Wednesday, 10 July 2013
Busy mum to Benjamin and Lily-Rose, and stepmum to Michael, Samantha Womack takes time out to have a chat and and tells us how making mistakes has improved her IQ
Did you always plan to be a mum?
I think so. Perhaps not consciously, but I think it was something I had a yearning for. And when it happened, it felt right.
Did you enjoy pregnancy?
Yes I did, both of my pregnancies actually. It’s a lovely feeling, you feel very content, having company all the time. You share every moment.
Who’s your biggest parenting influence?
My grandmother. She was a very tolerant woman and in various stages I went through when I was growing up, she was a constant.
What’s the best thing about parenthood?
The silly moments. The laughter we all share, the jokes that only we get, and those moments when it’s us against the rest of the world.
Perfect family day?
A lie in, all of us! Sundays are great. Saturdays we’re always a taxi service for the kids’ social activities. But on Sundays we stay in our PJs all day, maybe light a log fire, the dogs are on top of us, and we have loads of nice stuff to eat. You can’t get better than that.
Why did you choose your children’s names?
Benjamin was going to be named Gabriel. I loved it but Mark wasn’t too keen. Then we watched the film Being There with Peter Sellers and the old man he works for is called Ben. He was such a sweet character and Ben sounded so gentle and strong, and we thought: ‘That’s it!’. Lily-Rose was partly because both our grandmothers were called Lilian.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
I think it was probably from a book actually, called Raising Boys by Steve Biddulph. I had Michael (my stepson) and Ben by the time I read it, and it really struck a chord with me, how society lets boys and men down. Boys seem to need more reassurance than girls, not less, and I’m not sure how we could have got that so wrong. We don’t give boys the same sort of tactile reassurance, because we come from a society that just doesn’t do that. I’ll hear myself saying: ‘Come on, Ben, toughen up!’ or whatever, and I have to remind myself that’s not right.
Any advice for new mums?
To not kill yourself about doing everything the ‘right way’. Children do everything in their own time, so if something feels right for you and your child, stand up for it. Don’t be manipulated by anyone else’s viewpoint.
What have you had to give up?
Freedom, being impulsive, spontaneity. All out the window.
Biggest mistakes you’ve made?
I’ve made thousands, but it’s good to make mistakes because you learn from them. I’m very bright, because I’ve made so many.
And your biggest panic?
We used to have a lot of panics with Ben when he was little. He was severely asthmatic and we spent the first two or three years of his life rushing in to A&E to get him on a nebuliser. It was absolutely terrifying, he’d literally go blue, and then we’d see the colour come back to his cheeks with the medication. But I look at him now – a tall, strapping 12-year-old running across a rugby field and I think, what was I so worried about?
What makes your kids laugh?
Me, being stupid. But I’ve crossed a line with Ben now and he says I can’t do silly voices and dances and so on in public anymore! I’m allowed to at home though. We’ve got three really odd dogs and I do voices for them, like what they’re thinking, and that usually has the kids in hysterics.
If they were fictional characters, who would they be?
Charlie and Lola. They look identical to them, we’ve had so many people comment, it’s ridiculous. They have pointy little chins and floppy blond hair and slightly almond eyes.
Any embarrassing moments with them?
Lily is great at dropping me in it. Like, I’ll tell someone the reason we couldn’t be somewhere on time at 3 o’clock was because we were elsewhere doing something important, and then Lily will pipe up and say: ‘No we weren’t, Mummy, we were still at home…’, and I’ll be kicking her under the table!
Have they ever shocked you?
Lily shocked us once terribly at the top of Table Mountain. It’s incredibly high and there are signs everywhere telling you not to get close to the edge, because the winds are so brutal. We turned round to see Lily standing on the actual barrier where the drop was. We had to do that crazy thing, talking very gently, tiptoeing over, thinking we mustn’t do anything sudden in case she loses her footing. When we got her down I wanted to kill her!
What could you do better?
I could, like most parents, put in a bit more effort with quality time. We do spend a lot of time as a family, but there are times when the kids want to play a board game and you’re so tired, you say: ‘Let’s just read a book.’ It’s so hard though, all the parents I know work, we both work, and it’s difficult.
What does Mark do better than you?
Mark is good at things like making sure they eat at the same time every day, whereas I’ll get into doing arts and crafts with them or something. Mark will come back at 4 o’clock and ask if any of us have eaten all day, and I’ll be: ‘Um…’ while we’re all sitting there covered in glue and feathers.
What has having children taught you?
How fragile we are, as human beings. As we become adults, we learn to cover our emotions, and we get through life pretending things don’t hurt our feelings. But having children, I’ve remembered you don’t grow out of those feelings. It’s just that it’s ok, when you’re little, to wail about them.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Ridiculous amounts of food. Lily’s the same. We would eat you out of house and home, we’re everyone’s least favourite house guests!
Would you like to have more children?
I’d love, love, love more. My husband wouldn’t, but he’s 12 years older than me so he’s entitled. I do like the idea of fostering in the future.
Do you miss the baby days then?
We were living in a city when Ben and Lily were babies, but now we have a beautiful garden and I sometimes wander round it and think, ‘Wow, I’d just love to have a little fat lump in a babygro here with me now.’
If you could invent something for new mums what would it be?
A button you could press that would release all anxiety and pressure. It’d just give you a breather, a little shot of peace!
Samantha was chatting to Pip Jones.
Catch her reading A Bedtime Story with Arnie and Barnie on Nick Jr
Read more Precious Moments from celeb mums here!