real life

"It's wonderful being a mum but it can be really difficult."

Last week, I interviewed Jessica Rowe and learned that she is one of the most genuine and delightful people in Australian public life.

I wasn’t necessarily surprised by that though, having just finished reading her new book, a memoir called Is this my beautiful life?

Jessica writes with refreshing honesty about her journey through motherhood so far. She shares an almost universal experience of motherhood, writing in the book’s opening; “I am a mother. I love being a mother, but I also hate it sometimes. I don’t hate my children, of course; I just hate what has happened to my life. I don’t like being resentful, restless and stuck in a world of interrupted conversations, cold coffee and disrupted sleep.”

We can all relate to that.

In particular Jessica writes about her experience of post natal depression. She shares beautifully and honestly the sense of overwhelming dread she felt in the months following birth. Clearly, raising awareness of post natal depression is something Jessica Rowe feels very strongly about.

"It's something we don't talk enough about," she tells me. "And for me, having worked with various mental health organisations for 15 or 16 years I think we're getting better at talking about depression and anxiety generally. But when it comes to post natal depression for women, you know, there's this mask of motherhood and we still suffer in this conspiracy of silence. It's very difficult still I think to say, 'you know what I'm not coping I think I have post natal depression'.

"Because there's this expectation that I think society put on us and that we put on ourselves. We're so tough on ourselves. That we're meant to be fabulous at everything and it's all going to be a bed roses. And unfortunately for many mums it's not.

"It's wonderful being a mum but it can be really difficult.

"I really want people to know that there is help available and that there is a way through."

Jessica heavily emphasises the need for mothers to be honest about their experiences. She tells me it's part of why she has written her book.

"We do ourselves and one another an enormous disservice if we don't tell it like it is. In writing the book I just want to be honest and say, I found it really difficult as well."


Jessica is a co-host on Channel 10's morning panel show, Studio 10.

TAP on the image below to scroll through Jessica in her many life roles. Post continues after the video.

In the middle of our conversation, my four year old son interrupts. I have Jessica on speaker phone so I can make notes as I go.

He yells, "mum, mum, mum," while I gesticulate wildly for him to be quiet hoping to preserve the veneer of professionalism in my interview with one of Australia's most respected journalists and TV presenters.

I apologise profusely hoping Jessica will understand. She laughs and tells me she throws smarties out her bedroom door to keep her daughters occupied if she has to do an interview at home.

Now that Jessica's girls, Allegra, 8, and Gisele, 6, are at school, I want to know what's changed. "I tell you what, it's wonderful having them at school," Jessica laughs.

Listen to Jessica Rowe talk about "How she does it". Or listen to it here. Or get the whole "I don't know how she does it" series here. Post continues after the audio.

What does she struggle with now that the girls are older? "Every day struggles of varying significance." She describes an afternoon trying to negotiate

"I get home and I cook dinner and Gisele will only eat Cheerios.

"I love the little people they're becoming. I love chatting with them. I love hanging out with them and just sort of being with them. I'm relishing it more and more the older they get."

"I want them to be happy and I want them to be compassionate, courageous and kind. And to brush their hair."

Jessica finishes her book with these beautiful words.

Snuggling against my my eldest daughter, I marvel at how tall she has become. Just an hour before I had wrapped her up tightly in the red mermaid bath towel and carried her into the bedroom, the pair of us spinning around and laughing until we couldn't bear it any longer.

Allegra reaches her hand across to me. 'Mummy...'

'Mummy's here, darling. Mummy's here.' Half of my body is now off the bed as I kneel on the floor and keep stroking her hair while she goes off to sleep. As her breathing deepens I stand up, ready to sneak out, then trip over a tangle of teddy bears in the doorway of the bedroom. I smile, knowing this is my beautiful, messy, wonderful life. And there is nowhere I would rather be.

Jessica Rowe's book, Is this my beautiful life? will be released tomorrow.

What do you find challenging as a mum?