The Truth About Motherhood: Jane Gordon, entrepreneur

“I have been surprised by how bloody hard parenthood is but how good it has turned out to be… The hard graft in the early stages was worth it, as I am now reaping the rewards and can take my foot off the pedal a bit.” Mother and stepmother Jane Gordon on motherhood…

Jane Gordon, 42, has two children: a girl aged 15 and boy aged 11, and two stepsons, aged 17 and 14.. They live in High Wycombe, Bucks. 

“I always planned on having a family. My daughter took nearly a year to conceive but then my son was easy. The first birth was awful; too many people had been dishonest with their view on childbirth. I found it scary and had flashbacks for quite a long time afterwards. The second one, despite him being 11lb 4oz (!!) was easier because I knew what to expect and it was therefore less stressful.

The early days with my firstborn, in a sentence: exhaustion. Love. Total bewilderment. How many nappies???

It started to get easier once they started school. Neither of mine were good sleepers, and still aren’t but at least I can let them get on with it now while I get my eight hours in. I was surviving on three-four hours of broken sleep until my youngest started school. How I got through the day without a nervous breakdown is anyone’s guess. And I probably should not have been driving either.

With subsequent children it was about the same but at least I knew what to expect. If anyone came near me with a child that was sleeping through the night I physically couldn’t be near them and would have to remove myself.

Thankfully I didn’t need to return to work after maternity leave. I eventually set up my own business when my son (the younger one) was four. I set up a BBQ sauce company, MAN MEAT FIRE. I no longer own it but it ran for a few years and it sold into Selfridges, Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa, Fortnum and Mason, National Trust etc. I now own FMCGenie, in a nutshell – a consultant to startups and small businesses in the food and drinks industry.

Motherhood in one sentence? Fly by the seat of your pants.

I have been surprised by how bloody hard parenthood is but how good it has turned out to be. My children are kind, intelligent, funny, sociable, level headed and I love them to bits. The hard graft in the early stages was worth it, as I am now reaping the rewards and can take my foot off the pedal a bit.

It’s hard when you’re disciplining your child for not doing as they are told/ being disrespectful etc meanwhile their friend is getting away with it and the other parent doesn’t even react. Now they are teenagers (or nearly) on reflection, I am having the last laugh.

The children’s father and I separated four years ago. Amicably. We are still friends and have the kids at the heart of everything. There are many things we disagree on, but we are united in how to raise the kids.

I met my current partner on the internet; we are an internet dating success story. He literally swept me off my feet. We met three years ago and are getting married in July 2017.

He has two boys, 17 and 14. I think me taking on a motherly role was a transition for all of us. My kids seeing me with them, my other half seeing me taking on a more motherly role towards them, and of course me now nurturing and looking out for four children, which was never really part of my life plan – if ever I had one. But I have really enjoyed it and love the mêlée and hubub when we have the house full.

I wish, before embarking on my parenthood journey, that I’d known that there is no love like it. And it makes it all worthwhile

His children still live with their mum but we have them for weekends, extended stays and holidays. I am much happier to have them in their teens as they are, as opposed to them being younger, which would have taken much more effort and created very different challenges on both our parts. I’m pretty certain my other half would say similar about my two.

All the kids get on, with the exception of the occasion sibling spat (more often between blood siblings!), but that happens in even the most harmonious of families. Generally, it’s smooth.

Challenges? Actually, not as many as you’d think. We are all very mindful that we have different views; traditions, expectations, experiences etc and we genuinely do get along respectfully with very little fuss. Obviously there is the odd disagreement and it’s over and done with relatively quickly.

Having both been in a relationship that ended in divorce, I think we are both very mindful of how to go about things in a more considered and informed way this time. We’ve learned from the mistakes we have made in the past and those of others and are ready to move on in a positive united way. The kids, thankfully, have been very accepting of the situation. I think they see their Mum/Dad happy and that’s good enough for them. It’s all very grown up!

I wish, before embarking on my parenthood journey, that I’d known that there is no love like it. And it makes it all worthwhile. Even the stretch marks. There’s nothing I’d change. Unless they have invented a miracle cure for insomniac babies? And then I’d buy a job lot.

My advice to expectant parents is: Chill. Don’t put too much pressure or guilt on yourself. When my firstborn drew blood while breastfeeding on day five and I turned to giving her a bottle, I wish others could see what a healthy teenager she is now. Don’t fret. Mum really does know best even when the advice seems contrary.

The greatest challenge you face, as a mother, is balancing motherhood with a career, being a wife, and some time for yourself. Oh, and bloody school-mum playground gossip. Be warned!

And what makes it all worthwhile? When they hug and squeeze you tight, say they love you and smile all the time and are just generally happy kids. Also, when other parents say what great kids they are.”

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