Mummy Social Learns… About Mothering Without a Mum (Gaby Roslin)

Becoming a mum is something that usually brings you closer to your own mum. It allows you to find a new dimension to your relationship and a new level of understanding and respect, however, what happens when your mum is no longer there and you have to navigate your motherhood journey without her.

At the end of last year, I spoke to the lovely Gaby Roslin, who at 32 lost her mum. We chatted about how she felt becoming a mother without her own mum around and how she shares her memories with her own children.

Thank you so much for talking to me Gaby. Could you please describe your mum as a mother and the relationship you had with her?

My mother was an extremely strong woman who always put others before herself. She was mad about dogs and used to say she often preferred them to people. She never spent money on herself and was not someone who was interested in material things at all. She was incredibly kind but also had a temper and never suffered fools! She was very proud of me the way that I followed my dreams, but would never ever let the ridiculousness of my profession get to me. She kept my feet very firmly on the ground. One thing though… she was an awful cook!!!

Are you able to briefly tell us about the passing of your mum and the impact this had on your life? (how old were you?)

I was 32 years old when mum died. Both my parents had had cancer at the same time. Dad thankfully survived bowel cancer (and got the all-clear the day she died) and mum died of lung cancer. She was strong throughout. Never did she complain once.

Do you actively talk and/or reminisce about your mum to your children?

We talk about her all the time. She is referred to as Granny Jackie even though they never met her, my kids talk about her and ask me what she was like. They do ask me a lot about her and what she would say or do and I am always very happy to chat. I do think it’s important to talk about her. I do wish she had met my girls more than anything else.

What ‘mothering’ traits do you believe you have inherited from her?

I think and hope I am a better cook than her… see above! I hope I am also thoughtful and kind. She really was quite firm about her thoughts and beliefs and I am definitely not like her in that way. If she didn’t like someone there was no budging her, I think I am more tolerant, to be honest.

Can you put into words your feelings when you found out you were pregnant, when you gave birth and any other major milestones since then that you have not been able to share with your mum?

When I found out I was pregnant and also at other times it hurts me so deeply not to be able to tell mum. I also do get angry at times that she wasn’t there for me. I tell other women who go through this that it is fine to feel angry or to feel a jumble of emotions. I still get split seconds of “Oh I must tell mum” and as quickly as it pops into my mind it goes again. It’s usually when I get something exciting work-related. She knew how much I loved my job/jobs and how much they meant/mean to me.

If she were here now, what do you think she would say with regards to you being a mum?

That question made me giggle. She would absolutely love my girls (they are truly wonderful and I know every mother says that) but I am laughing because I am sure in her way she would tell me to do this, that and the other and ask why I haven’t I tried so and so. Isn’t that what all mothers do?

Is there a question about being a mother that you would like to have asked her if you could?


Is there a particular moment that you can remember that you wished you could speak to her for just a moment? What would you say?

Again, so many. I wish I had asked her more about her. I know she loved living on a farm as a child during the war. I know she could speak several languages fluently. I know she was a kind, good woman and I know she loved us all very much, but so many questions that only come to me now.

How do you deal with Mother’s Day? Obviously, there’s a different focus on it now you are a mother yourself. Do you do anything special for your mum still?

I make sure I post on Instagram to help others who are feeling the loss of their mummies and remind them they are not alone. I think it’s over-hyped anyway. As mummies aren’t we all special every day? Also, I think about my friends who can’t have babies or who choose not to have children and remind them they are wonderful too. We all need to spread kindness much more than we do. There is too much negativity floating around and people are certainly too judgmental these days.

Interview by Danni, Mummy Social Team