#MoreThanAMutha is all about celebrating the things that women are, as well as being amazing mothers. In a world where many women feel like they lose their identity when they become a mum, it is important to celebrate and shout that we might be mums, but we are not only that and we are still a force to be reckoned with.
What makes you more than a mother?
I’m an award-winning family photographer based just outside London and I’ve been photographing people for nearly 9 years now! I love capturing priceless memories for my clients and photographing their everyday life in a beautiful, authentic way. I’m lucky I get a look into how different families live and work and it really gives me a lot of perspective in life! I am also passionate about teaching parents and business owners how to take better photos – whether on their DSLR camera or with their smartphone, and currently developing an online course about just that.
Are people surprised when they realise you are more than a mum? Does that bother you?
I don’t think they are, but you’d have to ask them! I guess they might, but I do take pretty awesome pictures and mutual friends will often point that out to new acquaintances and that will then lead onto more in-depth conversations about what I do! Also being an introvert I quite often “meet” people online first, whether they are a client who’d found my website, or a fellow business owner, so they’ve already had a chance to immerse themselves into my world and find out more about me way before we actually meet.
What challenges do you face when you’re juggling motherhood and being more than a mum?
My son is home educated so that’s a pretty big one. Trying to run a business from home while having a chatterbox sitting next to you asking questions about anything from how long does it take to fly to Mars to what happens when we die can be pretty exhausting mentally! We also don’t have any family living nearby so have to rely on paid childcare, good friends, or taking turns with my other half, which means we have very little time together as a family, and that’s been pretty challenging.
In 2014 I’ve also been diagnosed with an autoimmune condition called Graves disease which basically means my body is attacking itself and can leave me extremely weak and tired, with racing heart and pretty horrible brain fog. On my worst day even going up the stairs to my bedroom seems like an impossible task. Over the past few years my symptoms have gradually gotten better through medication and diet, and I’ve learned to manage the condition but it can still catch me out sometimes, when I least expect it!
How long did it take you to remember you were more than a mother after you had your child(ren)?
Not long! I already had my business when I had my son (who is now 7 years old) and I’ve had clients waiting for me to return to work, so I started photographing again when he was just 4 months old. I really wanted to be a mum, but I also always knew I wanted to work and be more than “just” a mother (but to be honest, I don’t think any of us are “just” mums!). In my head I had this idea of a superwoman effortlessly juggling work and motherhood but of course the reality then hit when my baby did not sleep through the night for over 2 years! But that’s a whole different story.
Who, or what, helps you to make time for yourself? What do you do to escape the stresses of motherhood?
We live pretty far away from our families so finding alone time is difficult when there are no grandparents around to help, but we manage! I have a pretty amazing group of home educating friends that are always happy to take my son for a playdate or a sleepover to give me time off, an awesome childminder, and even though it took my husband a few years to finally understand it, I now know I can just tell him that I need a break and clear my head and go sit in a cafe for an hour, and he’ll totally get it.
I could say that falling ill with Graves’ has been a blessing in disguise as it really pushed me to pay attention to myself and listen to my body. I know that if I don’t look after myself things will deteriorate pretty quickly and I’ll be a horrible, tired and stressed out mother, and who needs that, right?
Another thing that I love doing is travelling, and it really helps me get my groove back, both as a mother, and as a creative person. Even if we are travelling as a family, seeing new places (and taking photos of them), changing pace of life for a few days or a few weeks really helps me refresh. Even if it’s just jumping into the car to spend a couple of hours on a beach in the summer and feel the salty breeze my my hair, it all helps!
What advice would you offer a mum who might not be feeling like they are more than someones mum right now?
Motherhood can be all-consuming, especially in those early weeks and months, and it may sometimes feel like you’re missing out on other things, but I would say just stop comparing yourself to others and just enjoy the ride! It may seem like other people have it all perfectly together and doing all those amazing things, but you have no way of knowing what really goes on behind the scenes, so don’t be too harsh on yourself for not being able to do it all. When it’s time and you’re ready, everything will fall into place.
Any advice for someone who is going through the same things as you are right now in their quest to be #MoreThanAMutha?
It’s a crazy ride but it’s worth it. I always feel like not only it’s important for me to work and be creative and do other things, but it’s equally important for my son to see his mother working and enjoying her work.
Also – look after yourself and your health. It’s really tempting to try and do everything, but your body will crash if you abuse it too much, and trust me it’s not fun when it happens. So take time to rest, eat healthily, manage stress and exercise (even if it’s just going for a walk around the block).
And don’t forget, none of us has it together!
Are you #MoreThanAMutha? Get in touch to share your story.