I recently began a new series about how upbringing influences parenting. It remains to be seen whether it has as great an impact as I suspect, but that’s why I find these interviews so fascinating! I hope you will too.
(If there are any guys reading, please don’t be put off by the title – you’re more than welcome to get involved! I apologise for the un-PC title, but quite simply, I love alliteration. If you have any less sexist suggestions I’d love to hear them!)
This week, we have Nicola, the person behind iamcrabstix.
iamcrabstix is Nicola Crabstix (not her real name, but college friends misheard her surname and it stuck)… She is from the North East of England and lives with her partner Mark, their son RLT, who is currently ten months old and their cat Orla Kitty. There is a minor obsession with designer Orla Kiely in the house, hence the cat’s name. Nicola is new to blogging as she found it a useful way to keep her mind active during maternity leave. She has recently returned to her full-time job in art and design education and thankfully she has her mum on hand to look after RLT whilst she does so.
1. Can you describe your relationship with your mother today?
I know this sounds incredibly corny, but my mum is my best friend. She has always encouraged me to be my own person and do what I wanted in life, but she has been especially close since we decided to start a family. She is the person I go to when I feel down, who I share my happiness with and there anytime I need a good old rant!
2. How does this differ/is this similar to the relationship you had growing up?
My mum had me when she was 20 and had to work a lot to provide for her young family. Our relationship feels much more relaxed now as she isn’t constantly rushing off to work and buying us things because she feels guilty about not being there! She also semi-retired to look after her grandchildren, because she felt she missed out on so much of our childhood (I have a brother who is 19 months younger than me), which is lovely, but I felt really sad that she felt that way.
3. In what ways has your relationship with your mother influenced your character and outlook on life?
According to my partner, my mum and I are the same person. We feel so very deeply, but we don’t suffer fools and can be very scathing. She has also never settled – she worked hard for her career and always wanted better for her and her family. She was the first in her family to go to university and I think I always looked up to her ambition to always better herself.
4. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve taken from your relationship with your mother?
Follow your heart not your head.
5. In what ways has that affected your parenting style?
Make everyday fun and full of laughter. My partner refers to my mum as Mary Poppins, her three grandchildren adore her because she knows so much about child development and every day is fun and something different. She’s not afraid of a messy house as long as her grandchildren are laughing!
6. What’s the best/worst piece of advice your mother ever gave you?
‘Make sure you get it in the right hole’ – Her advice when I asked for tampons for the first time as I had to go swimming when on a skiing trip with school. I was gobsmacked. Still am.
7. How do you hope to influence your own children as they grow up and become adults, and does this reflect your relationship with your own mother?
I want my little boy to be a citizen of the world, which I think is what my mum wanted for us. She was raised in a very racist pit village in the North East of England, she never wanted us to be narrow minded and to have hate for people we don’t know, like the people she grew up with.
8. Based on your relationship with your mother, what has been your biggest surprise/revelation/epiphany when you became a mum yourself?
The happiness you can get from looking after other people! My mum is in her element when she looks after kids, I never really understood it before. But it is the best feeling in the world to have little ones around you!
9. Has your mother’s relationship with your children followed a similar pattern to your own relationship with her, or is their relationship very different? How do you feel about that?
She looks after my little boy three days a week, while I am at work, alongside my two year old nephew and they seem to have enormous amounts of fun. My little one gives her a big smile whenever she walks through the door, he has started to want to go to her when I have hold of him, I thought I’d be distraught the first time it happened, but she’s my mum. If he is happy with anyone besides me and his daddy, I’m glad it is her! I feel that she probably is more relaxed now than she was when I was a child as she doesn’t have financial worries and can enjoy the time she has rather than trying to cram all of those precious childhood moments in to her days off.
10. Can you share a memory about you and your mother which illustrates your relationship?
Giving birth. I asked my mum to be my second birth partner (having medical qualifications, I thought this was a smart move as she’d have my back). When it was all over and they were offering me tea and toast and I was refusing, Mum saves the day by pulling a Mars Bar and bottle of water out of her bag! I don’t like tea and I don’t eat a lot of bread – so there she was, having my back!
With many thanks to Nicola for sharing her story. She can be found on Twitter, and Facebook.
If you’d like to take part in the series about how upbringing influences parenting, please email me.