We all think we know what’s coming when we sign up to become a parent… Jill is a nurse, she knows how to handle pressure, to care for those whose lives are placed in her hands, and she was mature enough not to have delusions that motherhood would be easy. And yet, as we have probably all learned, you can never truly be prepared for how challenging this role will be. Whether it is in the ordinary challenges of adapting to giving of ourselves SO completely, or extra-ordinary challenges like unexplained childhood illnesses. Jill and her family have dealt with their share of both, and she will be the first to admit that she still doesn’t have it all together. And I absolutely love that about her.
As if the ordinary parenting adjustments aren’t enough, when their eldest daughter, now 5, was just a baby it was clear that things just weren’t falling into place as they should. Small problems piled onto one another, asthma, allergies, trouble sleeping, recurring ear infections, frequent illnesses. It isn’t one of those terrifying but straightforward diagnoses, it is a constantly watching and waiting and never knowing quite what is around the corner situation. To this day, a good night’s sleep is a rare occasion to celebrate.
This challenge gave Jill a gift that might have taken the rest of us a few more years to comprehend… that chasing some mythical version of life in which we “have it all together” is entirely absurd.
On the days where things really feel like they are falling apart, Jill tells me that she finds comfort in the completely non-judgemental love that her girls give her. Right now, they are young enough to think that her kisses have magical healing powers and they honestly can’t imagine that she doesn’t know all the answers. We have all heard that there is nothing more powerful than a mother’s love, but what really strikes me is that there is nothing purer than our young children’s love. That love is so truly unconditional, and that gives it the most power in the moments that we feel weakest and least deserving.
One of these days, those growing kids are going to start seeing into the cracks and catching a glimpse of our humanity, but there is reassurance in that as well. Even when they are observant enough to find your flaws, what your children want you to know is how unimportant those flaws are in the fuller picture of who you are.
When I think of my own mother, I think of all the moments that I have wished she could see what I see; the beauty, the strength, the courage, the love. Of course, I have seen ugliness and pain in her life, but there is more to her story. In all honesty, that is what led me to this photography world in the first place, telling children’s stories to their mothers.
We as mothers are the solvers of problems, sustainers of life, and the bringers of magical adventures. We are beautiful goddesses in our squishiness, our wrinkles, and even our still-acne-spotted faces.
We would never expect our mothers to be perfect, our best friends to be perfect, and yet, there are those moments when we feel down on ourselves for being less than perfect.
We are each doing the best we can, day to day, with the situation, the resources, and the strength that we were given. Expecting any more is a recipe for discontent.
For Jill’s family, this means staying flexible, staying grateful, and always giving grace. The seasons of motherhood ebb and flow, and we find new rhythms as the times change. There is no perfect balance to be found, because there is nothing static about a living, growing family. Some chapters are entirely selfless, and in others we can rediscover a new self that has emerged from the cumulation of our experiences.
In truth, it isn’t bad that we don’t grasp the depths of the challenges, because we would be equally incapably of understanding the depths of our strength, of the ways that the journey will change us and the gifts that it will reveal.
Thanks to Jill Godin for sharing her story and opening her home.
Sometimes we emerge from our challenges with new adventures. Jill’s holistic skin care line Essentials by Nature, now a YEG staple, was born of necessity to find products safe for her daughter, as well as Jill’s passion to help people live healthier lives. I especially love the toner, a step that I was skipping for years and has made such a difference!
This is another story in the Motherhood in the Raw series, a project documenting the real life stories of 20 mothers. We are all in this together. Learn more about the project, and watch for more new stories trickling out in the months ahead (or sign up for Blog RSS updates and never miss a post - sent a max. of once weekly.)
This story was featured in the March issue of YEG Inspired magazine. Grab a free print copy around your favourite family friendly Edmonton area hotspots or grab a digital copy in their online store.