In honour of Mother’s Day today, well known New Zealand women share what motherhood has taught them.
Plays Rachel McKenna on Shortland Street and is mother to Max, 10, and Maya, 9.
I can be very high-functioning after very little sleep. Children have no ability to function with very little sleep. Everything you're prepared for won't happen and all the things you thought wouldn't happen to you, do happen. A smile can take your worries away and an, "It'll be okay, Mum", can take your heart away. My Mum has a heart of gold - because my brothers and I put her through the wringer and she loves us just the same. I'm absolutely sure it will be exactly the same with me and my children.
Presents Sunday and Marae on TV One and is mother to daughter Te Rerehua, 3, and stepmother to Sam, 14.
What I know as a mother is it's an incredibly joyful journey. I know so much and so little, all at once, about the best way to raise our two kids. But the thing I know for sure is that you need to be flexible. Anything can happen and it does.
When my daughter arrived, I had a couple of philosophical approaches that I've tried really hard to stick to. I decided to mindfully teach her to enjoy singing and speaking. I figured if she enjoyed communication, particularly, she'd have fewer tantrums because she would be able to understand me and articulate what was on her mind. So, I spoke to her from the moment she came into the world about everything: food flavours, cats sunbathing, leaves on trees and bugs on leaves. I'm sure I sounded mad to anyone else in earshot, but she loves words now. I also never promise, or threaten, anything I'm not prepared to see through - to build trust.
The thing is, though, motherhood is an evolving journey. It's hard to get it right and hard to get it wrong. Ultimately, your child will follow his or her destiny. Our job is to build them into healthy humans and help them pack their (metaphorical) bag so they're prepared for whatever lies ahead. And then patiently wait for grandchildren.
Is an entertainment reporter on TV3 and mother to Max, 2.
What I know now as a mother is that whatever phase we are going through now, we will be barrelling headlong into another one soon enough, so don't panic!
One minute I am stressing about child-locking every single drawer and cupboard and covering every pointy corner of every piece of furniture in the house, the next we're worrying about whether we can keep up with Max on his scooter. Soon it will be worrying about concussion on the rugby field, or what lawyer to choose when I get arrested for assault after his heart gets broken by some careless wench.
So as each phase introduces itself, I know now to look it steadfastly in the eye, never blinking, with my arm firmly and lovingly around my son, secure in the knowledge we will all be okay and soon it will pass.
Plays Cara on Step Dave and is mother to Terenzo, 2, and stepmother to Bruno, 9.
The superhero cape I thought was attached to me and I thought defined me, was in fact an aspect of wishful thinking that brought up more pressure and disappointment than anything else. I am proud to admit it is happily gathering dust in the depth of my past. I used to think the first year of motherhood had aged me about 10 years. But so what? I have since then found my inner child again. I have gained a new best friend in my son. I count trucks on the side of the road and get to relive how wonderful cuddling is and feeding imaginary grapes to soft toys, and how incredibly funny farts are.
All these things make me come alive again and to share and inspire my little man brings me closer to my big guy and all those other people around me. My little guy has taught me more than I ever knew about love, only by being himself. He keeps inspiring me to do the same. Lucky me.
Co-owner and maitre d' of award-winning The Engine Room Eatery and mother of son Marlow, 18 months.
Motherhood is the single biggest privilege that I have been given. I feel like the luckiest person on earth to have our 18-month-old boy. Even at the most testing times, like this morning when he spat out the breakfast I had lovingly prepared and said, "Big yuck", it is a joy. Keeping a sense of humour is key. We laugh a lot.
Being a mother for only 1½ years has taught me so much already. I know there is so much more to learn and more testing things than spitting out food to come. Most importantly, in this fast-paced world, having a little one definitely teaches you to slow down. Running a busy restaurant with 25 staff and having a family is certainly a juggle and lots of routine. A really healthy diet for Marlow and us has been essential. It has meant we all know where we are at, he is super-happy, good-humoured and on an even keel. It also means that I can put him down to sleep in his restaurant bedroom at 6.30pm then come down and look after our customers, knowing he is content debriefing his bunny on the day, then will drop off to sleep when he is ready, and, so far, touch wood, not wake until the morning.
Some people think we are crazy, having our baby sleeping out the back of the restaurant. Sometimes it does feel a bit mad when there are 100 guests in the restaurant, pretty much a party going on, with a sleeping baby in the back room, but it does show that anything is possible. You can still work full time and have a child. You do have to be organised.
Broadcaster and mother of Hawaiki, 8, Kurawaka, 6, and Maiana, 2.
Choosing the father of your children is one of the paramount decisions of your life. If you worry if you're a good parent, it's almost certainly a sign that you are. I remember advice and values my Mum instilled in me, but more than anything I remember how she made me feel. I know for sure I am privileged to be a mother. I hope I can be half the Mum mine was.
Stars in Auckland Theatre Company's Enlightenment, opening May 28 and is the mother of Ted, 16 months.
What I know as a mother is the true meaning of tiredness - brain-squeezing, eye-stinging tiredness. That you can have all the plans in the world, fabulous, well-intentioned, excellently thought-out plans but often life is out of your control - and actually that's okay. What it is to love someone so completely, deep in your bones, like your heart has exploded in your chest. And lately, how great it really is to splash in puddles.
Former broadcaster now working in corporate affairs. She is mother to Ben, 7, and Toby, 2.
Top tip - as a retail sale-vulnerable new mum, always take an experienced mum with you who can steer you away from those tempting gadgets that look fancy but that you'll never use. My friend, Bridgit, accompanied me as I set up my first baby room and she spent a lot of time in the shop with me, saying, "You'll never use that." She was so right! Reuse, recycle kids' stuff and pass it forward.
As a new mum it always seems so busy and frantic when your children are young, but suddenly you look up and they're at school with a lot of other influences. Enjoy the time when they are focused on you and never doubt your wisdom. Motherhood is such a topsy-turvy journey. One minute it's incredibly rewarding, the next it's totally infuriating. You learn to ride the waves and take the easy times with the tantrums.
I had a bumpy ride trying to get pregnant for my number two, secondary infertility with much angst and disappointment as I traversed multiple IVF rounds. We were extraordinarily lucky in the end in succeeding with Toby, now aged 2, but I faced the very real prospect of not being able to have another child so I have huge empathy for women who have tried and tried but not had that stroke of luck. My heart goes out to those women, who have to put on a very brave face when unsuspecting but well-meaning friends probe them about why they "haven't had kids?" Motherhood is a blessed gift, one to be cherished and prioritised. It's your chance to help sculpt the life and journey of another human being, what could be more valuable than that?
• Suzy Clarkson has written the book Fit for Birth and Beyond (Exisle Publishing), a guide for mothers over 35.
Cook, food writer, broadcaster and publisher. She is mother to Sean, 23 and Rose, 21.
Children need unconditional love, as well as consistency, boundaries and structure. Your job as a mother and a parent is not to be your child's best friend but to guide them to establish a sound value system and help them build the best toolbox they can to create their own good life. If you haven't done this by the time they are teenagers - whether it's helping them to establish a moral compass, teaching them about risk management, instilling a sense of kindness and care, or any other key values you hold dear - it's too late. You as a parent are no longer the primary influence in their lives. You and your ideas are no longer relevant.
At some point, as they should, our kids need to walk their own path, make their own friends and decisions and create their own histories. They will make mistakes - we all make mistakes - but forgive each other and move on. If you and the family life you have built, either alone or with a partner, can be the rock that each and every member feels safe to come back to, then everyone has the chance to be their best and truest self.
• Annabel's new cookbook, Annabel Langbein, a Free Range Life: Winter Goodness, $24.95, is out now.
Television producer and presenter. Mother to Ella, 19, Jack, 16, and Rosie, 11.
A mother has a pretty wide-ranging job description - one that has a lot of constants, yet so many variables. Just when you think you've pretty much got one stage nailed, they go and grow up on you. Me, for example? I'm pretty polished at babies, toddlers, preschoolers and primary as I've done it three times over. Every stage has its time, and then it goes. So if it all seems difficult, know it's not forever. The flipside of this is learning to live in the moment and appreciate them at the age they are at. I'm in tween, teen and young adultsville now and that's a whole other set of joys and challenges. I love having a bunch of lovely young adults round the house - it's great to see them blossom and we can share inappropriate jokes! Work life is never quite the same once you have a very small person in your life. When you are at work you find your mind drifting to the small person's welfare and what they are up to, and when you're at home you catch yourself thinking about work and whether you can keep all the balls in the air. I found it challenging.
This is what else I know now as a mother:
• It's always good to think about what you're having for dinner at breakfast time.
• The ironing basket is never empty.
• It's going to be ever so weird when they leave home - not sure I'm ready for empty nest - first wee bird is about to fly.
• Love multiplies rather than divides with the more kids you have.
• I've got a lot greyer the longer I parent.
• The longer I parent I've got a lot more casual about what really matters.
• Humour goes a long way in most situations.
• I'm so lucky to have a great Mum in Naomi Kirk - now in her 80s. She has been an outstanding support to me over the years and is a great inspiration to me and her grandchildren.
• I know I needed a video guide and didn't have one - so I made one for parents following me. This fourth child has definitely made me grey. Raisingchildren.org.nz has more than 100 short video clips made with an advisory board on all sorts of things you need to be up to speed on from newborn to the end of primary and growing. Breastfeeding, eating, sleeping, behaviour, health, education, parenting, and so on. Go look and get some help online, download the free app, or order the DVD from the website.
If you're a first-time mum or dad your Plunket/Well Child Tamariki Ora provider will give you a free copy from June on your initial visit. Watch TV episodes at tvnz.co.nz/ondemand/raising-children.