Lisa Faulkner: My Precious Moments
The actress, cookbook author and Celebrity Masterchef winner tells us about being a mum to nine-year-old Billie
Did you always want to be a mum?
Yea, I always wanted to be a mother. I obviously didn’t forsee there would be so many problems, but I did always want to be a mum. After getting my head around having four failed IVF attempts, I then had to get my head around starting the adoption process and getting head around the fact that although I wouldn’t be pregnant, that was really hard. I could still be a mum and realising that became the important thing for me – to be a mother and not necessarily be pregnant. That was a big realisation once I’d got my head around it.
I know you lost your mum very young, do you find yourself parenting the same way that she brought you up?
Yes and no. My mother was much stronger than I am I’ve realised. I’m actually a pushover in comparison. My mum was very strong and I knew when she said no, it was no and she ruled with an iron rod. She was so fantastic, but not particularly maternal and mumsy – she was always looking very glamorous and going somewhere glamorous or cooking something glamorous. My dad was actually the cuddly, cosy one. I knew I wanted to be the cosy type of mum. My sister has three children (17, 15 and 7) so she was a big parenting influence – she’s like an earth mother. I can ask her all the things because she’s been through them all. I was birth partner to all of them so have had loads of experience with them before I had Billie. I’m their second mum.
I read that you likened adoption to a tricky birth in that you forget about the struggle afterwards. How did you handle the process?
The process took about 6 to 8 months to be approved and after being approved you then have the wait and I think we waited about 4 months – but it felt about 4 years. You just want someone to call and tell you they have a baby for you. I would say to anyone going through it to prepare yourself that it’s really hard, but you just have to go with it. Know that it’s going to be a struggle but know that it’s going to be a really exciting struggle. There were times in the early days of having Billie when I was so overwhelmed. I went from having no child to a 15 month old and being like WOW. I love her more though than if she was my own. I couldn’t love her any more if I had made her. I didn’t think I could feel like that. With all children you don’t know what to expect - even when you give birth – the added difficulty with adoption though is you’ve got to go through different challenges. They might have a difficult start, or there may be contact with the birth mother to navigate. It’s just about talking and being as open and honest as possible about your feelings and about your child’s feelings. On a day-to-day basis I’m like any other mother though.
What’s your favourite thing about being a mum?
I love everything about being a mother – even the struggles. We have our little routines. You know what, I wake her up every morning with a hot chocolate. She’s a bit grumpy in the morning and that’s a way of making her a bit less grumpy. I love that she feels safe. I love snuggling on the sofa or chatting or cooking together, it’s lovely. All she wants to hear is what I did when I was little and what I was like with my mum. They do need you more as they grow up too, I did think that I’d be sad when she was no longer little, but alongside the mood swings and whatever else comes with growing up, it’s lovely to have a little friend now
What’s your perfect day with Billie?
We love to go horse riding, which is a lovely way to be outside and spend time together. We also have pedicures, which is fun.
What’s been your most embarrassing mum moment so far?
A couple of years ago, on a piece of her school work, Billie had written, ‘My dad is really funny and my mum is embarrassing!’ I asked her why, and she told me, ‘Because you always smile at everyone and everyone knows you.’ That was quite funny.
Who’s your fantasy babysitter?
Nanny McPhee – she’d get Billie in order!
Favourite thing about being a mum?
I love everything – even the struggles. We have our little routines. I wake her up every morning with a hot chocolate. She’s a bit grumpy in the mornings, and that’s a way of making her a bit less so. I love snuggling on the sofa, or chatting, or cooking together. All she wants to hear is what I did when I was little and what I was like with my mum. They do need you more as they grow up, too. I thought I’d be sad when she was no longer small, but alongside the mood swings and whatever else comes with growing up, it’s lovely to have a little friend now.
How do you manage to juggle your career with being a mum?
I try to fit my work around Billie, and it isn’t always easy. As she gets older she has school, clubs and a full social life. I’m just a glorified taxi service sometimes.
What’s the one attribute of yours that you’d like to pass on to Billie?
All I want for her is to be happy, healthy and well-rounded – with a job and a life. I don’t expect her to do huge, amazing things because she’ll always be amazing to me, whatever she does. I just want her to know what’s right and wrong, and to be kind, generous and caring. I think that those are the most important things.
What has having Billie taught you?
Patience – in bucketloads. And how children are their own remarkable beings. I look at Billie and think, although I didn’t make her, she has so many of my mannerisms, and is who she is. I’ve also learned that you can be there to support them, and you can pick them up when they fall, but you can’t stop your kids falling. You’re just there to catch them.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Yoga is my go-to. I’ve actually taken Billie to a couple of classes, too, and she loves it.
What’s the top parenting tip you’d like to pass on to new mums?
I’d say remember to breathe, and know that you’re not alone – get out there and meet other people. When I first had Billie I felt really isolated; I was going along to toddler groups where everyone already knew each other, and people would be asking me about birth and I didn’t know! But you still have to get out there and find someone like-minded. I’d also say try to enjoy all the stages and all of the worry, because it goes so fast. Part of me wishes I could have enjoyed the worry more, as funny as that sounds.
If you could invent something for new mums, what would it be?
I’d like to invent the ultimate smartphone app that tells you the answers to every single possible parenting question. That would be great!
As brand ambassador for Hotpoint, Lisa has launched the Love Your Kitchen campaign to get families cooking creatively together. She was chatting to Ali Horsfall.