Author, presenter and actress Giovanna Fletcher shares two sons, Buddy and Buzz, with her husband Tom. Here, she shares the uplifting - and comforting - words of wisdom she would give to her younger self before having children.
“You’ve been yearning to be a mother for as long as you can remember. Every time your mind wanders there you feel your chest tighten. The ache within you increases at the thought of it not happening. Of you remaining childless. It’s not enough for people to tell you not to worry. It’s not enough for people to tell you to relax. Because you’ve had a taster. It’s happened before and it left you broken hearted. You’ve seen the word you longed to see flash up in a test. The word ‘pregnant’ clear enough for you to rejoice over, for hopes and dreams to ignite a vision of what the future might look like.
But then, it vanished, that pregnancy lost. That little glimpse of what could be hasn’t resolved your fear, but rather fed it. Now, when you think of seeing those words again, you worry about what will come after. Whether things will be different next time, and if you’ll be lucky enough to meet the baby you long for.
I understand your torment. I mirror your concern. But please take a moment to breathe.
Life is good. Don’t allow this to overtake everything else you have going on. Or rather, don’t allow it to diminish all the good that exists in your world. Absorb it to the fullest.
Say yes to those invites, enjoy those quiet walks and get out in the evenings as much as you can. Realise that you are free. Not that you will regret for a second being tied down when you eventually do have children (which, spoiler alert, you will), but because you’ll start to wonder if you made the most of the time before. Once children are in the mix, there’s suddenly so much more to consider with every decision you make.
So, be freer. Looser. More spontaneous and breezy.
That said, remember your time is precious. Don’t waste it by giving it out too carelessly. I know you like to be liked, and that your past means you feel you have to make a real effort with everyone, to take extra care to win over the people who seem more indifferent to your friendly advances, but hone it in. You don’t have to please everyone. You will find peace knowing you can’t.
The judgement you feel from others will increase tenfold when you become a mum. You’ll start by questioning every decision you make and taking onboard every single piece of conflicting advice you’ve heard. Let it go. Do what works for you and your family while realising that every single parent out there is winging it. We’re all professional bluffers.
Continue to give your all to every project you take on. You will fail in some of it – at times the rejections will feel completely crushing, but one day it will take you somewhere incredible. It’ll give you the mindset you need to stay focused and determined. I’m not going to tell you to stop chasing your dreams. However, know that they can be adapted. It’s not failing to shift focus or use the skills you have to do something else. It’s OK to break the mould.
For a long time you’ve thought motherhood is where you will find your true self. This is absolutely true, and it will give you an unbelievable sense of clarity when it comes to your strength and acknowledging your self-worth, but it’s not the whole of you. Keep going. Keep learning, failing and achieving.
You’ve always had a sensible head on your shoulders. I mean, you don’t mind being the jester or cracking some questionable moves on the dancefloor, but you’re also measured. You will ensure you get the last train home. You will make sure you have some food before you go out or that you have a soft drink between tipples, but do me a favour. Go out and get wasted knowing you only have your own sorry arse to look after the next day. Stay up late, safe in the knowledge that you can get out of bed at noon. Be more reckless. Never purposefully hurt anyone or be unkind, but don’t be so controlled.
Remember back to when you were 17 in Ayia Napa? Do you remember foolishly getting on the back of that guys bike without telling your friends where you were going? Downing drinks from a supersoaker on a booze cruise? Or almost drowning at a foam party? Now, I’m not saying go this crazy. Children or not, there does come a point when you have to start thinking more clearly about the consequences of the actions you take. Rather, I’m saying, relax and enjoy this stage of your life when you’re old enough to have your independence, but not quite at the point where you have it taken away from you.
Be you. Be kind. Be loving. Believe in yourself and all the other things that make you special.”