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Mothers

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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mothering-hindsight

In so many ways hindsight is a wonderful thing.  She can help us to re-assess and make changes.  Good adjustments that help us do things better in the future, but from where I sit today, looking at my grown up children, hindsight is not my friend.  She can fill my heart with regret.  I can quickly go down the road of the could’ve, the should’ve, the would’ve but didn’t.  She can make my heart sink and take me to a place where I don’t want to be.

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reclaim-loss-motherhood

It all started with a banana in my handbag. A squishy, “ready for banana bread” kinda banana. Packed as an emergency snack and then forgotten. To add insult to injury, I also found two stinky socks, deep in the recesses of said handbag. This all led to a mini mum meltdown. I felt like throwing myself on the floor, screaming. Was even my handbag not mine anymore? Was there anything left that I hadn’t given up, sacrificed or left on the back burner just because I decided to have children?

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parenting-change

I turn on my phone and I read about Charlottesville, about atrocities around the world… I feel helpless. What can this person that I am do to ignite change and inspire love? What difference can I make to the world? I’ve not got substantial amounts of money to donate, or time to give or even much of a sphere of influence. I read, I cry and I pray but as a person of faith I believe I am also called to action. As a builder of community and kingdom, I believe that whatever it is I can do, I need to do. Thus, I need to take stock of what I can do, and at first, it doesn’t seem like much. As Arthur Ashe’s well known quote is drummed into my memory, “Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can”, I go ahead and make a list.

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mum-guilt

Mum guilt is the weirdest thing I have ever experienced.

When I use the term ‘mum guilt’, I don’t mean the idea of being shamed by another mum. That’s simply ‘mum-shaming’ and I refuse to even touch on that today because I can’t believe it exists. (We’re literally a giant collection of women all doing the same, hard, life-changing job. Can we just stop with the keyboard bashing and the quick tongues? Okay, noooow I’m not going to touch it on it.)

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childhood-wonder

There is something really precious and sweet, lost on our way from childhood to adulthood, isn’t there?

Something big, invisible, beautiful and powerful, something along the lines of innocence and boldness and joy.

Maybe it’s the reason we think of childhood as such a magical time, the reason we look at children with envy, and melancholy and tears in our eyes.
And I wonder… I wonder how we get a glimpse of this fleeting gold in our souls again.

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