Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Collaborate with me!


The journey so far. 29 amazing women sharing what motherhood means to them. 

The idea for the motherhood portrait series came to me while sat under a beach umbrella with a notepad in the heat of the Christmas holidays. It felt right immediately but I didn't anticipate just how much the project would evolve. It's been amazing and something I continue to be so grateful for. The secret I've realised, has been in the honest and real connections with people along the way. I've shared a cuppa and talked about personal motherhood experiences with women I've only just met. I've had beautiful, intimate conversations with existing family and friends that I may never have had otherwise.

Despite having delivered a new portrait and profile, mostly on time, every week so far this year *self high five* I certainly don't have 52 mothers lined up and ready to go. 29 portraits published, 23 to go and I'm totally winging it!

So, if you've been following along (thank you!) and wondered what it might be like to share your story here, I'd really love to hear from you.

I'm based in Sydney and am willing to travel across this town, where possible. I'm also planning to be in Melbourne in August and Las Vegas + New York City in late August/early September. If you would like to collaborate with me on the motherhood portrait series this year - let's chat!

I've just fixed the blog comments settings (thanks to those who flagged the issues!) so it should be loads easier for you to leave a note below. Otherwise feel free to email me directly or PM via the Elsie and Joan facebook page.

Belinda x

Sunday, 20 July 2014

29:52 : Valerie


52 Portraits - the Motherhood series. 
A portrait to celebrate motherhood, once a week, every week, in 2014.

Valerie invited me into her home this morning. We sat down to a fresh pot of tea and plate of sweets. She offered me my first taste of Indian sweet meat, picked up on a recent trip to Sydney. She's quick to smile and her laugh is infectious, lighting up the room around her with her warmth and down to earth nature. 

Mother to grown up children Natalie, Paul, Jacinta and son-in-law Damien, grandmother to Isabelle, Harrison and Ruby. Valerie married at 24 and welcomed Natalie two years later. In 1975, the young family emigrated from South Africa to Australia. Valerie trained and worked as a general nurse, midwife and operating theatre nurse, however as their family grew she made the choice to stay home with her children until they had all started school. Valerie was fortunate to have a strong maternal influence in her life. Her mother was a dedicated teacher who worked tirelessly for her students. Setting an early example to Valerie of the commitment required when choosing a profession in which people depend on you. Since her mother worked full time, Valerie’s grandmother was her primary carer until she started school. She was a strong and independent woman and they shared a close connection. Despite having lived through two world wars, the Depression and being widowed at 36, she was always able to see the good in everyone. Valerie describes her as the first feminist in her life. Warm, creative and socially aware, she worked actively for various charity projects within her community throughout her whole life. She was humble lady too, Valerie laughed telling me of the time her grandmother was recognised at an event for her efforts but refused to go up on stage to accept the award, instead preferring to downplay the attention.

Valerie is truly the embodiment of these two incredible women. Her global and social perspectives and deep sense of responsibility drives her continued involvement with charities. Fundraising, volunteering and supporting medical teams that are making significant differences both in her local community and in countries like South Africa and India. I could tell from our few hours together that she would make the best kind of friend and colleague. But it’s her insights on motherhood that really moved me. She tells me how grateful she is to share a close relationship with her children. She believes that children are a gift to be loved but never owned. That from the from the day they are born we have to let go a little bit every day because an overprotected child becomes an under prepared adult. That all children need is love and your time. 

I asked her about the most surprising thing she has experienced as a mother -

"The best and most surprising thing I have experienced was on the saddest day of my life. It was at my husband"s memorial service. Not only did all three my children and my granddaughter surprise me by standing up and paying tribute in front of a few hundred people but the sentiment and love and admiration they expressed blew me away. I did not realise until then how appreciative they were of the upbringing they had had. We had done something right.”

Indeed. Valerie and I spent a few lovely hours chatting and sharing stories, as I left I felt grateful to have met this fascinating, endearing and remarkable woman.

Participating in the 52 Portraits series project led by Jodi at Practising Simplicity. You can view all of my portraits from 2013/14 by clicking on the 52 Portrait Series links in the right sidebar of this page.

In case you're wondering about the inspiration for this year's Motherhood portrait series, you can read more about it here.

Belinda x

Monday, 14 July 2014

28/52 : Gabrielle


52 Portraits - the Motherhood series. 
A portrait to celebrate motherhood, once a week, every week, in 2014.

1997. The year we lost Biggie Smalls and Lady Diana. The year Prince Michael Jackson was born and Stuart Diver survived the Thredbo landslide disaster. The movie Titanic and the Nintendo 64 were first released and "No Aphrodisiac" by The Whitlams was the #1 song on Triple J’s Hottest 100. It was also the year Gab met Sam. And they’ve been pretty much inseparable ever since. They were married after nine years together, enjoying life as a young couple eating out and travelling the world. Once they decided they were ready to start a family, the journey wasn’t as smooth as they had hoped. Three years later, their son Fraser (4) made it worth the wait. Marissa (19mths) or Missy as she is known completes this loving family of four. Gab tells me she can remember being surprised at the intensity of the love she felt when her babies arrived. She counts watching their spirited and affectionate personalities emerge as one of the best things about motherhood and hopes that she and Sam can help steer them to become kind and compassionate people who are confident and content in themselves. A consistent theme that I hear from mothers is the high expectation they tend to place on themselves, despite the fact everyone is learning on the job! Each day Gab tries to remind herself to simply be present and fun.

Aside from a 10 month stint working part time before Marissa was born, Gab has been able to stay at home with the kids. Having seen how challenging it was to integrate work and home schedules, she holds such admiration for mums who work full time. Now that the kids are a little older, she’s been considering a return to part time work. A decision bolstered by the fact that her own mother literally lives up the street and is always available and willing to help out. Gab was especially close to her Nan and remembers her home as a warm, safe and inviting place. Always filled with their favourite treats! In turn, Gab has delighted in seeing her children start to build their own special relationships with their Nanna. 

Participating in the 52 Portraits series project led by Jodi at Practising Simplicity. You can view all of my portraits from 2013/14 by clicking on the 52 Portrait Series links in the right sidebar of this page.

In case you're wondering about the inspiration for this year's Motherhood portrait series, you can read more about it here.

Belinda x

Sunday, 6 July 2014

27/52 : Nicole


52 Portraits - the Motherhood series. 
A portrait to celebrate motherhood, once a week, every week, in 2014.

Six months ago, Nicole and her partner Alistair became parents to a beautiful baby girl, Mia. Nic and Al first met in high school. They became great friends, even dating for a time. Almost two decades later, their friendship and affection for each other remained strong. Last year, a reunion and a surprise pregnancy saw Al make the decision to move from his home in Western Australia to Sydney, committed to becoming a father and a partner to Nic. They’ve since created a wonderfully happy home and the new family is madly in love. Together their lives have gone through a significant amount of change in the last year yet there’s a deep sense of calm and serendipity. Beholden to Mia who, by choosing them as parents, has brought them so much joy.

Nic has always had a way of bringing people together. She’s entertaining, thoughtful and loyal. She’s a friend you can count on. Since becoming a mother, she’s having to reconcile the fact that she doesn’t have the time she once had to give. It’s quite an adjustment and Nic worries about letting people down. Then there’s mother guilt and pondering how she’ll manage everything when she returns to work in a few months. One of the things Nic is most grateful for is her relationship with her mother. They are best mates and live in separate residences of the same property. Nic describes her mum as the most selfless woman she knows and cherishes having her support on a daily basis. As a first time mum, Nic believes there's alot to be gained by seeking guidance from other women and sharing experiences. But always comes back to advice passed down from her Nan and her mum - to do whatever works for your family in your home. One thing she knows for sure, is that she loves every single day with her baby girl.

Participating in the 52 Portraits series project led by Jodi at Practising Simplicity. You can view all of my portraits from 2013/14 by clicking on the 52 Portrait Series links in the right sidebar of this page.

In case you're wondering about the inspiration for this year's Motherhood portrait series, you can read more about it here.

Belinda x
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