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8 high-profile Australian mums on what they were never told about motherhood.

Today, as if you didn't know, is Mother's Day - the traditional day to express gratitude for everything our mothers do for us, to thank them for their endless and selfless support. 

To honour the occasion, we asked eight Australian women to tell us what they never knew about motherhood, before they entered right into it. 

Their answers were filled with all the love and longing that characterises the most important role they will ever hold... mixed with a few surprises. 

Here's what they had to say.

Moana Hope

AFLW star

Motherhood is the most amazing, rewarding and exhausting thing I've ever done.  

I'm not sure what I was doing before Svea, but I'm the happiest with her. She has brought out a side in me I never knew existed. I have no idea how single mums get through. Women are unbelievable, strong and resilient. I wish mums got more credit for being mums because people say, ‘Oh you’re a stay at home Mum,’ but that job is way harder than any other job in the world. Mums and carers rock.

Susan Carland

Academic at Monash University and UNICEF ambassador. 

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There are the obvious things about becoming a mother that I anticipated. The things everyone discusses, like my babies’ overwhelming cuteness and how tired I would be. But there were some things that astonished me. Feelings or behaviours I did not hear spoken about. For example, when my baby was born, I sniffed that little head in a primitive way, like a wolf mother internalising the scent of her pup. I felt driven to do it in a way my rational mind did not understand. I still do it to this day, sniff their much-bigger heads. Their scent is imprinted in my soul. 

Another thing is how tightly my feelings are stitched to my children’s. I don’t just take on my children’s emotions, I feel them more acutely than my own. When my child succeeds, I feel more happy and proud than in my own achievements. But the reverse is also true. The meteorology of motherhood means when the sun shines gently on my child, it radiates on me. And when it rains on my child, it pours on me. On their tough days, I stand anxiously, often helplessly, in the deluge. 

If you have more than one child, this extreme empathy stretches even further, enforcing the rule: a mother is only as happy as her least happy child. 

I never knew that just as I would internalise their smell, I would also carry their very sense of wellbeing inside me, laid over the top of my own feelings, like a blanket keeping us warm and close.  

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Lisa Wilkinson

Journalist.

There is so much about motherhood they never tell you... Like, no matter what sort of birth you’re planning, it will not be what you expect and you are not in charge; breastfeeding doesn’t always come naturally; there are way too many stuffed toys in the world; your capacity to ignore the grossness of your own child’s poo and snot will amaze you; there are few feelings in this world to equal seeing your mother hold her very first grandchild for the very first time; there is no ache greater than knowing your children will never know the love, and hugs and wisdom of your late dad; the number of odd socks that will suddenly enter your life will drive you NUTS; you will spend more time rummaging through the school lost property basket than all the time you spend with your girlfriends in any given year; kids take the greatest notice of you when you think they’re not watching; the word "mum" has eight u's...it’s actually "muuuuuuuum"; you are going to miss that gorgeous little chipmunk voice once it’s gone. 

They also never tell you that for all the tears, and frustration, and guilt, and worry, and occasional disappointments, there is no greater love, and no greater joy, than becoming a mum.

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Mia Freedman

Co-founder of Mamamia and founder of Lady Startup.

Mia Freedman and Lisa Wilkinson. Image: Supplied.  There is so much angst around "choosing" kids or career and that is a garbage idea that needs to be set on fire. 

The only irreversible choice you make as a mother is whether to become one or not. For the rest of your life you will be making choices that affect them and the good news about that is that none of them are permanent. Even though every choice seems monumental and sometimes paralysing because of it's magnitude - what to name them! Whether to breastfeed! When to stop! Who their godparents should be! What kind of formula to give them! When to let them watch screens! How long to watch screens! When to go back to work! When to have another baby! When to start them at daycare! What school they should go to! Whether you should split with their other parent! - when you look back over their childhood, all of those individual choices are far less important than they feel in that moment. The most important thing is for a child to feel loved and secure. 

There's no such thing as a bad choice, just the choice you made with the tools and information you had at the time. Take some pressure off yourself. And start saving for your kids' therapy.

Narelda Jacobs

Journalist.

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Narelda Jacobs with her daughter, Jade. Image: Supplied.  The relationship I have with my daughter seems to deepen with age. We may now live on opposite sides of the country but I can always feel her presence. 

When I look at this independent, open-minded, self-made 26-year-old woman, I count my blessings but can’t take any credit. Jade forged her own path to become a celebrated mural artist. She is also an incredible human and brings me joy and pride to witness her living her purpose.

Fiona Falkiner

Podcast and television host.

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I now more than ever understand why we have a day dedicated to celebrating mothers. I've only been a Mum for a short while, but in the six or so weeks that I have been, it is clear why we are celebrated. 

Motherhood is SO many things! It throws you challenges you've never had to tackle before and often have no idea how to overcome but somehow you just work it out. It's time consuming - truly between breastfeeding, nap schedules and dirty nappies I don't know where my days disappear to. 

More than anything though, it's the most rewarding and beautiful experience - one that for so long I dreamed of and am so incredibly lucky to be living that dream now. 

Hayley and I are loving every second in our new role as Mummas, and can't wait for many more precious moments with our little man Hunter. 

Tammin Sursok

Actress. 

Tammin Sursok with her daughter, Lennon. Image: Instagram/@tamminsursok.  Motherhood is a fully encompassing, selfless journey through uncharted roads that is painful and confusing and awe-inspiring and life altering. 

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It builds a type of growth that one only experiences though a true shift of identity by a monumental event. It questions everything you knew before you had kids and blankets your heart in so much joy and love that it makes you breathless. It is something beyond measure.

Leigh Campbell

Executive editor and beauty journalist. 

No one told me about the unique and very special relationship my son would have with certain people in the community. 

Toddlers have an unspoken bond with bus drivers and firemen (and women). The absolute joy and awe I observe in my nearly two-year-old when he enthusiastically waves at a bus driver or fire engine makes my heart swell, and when those drivers smile and wave back and I see his excited jumps and squeals, I feel so lucky to have been witness to this silent kinship.  

Feature Image: Supplied + Mamamia.