What’s that, you say? Time for another Universal Parenthood interview? Oh, ok then…
One of the very first ‘instamums’ I followed, back in the early days of cluster feeds and endless nights on the sofa, was Clemmie Hooper, or Mother of Daughters. As a new mum with my family over 200 miles away and the majority of my friends either childless or with children old enough to have left home, it was nice to finally feel a bit connected to other mothers. Clemmie’s youngest daughters are slightly older than my son so I enjoyed (and still do) watching them as an introduction to what I have to look forward to!
Through following Mother of Daughters I happened across lots of the other parents I now follow and, as controversial as social media can be, I have found it to be a very supportive, inspirational place. I’m aware that Clemmie has had her fair share of bad press recently, but I chose not to ask questions about that because I think she weathered it as well as she possibly could. No one is perfect, and, to me, Clemmie has come back stronger and with a better sense of who she wants to be on Instagram.
Clemmie is mother to four daughters, including a set of twins, and is a midwife. She married her husband relatively young and does a really bloody good job (or presents it as so) juggling everything in her life, from parenting to working for the NHS, to decorating her new home and writing and promoting two books. However, I’m sure I don’t really have to give any introduction! Instead, I’m going to talk about the reasons I have followed Clemmie for two years and why I enjoy her feed. Aside from the fact that she has four beautiful daughters, Clemmie also has a very visible husband. Most of the parents I follow are women and it’s not often the fathers are as vocal on social media as Clemmie’s husband is! I love the dynamic they present to us and enjoy reading Father of Daughters’ posts about his wife. To me, they seem as though they are a very tight team and share the housework, child care and parenting as fairly as their work commitments allow. I also love watching the interior design stories and posts, as there is absolutely no way my partner would ever agree to the wallpaper and colour schemes that Mother of Daughters has, so it’s a little like a guilty pleasure! Ultimately, though, I am very strict with myself about unfollowing anyone that makes me feel bad about myself and the way I live my life because I refuse to allow Instagram to turn from a place that makes me happy to a place that grinds me down. While Clemmie definitely leads a different life to me and undoubtedly one with aspects that I aspire to, I continue to follow her because (to me) she comes across as real. Although she has two books out and has done numerous ads and partnerships, I don’t feel as though she has been polished into something ‘other’ than herself, and I really appreciate that.
Here is the interview that she very kindly participated in –
1) Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your family?
I’m Clemmie, 33 and I live on the Kent coast with my husband Simon and our 4 daughters, Anya 11, Marnie 7, and twins Ottilie and Delilah, 2. I’m a midwife and have written 2 books.
2) If you could give one piece of advice for an expectant mother what would it be?
Try not to think too much about what motherhood is going to look like for you; you’ll enjoy the experience much more if you are a bit more open-minded and ride the rough with the smooth. Everyone’s motherhood is different for each person.
3) All of us parent differently and have different values. What is your most important parenting value?
To really listen to your children. The amount of times I hear ‘Mummy you’re not listening to what I’m saying’ usually because I’m doing 10 other things but giving them just 1 minute of your uninterrupted time can be so vital to understanding what’s really going on in their heads.
4) what motto do you try and live by?
Pick your battles, my own mother’s favourite motto. It helps when there are five different battles going on at the same time!
5) What are your hopes for your daughters?
That they find something they love and are proud of. I feel so lucky to say I love my job as a midwife and I couldn’t do a job which I didn’t, I’m so proud of the profession I chose to work in.
6) Why do you think there is so much judgement surrounding mothers? It seems like there’s an almost unattainable element to it which feels incredibly unhealthy.
I think parenting is the most divisive subject we encounter as adults. We all think we know best, which in part is true as we do know what’s best for our children. We have to remember, though, that we can’t possibly know what’s best for other people’s children as the decisions that another mother has made come from lots of different factors; class, upbringing, culture, social influences… Try to remember that your best doesn’t always look like another mother’s best and that is ok. We’re all learning.
7) You are obviously a strong female role model for your girls and your husband makes it clear that he wants to raise strong women. Do you worry about the world your raising your daughters in and, if so, are those worries ever based on their sex?
I think there will always be that element of our parenting when we want them to fight a little harder to keep their heads and voices above the parapet. We both come from families with strong female role models in our mothers; they both worked full time and we both had an early understanding that in order to have nice things like a family holiday or new clothes, you need to work hard. Our mothers made sacrifices to make sure we had those things. I feel like women are being heard even more than ever and subjects like the gender pay gap and the option of shared paternity leave have helped people to think differently and question things, but there is still a long way to go.
8) Do you feel you’ve managed to keep a sense of self despite having four children? If so, has that come easily to you or is it something you’ve had to work at?
Motherhood without a doubt changes you and anyone who denies that is lying. I became a mother at 23 so I didn’t really know who I was. I feel like I know more about myself now at 33. I feel more motivated and focussed in so many ways and have had some amazing opportunities that I’ve worked hard for. I have grown in confidence since becoming a mother, I appreciate my body so much more, I care less about certain things but feel hugely passionate for others. I have met so many inspirational women in the last 10 years through motherhood of all different ages and backgrounds which has shaped my very strong female circle of friends.
9) it feels to me as though the powers that be have been on a mission to be as divisive as possible, certainly since the Brexit result here and the election of Trump in the USA. Do you think there’s a way to effectively combat this and realise that the vast majority of us want the same thing? Happy, healthy, safe children?
I think we all want the same thing for our children, but sometimes people go about things in different ways. We can’t all share the same political views, everyone’s moral and ethical compass is going to be different. I do think that if you and your family are happy and healthy then it’s really important to focus on exactly that and try not to get too involved in what others are doing. Hard to do I know especially on social media!
10) Parenting is tough and beautiful all at the same time. Can you tell us about a tough time and a shining moment that you’ve had as a parent?
I think of parenting as one long negotiation, from the moment you wake up to the moment to close your eyes. When the twins were 6 weeks old Simon went to Manila for 2 weeks. I had an 8 and 5 year old and was so tired I cried every night during the feeds. I felt so lonely and isolated but angry that he had to go away on business. My own mother and mother in law came to help and they took a baby each, put food in the oven and ran me a bath. I cried all over again!
I really enjoyed reading Clemmie’s answers to the questions, and her answer to question eight particularly resonated with me. Although I was a fair bit later than her to the motherhood party at 28, I was only just beginning to understand who I was. After having my son I laid a lot of those demons to rest, I’m true to myself, I’m more confident and I am happier than I have ever been!
I am certain that you don’t need me to tell you, but you can follow Clemmie here –
Instagram – @mother_of_daughters
Facebook – Gas and Air
Blog – Gas and Air
You can also purchase her first book (from Amazon) here – How To Grow A Baby And Push It Out
And her second book (again, from Amazon) here – How To Grow A Baby Journal