on the children room’s floor and just construct different Lego models. For her part, Peppi loves gymnastics and swimming. Dysmelia, a congenital limb deficiency, hasn’t prevent her enthusiasm. Her ‘small arm’ just makes her even more unique. With prosthesis she is able to do even the most precise crafts.    

I have learned a lot from my children. Peppi has taught courage and to seize the moment and more sensitive Otso has shown the importance of prudence. When I see them playing together, I feel that I have succeeded as a mother.  

Each mother should rely on her own maternal instinct. Especially along with Peppi, I have realized that what is suitable for one child doesn’t necessary work with another one. Be brave to choose your own way. When needed, ask for help and support, but trust yourself and your ability to make the best decisions for your family.“

– Saara, 38

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 A dream come true by adopting 

 “I think that I always wanted to be a Mum. Even when I was younger, I looked after my sister and her friends and made sure that they didn’t come to any harm, just like my mother did for me.  

A dream of motherhood followed me through college and the start of my working career, but I didn’t have a serious relation with anybody in particular. At the end of my twenties, my doctor gave me the sad news: I couldn’t have babies myself. 

I thought I was missing a target in life, but I didn’t let that stop me. One of my relatives had already adopted children and I saw that it was a good option. 

I never forget Valentine’s Day, February 14th, 2007. That day I got a letter from the adoption agency attached with a photo of a 6-month-old vietnamese boy in an orphanage. Robin was a year old when he came to Sweden. 

My dream came true, I became a Mum. Robin started kindergarden when he was two, and went on to school at six, like all kids do in Sweden. If, five years ago, someone had asked Robin about his mother, I guess he would have answered ‘The best mother on Earth.’ And now? ’Yes. She’s OK.’ That’s what he would say today. Just like any teenager. 

What have I learned about being a mother of a 14-year old boy? Unconditional love – the same that my mother did for my sister and I. You will always protect your child. Like a tiger and her cub.”  

– Susanne, 47

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Children teach us how to keep our minds open and excited 

“For me big family is an asset. My children, four biological and two bonus children, are grown-ups already. It’s great to see their mutual dynamics and how they encourage each other. As a mum I’m proud and sometimes amazed – how I have succeeded to raise such clever grown-ups! 

 I’m lucky to be a grandmother as well. My six grandchildren are between the age of 5 and 25. Our favourite thing with the small ones is baking. Ginger biscuits, cupcakes and ice cream portions become awesome creations in children’s hands. We also like to go to museums and art exhibitions together, like we did with my own children when they were young. In art, children point you things that you wouldn’t see yourself. They teach us how to keep mind open and excited. 

 Motherly love – the biggest and the most important thing in my life. It also carries through the difficult moments, like when I lost my daughter and my grandchildren lost their mum. When holding the youngest one in kangaroo care or the 3-years-old was asking after her mum, I was hoping to be able to pass on something about their mother. Supporting the family has also been an important part of my own mourning process. I still often think what my daughter would do and want and tell about her for her children. Thus she lives in our hearts. “

– Tuija, 61

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Love, wisdom, courage, unselfishness, surrendering … Every mother and every motherhood is unique. Read here, what motherhood means to Tuija, Irina, Saara, Tytti-Lotta, Gudrun and Susanne. What does it mean to you? 

Happy Mother’s Day!