We invited three very excellent women to join us for a chat about how they feel around Mother’s Day. Sandra @theidlehands, Stephanie @stephanienwks and Joanne @hardcastletowers have all been through, or are going through, some pretty traumatic Mum stuff, and did us the absolute honour of sharing their stories, their experiences and their coping mechanisms. Thank you doesn’t even begin to cover how grateful we are for everybody’s participation – this chat is honest and raw, and shows that there’s no one way to feel pain or deal with loss. We’ve left it largely unedited, so it’s a longy, but a goody.

Remember, tomorrow, we’ll be having an Instagram sharefest on #othersday – share your own story, share a picture of the other person who gives you strength, show your support. Ok? On with the chat.

Robyn: Hello sailors

Joanne: Hey

Stephanie: Hello

Emma: Hi team!

Sandra: Yo yo yo

Robyn: Word, Idle Hands in da house! Sorry, I’m nervous

Sandra: I always resort to rap speak when nervous

Emma: Maybe everybody can tell us all who you are and why you’re here – why is Mother’s Day an absolute balls to you? Like, the worst Blind Date question ever

Robyn: Ok, so I’m Robyn, 34, London, and I find Mother’s Day tough as my Mum was abusive physically and mentally throughout our relationship and we’ve been estranged for two years. And my Nana, who was my Mum in all the important ways died in 2009 of endometrial cancer. So I double hate it

Robyn: I’m passing the shit baton

Emma: Who wants to take the shit baton?

Joanne: I will! Ok I’m Joanne. I hate Mother’s Day because my Mum died a week after my 17th birthday, suddenly of a brain haemorrhage, then my Dad disappeared and left me to look after my 14-year-old brother. We had a pretty shit time. I then met my husband and wanted a family, but suffered from recurrent miscarriages, losing six babies, and was told I would never have a baby of my own. Luckily, now I have two beautiful daughters. I am also a foster Mum to another daughter, who can’t see her Mum on Mother’s Day. So I hate it eight times

Robyn: You’ve earned the right to hate that eight times. I’m so sorry – that’s terribly shit.

Joanne: Yes I have such a complicated relationship with Mother’s Day – I always get really shitty and grumpy

Emma: I think that’s 100% understandable

Sandra: Mothers Day is good for me in some ways. I have two excellent daughters and that’s great. But my Mum became ill with Multiple Sclerosis when I was 17 and deteriorated very quickly, to the point where she couldn’t speak or do anything other than lie in bed being fed mush. She lived for another 17 years, but really I lost her then. I also find it hard because I lost my baby boy, Jude, at birth eight years ago, completely unexpectedly. So I don’t have him either. Mum died eight weeks after he died (despite being an atheist, I like to picture them on a cloud together, with her looking after him. And her limbs and voice back). Oh, and two other miscarriages.

Robyn: That is so tough. I’m so sorry and they are 100% on that cloud.

Emma: Life is an absolute shit sometimes isn’t it?

Sandra: It can be terribly shit

Stephanie: Mother’s Day is a truly shitty time of year for me because my Mum was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s about seven years ago. She deteriorated quickly and now can’t communicate very well, and although she’s still here, I’ve had to mourn my Mum and who she was and the fact that she’s no longer here, at the same time as coming to terms with the fact that she’s still kind of here, but not at all

Sandra: Stephanie, that’s so hard. So much to deal with

Robyn: Emma you’ve got to do the sprint finish. With the sadness baton

Emma: Ok, talk amongst yourselves while I get it written!

Robyn: Sadness baton is what I call Jamie’s penis. I don’t. I’m making jokes cos that’s what I do when I’m sad

Joanne: I make such inappropriate jokes

Sandra: It was a good joke

Joanne: I find that’s the only way I can talk about what is happened to me because people find it embarrassing

Robyn: Rely heavily on humour as a coping technique?

Joanne: Yup

Sandra: Same

Joanne: So you find you don’t talk about it because other people are embarrassed

Robyn: People find it really tough to talk about things they can’t identify with, and panic

Emma: Ok, ready? I find Mother’s Day a total shitter because my Mum died of breast cancer when I was 26, and I had to witness what I thought was her perfect relationship with my step Dad reveal itself to be a very abusive one. And then was in the room with her when she died, and didn’t really have the support or help I needed afterwards, so never really dealt with it, because who really knows what to do with grief?

Sandra: Oh Emma. You totally should have had help and support

Joanne: Emma, that’s awful I totally identify with that. I had to go from being a child, to being a self-sufficient adult 17 years old, and I don’t think I’ve ever really dealt with my Mum’s death properly. You don’t want people to feel sorry for you because… I have dealt with it, and I don’t feel sorry for myself. I hate pity

Emma: And people don’t know what to do with it – like, you asked about all my emotions and I showed them to you and now they’re just there, like an embarrassing smell

Sandra: I almost never bring it up in real life. I once made an entire group of Mothers at a birthday party cry by doing so. It was in the Wacky Warehouse. Even before Jude died, I just keep repeating ‘everyone is going to pity me’. It terrified me.

Joanne: Yep it’s even worse with a miscarriage. People have a fear when you mention that

Stephanie: People are always kind of fascinated about my Mum’s illness, and have lots of questions, because she was so young when it happened to her. But I avoided the details and science because I didn’t want to know what would happen, so I don’t have many answers

Emma: I can totally relate to this – like if you don’t look at it it isn’t real somehow

Robyn: That’s really interesting – so kind of the opposite of bereavement- people want all the details. human beings are such odd creatures

A woman standing in front of a door with her two daughters all in brightly patterned clothes
Sandra with her two daughters

Joanne: My youngest daughter was 17 yesterday – I look at her and my heart breaks

Emma: That must’ve been a bittersweet moment for you

Joanne: That’s the thing with all the milestones isn’t it I’m sure everybody else gets that

Robyn: Oh god – everyone here wants to call their Mum, right – when something’s good? Or bad. Or mundane but needs a Mother’s opinion. I want to tell my Nan so much stuff

Stephanie: ALL THE TIME

Emma: 100%. I think it’s one of the reasons I don’t want to get married

Joanne: We had a quiet registry office wedding because I couldn’t stand being the one gutted because there was no Mum

Robyn: I eloped for the same reason

Sandra: There’s loads I’d have loved to talk about – getting married, being pregnant, what I was like when I was little – adult-to-adult conversations I’ve not been able to have with her

Stephanie: I want to call her every day to tell her everything and nothing. She was so strong and resilient, and I’ve struggled so much with my mental health since her diagnosis – I’ve been in and out of counselling and on and off medication, and I know she’d know what to say, but I can’t reach her and it’s like torture

Sandra: I actually don’t have that urge to call my Mum. I can’t imagine or remember what it would be like. Helps that my Dad is there, and a good’un and we’ve always been really close

Joanne: I don’t have the urge, but also my Dad is a total and utter twat. He upped and left us to get on with it

Sandra: Well that’s a double blow, isn’t it?

Joanne: He has contacted my brother wanting to see him and that’s really upset him

Emma: I can imagine! And that must then make you protective

Joanne: Very protective

Robyn: I have a terrible relationship with my brother cos he’s got a lot of rage, as he subconsciously feels like I got all the attention. Even though that attention was very negative

Joanne: That’s a shame

Robyn: Yeah, but it’s ok, he’s got his issues and I’ve got mine but I can’t unpick that ball of nasty for him

Emma: People say family is a blessing in these situations, and I think that if everybody is loving and supportive that’s true, but that isn’t always the case, and family can actually be distracting. I don’t know – I don’t have siblings, so I might be talking out of my behind

Robyn: Yes! And compound the loneliness if they are bad at it

Joanne: Yes, I’ve recently started to on pick apart my feelings towards aunties and uncles. Where were all they when everything went tits-up?

Emma: It takes time and distance to be able to see that, I think

Sandra: My immediate family are thankfully all great. Lots of the wider family went AWOL when Mum got ill. And lots of her friends. I get that it was hard to see her like that, but not as hard as having to live like that

Robyn: My family were actually amazing, not in acknowledging the abuse which nobody did but at scooping us up. Problem was, when I was a child all I wanted was my Mum to love me, so I didn’t see their value like I do now

Joanne: So did your family take you away from the abuse?

Robyn: Nope, but my Mum walked out when I was nine and my alcoholic Dad sorted himself out and we lived with him which was great and she was less of a risk. Unfortunately that was also the time my Mum got into crack and coke in a big way. And Erasure.

An old lady, and old man and a young man in a welsh country village standing in front of a bench
Robyn’s Grandad, Nana and Jamie

Emma: classic combo

Joanne: Do they always go hand-in-hand?

Emma: Can I ask who here has had therapy?

Sandra: Me, only in the last year. It was great

Joanne: I haven’t had therapy  but the process we have to go through to become foster carers was very intense and brought up a lot of hidden feelings

Emma: I don’t know if it’s the same for you guys, but my Mum was the person who just got me, with no explanation required, and I think that’s what’s missing for me since she died. Robyn, I know you’ve said the same about your Nan

Sandra: Mine always told me I looked beautiful, even when I was a tragic 14 year-old goth and I really didn’t

a photo of two children and their mother at the beach with a baby in a pram
On trend Sandra, her Ma, a baby and her brother or a really well cast child actor.

Emma: but you definitely did to her

Joanne: I honestly can’t remember my relationship with my Mum. I think I’ve locked it totally away – that’s why being a Mum is so important to me – I want to be the best Mum ever

Emma: We get real good at putting things in emotional lock boxes

Joanne: There’s so much of my childhood I can’t remember, but up until I was 17 I know I had a lovely childhood

Sandra: I have a massive locked emotional box. There’s so much I can’t remember about my Mum, even though (same as Joanne) I had the happiest childhood. I wish I’d have known to take more notice!

Joanne: Isn’t it funny – we must do it to protect ourselves

a woman with curly hair and a pink jacket in her hand holds a toddler on a leafy street
Adorable baby Stephanie with her Mama

Emma: How old is your Mum, Stephanie? Not that it makes any difference – I just know for me losing my Mum young was a double-blow

Stephanie: Yes she’s 56 I think (sorry I blocked so many details out), when she was diagnosed I was in my last year of uni

Emma: I did the same with my Mum. For years I couldn’t remember what date she died, how old she was or anything. And I was in my second year of uni when she was diagnosed. It’s hard, right? Hard to know whether to stop or carry on – trying to do what’s right

Robyn: That’s a particular kind of torture, Stephanie – I’m so sorry. Do you have lots of family and friend support? I’ve definitely put together a gang of little broken souls and we all look after each other

Stephanie: I have a couple of friends I can rely on, and my Dad has had to become both parents. It’s brought me and my brother much closer too

Robyn: That’s really good – to have people around

Sandra: I was just before uni too, when she was diagnosed. Dad insisted I went away and left him to deal

Joanne: Yes, I was in my second year of A-levels – I had to leave school and get a job

Stephanie: It’s so hard, I went home every weekend and I did my dissertation from home, but she told me I had to carry on so I did

Robyn: I got the train back home from uni in Nottingham whenever I was off work to see Nan but she was the same – don’t put everything on hold

Emma: Looking back, I don’t know how we all managed to get through a degree while we were going through all this. I think I was so out of touch with my mental self back then that I just put it in the box and carried on

Stephanie: Does anyone else find amazing “mother” figures in other places too? Like in friend’s Mums, or aunts?

Joanne: I did when I was younger, my best friends Mum and Dad let me live with them for awhile

Robyn: YES stephanie. Totally. I call my mate’s Mum Mummy Jo and I wrote her a letter when I was 15 telling her how much I wished my Mum was like her. And my MA teacher is Mummy Bear

Sandra: No mother figures here, I don’t think

Joanne: I don’t now because by becoming a Mum I have mended that bond

Robyn: Ohhh maybe Motherhood takes away that need

Joanne: But I am the most overprotective clingy Mum in the whole wide world

Emma: I’m like this in relationships. But I’m also REAL good at shutting people down when they try to access my emotional box

Sandra: I’ll remember to keep out of your emotional box, Emma

Robyn: She hates people fishing around in there

Emma: Ha ha

Joanne: I have to do lots of work on attachments and I am over attached

Emma: But I think that’s totally normal, given that your loved ones left you?

Joanne: When my oldest daughter went away to university I had a bit of a meltdown  and ended up on medication

Emma: Do you feel any further along your journey having gone through that?

Joanne: I think because my Mum had died and then I lost all the babies and thought I would never be a Mum that hole is just so big and it will never be filled. That is why I ended up fostering

Woman in a floral shirt, boy in a beige rollneck jumper and a girl in a large straw hat
Joanne and her younger brother a few weeks after their mum passed away

Robyn: Yeah, it’s good to be needed isn’t it

Joanne: I struggled with my mental health for years, so going on medication has helped level that out. Maybe I should have sought help a long time ago

Robyn: I love fixing things and you get that lightbulb moment

Joanne: Yup

Robyn: It’s tough, though, cos on paper you’re dealing – considering the circumstances – so you just think, ‘I’ve got this’

Emma: But who knows to ask for help if you’ve always just got on with it? And if you’ve always been capable, everybody else thinks you’ve got it. I don’t know if you guys feel the same?

Stephanie: Definitely, I basically got to the point where I couldn’t function and my friend had a mini intervention for me

Emma: Thank goodness for good friends

Joanne: I think I coped by always being in charge and not relying on people

Sandra: Exactly the same

Emma: Yep, me too

Joanne: But it all it came crashing down

Emma: It always does. If you’re not having an honest emotional relationship with yourself, it’ll always find you, right?

Robyn: I make people mother me and 100% invest in relationships, and then screw when someone lets me down

Joanne: What about trust. I really struggle to trust anybody

Emma: Oh yeah, I’m 100% convinced I’ll be let down and abandoned by everybody who I love

Joanne: Oh god yes, I struggle to trust anybody

Stephanie: I’m the same, I’m convinced that all of my  family, friend and relationships are fragile and temporary. My boyfriend is driven mad constantly by questions

Emma: I very much relate to this!

Joanne: I totally get this – because being let down by your Mum is just the worst

Robyn: It took me a decade to believe Jamie wouldn’t leave me. And I used to find trusting women REALLY hard. I’d forgive a man anything, but I was so scared women would hurt me I think, subconsciously

Emma: For what it’s worth, I think you’re the biggest champion of women I know

Robyn: You’re a champion of women

Sandra: You are both champions


Sandra: I don’t have any trust issues (as my issues are bereavement based) but I fully expect people to get ill or die out of the blue

Joanne: Oh yes! I think that’s called Death Anxiety

Emma: Oh, I didn’t know it had a name!

Joanne: I heard it on a podcast the other day

Sandra: I use it to justify buying expensive things 😂

Joanne: You know when you have a lightbulb moment and think, ‘Oh my God, that’s me’?

Emma: YES, the first time I found out what an introvert was I had that

Robyn: Yess! I WILL NEVER LET JAMIE LEAVE THE HOUSE INCASE HE’S DEADED. Not leave the house, leave the house mad. He’s not locked in here. He’s free ranging

Joanne: 😂😂😂

Stephanie: I have this too!!! I was away when my Mum was diagnosed so I think that I’m not with someone I love, something’s awful will happen to them!

Robyn: So we also all think our bodies are trying to kill us? Mainly with cancer. Or insert your own illness

a photo of a woman with a beehive and a man in a suit smiling

Lovely Barbara, Robyn’s Nana and Buddy (not his real name) Robyn’s Grandad

Stephanie: Absolutely!

Joanne: Yes yes yes! I once went to the doctors crying my eyes out and told him I had four different kinds of cancer. I didn’t but he give me all the tests

Sandra: I don’t dwell on it, but I fully expect it, if that makes sense? Like I’ll get diagnosed and say ‘WELL, OBVIOUSLY’

Joanne: 😂😂😂

Emma: Ha ha, yes, I think I’m in that camp, Sandra

Joanne: I got kicked out of donating blood on the Saturday and had two days to think about it. I was just anaemic in the end

Emma: So, for all you doctor-visitors, do you have any thoughts about where that comes from?

Robyn: Be vigilant ALWAYS. Children who’ve been abused tend to live on high alert plus the Nan’s death made me resolute not to die of cancer cos of complacency

Joanne: It goes back to what we were saying before ‘shit happens’. And I’m terrified of leaving my daughters motherless

Sandra: Yes, me too

Emma: Ah, ladies, that makes my heart hurt

Joanne: It’s true though

Robyn: Sandra and Joanne I am virtually cuddling the shit out of you

Sandra: And me you!

Joanne: But I’m okay you know. I am in the group with you all – I feel lucky. I’ve got my two beautiful girls and it’s all I ever wanted. It’s like I got the prize in the end

Robyn: You totally got the prize Joanne! Stephanie and Sandra are you proactive or avoiders with your health?

Sandra: I’m proactive. I’d rather know.

Stephanie: I try to be proactive but I’m put off very easily if I can’t get an application or something. I don’t have a very good sense of self-worth, so I don’t really consider myself worth the time or effort

Robyn: Did you feel not worthy pre your Mum’s illness?

Stephanie: It was definitely an underlying issue, but when I couldn’t help my Mum, and I got frustrated with her when I shouldn’t have, I beat myself up a lot and never really recovered

Sandra: Stephanie, I learned at my counselling to have more self worth. It was really interesting to learn why I didn’t have any!

Emma: I feel like getting to know yourself is the best gift you can ever give yourself

Joanne: Totally agree

Emma: It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but ultimately will be the best

Sandra: Yes (breaks into Whitney Houston). But seriously, yes.

Emma: I think we should all go and listen to Whitney after this

Joanne: And I think once you get to know yourself you start to accept things

Emma: exactly

Joanne: Or drink gin

Stephanie: Both?

Emma: ha ha

Joanne: Yes

Stephanie: Haha!

Emma: there’s nothing like being sad and drunk on gin

Emma: singing Whitney into a hairbrush

Sandra: Just not crack and erasure, ok?

Robyn: I asked you to go to that Whitney night at the Rivoli and you said no…

Emma: I only Whitney in private

Sandra: I can’t even have gin, I’m on a diet (more woe)

Robyn: Stephanie, I once told my Nan, ‘Just cos you’ve got cancer doesn’t mean you can be a twat’. We’re all still living in the parameters of those original relationships and have the same frustrations and I hope you can be kind to yourself and acknowledge that

Stephanie: Thanks so much Robyn 💕

Emma: Jeez, yes, and nobody but nobody can go through what you’re going through without losing it once in a while

Dolly Parton's patchwork coat of many colours
While Robyn did call her Nan a twat she also snuck her this photo of Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colours in Dollywood illegally, risking her liberty and possibly her life

Robyn: I mean it – no good can come from holding onto that guilt. I guarantee your Mum thought you were the absolute best even if you were being a pain. That’s what they do!

Sandra: 🤣🤣 That was at private Whitney

Emma: I assumed not at Robyn’s message

Sandra: I am keen to clarify that

Robyn: Whitney should be celebrated publically and ideally on rollerskates. She loved crack, like Mum. Joking makes it NOT AWKWARD

Sandra: I do love you

Emma: that’s how you shut down an emotional box

Stephanie: Expert-level shutdown

Joanne: Robyn, is your Mum still alive?

Robyn: So, my Mum is alive but we’re estranged, though she pops up to do unthinkable things via family members from time to time

Joanne: Oh yes, like my Dad. God bless ‘em

Robyn: Yep, total pain in the ass. And I feel very guilty about people’s actual Mum being gone, cos I have a mother in that she popped me out, but that’s it

Joanne: Yeah but if she’s a twat she has let you down

Emma: Exactly

Joanne: So that’s still a complicated emotion

Robyn: So I give it the, ‘Nan was a Mum in all the important ways’ speech

Emma: Robyn, given all those complicated feelings, Mother’s Day must be a rollercoaster of weirdness for you

Robyn: I bloody hate it

Joanne: Yes it breaks my heart on so many levels

Emma: Like, I’m mainly sad and angry at thoughtless marketers, but you have that and then Mum anger

Robyn: But also doubly-complicated for the Mothers in the room

Joanne: I feel so lucky now to have my daughters but I remember all those dark times when it was pants

Sandra: Yes! Competitions on social media where you tag your Mum and you both win a prize or some such. Cheers lads!

Emma: Jeez, I know. The WORST

Joanne: Yes somebody asked me to do a promotional video out with my Mum for Mother’s Day. I said I’ve not got one. They were very embarrassed

Robyn: Yes! You tell them. People should be tactful

Sandra: Why the hell would they make that assumption?

Joanne: I wasn’t annoyed, but maybe I should’ve been

Emma: I’m annoyed on your behalf if it helps?

Robyn: I would have told them to pop it in their bum

Joanne: Do you know what I did? I did the video with my daughters

Sandra: I am almost mute in my quest not to ask potentially distressing questions or make assumptions

Emma: Yep

Joanne: That’s because we all get it and know that shit happens. Not everybody does

Sandra: So true. If it’s not on your radar then it’s not on your radar

Emma: I think you learn to recognise the telltale signs in other people

Robyn: I feel like I want a one man band uniform and I want to tour the country in it shouting, ‘IT’S OK NOT TO BE OK’

Emma: We could all be in the band? That’ll be our first single

Robyn: Can I still have the one man band outfit?

Emma: You can

Joanne: Could it be a one-woman band, please?

Sandra: I have no musical talent, but lots of enthusiasm

Joanne: 😂

Emma: You can do promo? Or tambourine?

Robyn: Sandra is Bez

Sandra: I’ll do promo with a tambourine. Or a triangle?

Emma: It’ll be called One Woman Band, and the surprise is there are ACTUALLY FIVE OF US

Robyn: I think my one man band is from my Nan – when her Dad died of cancer she just started doing carboot sales and made thousands for Christies. I need to feel like I’m actioning things. I want to be understood and be able to just talk normally so I bombard people with it

Emma: I think I do the opposite and just keep it inside

Sandra: I’m the same as Emma

Robyn: Stephanie do you acknowledge it or just ignore?

Emma: Yes, we went off on a little band tangent there

Stephanie: I acknowledge it, and I sit with as many feelings as I feel I can handle, then I ignore

A woman with curly hair and glasses holds a smiling baby
Even-more adorable baby Stephanie and her Mum

Emma: Tell us about your Mum, Joanne?

Joanne: My Mum had a brain haemorrhage and died just like that. She was 37

Emma: Fucking hell

Sandra: Shock grief is horrific

Stephanie: That’s awful, I went through something similar with my Nan and it’s so tough

Joanne: Perhaps because it was a shock that’s why it’s locked away in a box

Robyn: Same thing happened to my old manager – her Mum was this total powerhouse, inspirational woman and just died from an aneurysm

Joanne: It’s shocking isn’t it

two girls with hats and scarves on kneel down
Joanne’s excellent daughters

Emma: Here’s one for you Mums that I hope isn’t too personal: having gone through such trauma yourselves, are you able to be open emotionally with your own kids, or do you feel like you want to shield them from things?

Joanne: I don’t really talk about my Mum to my children, but I am super honest with them and have lots of really honest discussions

Sandra: I’m open with them. They have a lot of questions. A lot. But I don’t let them know about my true feelings etc. Just that it has made me sad.

Joanne: I talk to my children more about my miscarriages and the longing to have a child. It kind of explains why I’m so protective of them

Emma: How old are all your kids, guys?

Sandra: 10 and 7. Jude was in the middle and would be 8

Joanne: Mine are 20 and 17. Jude  is such a lovely name, Sandra – it’s a name I had on our list too.

Sandra: Thank you, it is isn’t it?

Stephanie: Jude is a beautiful name 💕

Robyn: Jude is the king of names

Sandra with a leetle tiny daughter, Kitty

Sandra: Does anyone feel any element of post traumatic stress disorder? I definitely had this after Jude died and it needs dealing with

Robyn: 100%

Emma: Yes, very much, though that’s partly to do with some other stuff that happened just after Mum died, so it’s all tangled up in my head

Stephanie: Definitely, I only realised this recently after a friend of mine was in a car accident and we shared a lot of symptoms

Sandra: I had a treatment for PTSD soon after Jude died (I knew I needed to try and have another baby and I had to help myself) called EMDR. It was totally weird and totally worked

Emma: What does it involve?

Sandra: You go through your trauma whilst following a moving light around a light box with your eyes. It gradually breaks the connection between the trauma and your reaction to it

Emma: Woah. For how long a time do you do that?

Sandra: I think I had about 3 or 4 sessions. I’d been shaky and panicky and jumpy (very unlike me). I wasn’t expecting to have EMDR, I thought I was having counselling! Anyway, she explained it all – it’s a scientific thing – it’s used a lot for the Police and armed forces, who have seen awful things

Robyn: Going to Google the shit out of this

Emma: I’m 100% going to speak to my therapist about this

Sandra: I felt like a total knob, but it worked!

Sandra: I mean, the normal grief was still there, but I wasn’t reliving the trauma of that day’s events on a loop in my brain

Robyn: Yes, I found the actual day really frightening. Like horror movie-ish in my mind

Emma: I still can’t really think about it

Robyn: I had hypnotherapy and that worked real good

Emma: I think that’s too much relinquishing control for me

Sandra: I LOVE hypnotherapy – I am so susceptible to it, I’m out like a light

Robyn: Note to self:hypnotize Sandra and convince her to move to London


Robyn: I can now let it flash past and not feel like I’m going to choke if that makes sense?

Emma: One day…

Sandra: Mine was like a classic scene from Casualty – they brought him out in an emergency, fairly brutal, c-section and then I had to watch them try and fail to resuscitate him. Horrific.

Emma: Oh, Sandra. Nobody should have to see that

Robyn: Oh Sandra, that makes my heart implode

Sandra: He was on a ventilator for a day, so we got time with him at least

Emma: all very wise answers

Robyn: And you Hopkinson?

Sandra: I also very much relish talking about light hearted and fun things, and just because I’ve been through some horrible things doesn’t mean they define me

Emma: Yes! I get so uncomfortable when people feel like they need to ask me about my Mum, but are clearly uncomfortable doing so

Robyn: Yep! I still compulsively watch sitcoms when I’m in a grief hole

Stephanie: Cartoons for me!

Robyn: Grief hole is what I call my vagina

Stephanie: 🤣

Sandra: 🤣🤣🤣🤣 ROFLing

Sandra: I relied on terrible daytime telly to get me through the immediate aftermath of losing Jude. Seriously. You can switch your brain off

Robyn: Ohhh yes. The monotony of daytime tv. So predictable – zero effort needed

Sandra: I found a ancient pic of me and my bro and sis on Mother’s Day morning with a special breakfast tray for my Mum (pre-illness). Would you like to see? It’s worth it for my outfit and hair

Emma: Oh my gosh, yes please

Sandra: Note the exceptional gifts

Robyn: Yes times one million

Three children in 80s clothes hold a tray of presents. There is a dog.
The jumper of Robyn’s dreams, taunting her from Sandra’s past

Sandra: Poor dog. Held against his will

Robyn: That. Jumper.

Sandra: I know.

Robyn: Tell me you still have it, and force your daughters to wear it

Sandra: Alas, this wondrous jumper is no more

Emma: After I wiped a single tear away from my eye my first thought was, ‘That dog’s feet aren’t touching the floor’

Sandra: I’ve got the proper giggles now. Poor hound. You can see where my love of interiors stems from with this kitchen as inspo

Emma: I can’t stop looking at the dog’s expression

Sandra: Emma, stop, I’m getting hysterical

Robyn: Yoooiiik is what he’s saying

Sandra: Poor old Joss

Emma: I got a question for everybody, that might help a few people out there. What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to young you, or to somebody going through what you’ve been through?

Robyn: Get therapy. Watching someone ill or dying can be the most traumatic thing ever and we rarely acknowledge it

Sandra: My advice would be that it won’t always be as searingly awful. You’ll be able to laugh and have fun again. But don’t lock it up, eh?

Robyn: Also, you are worth love, just because the person you want to love you most doesn’t does not mean you don’t deserve it – that’s on the estrangement angle

Stephanie: I would say, you don’t owe anyone anymore than what you’re comfortable sharing or talking about. It’s ok to be selfish and keep self-preservation front of mind

Joanne: I wish I realised I didn’t have to go through it on my own, and that I could ask for help. There is no shame in asking for help. That’s when I lost my Mum. But my advice for people going through a miscarriage, it’s to find other people like you and talk. To explore every avenue and never give up. And don’t be ashamed of acknowledging what you have been through

Emma: To all the people out there who feel uncomfortable and don’t know what to say when you bring up Mums or Nans or miscarriages, what’s your advice?

Robyn: Just ask! I will not climb in your lap and make you hold me. Just say, ‘How can I be useful?’

Sandra: My advice is, just tell them that it sounds shit. That you’re sorry they’ve had to go through that. Avoidance makes everyone feel weird.

Joanne: I often shy away from talking about my experiences because I know it embarrasses people. I am quite passionate about making miscarriage something that isn’t hidden away, It needs to be something that is spoken about and Acknowledged. Losing six babies was a massive part of my life and has affected me deeply, so much more than losing my mum. It has left a gaping hole that I still struggle to fill. I just want to be something that is understood more.

And again when talking about my mum, it often shocks people when I say I haven’t got a mum or my mum is dead, they don’t know what to say to me. It happened so long ago now and like we said last night it’s locked in the box, I don’t find it difficult to talk about and the last thing I need is pity.

Emma: My final question is about any thoughts you have on making Mother’s Day not a total shitpile? Like, has anything worked for you before?

Robyn: Thorpe Park or similar – total change of subject, otherwise I’m a glum bastard

Emma: I’m the opposite – I’m all for a big introspective walk or a spot of wall-staring

Robyn: You love that wall

Sandra: It’s not as hard for me as I have the kids. So I focus on that bit and count my blessings. Obvs not everyone can do that

Emma: I think that’s kind of beautiful. Everybody has a blessing somewhere in life

Robyn: Do they make your heart happy on that day, Sandra?

Sandra: Yes, they do. They’re daft as a brush, and always present me with terrible home-made gifts

Robyn: Yaaayyyyy as they should cos you are the best of women

Sandra: Ahhhhhh back atcha

Emma: I have one of those exact gifts I gave to my Mum

A green and yellow ceramic bird
The clay peacock bowl that Emma made for her Mum one Mother’s Day is truly terrifying

Joanne: I generally don’t make it better! I am always determined that I’m going to have a fantastic day with my girls, but I am so ratty and usually end up in tears. It’s not that I feel upset – is it something subconscious? And I am so so conscious of all the other people who might be finding it difficult, because I remember how empty it used to make me feel. I really do feel like I’ve won the best prize in the whole wide world by being a mum and having my girls, but I’ll never forget those babies who didn’t come home and the feeling of being at absolute rock bottom and I thought I would never be a Mum

Stephanie: I had a mini breakdown in Poundland the other day because of the Mother’s Day display, and all the messaging out there at this time of year can feel so claustrophobic. I’d say take some quiet reflection time, treat yourself to your favourite things, deface a Mother’s Day poster, whatever works

Emma: ha haaa

Sandra: Yes to defacing a poster!!!

Robyn: Always yes to vandalism

Emma: yes, let’s stage a guerilla poster-slashing campaign

Stephanie: Let’s do itttt

Robyn: I’ll do it dressed as a gorilla

Sandra: Whilst playing in our one woman band

Robyn: Like batman. And people will think I’m Phil Collins. The perfect alibi

Emma: Is ‘it was Phil Collins’ an alibi?

Robyn: People get that joke right? Its niiiiche

Sandra: I get that joke

Robyn: Good enough for me

Stephanie: Got ittt

Emma: drum gorilla, right?

Robyn: God I’m good

Sandra: You can count on us

Robyn: At explaining why my jokes are funny

Sandra: 🤣🤣 Do you get it? Do you get it, though??

Emma: well, I did not think this chat would end with Phil Collins

Stephanie: I totally knew it would

Robyn: All roads lead to PC.

Sandra: I feel that’s an appropriately upbeat ending

Robyn: Ok you lot have been really and truly astonishing – you’re goddesses. Not just cos of the jokes

Emma: Yeah, I want to say thank you so much for coming an opening your emotional boxes. And if you need to talk after this, we’re here

Stephanie: Thank you so much for having me!

Sandra: It’s been lovely, ladies. A large and enthusiastic cuddle coming all of your ways

Robyn: It’s been such a privilege and a pleasure which is saying something considering the subject matter

Emma: You have all been amazing

Joanne: I’ve really enjoyed talking to you

Sandra: Joanne, it’s a privilege that you shared that with us

Emma: Same – you’re always welcome to check back at any time. Other’s Day every day

Joanne: Fabulous to ‘meet’ you all x

Emma: Big love all-round. Xx

Robyn: Yeah big love-o-rama x x

Stephanie: Xxxxx

Sandra: It’s goodnight from me, and goodnight from Phil

Robyn: I’ve just let a bit of wee slip out

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