This week…Juliette Morton, mum of two, writer, global education campaigner and the founder of Kids Call It Out.
My little Munchkin/s is/are… aged one and two. I’m going to let them decide when, and if, they want to reveal their identities to the world.
No-one ever tells you that… your babies might decide entirely of their own accord and without warning to stop breastfeeding. This can happen when you start weaning them and is quite common, but it came as a total surprise first time around and I wasn’t quite ready for it.
Birth was… not what we planned, but it worked out wonderfully. I didn’t get the best care in the hospital which was hot, busy and massively understaffed. I was keen to get out as soon as I could. Both times I transferred to an amazing midwife-led unit – it was like paradise. I remember the midwives bringing me hot chocolate and bananas late in the evening while I breastfed in bed. I felt so loved and cared for, it was a beautiful thing.
I couldn’t have survived the first three months without… my husband – having very young children, especially tiny babies, is tough on relationships. It’s good to be able to shout at each other in the dark of the night then get up the next day and carry on regardless. Being able to let go is so important. He’s my rock and my friend.
I wish I’d known before that… “this too shall pass.” Every age and stage brings challenges. It’s wise to remember – without wishing your life away – that you will all get through it. Even the exhaustion will lift eventually, right?
It used to drive me mad when people said… has your baby reached x y or z stage yet? There was one particular baby group where a woman used to rock up and bang on about what an early walker her boy was and grill the other mums on where their offspring had got to. People would actually shrink back when she walked through the door. In retrospect, I think she was just trying to make friends, but I stopped going after a while.
It’s good to be able to shout at each other in the dark of the night then get up the next day and carry on regardless.
The best present anyone gave me was…. the gift of sleep and time to recuperate. I like to think I have a pretty iron constitution but last winter, when my second born was around six months I got such bad flu that I couldn’t move. I called my mum and was crying I was so sick, I didn’t know how I was going to look after anyone in that state. But I didn’t even have to ask – she came over, scooped up the kids, took them out for the day until my man took over and she did my weekly shopping to boot. For that I will be eternally grateful.
Our first holiday was… meant to be in a glamorous French resort but our oldest’s passport got lost in the post so we ended up in our bell tent on a cliff in Cornwall, wind howling around us, rain lashing at the canvas. It was freezing. We lasted two nights before decamping to a whitewashed cottage on the harbourside below. I remember a seagull nesting on the flat-roof over the porch, snuggling her babies in her feathers. I could relate.
The most important that I’ve learnt is… to trust my instinct. So should you.
I worry about… children being forced to conform to gender stereotypes that limit their imagination and freedom. Kids are fed crappy messages about their identity so early, from gendered toys, books, clothes, TV, film, games and more. And they are sexualised way before they are ready. I don’t think that boys and girls are the same, but I do value them equally. That’s why I set up Kids Call It Out to empower kids to respect and celebrate their differences and call out everyday sexism for the humdrum, harmful call to conformity that it is.
I wish… for the occasional day off. Who doesn’t?
I want my children to know that… whatever they dream, they can do.