Four experiences of motherhood for Mother's Day 2023 –

Four experiences of motherhood for Mother’s Day 2023

It’s Mother’s Day weekend!

We chatted to four incredible Mums from the Vision Foundation team who’ll be celebrating (and celebrated) this Mother’s Day. Monica, Josie, Charmaine and Fran share an insight into what motherhood means to them, explore the highlights and challenges of raising a family and offer a piece of advice for other mothers…



Mum to Scott, Dan and Laura

Monica with her three adult children, two tall men in their 20s and one petite woman in her 20s.

My children are all grown up now. Although I proudly say I raised them to be thoughtful, practical and independent, I do still occasionally trip over shoes and coats left abandoned at the bottom of the stairs!

Bar the occasional oversight with belongings, my three were independent and perceptive long before many of their friends. If they left their lunchbox or PE kit at home, I couldn’t drive over and hand over what they left behind. There were many occasions when I felt guilty when it did happen. But with time they knew to make sure they had everything they needed for the day, with them, and with glorious hindsight this was a valuable life skill.

Monica and Scott hugging during the London Marathon
Monica hugging Scott as he passed our London Marathon cheer point, whilst running for Vision Foundation.

When my daughter was nine years old, we booked a trip to the States to visit my sister. My daughter guided me through the airport (with my instructions and I held firmly onto the passports!). From finding the check in desk to the boarding gate and retrieving suitcases at the other end; I can’t think of many nine year olds who would confidently find their way in a busy airport. And how many parents would trust their nine year old to do that?


What advice do you have for other mothers?

My advice to all parents would be to allow your children to make mistakes and allow them to take a bit of control. They may break an arm or go without lunch for the day, but you’ll be raising adventurous and sensible children who know how to get organised!




Mum to Seb, Archie and Milo, aged 10, 7 and 4

Josie with her 3 boys. They are standing in height order proudly posing with their whippy ice creams. Josie cuddles into her eldest with a big smile.

I’ve been a mum for a decade now and – cheesy as it sounds – it’s been the best decade of my life.

The juggle of being the mum you’d like to be (reading stories quietly in a Pinterest-inspired bedroom and baking batches of perfectly golden cookies in a sun-drenched kitchen), with the mum you have to be (telling them to put their shoes away rather than leaving them in the hallway to trip everyone else up AGAIN) certainly isn’t an easy one. Frankly, there’s more shoe-related nagging in our house than there is baking. But it feels important and valuable and most of the time, pretty fun.

We had a builder come to sort our bathroom last year and he looked wistfully at my little boys and said “Children; the bigger they get, the bigger the problems.” He had teenagers, so he knew a thing or two. As our 4 year old can now dress himself and navigate CBeebies solo, it feels as though the age of innocence is almost over for us, that said, we still get cuddles. So as my husband and I juggle work with our three boys, we feel lucky that this is suddenly an age where flexible working is a thing and we can model work/life balance – at least we can when we don’t have deadlines looming and Zoom meetings that can’t be rearranged!


What advice do you have for other mothers?Seb, Archie and Milo dressed up for World Book day as a Aslan (Seb) Mr Gum (Archie) and Thor (Milo). They are holding their books up for the camera.

Firstly, someone once told me that every stage is more fun than the last. It’s true. Babies are beyond gorgeous. But every age they hit beyond that, there’s another treat in store. Whether it’s a new skill you can marvel at. A new level to their sense of humour. Or a new thing they do that shows you you’ve helped to form a really big-hearted human.

Secondly, I heard something on Radio 4 recently about gardener parenting (giving them space and generally nurturing conditions then watching how they grow), versus carpenter parenting (working to shape them into a desired design). That comparison really helps me to remember to let go every now and then and embrace who they are, rather than my idea of what they might be.

And finally, some wise words from my Aunt Charlotte, “Being a mom is not for sissies!” It’s the hardest. Because it feels so important. And that’s what makes it feel so incredible when you actually get them to put their shoes away.





Mum to Alex and Sophia, aged 10 and 7

Charmaine sitting on the sofa with daughters, Alex and Sophia nestled in either side of her. She smiles down ay them both.

I lost my eyesight suddenly over four years. Sighted or non-sighted, parenting has its challenges: it’s frustrating, overwhelming but always worth it. They teach us so much about being your true self, because that’s what they are all the time.

All children need to learn how to be a part of society but I feel children of visually impaired parents learn how to be kinder and more conscientious members of society because they are automatically so much more mindful of differences and capabilities. Last week I took the girls to school on the bus and they were vying for the number 1 spot of holding my hand and being my chaperone. We compromised with taking turns and each of them handled that task with love and care. They not only are mindful of me, but others, they’re aware and sensitive. I always remind my girls that no matter what, I’m their responsible adult, they are not responsible for me. I tell them almost like a mantra that they are beautiful, conscientious chaperones and that they are seeing for me. Charmaine and Alex standing together at "The Power of Touch" art exhibition.

Sophia, my youngest is on the cusp of being the age my eldest was when I lost my eyesight. She hasn’t had much experience of having a mum with eyesight. With my eldest, Alex, one of the joys I shared with her was reading, which I haven’t been able to do with my youngest. Thankfully the girls attend a wonderful school which values reading. Sophia attends additional Superstar Reading classes. She now reads to me, something I treasure, as not only is she reading but she enjoys it. A wonderful parallel to Sophia’s blossoming love for reading is that I am learning Braille. As a tactile person Sophia is fascinated by it and she even makes me Braille notes (they aren’t raised code, but the thought is there and that is lovely). I feel like we’re on a level playing field on our journey to reading independently.


What advice do you have for other mothers?

My parting words would be if you see a visually impaired parent struggling, go over to help. They’ll probably be able to give you a few tips in return about their learnings.




Mum to Maisie and Reuben, aged 6 and 3

Fran and daughter, Maisie wrapped up in coats and woolly hats as they smile in front of a curtain of fairy lights.

When my daughter, Maisie, was born six years ago, our lives changed in the blink of an eye. Despite feeling prepared, it felt completely surreal. We were now parents. Where was the instruction manual? I remember when we got home from the hospital with her two days later and thinking ‘now what’? And all of a sudden she’s now six and at school. I find watching her grow up and become this curious, vibrant, funny little girl endlessly fascinating and have this immense urge to want to be the best for her. To give her what she needs and for us to learn from one another. She has taught me things I never knew about myself. I have learnt that I can be patient (who knew!?), and I can stay calm (most of the time) even when all my buttons are being pushed hard and all at once.

When my son, Reuben, was born in January 2020, I was over the moon as I had so hoped for a sibling for Maisie. I felt an odd mix of feeling incredibly lucky and also absolutely horrified and scared at the prospect of looking after two young children. I honestly didn’t know how I was going to cope. Then of course the pandemic happened, and everything changed so quickly. It was then I found out how I would cope with two young children – I had to. I can’t say it was easy and would go as far to say those first few months were the most challenging of my life. But we got into a routine, got to know one another and used to being a family of four rather than three.

Going back to work almost provided me with a sanctuary and my own space, where I could be around other adults and do something for ‘me’. Don’t get me wrong, being a working parent is what the term’ spinning plates’ was created for. I have to make a note of everything in my calendar – who to pick up, from where, at what time, who needs dinner, who has homework to do etc. etc. Sometimes I wake up and don’t know what day it is. A selfie of Fran and son, Reuben. Fran poses with her tongue out and Reuben is laughing.

I think the reality of motherhood is extraordinary. It can be completely overwhelming at times, trying to balance everything and make sure their needs are met as well as your own. And it’s different for everyone. There is so much advice out there it’s hard to find your own voice and confidence, especially for new mothers. Looking back, I would tell myself as a new mother to trust your instinct. Only you know what is best for your child and for yourself. Try to not judge and don’t care if you are. You are not alone and EVERYONE goes through hard times, despite what Instagram shows you (also stay off Instagram!).

As I write this, my son has come into the room where I work and is asking lots of questions about my work, my ‘puter’ and why the ‘puter’ has so many buttons. He has also just locked me out of my phone by typing in an incorrect password one too many times. I think that about sums up motherhood to me.


What advice do you have for other mothers?

The advice I would give to other mothers is to feel confident in the decisions you make as only you know what is best for you and your child. Motherhood and parenting can be overwhelming and feel like a rollercoaster of emotions, but you are not alone in how you are feeling, however that may be. And don’t forget to look after yourself too.