Monday, 8 December 2014

36: Lucy

Portraits : The Motherhood series.

When Ollie (4) and Harry (2) were born, both boys immediately stopped crying when they were placed on Lucy's chest. Upon hearing her voice, they opened their eyes and stared intently back at their mother. This instant knowing caught Lucy by surprise, the bond of motherhood recognised immediately, forever seared into her memory.

As a girl, Lucy would often daydream about her future children. She grew up in a very loving and nurturing household. A strong maternal influence from her mother and grandmother and close bonds within her immediate and extended family. Her eyes light up when she talks about them. There was never any question in her mind about one day creating a family of her own but with her mother always having championed the importance of independence, education and travel before settling down, Lucy took her advice to heart. First completing a social work degree, followed by work as a nanny during a two year stint in London then retraining as a primary teacher upon returning to Australia.

Lucy met her husband Matt in England and together they settled in Sydney. They loved the inner city lifestyle, but when Harry arrived they made the decision to simplify and move their young family to the country. A move that brought them back to the community that Lucy grew up in and where many of her family still reside. Having family and support nearby as they resettle and renovate their dream family home has been a huge benefit. Her boys are enjoying close relationships with their grandparents and extended family, just as she did growing up. 

Hearing from readers never gets tired. It's still a thrill to know people read your blog and find your work meaningful. When Lucy first reached out to me she had such kind words of encouragement, I was truly touched. Then a little while later, a lovely twist of fate meant I found myself in her neighbourhood and graciously welcomed into her beautiful home. I absolutely loved getting to know Lucy and her family. She is down to earth, passionate, funny and generous. She's an affectionate and thoughtful mother to her boys, listening to their unique personalities and needs. Her biggest piece of advice being to enjoy your children. Motherhood is riddled with guilt, trying to meet expectations can be overwhelming. She has enjoyed reading to her boys every day since they were born, stopping to simply enjoy them and focusing on the positive has been incredibly liberating.

You can view all of my portraits from 2013/14 by clicking on the Portrait Series links in the right sidebar of this page.


Belinda x

Sunday, 2 November 2014

35: Vesna


Portraits : The Motherhood series.

As you can see, Vesna has a smile that can light up a room. She’s gracious and has a great sense of humour. She also carries a fierce determination. Something she attests to the influence of her mother Sonia. Despite having faced a great deal of adversity in her life, Sonia has always found the strength, resilience and willingness to overcome and be there for her children. Vesna is passionate about her family and considers herself ’the luckiest person on earth' to have them.

As Vesna told me about her journey to motherhood, the lessons about the effects of stress, there was so much that I could relate to. Trying to do it all, meeting expectations, getting the job done. The catch is trying do it all, without acknowledgement that your whole body has to share the load. It’s not just about mental fortitude, the physical impacts can be both alarming and humbling. 

In keeping an open mind, doing alot of independent research and making educated decisions on what path was right for her, Vesna and her husband Russell were overjoyed to welcome their first child, a son Levi almost a year ago. She describes the moment of being embraced by her husband whilst holding their newborn son as an overwhelming feeling of unconditional love that she'll never forget.

You can view all of my portraits from 2013/14 by clicking on the Portrait Series links in the right sidebar of this page.

Belinda x

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Radio Silence


Goodness me, it's been a while.

Sorry for the radio silence. I actually can’t believe it's been two months since my last post. The initial reason for the hiatus was a three week trip to the US. I had been trying desperately to have have some motherhood portraits lined up before I left so that the series would publish on schedule each week whilst I was away. But shoots fell through and plans changed at the last minute and when I finally let go of the pressure I was placing on myself, I realised that I needed a break from it all anyway.

The motherhood portrait series has been such a wonderful project for me. I’m grateful for the stories that I have been able to share. Honest portraits of women offering their unique and collective perspectives has made the series so rewarding. It's been the creative discipline I needed this year, a welcome distraction from bigger worries. But it’s certainly been alot more work than I originally anticipated, hence the lack of personal blog posts this year.

I feel like it's been an age since I had a conversation with you guys. I miss it. So I’m going to try and find a balance. I’ll continue to post regular motherhood portraits to finish what I started, but the weekly pace just isn’t sustainable for me anymore. I’d like some breathing room to simply write, take photos for the love of it and explore other creative ideas. 

I have more beautiful motherhood portraits to share with you and I’ll share more of what’s been happening around here too. In the meantime, thank you so much for your patience and support. It means the world to me.

Belinda x

Monday, 25 August 2014

34: Louise


Portraits - the Motherhood series.

Louise and Tim are parents to Jack (almost 16), Eilish (13) and Tom (11). It wasn’t so long ago that the house was a blur of toys and sight words with Lou describing those early years as a bit like treading water. Motherhood was busy work in meeting the needs of three young children. As the kids have grown, they continue to develop their individual personalities and test boundaries but these days they're much more able to interact and help out. Life is busy with friends, family and community activities, school eisteddfods and choosing HSC subjects. Lou continues to encourage and guide them in what they want out of life, often enjoying her role as taxi driver as it gives them a chance to connect without distractions.

Louise and I were in her kitchen chatting over a beautiful pot of green tea when her kids arrived home from school. Between ravenous bites of sticky finger bun and school news were pirouettes across the kitchen floor and hugs for their mum. I think I must have been particularly shy/moody teenager, I remember stopping only for pleasantries before making a beeline for my room if ever my parents friends were over. Instead, they each offered smiles and chatter, confident, articulate and lovely to be around.

All three children are creative in their own ways and the house is always filled with music. In rare moments of down time, Louise also loves to create. Starting out with scrap booking, she has since moved into mixed media and photography. She literally has canvases piling up her in craft/dining room, creating more pieces than she knows what to do with! Lou has also recently returned to university to further her nursing credentials. She dreams of one day working in developing countries supporting mothers and children in health care and education. Lou feels a new chapter in motherhood approaching. Despite sometimes wanting to press pause, with life so full, she knows to cherish each stage as it comes and goes.

You can view all of my portraits from 2013/14 by clicking on the Portrait Series links in the right sidebar of this page.

Belinda x

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

33: Licia


Portraits - the Motherhood series.

Hearing a little voice say "Mummy, I love you more than 1000 rainbows” while being tucked in for the night. Witnessing the pure and unbridled approach that kids take to learning, the joy in simply hearing the answer to their many questions. It’s the unexpected, quietly luminescent moments like these that sum up the best of motherhood for Licia. 

Wife to her great love Sean and mother to Jude (5) and Leo (2), Licia is thoughtful and generous. Her drive and strength shine through when talking about things she's passionate about - family, education and social justice. Licia has found that working part time has helped to provide a balance for her kids between feeling stable at home, and finding a path for themselves outside of the home. It isn’t easy and making it work relies heavily on a supportive partner and work environment but it was important to her that her boys see their Mum enjoying a professional career too. 

Licia draws on the examples set by her mother daily, repeating things learned by osmosis from her own childhood. Licia describes her mother as consistent, understanding and loving, but she was also the boss! There wasn’t any expectation about being best friends but she was there for her unconditionally. Her mother provided the safety net or the shoulder to cry on whenever it was needed but she also gave her room to learn and do things for herself. Licia tries to do the same thing now for her boys. Licia says that one of the biggest lessons was following her instincts as a Mother. Noting that this doesn't often come naturally but with time.

"As a new mother, I would follow everyone else's advice except the little voice in my head. But, with time, I realised the little voice was drawing on a lot of experience, ie. how I'd been raised and my Mother's approach. If I turned out ok, the little voice deserved a chance and it's been easier to back myself ever since."

You can view all of my portraits from 2013/14 by clicking on the Portrait Series links in the right sidebar of this page.

Belinda x

Sunday, 10 August 2014

32: Wendy


Portraits - the Motherhood series. 

In 1993, Wendy had recently moved from Argentina to Australia. She was rocking a perm and had been introduced by a mutual friend to an older guy at her high school. Anthony was tall, dark and handsome, had his drivers licence and a red Holden Camira. From the moment they met, Wendy says she knew he was the one for her. Before long, he invited her for an ice cream after school. Their first date culminated in a romantic kiss by the local pools and that was it, they were in love. Five years later, they were married and set about building a life together. They've been together sixteen years now with two young boys aged eight and one. Wendy tells me they've always walked the path together, sharing the same goals in life. Their home is full of reminders of their family milestones and adventures. They are a family that loves to travel, their next holiday is always in the planning.

Wendy describes her mother as a passionate, loyal and ambitious woman. Her father loves to cook and entertain, Wendy describes him as fearless and creative. Both always encouraged her to follow her dreams. Wendy is driven and has a very strong work ethic. She also loves being a homemaker and loves to entertain, she can seriously throw a party! Wendy is incredibly thoughtful and sentimental. There is such a sense of genuine pride and gratitude for the gift of being mother to her two sons. Her dedicated scrapbooking and journaling document their memories and provide treasured keepsakes. Each page is lovingly detailed and heartfelt, she doesn't take single a moment for granted.

You can view all of my portraits from 2013/14 by clicking on the Portrait Series links in the right sidebar of this page.

Belinda x

Sunday, 3 August 2014

31: Patricia


Portraits - the Motherhood series.

When Pat was twelve years old in the Philippines, her mother saw that their country was on the brink of a civil war. She applied to Australia for residency and managed to relocate her young family just as the conflict started to heat up. A huge decision that meant leaving behind friends, family and life as they knew it. Pat says they experienced a culture shock for a good few years but her mother’s resolve to always 'prepare for the worst' was only ever to ensure the best future for her family. Her mother’s guidance continues to be something that Pat draws upon. On the day of her dad’s funeral, her mother stopped her and confided "all I want for you to do is to find someone who loves you as much as your dad loved me”.  A sentiment that resonates with her to this day. 

Pat and Chris first met in high school. He was keen from the beginning but she missed all the signals, originally trying to set him up with friends until he finally confessed his true feelings. They’ve since been together for sixteen years and married for eight. After five years of trying to conceive they finally got their biggest wish, a beautiful girl named Natasha who is the absolute light of their lives. Pat describes Chris as the most fantastic husband and doting father. Motherhood has been a lesson in relinquishing control, going with the flow and trusting intuition. Pat’s also found that becoming a mother puts a different perspective on what’s important. She’s grateful that her relationship with her sister is closer than it ever has been since they both became mothers themselves.

Pat is funny, generous and easily one of the most stylish people I’ve ever met, so it comes as no surprise that she loves to shop. She’s also an avid reader, downloading and reading a couple of books a week (!) While thoroughly enjoying her time as a stay at home mum, Pat’s been cultivating a small business idea that lends itself beautifully to her creative and driven personality. Her mother’s influence can be seen in her strength and courage of conviction. Pat’s loving the journey of motherhood and is passionate about being a good mum, by her own definitions. 

You can view all of my portraits from 2013/14 by clicking on the Portrait Series links in the right sidebar of this page.

Belinda x

Sunday, 27 July 2014

30: Laura



Portraits - the Motherhood series.

The scene of this week’s post is set squarely under the dusty lights of nostalgia. Laura and I went to high school together. We go back decades. We’ve stayed in touch over the years thanks to social media, but the last time we saw each other was ten years ago at a reunion. This motherhood project provided a catalyst for us to catch up in person, bring each other up to speed on our respective lives and regale each other the legendary stories of our youth that have been told and retold so many times before. When we all made it to the revered legal drinking age, the local pub was where you could find just about anyone you knew. It was during this heady time that Laura and Mick found themselves working together at our local. After a few years of friendship, they became a couple. Seven years later they were married. They now have two children, Isabella and Joshua, and are intent on providing a solid and supportive childhood based on love and respect. When Mick took the plunge to start his own business four years ago, Laura threw herself into staying home with the kids. Helping out at Bella’s primary school and coaching the netball team keeps her busy. Josh starts school next year which means there may soon be room to do something for herself. A prospect she’s excited about.

Laura’s eyes light up when she speaks of her kids, describing Bella as a princess and Joshy as the entertainer of the family. She tells me she gets through everything by trusting her instincts and trying not to worry about the expectations of other people. Laura had quite a traumatic experience with her firstborn and in the subsequent months, experienced debilitating anxiety and depression. Overcoming this time with the unwavering support of her husband and her mother. Laura counts her mum as her greatest support and the saving grace who stepped in and helped them all make it through those dark times. Nothing, she says, can ever prepare you for motherhood. It changes you and nothing can compare to the unconditional love you feel.

You can view all of my portraits from 2013/14 by clicking on the 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

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: Valerie


Portraits - the Motherhood series.

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.

You can view all of my portraits from 2013/14 by clicking on the 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: Gabrielle


Portraits - the Motherhood series.

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. 

You can view all of my portraits from 2013/14 by clicking on the 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: Nicole


Portraits - the Motherhood series.

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.

You can view all of my portraits from 2013/14 by clicking on the 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, 29 June 2014

26: Victoria


Portraits - the Motherhood series.

I met with Victoria, a registered nurse and her daughter Samantha at a beachside cafe. It was a Saturday morning and she hadn’t yet been to bed after a night shift caring for special needs babies. It became clear right away that Victoria doesn’t sit idle for too long. She chooses to be present, always seeking out something new to do, see or experience. Quite honestly, she is FUN to be around!

Married thirty four years, Victoria met her husband when they were teenagers. Together they have four children (Rebecca, Christopher, Samantha, Jessica) who are now starting families of their own. Whilst she has very fond memories of her grandparents, Victoria admits that her relationship with her own mother isn’t close. She tells me she can count the times her mother joined her childhood activities growing up on one hand. As a result, Victoria’s approach to motherhood has been a conscious choice to get involved, to cherish and nurture the individual personalities of each of her kids. It was beautiful to watch Victoria and Sam together. There were countless hugs and laughs, an easy love between them. Her eyes light up at the mention of her grandchildren. It’s important to her to be the grandparent they want to visit and spend time with, that they create beautiful memories like she has of her own.

Victoria (rightfully) refers to motherhood as a career, rewarding, challenging and sometimes not very pleasant. But seeing her children grow up to be happy, productive members of their communities, it’s a career she is truly grateful for. We spoke about modern motherhood, how complicated it seems to have become. It can be overwhelming to navigate all of the information available to parents today. Victoria says in her experience, if it felt right for her and her family, then it generally was. Encouraged by the support of her family, she’s currently writing a book with the hope that it will provide more parents the permission to simply enjoy their little ones as they grow up. 

Her biggest piece of advice?

"Enjoy the moments – the years go by too fast and they will be all grown up before you know it!"

You can view all of my portraits from 2013/14 by clicking on the 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, 22 June 2014

25: Samantha


Portraits - the Motherhood series. 

Aurora. The beautiful latin word for dawn. The unmistakable signal of promise. Hope. 

Sammy grew up in Glasgow, Scotland. She hails from an impressive lineage of intrepid women that undoubtedly shaped the woman she has become. Her “Nana in Glasgow” raised four daughters with her husband away at sea, serving in the second world war. Her own mother’s independent nature has been hugely influential. Instilling a sense of seeing the positive in every situation, that the opportunities and challenges in life are to be met with purpose and courage.

After independently migrating to Australia from the UK, Sammy met her English partner Mike through mutual friends in Sydney nine years ago. Together they share an adventurous spirit. Both are most at home by the sea or in the mountains. After two years together they decided to put themselves and their relationship to the test by attempting to sail across the Pacific. They bought a 41 foot sailing boat in Panama and sailed double handed from Central America to Australia. A journey that relied on inner fortitude as well as the strength of their partnership. In return they share some incredible memories. They visited some of the most remote and uninhabited idyllic islands in the world and witnessed countless natural wonders. Then there was the time they narrowly avoided catastrophe. Their mast snapping 10ft above deck which brought the rigging crashing down into the sea. When they finally sailed into the heads of Sydney harbour some fifteen months after leaving Panama, on a glorious winters day with humpback whales breaching as if heralding their return, the elation and pride was palpable.

In their journey to start a family, Mike and Sammy have been through alot. Last year, Sammy birthed their firstborn at just twenty weeks due to complications with the pregnancy. In her own words -

"I held Holly in my arms for a few very precious hours. She was so tiny but was so perfectly formed and so very beautiful. It was truly amazing. I can’t describe the love I felt and still do for her. I won’t get to see her grow up or “mother” her in the way that mothers celebrate motherhood but I celebrate it in my own way. I am a mother to a beautiful little girl called Holly. I feel so very lucky to have had Holly and to experience even for a short period of time, the utmost joy...  I have to thank my wonderful Mum and grandmother for all their insights to life with it's joys and tribulations. It’s kept me positive through this whole experience and has also given me hope. "

To me, it's imperative that this portrait project honours all of the collective experiences of motherhood.  Each is unique, special, brave and important. This week I am especially honoured and grateful to Sammy for trusting me with sharing hers.

You can view all of my portraits from 2013/14 by clicking on the 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, 15 June 2014

24: Cindy


Portraits - the Motherhood series.

Cindy is married and a mother of two children, Arminka Axelle (five) and Elke Seraphine (one). We met briefly at the Big Hearted Business conference but her openness and honesty illuminated a strong sense of self and deep commitment to independent thought and living consciously. Cindy is passionate about creating a healthy world in which we take care of those less fortunate, eradicate inequality, and are careful caretakers of this planet. Cindy tells me it took her several years to reconcile being a mother and her wish to work. It was important to her to continue working "for my own satisfaction, financial independence and security, and to light the way for my daughters and all daughters". As with so many women, the challenge is finding the way to do this with young children that works best for you and your family. In motherhood, Cindy’s approach is largely intuitive. She draws upon the collective experience and guidance of those around her and believes in treating her daughters with the same level of respect and regard that she expects to receive. Embracing them as individuals, loving them unconditionally and providing them with an environment that helps them grow into the best version of themselves. While raising her children has highlighted her own insecurities and weaknesses, these insights in turn have championed her strengths and willingness to grow and learn.

You can view all of my portraits from 2013/14 by clicking on the 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, 9 June 2014

23: Louise


Portraits - the Motherhood series.

Lou and I met around the time she started dating Andrew. They've since been married twelve years and have two daughters. They're a great team. Lou tells me Andrew was an amazing dad from the very first minute. Confident and hands on, putting her initial nervousness at ease. With three brothers herself, Lou always wished for a sister so she's delighted that her daughters have that in each other. Whilst feeling like she's learning this motherhood gig on the job, she's acutely aware of the responsibility in raising girls. To be good people and kind friends, encouraging a healthy attitude to eating, body image and exercise. Lou has recently taken on challenges like boot camp, obstacle courses and fun runs. She hopes that her girls take something from these accomplishments; "it may not mean much to them now but maybe they will look back and think that was pretty cool mum did all that in her 40s!"

Working part time in a corporate industry, there has been pressure at times to return to full time work. But so far she's been able to take the path that feels right for her family first and foremost. Lou is also blessed with a close relationship with her mum. They live streets away from each other and as a result, she has a wealth of information and baby whispering on tap, and her girls have a wonderful bond with their grandmother. Lou also raves about her mothers group. Having originally met by chance, it’s amazing to think that nine of them remain close friends many years later. Nine women with twenty two children between them, without ever any competition just a wonderful support network. They've been through so much together and Lou describes their friendships as striking gold. No doubt the rest of the group think the same thing about Lou, she's such a lovely friend. Funny, articulate, thoughtful and kind.

You can view all of my portraits from 2013/14 by clicking on the 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

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

22: Tamara



Portraits - the Motherhood series.

Tamara and I met for an early morning walk through secret gardens by the harbour. After completing the 50km Sydney Coastrek event earlier this year, walking has become her her sanity break. Gentle exercise and some quiet time to clear her mind and press reset. She’s also very passionate about food and cooking. As we walked in the crisp morning air she admired the lemon trees and talked of desserts. After discovering that her eldest required a gluten free diet she and her family have been on a journey to clean foods. Knowing Tamara through work, it's not surprising to me that within her passions lie themes of nourishment. Her nature is warm and wholehearted. Maternal.

Tamara and her husband Ian have been married almost thirteen years. Theirs was a whirlwind storybook romance. They met in Las Vegas and within ten months Tamara took a leap of faith moving from Sydney to New Zealand to be with him. The following New Years Eve, they were married. Whilst they always knew they wanted to have children, Tamara and Ian cherished married life together for five years as a couple before starting their family. They now have three beautiful children, with equally beautiful names. Hugo, Neve and Jude. Tamara adored the newborn stages, savouring it especially with her third, son Jude. By then she'd learnt to trust her instincts more, in turn she feels she has become a better mother. She also credits her tight knit support group of friends as 'sanity savers' through the early years, all with children born within weeks and months of her own. 
As her children grow, Tamara says they can look like her one day and their father the next but she's proud to see their unique personalities emerging and breaking the moulds.

Finally Tamara describes the almost physical reaction she had towards her parents when first becoming a mother:

"you immediately realise what your own parents did for you when you become a first time mother & father, it almost hits you in the face!!! So thanks mum and dad!"

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, 25 May 2014

21: Merope


Portraits - the Motherhood series. 

"I'm forever changed." A powerful description of her motherhood experience. Merope, known to many as Mep, is articulate, thoughtful and composed. Much akin to her mother Geraldine, I sense a quiet resolve and strength. She cherishes being able to stay at home with her kids and is completing an early childhood degree online full time. Mep met her husband Alex at the Loop bar in London twelve years ago. Before long they were dating and have rarely spent a night apart since. After seven years, they welcomed the arrival of their first son, Kai. Mep describes her firstborn as an inquisitive soul who seems wild on the outside but is the most sensitive and thoughtful little man underneath. When Kai was fifteen months old, Mep and Alex were married in a beautiful celebration by the sea here in Sydney. Shortly after on Kai's second birthday, Mep discovered she was pregnant. She prayed to have a girl or twins. She tells me that she was genuinely afraid that she could never love another little boy anywhere near as much as she loved Kai. When Axel was born, that fear melted away and they were all instantly smitten. The boys adore each other which makes Mep crumble each and everyday. 

"I feel extremely blessed to have two beautiful, healthy little men who teach me about myself, love, the world they see and everything in between. They remind me to slow down, enjoy the little things and just be happy 'being' in the moment."

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

20: Geraldine



Portraits - the Motherhood series. 

Geraldine tells me she considers it a privilege to have been blessed with three children and now four grandchildren. She is a registered nurse and raised her children while doing full time shift work and night duty. It's a wonder she found any time to sleep in fifteen years! These days Geraldine helps prepare patients for surgery and works in an operating theatre. Her selfless and generous nature is a constant source of inspiration to her family. Her daughter Merope describes her as loving, enthusiastic, empathic and resilient. Although I do have it on good authority that pulling the old sick card to get out of school was more of a challenge in their household than most.

Sadly Geraldine's mother died at just 51 years of age. She was a great source of support in those early nursing days and Geraldine is grateful that her children were able to meet her. Geraldine cherishes the time she spends with her grandchildren. She moves mountains for them and hopes that they will always know how much they are loved and appreciated. 

You can view all of my portraits from 2013/14 by clicking on the 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, 19 May 2014

19: Dorothy


Portraits - the Motherhood series.

According to Irish lore, women proposing marriage on a leap year is considered good luck. Dorothy met her husband John at a wedding. But it was a year later in a Dublin pub that they became a couple. Dorothy jokes that they would still be dating now if she didn't take matters into her own hands. After five years, she bought herself a ring and proposed on February 29. 

Dorothy, John and their lovely daughter Laura (5) arrived in Australia from Ireland four years ago. Dorothy works part time as a Pharmacist and says the best thing about her job is the connection to people in the community. She's generous, very family oriented and cares deeply about people. Dorothy also has a charming sense of humour. She's great fun to be around.

In motherhood, Dorothy has taken many cues from her own mother. She's learned to trust her instincts and not to be intimidated by other parenting styles, instead applying what makes sense for her family. She says the hardest thing to say to your child is no, in order to teach them life long values. Especially since "You would love to buy them the sun, moon and stars" 

You can view all of my portraits from 2013/14 by clicking on the 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

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

18: Ashley


Portraits - the Motherhood series.

Ashley and I were lucky enough to attend the BHB (un)Conference last weekend. I reached out over instagram to see whether any mothers attending would like to participate in my portrait project, and Ashley very graciously obliged. I'm so grateful to her for that, it can be daunting to put yourself out there and she was so kind. It was a weekend illuminated by powerful insights about creativity, business and everything in between. Something that resonated for Ashley in particular was advice from Danielle LaPorte to revoke the word busy and choose to see that our lives are as full as we want them to be. 

Ashley met her husband John at a creative arts camp when they were teenagers. They've now been married for ten years and together have three children, their foster daughter April (12), Molly (7) and Richie (3). An ex-social worker turned writer, Ashley is studying an Associate Degree in Professional Writing and Editing at RMIT and currently writing a fictional story about a a child who has been removed from home. She is passionate about family, motherhood, community and being creative. Her life is certainly full to the brim and happily so. 

"In our experience, even when we have thought life was going to get the better of us we have ridden the wave. Sometimes we cruise to the shore like pro surfers and other times we are dumped. But we still make it back to shore with such fulfilment, having experienced a much broader spectrum of the human experience than if we had've played it safe in the shallows. I've learnt to take risks knowing that the little mistakes along the way make up a much more colourful, vibrant and exciting whole picture. Foster parenting was/is a risk for us. But it is certainly making our family's picture a thing of beauty."

It's a beautiful perspective. Life can get complicated but the rewards add such a richness to life that may otherwise be missing. If you'd like to get to know Ashley better, you can visit her lovely blog here.


You can view all of my portraits from 2013/14 by clicking on the 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, 27 April 2014

17: Michelle


Portraits - the Motherhood series. 

Michelle met her husband Bob at an annual 'Pyjama Jump' university pub crawl twenty years ago. She was wearing pyjamas, he was in a skirt and bra! While proud to be first loves and best friends, getting married was never much of a priority for either of them. Last year however, largely to honour their daughter's request, they surprised us by stealing away to Edinburgh, Scotland for a small and intimate wedding.


At the time of our chat earlier this week, Michelle was working on an essay for her post graduate diploma in Counselling as well as preparing for a children's slumber party. All due this weekend... of course! Michelle has always been interested in pursuing a career as a counsellor but when the opportunity to take that path arose at twenty one, she felt she lacked life experience. It was becoming a mother to her two beautiful children Katie (six) and George (two and a half) that gave Michelle the confidence in her own abilities to enrol in her (soon to be completed!) diploma. I love that motherhood gave her the courage and belief in herself to follow her passion. Through her studies, Michelle has been counselling at a women and children's refuge, providing support to those escaping domestic violence. She is very passionate about advocating and supporting women and their children through this very traumatic and unfortunately common experience. 

When it comes to her kids, she talks of how they teach her patience and selflessness. How days can sometimes be very long and challenging but how fortunate she feels to be home with them. Appreciating the simple things and sharing in their joys and heartaches. 


You can view all of my portraits from 2013/14 by clicking on the 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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