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Three inspiring women reveal their heartfelt stories of motherhood and offer a unique insight into how to cherish the moment while raising children

Life with an autistic son

Writer Saffron Bentley, 38, from Surrey has a son with moderate to severe autism and blogs at about her experiences as a mother of a child with special needs. She lives in Surrey with her husband Neil and their son Tate, 8.


“These days, Tate and I laugh constantly. He’s got such an amazing giggle. He’s adorable and clever, and just because he doesn’t talk – he’s classed as non-verbal – doesn’t mean we don’t have a connection. We do, and we have a really great relationship.

“It wasn’t always this way. I had a sad start to motherhood because I think I knew Tate was autistic straight away. Even as a tiny baby he didn’t seem to connect that I was his mum, so while everyone was congratulating me, privately I was thinking, ‘Oh God, this is awful’.

“It took a couple of years to get him diagnosed – doctors don’t like to label kids too early – and when we finally did, I collapsed. I’d been waiting such a long time to hear it that when I was proved right it took me on a bad downward spiral. But when Tate started school, the fog began to lift. I realised that I can’t change things so what’s the point in moaning?

“Of course, it’s not what you want for your children but you can go one way or the other – you can be terribly bitter and unhappy, or you can choose to embrace it. Yes, we do things differently to other people but that’s OK.

“Even though I had some dark times, having Tate has changed me 100 per cent for the better. Little things don’t get me down the way they used to, and it’s given me a backbone of steel. I’ve had some quite sad Mother’s Days over the years because Tate doesn’t understand things like that. But I’ve learned that when you get a cuddle from an autistic kid, you know that they really mean it. They aren’t doing it for show because they don’t understand that, so if Tate cuddles me, it means everything. I cherish those hugs.”

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The multi-tasking mum-of-five

Journalist and author Clover Stroud, 41, was 16 when her mother had a riding accident that left her brain-damaged until her death in 2013. Clover lives in Oxfordshire with her husband Pete and children Jimmy Joe, 16, Dolly, 13, Evangeline, 4, Dash, 2, and Lester, 7 months. Her memoir, ‘The Wild Other’, is out now.


“Losing Mum the way I did gave me a feeling of homesickness; I was yearning to go home for a very long time. A lot of the travelling I did when I was younger was about looking for a sense of security – I was looking for my mum.

“For a long time she was in this strange state, suspended between life and death, and it was very confusing. I wanted to ask, ‘Are you in there somewhere? And if not, where have you gone?’ It was traumatic, so to write about it in my memoir after she had died felt very important. I immersed myself in memories of Mum and, after all the sadness, it felt very positive.

“My mum was so loving and funny. Writing about her made me realise that I could feel her presence around me through my relationship with my own children; through my love for them, I can pass on a little piece of her.

“Motherhood is chaotic, demanding, tiring – but it’s also lovely and joyful. With my elder two, I felt like I had to do it all, but as I’ve had more children, I’ve got better at letting go. No one’s perfect so we should all learn to enjoy being good enough. It’s easy to spend your time with children running around clearing up the mess they’re making but that’s not fun for anybody. Just enjoy the time.

“The thing I love best of all is being with my family, even if it’s just sitting in the kitchen all having lunch together. Even if the kids bring me breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day I find myself wanting to get up so I can hang out with them.”

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Fighting cancer with courage

Police officer Heidi Loughlin, 34, delayed treatment for breast cancer until her baby could be delivered safely. Her daughter, Ally, was born by C-section at 28 weeks, but tragically died eight days later. Heidi lives in Portishead with her husband Keith and their children Noah, 4, and Tait, 2. She blogs at


“Ever since I was first diagnosed with cancer, at three months pregnant, I’ve been blogging about it – being open was like my therapy. [Heidi made news headlines in 2015 when she spoke publicly about her choice to delay treatment for aggressive inflammatory breast cancer in order to continue with her pregnancy.] I started getting messages from people I didn’t know saying, ‘Thank you for writing this, this is the way I feel too’.

“I had built up quite a following by the time I had Ally, so when she died the people I had helped then wanted to support me. It was incredible.

“Although cancer has taken so many things away from me, it’s also given me a lot. I like that I am able to look at the world differently now. I’m not in such a rush any more. I take time to really observe my kids. Life flies by so quickly; why do we wish things away instead of appreciate what’s happening right now?

“Although there's never a moment when I stop thinking about Ally, it's important that we celebrate milestones, not dwell on them. Last Mother’s Day we went out as a family; on her first birthday we celebrated. We didn’t spend those days with our heads in our hands; we tried to make it uplifting instead of sad.

Despite everything, I am genuinely a happy person. Some days I think, ‘How is this my life?’. But the most important thing is I have a life and it is exceptionally precious. I have two children who absolutely need me and I am in control of how this affects them. Making sure they have the best possible life drives me every day.”

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Photographer: Amelia Troubridge / Interviewer: Lindsay Frankel / Stylist: Chloe Forde / Hair stylist: Bjorn Krischker / Make-up artist: Lindsay Poole / Manicurist: Kim Tracey / Kids’ groomer: Hester Van Overbeek

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