Lifestyle Baby Photography

A Kindred Spirit - Authentic Motherhood

Brittany is a bit of a rare flower, and the powerful connection that I immediately felt with her goes much deeper than a shared first name. To see a young woman with such a balanced and steady sense of herself, and with such a solid footing as she enters motherhood is a truly beautiful thing. Of course, none of this came by chance, she has been very intentionally navigating a journey to self-discovery over the past few years, and it is this intentional path that has allowed the new role of motherhood to find a comfortable place in the rhythm. Brittany has made conscious choices to let go of anxiety and to embrace only that which adds meaning to her life.

One of the most striking things I noticed in conversation with Brittany was the answer she gave to my usual question about the most important gift that she can give to her little guy. It is a subject that often goes unnoted in our “children above all else” culture, but one that I have been thinking of a lot myself over the past few months. Brittany and her husband Kyle have placed a great deal of importance on cultivating a strong foundation for their relationship. The gift that they will give this family is the comfort of knowing that their love is unshakable, and that home will always be a safe space.

I see it as a logical but often ignored subject in relation to the popular topic of attachment parenting, the gist of which is that the more securely bonded a child is to his parents, the more confidently he will be able to go forth into the world. I have never actually noticed mention of the connection between a safe and attached parent/child relationship and the safe and confident environment created by a well maintained relationship between parents.

I am not the only child familiar with the turmoil of an unstable parental relationship. While I would obviously argue that I turned out just fine, imagining a childhood without that constant fear seems like some sort of utopia. The truth is, I have seen the way my daughters’ eyes light up when they see my husband and I show each other affection. The way that we lavish our children with cuddles and kisses and tickles clearly shows them the love that we have for them, so how would they not notice a discrepancy in the way we treat our spouses? I do not believe that “broken” homes will break our children, but I do know that the pain of a continually “BREAKING” home can be positively heartbreaking.

The way that Brittany sees it, putting the effort in up front to build a solid marriage, and doing the maintenance work as they go, means that their son will never face that fear that it is all going to fall apart, or worse, feel the burden of keeping face to keep it all together. With this safe space to return to always, he will be free to be imaginative, to take chances, and to go boldly into his life.

There will always be love to welcome him home no matter the outcome of his adventures.

Finding the confidence to be the mother our children need

Motherhood the first time around is a whirlwind journey. When I asked Amber how her experience of motherhood relates to the expectations that she had for it, she emphatically said "Not at all!" In nearly every way, this journey has been harder, and also so much more fulfilling than she could have imagined. In the struggles and at the deepest bottoms, she has found a new sense of empowerment, of confidence in her own strength and instinctual wisdom.

From the outside of motherhood looking in it was easy to imagine the "right" way to parent. Easy to imagine sleepy and cooing babies. Easy to imagine that the arrival of this sweet babe would be a relief from the challenges of pregnancy. We don't really ever expect to be out of the frying pan and into the fire. From a rough pregnancy straight into a colicky and "spirited" baby, it hasn't been the easiest transition of their lives.

When they made the decision a year ago to make the move from the comfort of their humble abode to building their dream home, right as baby was due to arrive, it seemed terrifying. Moving a family of three into a holiday trailer in her mother's yard didn't appear ideal. In the end, it was the biggest blessing they could have hoped for. The challenge of sleepless months was tempered by the ready support of family.

They still don't sleep through the night, and car rides are still not easy, but Amber has found the strength to manage their expectations and obligations, to say no when she needs to, even if it isn't easy. She has given her spirited babe love wholeheartedly and deeply, rather than resenting the challenges she sometimes brings.

I find one of the most amazing but subtle gifts of motherhood to be the confidence we gain by standing strong in our instincts and values.

The experience of carrying, growing, and bringing a child into this world, (or of working so hard and waiting patiently as you ride the adoption roller-coaster) makes you more aware than ever of your innate strength, of the wisdom of your creation, and the power that you hold within you.

Even before a child ever arrives, we are inundated with "shoulds" and "rules" and the "wisdom" of the well meaning public. It is hard work to build strength to accept the loving intentions of others, while releasing our guilt of going against all the advice that just doesn't fit with our children or our homes.

Support is so vital to gaining that strength, and thankfully Amber has an amazing husband who provides balance to her anxieties and assurance of the wisdom of her instincts. She has a mother close at hand who has been in her shoes many times over, and uses that wisdom to build up rather than to dictate or critique.

Spending time with Amber and her little darling was such a reminder of how distant that time already feels. That time of being at home, way out here in the bush, alone with my first baby, at that age where she needed constant stimulation. That feeling of overwhelming boredom and love.

It was hard for me to feel like an adequate mother when I am just not that good at being entertaining. It is hard work for me to be ON all the time. I am a quiet listener, a soulful conversationalist, and a lover of peaceful time outdoors and contemplative creation.

I adore everything about toddlers, their sweet cuddles and precious giggles, their wispy hairs and dimpled fingers, their chubby legs and silly dances. In small doses, they are a breath of fresh air, of joy and possibility. Even so, toddlers are not my kindred spirits, and I am okay with that. Motherhood doesn't always come easy or naturally, every stage holds it's own blessings and challenges. That toddler that I so struggled to entertain, she ended up my exact replica, quietly colouring at all hours of the day, soulfully caring for her younger siblings, and imaginatively creating new worlds for them to enjoy.

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Sometimes we don't sleep, our hair gets pulled, and even our bodies are not our own. Sometimes we make concessions to our preconceived notions of ideal motherhood. Sometimes we realize that we were once the ones judging the way that we now feel judged.

Sometimes we move past that all. Sometimes we accept our own choices and embrace our own strength. Sometimes we take comfort in knowing that we are more equipped than ever to handle what this world will throw at us.

Sometimes we release our judgements of ourselves and of others, and the world is a better place for it.

 

I am proud to support and share the real stories of local mommas. Are you enjoying the 20 Mothers Project? Care to share your own story and have your everyday moments documented? The project is still accepting applications, just head on over and fill out the short form.

Baby Tyler at 6 months

I really enjoy these quick little sessions to capture the little ones growing and changing. They seem like entirely new people every three months when we capture another little slice of their lives. Here is the next little peek at baby Tyler growing and changing.