Mum of three and Field Co-ordinator for Reverse Rett, Beth Johnsson is an incredible and a beautiful woman – I am honoured to know her. After her daughter Hannah was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome, Beth and her family are now very involved with fundraising for research to help speed treatments and a cure. Beth talks motherhood, the future and rice cakes.
What time did you wake up this morning? 5.45am, to the sound of a 6-year-old saying ‘Can I open my presents now?’!
What is your daily routine like? Depends on which job I’m doing that day. If it’s a teaching day then it’s up and out at 7am, school by 7.30am and then lessons, meetings, marking until 3.50pm when I dash to pick up Hannah and get back to the boys for 5.30pm. Then it’s all about the children for a couple of hours until bedtime and stories, then once they’re asleep it’s back downstairs for marking, planning lessons and all the usual teacher stuff. If it’s a non-teaching day then I’m on the morning school runs and then settling down to Reverse Rett work until it’s time to collect the kids and start after-school and evening routines again.
What did you have for breakfast? Erm, never eat breakfast. Sorry Mum.
What food do you live on? Chicken, giant rice cakes, marmite and sugary tea (not at the same time!)
Do you have a pet name for your husband? Nope. But if I call him by his name he knows he’s in trouble!
How do you manage/balance work and family commitments? Minimise sleep.
What do you like most about being a mother? Wow, that’s a tough question. Where do I start? There’s just nothing in the world like it is there? I still feel like I’m not a real one somehow, it seems too incredible to actually be the mum of three small humans. Nothing beats that first moment when they’re placed in your arms, but I feel like that moment is repeated every time they slip their hand into yours, or put their arms around you. It makes everything else fade away. I also love just watching them, especially when they don’t know you’re there – watching the boys chat together or work out a new game, or when they hug Hannah or help her with something or try to make her laugh, that’s priceless.
How did you meet your husband? We were both in Sydney and started the same job on the same day, fundraising for Amnesty International. It took a while before I realised he wanted to be more than friends!
What do you like most about yourself? Erm. I’m stubborn, which can be a terrible quality but can also be good. I don’t give in to peer pressure or give up on things which I’m passionate about.
What is your greatest strength? The same as the above. I’m relentless. I’ve been criticised for it before, but it can be a useful thing too.
What word describes how you live your life? Hopefully.
What is your hope for your kids? That they are safe, healthy, happy, and good people. I want them to have the courage and the support to pursue the things which make them happy and to stand up for what they believe in. I want them to have empathy and kindness as fundamentals, but also the strength and determination to do whatever they can to make the world a better place. I hope they get to grow up in a world which is kinder than it appears to me to be right now.
What is the best advice you have ever been given? My Grandma passed away when I was 10, but I always remember she used to say that you never regret the things you do, only the things you don’t. I try to keep this in mind and to be ready to take the leap of faith to do things which scare me. I don’t want to wake up in 40 years’ time and wish I had.
Beauty means… Self-acceptance and Compassion.
What do you wish for the future? I’m a worrier and can stay awake for hours worrying about the future for my children, on a personal level as well as on a global scale. I think I would have been this way to some degree anyway, but the experiences we have gone through with Hannah have made me more fiercely protective, more cautious, at the same time as more appreciative of all the amazing things we do have. So there are so many wishes for the future. Ultimately, I want to watch all my children grow up and to see them become independent, happy, good people. I wish that one day I will hear my daughter’s voice again. I wish that I will see her run and play and know that her future is as bright as any other child’s. I wish that they always have each other and that the love I see between them now holds them together always, no matter what life throws at them.
If you want me to truly answer the question thinking about the wishes and the worries I have right now, today, I would have to say that I passionately wish that Britain can remain part of the EU, that we can find a way to rebuild our broken society, and that the far right views and attitudes which are now being expressed by the minority, can be prevented from becoming the dominant force in our political landscape. This scares me a lot.
What lesson has your daughter taught you about who you are?
That I can cope with things I never thought I would cope with and that I can love more fiercely and unconditionally than I knew was possible. As my first child, I suppose she also taught me that I can be a mum and that it is the greatest privilege I know.
What lessons have your sons taught you?
So much. They’ve taught me that children are more resilient, accepting and wise than most grown-ups, that nothing should ever be taken for granted, that time together is more important than all the toys in the world, that enjoying the moment is more important than capturing it, and that it is physically impossible for small boys and socks to stay attached to each other . . .
Never leave home without…
What was the last book you read?
‘Room on the Broom’ to Hannah last night!
Half-way through ‘Regeneration’ (again).
When was the last time you danced?
Depends on what you mean by ‘dance’ I ‘dance’ around the living room to Olly Murs and One Direction a lot, to keep Hannah amused (she laughs at me, not with me), so if this counts then it was yesterday . . .
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Beth’s Blog is HERE
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