One Mum I really enjoy following on Instagram is Welsh actress Catherine Ayers. In the last few years Cath has become a step mum and a Mother and her acting career has gone from strength to strength. How on earth does she juggle it all and succeed to constantly smile and look so genuinely happy and utterly beautiful? These are a few of the questions I asked her in a recent interview for Mam Cymru…
First of all Cath, where were you raised and what memories to you have of your own childhood?
I spent the first years of my life in a small bungalow in Cwmduad, and spent my days playing in the outdoors with my brother Ian and our neighbours, Endaf and Edryd. It was obvious from the outset that I was very happy in the company of boys (thank god as I’m totally outnumbered on our house now!!) Apparently, I was always the boss too (another thing that hasn’t changed!) I had a really happy childhood and I’ve been so lucky to have absolutely fantastic parents. It was a happy time filled with laughter and creating happy memories. We moved to Abergwili when I was 5 years old.
When I look back, most of memories involve being outside and playing with Mum, Dad and Ian. Cricket (Dad was adamant that I had to learn to catch with a cricket ball ‘to toughen you up Cath’) football (the ball was kicked at me in the goal ‘to toughen you up Cath’) racing down the hills on my bottom on skate boards (straight into the main road -oops!) and also collecting flowers to make my own perfume (which my Mother wore bless her heart!). Long summer nights filed with laughter. I was also a bit of a tom boy as there were no other girls around!
You’ve had a long career in acting. What are the highlights and what are you doing at the moment?
I’ve been really lucky to have a long and happy career doing the thing I love – acting. It started when I was doing my A Levels, I had a part in Pobol y Cwm on S4C…a really good grounding and I learnt a lot. Since then I’ve gone from one drama to another on S4C and have also performed on stage. The highlights so far have been playing the lead role in S4C’s Byw Celwydd…I LOVE IT! We’ve just finished filming the third series. Also, recently playing a part in the popular series; Keeping Faith and there’s a second series on the way I hope!
You’re now married, who’s the lucky man and how did you meet?
Yes! Just before Christmas in 2015, it was one of the best days of my life…marrying Ashley with all my family and friends in tow. Perfect. I’d like to re-live that day on a daily basis! Ashley is a film and TV Director and we met through work a few years ago. He’s a very special man and I’m really lucky to be sharing my life with him.
Since meeting Ashley you’ve also inherited two gorgeous children…
When I met Ashley, he was raising two young boys on his own – Leo and Felix – their mother had sadly died of cancer. When I fell in love with Ashley it was impossible not to fall in love with Leo and Felix, and we naturally created a new family and I became their mother. They are absolutely gorgeous boys, it’s hard to imagine life without them. I didn’t think I was able to have children of my own, so without doubt, I through myself into being their mother and experienced love like never before. We were a happy unit and each one of us relishing the joy of our new life together. But then…soon after we got married…Albi arrived…
Albi, your own son! How did you feel after having your own child?
“Our little miracle” – Albi.
A small (really small) bundle that arrived way too early! Like his mum, he has no patience! Weighing only 3 pounds and 6 ounces. Albi arrived 6 weeks early. A massive shock! I had only just finished filming the second series of Byw Celwydd. I’d been to the BAFTA’s on Sunday as I’d been nominated, then filmed an advert on the Tuesday and then I was in hospital on Thursday! Ashley was working in Canada so he did a ‘mad dash’ back home to be with us! Poor Ali had a difficult start, he spent the first 3 weeks in an incubator full of tubes…but the strong little monkey put up a fight to make sure he could get home to be with his brothers who were eagerly awaiting to see him come through the door, and to put his mother at ease as I just wanted the nightmare to come to an end.
Being a Mum is like having the keys to this secret club…nothing can prepare you for motherhood you have to experience it. Being a Mum to Leo, Felix and Albi has proved to me that love is unconditional, I’ll never put myself first again and I’ll probably never have another full nights sleep! (Albi is now 21 months and he wakes up at least 5 times a night….AAAAARRRRGGGGHHH!) The lack of sleep is without doubt the most challenging thing. It’s difficult to be patient and energetic when you haven’t really slept for 2 years! But, when I get Albi up from the cot in the morning and see his beautiful little face and gorgeous smile, suddenly I forget about my sleepless night.
How have you changed since becoming a mum?
I don’t think it’s possible for your life to continue as it was after becoming a parent. Your priorities change. You are no longer number one. There are little people who totally depend on you, and your job is to ensure that you surround them with love, create happy memories that will last with them forever…oh! And feed them, wash them, dress them, iron their clothes…It’s never ending, but worth every cup of coffee that’s needed to keep me going throughout the day!
So how do you manage to juggle life with three kids with an unsecure career that requires you to spend time apart?
I’ve learnt that the only way to juggle it when I’m working is to ask for help from my parents, who have given all the support they can, and also our amazing nanny! I don’t know how we’d cope without them! Ashley works away a lot, so it’s quite often just me and the three boys…so help from our family, friends and Shannon our nanny is VITAL!!
You Look amazing and you do some modelling for Kiti Cymru too – how do you manage to look so good when you’ve got so many things to think about? Share the secret!
Thanks, I love going to see Gwenno in Kiti. When you become a Mum you don’t really have time to dress up so this is the perfect excuse! I actually do less exercise than I ever have, so I think that my shape is down to the fact that I’m constantly on the go and I literally don’t stop! When you have three little monkeys you don’t have time to sit down!!
Has your relationship with your mother changed since becoming a mother?
My relationship with my mother has always been one of the most important relationships in my life. Mum and I are really close. She’s my best friend, the one I can turn to for anything. There’s not a lot that Mum doesn’t know about me, in fact I sometimes think she knows me better than I know myself. She’s always supported me, and even more so since I’ve become a Mum. There’s nothing better than seeing the relationship between Gags, Bamps, Leo, Felix and Albi. I would say that the only way it’s changed is that it’s become deeper, I respect her even more as I now realise all the hard work, love and patience that’s needed to be a Mum, and my happy childhood is a testament to her and Dad.
What advice to you have for other mums or new mums?
That’s difficult, because I believe that everyone has to find their own way. There aren’t any rules, there’s no hand book and every child is different so the only advice is to follow your instinct. No one knows your child better than you. Something I tell myself every day is ‘It’s only a phase!’
What’s your ambition as a Mother and what type of role model do you want to be?
My only ambition as a Mum is to create 3 strong men, who are loving and who respect each other and others. I just want them to be happy and confident in their own skin.
Finally, What would be Cath’s perfect day? No budget no rules, just anything YOU want!
Hmmmm…perfect day?! That’s hard. I think it would start with a lie in after a full night’s sleep. Get up and enjoy breakfast and a glass of fizz on the terrace, the sun shining above. A few hours of playing silly games with the kids in the pool, before Ashley and I fly to Paris for lunch and a bottle of wine in our favourite restaurant near Sacre Coeur. Go for a massage in a spa. Afternoon tea back home with our family at our house and end the day enjoying pizza, pasta and wine with Ashley in our favourite restaurant in Cardiff – Café Citta, and talk into the early hours.
Mam Cymru would like to say a massive thank you to Cath for sharing her experiences and secrets. You truly are an inspirational lady and we wish you, Ashley and your gorgeous boys all the luck in the world.
By Heulwen Davies, Mam Cymru.