Billed as frankly going where few mums have gone before, Jaquie Brown's new parenting series Keep Calm and Carry On offers a candid look at the comedian's experience of motherhood.
Your little boy Leo is 18 months. How are you finding that age?
Honestly, I've found it all great. There were some challenging parts when he was about 10 months and he went through a squealing phase. Because he wasn't talking he was learning to communicate, he would do the most nerve splitting ear shattering screams just out of the blue. That went away after about two months. At the moment he's just discovering tantrums, so I'm learning how to deal with that. I'm reading this book at the moment called Toddler Taming. There are so many challenging bits that come with having a baby, but overall I love him to bits, it's great.
Who is Keep Calm and Carry On pitched at?
Hopefully, it's got something for everyone. Hopefully, it's got something for dads and parents who have been in the game for a while, and for new mums who are going through it for the first time because it's me going through it for the first time, and they can relate to that. But also it's like a history lesson; we look at what's gone on in New Zealand. There's no one person or type we're pitching it to, but anyone who is interested in babies and children and growing people in New Zealand as a whole.
Was there a line in the sand about what you would talk about and what you wouldn't in sharing your experiences?
I was really conscious of the fact it's not just me parenting Leo, there's my husband as well. I know it sounds ridiculous to say I wanted a level of privacy given that I've been so open and have included Leo and quite a lot of my personal thoughts, but I did want to make sure our relationship was kept out of it to protect him a bit.
What surprised you about having a new baby?
How chained I was to the breastfeeding process. I remember feeling so, so exhausted and it dawning on me in the middle of the night that ''OK, this is my life now, and he needs me and I need to be there for him, and I'm going to be there for him. Wow, this is forever.'' And nobody can prepare you for that, I don't think. And also how much you are able to love this little thing; it's totally different love you feel for your partner. It's overwhelming, sniffing his little cheeks. Every time he did a poo I'd be proud of him! Well done, darling! It's not disgusting in the slightest; it's just a moment of celebration.
The show details some of the methods our parents used to rear babies, and it seems like parenting has been hijacked by experts. What do you think?
There's a lot of pressure on us to do it right, to get our figures back straight away, to have our careers back, maintain all our friendships, have a great sex life, and maintain a house; we just put a lot of pressure on ourselves, and then there's these books that say this is how it should be. It's just hard because every person and baby is an individual. We try to do and have it all and that's where a lot of depression comes in. We're also a lot more isolated. In ''days gone by, yesteryear'', babies were raised by communities. You had grandparents on hand and lots of people to support you, but now we're focused on getting our lovely clothes from the designer store and having the right buggy and all the rest of it. And then when the baby comes along, you get all these visitors for about the first two weeks and then everyone leaves you alone and you're going, ''Right ... OK''. There isn't that support and a lot of women can feel really isolated, especially if they're older and they're used to having a busy career. It's just you and the baby, who you adore, but at the start, it's a one-sided relationship.
How did you manage working with a young baby?
The great thing is it took us about a year to do the show because I could only work two half-days a week over the course of the year. In many ways it was hard because it took so long to do it, but great because it meant I could have a tiny weeny bit of a career, and still be really involved with being a mum and learning about Leo, I wasn't snatched away from him early on. My mum and a lovely friend came and looked after him.
- Keep Calm and Carry On, Wednesday, 8pm, TV One
- © Fairfax NZ News
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