This honest conversation is with my lovely friend Katharine Roberts, sometimes known as Katharine Welby-Roberts. I’ll leave her to answer my questions and tell you more about herself.
How do we know each other?
Through church, or, more specifically, through the meal rota after my daughter was born, when you delivered a meal to me and we discovered we live very close to each other and appear to be rather similar!
What does your week look like/what do you do?
It varies, but is all to do with looking after the children and surviving. Tuesday and Thursday my son is with a childminder, so those days I tend to take reasonably slow with my daughter at home, or women’s group at church.
Monday, Wednesday and Friday though are all about entertaining a very hyperactive toddler. We have previously had groups on one or more of those days, but recently (since the birth of my daughter really) we have been going places with friends more. So, Beale Park, the Living Rainforest, Ikea… basically places he can run! I am very lucky in that my husband works from home, so I have help most lunch times and nap times with getting the kids fed and to bed!
What thing do you love most about parenthood?
I love watching them grow and learn. Listening to my son process the things he is learning is so much fun and often very entertaining! Obviously it can be frustrating, due to the ‘not listening’ or understanding, but for the most part, it just brings me daily joy. My most recent favourite thing with my son was his comment that we should crash into a learner driver so he would go faster and get out of the way. I promise I haven’t been suggesting violence, even when I think he isn’t listening… and with my daughter, she is just starting on solids. Which is fun and less stressful second time round!
What thing do you find hardest about parenthood?
The relentlessness of it. I am exhausted all the time and I can’t see a time when that won’t be the case! I sort of feel like I am losing myself in exhaustion…
How do you connect with God in the midst of parenthood?
I didn’t really for a long time, then I started going to a group on a Thursday morning at church and I find that has really helped. In the business of life I just really was struggling to find that ‘faith’ made any difference and was just frustrated. Doing simple bible studies at church each week gave me life in a way I hadn’t realised I had been missing. It has led to me being more focused and engaged with God in all areas of life.
What are you most passionate about?
Community being inclusive and genuine. There is so much lonliness in life and so many issues that could be resolved if we truly operated within an open, inclusive and real community. Lots of people want this, but I think to truly create it you need lots of people to be self sacrificial. I think it is more about the approach and mindset and our society isn’t really geared up to us thinking in that way.
What’s your biggest fear?
Losing what I have. I am often afraid of my husband or kids dying or getting seriously ill. This just gets to be a greater fear as more time passes.
What do you love to talk about most?
Probably community! And good mental health practise. Which are two very connected topics obviously! I like talking about what it would look like, but also thinking more practically about how we could start to move towards a healthier way of living.
What makes you feel the most nervous?
I live with anxiety, so a lot of things make me very nervous… mostly anything that involves crowds, loud noise, bright lights… lots of things really!
For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
Getting older. I love the process of getting older. I recently had a birthday and people kept commenting ’21 again!’ and I was very keen to say ‘NO!’ I would hate to go back to 21. I did not enjoy life then! Now, I have my family and a life that seems to just get better, even if its more complicated!
What is your most treasured memory?
My memory is not very good, it tends to confuse itself with the emotions I was feeling at the time of things and come out with false stuff! I think though that the evening meal on the day of our wedding would be up there. I had been very anxious all day, as crowds and noise and all of that was so very present. The evening though was a much smaller gathering and I got time to chat to Mike and sit and eat and feel much calmer. It was such a fun evening and it was just really special as I spent more time talking to Mike than anyone else that evening!
What is your hardest memory?
I think my hardest memories are those from when my son was very small. The first four months in particular were really hard, but when I had my daughter I really had to mourn for that time. I loved him so much, but I just couldn’t enjoy those months with him. Experiencing it for a second time where I really have enjoyed it has made those memories even harder, because I now really know what I missed.
When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
I cry very rarely, because I tend to try to suppress my emotions during this stage of life as a bit of a survival strategy! I did cry recently though, in the car, with Iris in the back. I just couldn’t face another day. I was so tired and worn down and I didn’t really feel there was any hope left. It passed, but it was very helpful to cry it out!
What one thing do you wish people would talk about more?
Their mental and emotional health! Be honest about it, real and vulnerable. It makes life easier I think.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while you’ll see why I get on so well with Katharine – another friend who’s passionate about real and vulnerable conversation!
If you want to follow Katharine you can find her at her blog – A Conglomerate of Yodelling Hippopotami – where she writes honestly about mental and emotional health, or on Twitter @kwelbyroberts
And, if you’d like to be part of my honest conversation series or suggest some questions then do get in touch. I’d love to hear from you.