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Mothers

how-many-lists

Recently my husband and I were fortunate enough to have the grandparents here.

We were able to leave the boys with them, while we slipped away for three blissful, child-free days. Oh, and how indulgent that was. No fighting, no yelling, nobody to feed and put to bed, lazy late morning lie-in’s, time to sit down and read. Heaven on earth. It was in fact, the longest I have ever left my boys behind. It was a sobering thought and to be quite honest, a bit scary.

As it goes, we left a huge amount of “notes”. The do’s and the don’ts, the what’s and the what not’s.

Just before we jumped into the car, I took out my medical aid card and handed it to my mum-in-law. “In case of emergency”, I said. But as we drove away, my mind wandered to what if it was us who ended up in an emergency? What if I never came back again? My little list of instructions made to last for a long weekend could never contain enough info for that scenario.

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mums-need-other-mums

When my son was four months old, I made a nice visit to a doctor who practices about an hour’s drive from home.

She had become my friend during my visits and I wanted someone I could trust to check out my new(ish)born son and give me the lowdown on his health without all of the unnecessary medical mumbo jumbo.

So picture this: I’ve just been in the car for an hour. My son has had a nap in that time, but is also going through a temperamental stage with how he feels about being in the car. Current mood: Nah.

But, against all odds, we’ve made it to the appointment. I pop on the baby carrier, get my beautiful baby out of the car-seat (which is acrobatic in itself) and slide him into the carrier. The sun blinds him, naturally. Which makes him want to look at it more, naturally. I shield him as best as I can while I lug my over-filled nappy bag out of the back seat and lock the door. Phew. We got this.

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motherhood-journey

When I first gave birth to my son just over eighteen months ago, it was a mixed time of overwhelming joy and utterly mind-blowing chaos.

I’m just going to say what all mothers come to learn: Nothing – no third trimester sleepless nights, no parenting books, no sage advice nor all of the wisdom in the world – can prepare you for the complete insanity that is parenthood.

A friend of mine just had his second baby, another little girl. I asked him how he and his wife were adjusting to a two-child life and, as most parents do, his response was predominantly laughter. (I reckon that the amount of laughter grows with each new child born into a family, representing both the inflation of joy and the increased levels of crazy with each addition.)

That naturally led the conversation to the question that most expectant mothers want to ask and all current mothers love trying to pinpoint.

He asked me, “What do you think was the most unexpected thing about becoming a mother?”

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network-marketer

The following words have been on my heart and mind for a long long time… But fear of judgement has kept me from sharing.

Today, I’m jumping in! I often say fear is never a good reason to not do something, so here I am, walking the talk and doing it scared!

Hello, I’m Keren, I’m a mom, homemaker, registered nurse and… network marketer.

EEEK! See what I mean?

Now you wonder how in the world a reasonably intelligent, somehow articulate adult woman would fall into direct sales?

Here’s a short version of my story, and how I became a network marketer:

We arrived in Tennessee in April 2013, two young children in tow, with no idea of what to expect. It quickly dawned on us we were earning a bit less than we were in good old Perth, and our expenses were much higher. Doesn’t take a genius to do the math: I needed a job!

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business-measuring-success

Soon after we married, my husband left his job to start his own business.

He is equipped with a head for numbers and always wanted to be business owner.

I, on the other hand, don’t have an entrepreneurial bone in my body, but I did what I could – I encouraged, listened, and continued working. Then we had a baby and I landed my new favourite job as a stay at home mum.

The business started to gain momentum. Increasingly surrounded by the jargon of the small business community, I began to notice that much of what was being talked about in business was also quite relatable to my new stay at home mum role. Four years on, I still wouldn’t claim to understand most aspects of business, but pottering the periphery has often surprised and challenged me in motherhood.

Early in the business journey we were given an exercise from a Business Coach to write down daily KPIs.

I recalled those annoying sales targets or “Key Performance Indicators” from past retail jobs- numbers like overall sales, number of items sold per customer or amount per transaction. As a sales assistant, KPI’s were used to give me an idea of what to aim for to make the manager happy.

I had certainly never considered applying a KPI to my day as a mum.

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motherhood-pride

About 18 months ago, I was tagged in a Facebook post to participate in the “motherhood dare.”

You know the one: someone dares you to post one photo that makes you proud to be a mother.

I struggled with this. I flipped through the photos on my phone, but felt that none of them reflected pride. You see, it didn’t matter how cute the photo seemed, I remembered what happened behind the scenes just before or after it was taken. The tantrum or the complaint or some form of defiance from (mostly) one of them and the way I reacted to it.

I had to admit to myself that I wasn’t particularly enjoying motherhood at that stage and definitely did not feel proud.

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mother-didnt-breastfeed

A lot of things failed to go to plan in the weeks surrounding my son Jackson’s entry into the world.

I hoped to go into labour at 41 weeks. Yes, I actually hoped to go past term, purely because we needed that time for our nursery renovation.

I hoped for a birth story like all my friends’: the requisite number of hours of labour, an epidural at just the right moment, and a modest amount of pushing, with little to no tearing, thank you very much.

I hoped to shed a few tears. I hoped for immediate skin-to-skin contact, for a photo of our new family of 3 mere seconds after baby’s first breath of air.

I hoped to breastfeed.

What I got was far beyond what I ever could have predicted.

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value-mum-friends

When you become a mum, you get to join a highly populated community of seemingly isolated people.

Hear me out. It’s a good thing.

Motherhood is a crazy, intense mixture of being opened up to a wonderful society of women who have given birth and are available for support, advice and encouragement… while simultaneously beginning a journey that is actually just about you and your child, slogging out the everyday together as you learn how to function as a new family unit.

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two-sides-vulnerable

There has been a lot of talk lately on being vulnerable in motherhood. Admitting the struggles, being honest about feelings, asking for help. I think it’s a great “movement”; it’s time for us to get real about the fact that even though this journey is more than amazing, it’s also extremely tough. It can be very lonely, immensely confronting at times and let’s be honest: downright scary every now and again.

As great as vulnerability is for our own mental health, we often forget about the other spin-off; the positive effect it has on the people around us. I don’t know about you, but most people I know have a deep desire to make a difference, albeit seemingly small, in other lives.  If you are brave enough to open yourself up and become vulnerable, you can create a wonderful two-way street where you receive support and the person you are leaning on walks around with a sense of purpose.

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redemption-shalom-birth

Image credit: Amelia Hambrook Photography

Do you like birth stories? I do.

At first I loved them because I needed to hear how labor and birth could be – for others, all normal and beautiful and full of love and connection.Redemption and Shalom: More than a birth story

My first birth experience was quite the trauma, and I went to see a therapist when my first baby was 4.5 months. I realized it was probably not normal to still be in tears every day, think it’s okay to leave my baby by herself in her bouncy chair thing, and notice her stop smiling.

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