Supporting Role
NEXT|October 2019
Sarah Lang sits down with Pippa Wetzell to talk about the modern work/life juggle, letting go of perfection and the part she plays for Bellyful, which sees mothers giving other mums a helping hand
Sarah Lang
Modern motherhood isn’t easy. In the changing landscape of today’s world, many new mums don’t have family members in the same town, and can feel isolated and under pressure to be perfect, while at the same time getting to grips with breastfeeding (or not), and interrupted nights. Plus we’re surrounded by curated Instagram posts of perfectly put together women and cutely dressed babies, as opposed to piles of washing, and food ground into the kitchen floor.

Pippa Wetzell, who has daughters Brodie, 12, and Cameron, 10, and son Taj, eight, with husband Torrin, knows the challenges of becoming a mother first-hand – and believes we shouldn’t buy into the notion of the perfect mother, something heightened by the rise of social media.

“I think some mothers have feelings of inadequacy when they see some social media posts, like, ‘Oh no, I don’t have the perfect nursery’,” says Pippa, while chatting over a cuppa. “But I think there’s a bit of a social media backlash now, where more people are posting about the shit bits – the slightly more dishevelled version. Because that’s real. Maybe we should redefine what a great mother is, and if it’s good enough I think that’s great.”

Pippa feels that some women put too much pressure on themselves to be supermums, and that often these are highachieving career women. “I’m not calling myself a high achiever, but I look back and think, ‘Why did I get so caught up in certain things?’ There’s a great TV comedy about new motherhood called The Letdown and the main character Audrey goes through a series of difficult but funny things. Like, she gets so caught up in trying to pull off this perfect party for her daughter’s first birthday, but actually a one-year-old doesn’t care. I made Torrin watch some of the show, and I said ‘That was me!’ or ‘That was us!’” Pippa identifies with Audrey and her partner sitting slumped with exhaustion in the hallway for sleep training, counting the minutes until they could go back in. “That was so me.”

A HELPING HAND

One thing that new mothers often struggle with is asking for help if they need it – and yet it’s often small things that make a big difference. That’s why, for the last eight years, Pippa has been an ambassador for the charity Bellyful. Bellyful’s 650 volunteers across 23 branches nationwide make meals for new mums, and for families with young children who are struggling with illness, and have little or no family or social support. In the last 10 years, the charity has delivered 120,000 meals to 22,000 families. You can request help for yourself or another family, donate, or volunteer.

As ambassador, Pippa gives her time to speak at fundraisers, go to volunteer events, and attend ‘Cookathons’ (where volunteers cook, package and freeze meals), among other things. “I’m not at the coal face making macaroni cheese. There’s no comparison between the little bit I do, and the amazing work these volunteers do,” she says.

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