CELEBRATING MOTHERHOOD WITH 6 INSPIRING WOMEN

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Today we take time to celebrate mothers and honour motherhood, maternal bonds and the influence of mothers in society. On this special occasion, we asked six inspiring Australian women to share the valuable lessons they’ve learned on their greatest journey. Happy Mother’s Day x 

LAURA GRZELAK – FOUNDER LINK & LUNA & MAMA TO LINK & FINN (pictured above)

What has surprised you most about motherhood?

My capacity to love! Because of what happened to Link, I really thought I’d struggle to love Finn. There were moments during my pregnancy that I worried if I would be able to love him at all. I loved and longed for Link so much and when he died I was genuinely concerned that I wouldn’t be able to love another baby like him, if at all. In the midst of the newborn haze with Finn, there were a couple of days where I questioned it again. The sleep deprivation and the lack of positive reinforcement (from the baby) prolonged the bonding experience which I didn’t expect because you hear of this blissful “newborn bubble of love” and there were times I just wasn’t feeling it. As soon as he smiled though, MY GOD it hit me. I fell truly, madly, deeply in love, like I did with Link when I laid eyes on him and I haven’t looked back. The love that my heart is capable of was most surprising. That and how relaxed I’ve been and how easily I’ve adapted.

How has your relationship with your body changed after pregnancy and childbirth?

Well during pregnancy I feel my most feminine. I’m naturally a small build so when I put on weight (during pregnancy) and I have more curves, I just feel so much sexier and more confident. After pregnancy my body goes back to being slim and after Link in particular, I just got so skinny. I look back on photos and think I look unhealthy. I’m trying really hard to eat as much as I can this time around so I can try to maintain a healthy weight and not get too small. I have some stretch marks this time around (unlike the first) but I don’t even give it a second thought. I have my rainbow and I’m enormously proud of those scars that serve as a very humbling reminder of what I’ve been through. I would love to one day soon (when my body is ready and able) get my strength back so I can feel more capable in my body and less sore. I respond really well to strength style training, even if it is only once a week (because I’m so lazy when it comes to fitness)

What has this journey into motherhood taught you about yourself?

That I am very judgmental of myself. I know that’s negative but that’s been my biggest lesson thus far. I always knew I was really hard on myself, but having the birth/labour that I had with Finn really bought to the forefront just how harsh I can really be towards myself. I have so much compassion and love and empathy for my son, and he inadvertently has made me realise that I had none of that for myself. It’s really opened my eyes to a brand new (much deeper) level of awareness with regards to self love, or in my case, lack of it. I’m really trying to be conscious of my inner critic and although it will take a lot of hard (and probably never ending) work, I’m enjoying being kinder to myself. It’s so relieving!

What will you teach your son about women one day?

For me personally (as a woman), I’ve struggled the most when I feel disrespected or unheard. If I can teach him to be a good listener & to be respectful of someones boundaries, then whether you’re male or female is irrelevant. But I think it’s easier to lead by example rather than teach and in that case I hope that Finn emulates his father, my husband James. I have never felt so respected, heard, valued, loved or adored as I do since knowing James. The standout difference though, is that he makes me feel empowered. I am a fiery woman and he never tries to dim my light. He’s not threatened by my sparkle. He builds me up he empowers me to shine brighter. I hope that Finn can learn from him.

Can you tell us a great goal or adventure you have planned this year?

My goal for this year is to expand my business. I’d like to offer more variety of products and I’d also like to write some more blogs. I don’t really have any huge personal goals, other than be more proactive as a family with regards to our time. Like making the time to take weekends off together and go camping or exploring not too far from home. Just experience this first year as a family of three making lasting memories together. I think in the future we’d like to head to New Zealand or back to our favourite haunt Bali but we’ll see how things go.

What does your perfect ‘you day’ look like?

It’s hard to imagine a wonderful day without my Finn, but a perfect me day would include a coffee and swim at the beach and then some sort of spa treatment like a massage or facial or even laser (coz, wrinkles. I should probably lay off the beach lol).

SALLY OBERMEDER – TV PRESENTER & MAMA TO ANNABELLE & ELYSSA 

Motherhood is … 

A totally exhausting, exhilarating and exciting rollercoaster ride.

The biggest lesson motherhood has taught you? 

I’ve learnt how to let go and surrender to the universe. I have two different children with two completely different birth stories (I was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer the day before Annabelle was born in 2011 and I had Elyssa via a US surrogate in 2016) and from that in itself, I’ve learnt how to let go and not cling to the ideas of motherhood that are presented to us and that things never turn out the way you think it will. I’ve learnt that no matter what, each child is different and that’s totally okay. We always joke that Annabelle is a vegan because she loves fruit and veggies so much whereas Elyssa is the complete opposite and is basically a carnivore because all she wants to eat is meat, haha! It doesn’t matter what you do or if you raise them the exact same way, kids will always be who unique and the joy is in seeing that unfold.

Can you please impart a golden piece of advice for other mothers?

Resist the temptation to compare yourself or your child to others. It’s hard to do but you have to remember that every mum, child and parenting dynamic is different. Only you know what is right for you and your child so you need to trust yourself. In business, I always say that you have to be your own cheerleader and that it’s not anyone else’s job to cheer you on – it’s your job. I think this can be applied to motherhood as well because if you know that something is right for your child and others don’t necessarily agree, that’s not their job to cheer you on – it’s yours. Trust yourself and know that nothing good ever comes from comparison. I love the saying “comparison is the thief of joy” and that is so true here.

Wellness secret for busy mamas?

This secret actually grew out of my own needs when Annabelle was nearly three years old. I found myself so tired and drained at the end of every day and I needed something that would energise and detox my body. I wanted a green powder that would give me a daily dose of veggies, fruit, probiotics and prebiotics but I couldn’t find anything that actually tasted good. So my sister and business partner, Maha and I decided to create our own Super Green Superfood Powder. It has a blend of over 40 different superfoods and I take one teaspoon a day in a glass of water and it seriously changes how I function everyday. As a mum, it is so easy to fall into the trap of looking after everyone else before myself so not only does this small step take less than one minute everyday but it’s about taking care of myself first because if I’m not 100%, I can’t give 100%. We’ve also recently released a kids version of the powder so for mums who find dinnertime a daily struggle (I hear you!!), this is an absolute lifesaver because I just put a teaspoon in the girls’ drinks and I feel better knowing they’ve had their fruit and veggies for the day!

SAMANTHA GASH – ENDURANCE ATHLETE & MAMA TO HARRY 

Photographed by Ingrid Crimean of Foxbelle Photography.

What has surprised you most about motherhood?

Motherhood has softened me & shifted my focus. I’ve always been goal oriented and in pursuit of those goals I have sometimes displayed a hardened exterior. Unconsciously I would also shut myself off from people & desires that were outside of that goal. Having Harry has awakened me to the core people in my life. I want to be there for those people who are in my corner & most importantly be present to Mark and Harry. I don’t want to miss the in-between moments because my attention is fixated elsewhere.

How has your relationship with your body changed after pregnancy and childbirth? 

I am an endurance athlete and throughout my pregnancy I turned off training mode for races or expeditions & focused on being active for a healthy pregnancy. I am more proud of my body’s ability to create Harry than I am of its ability to run 3258kms across India. I would never have thought I would think that. Six days after having Harry I went for a walk and I couldn’t walk up my very steep driveway. I cried in discomfort and surprise as I slowly inched up the driveway backwards. One week later I had no problems getting up the driveway carrying Harry. Our bodies are incredible and do recover relatively quickly if we feed it with good fuel and self love. I’m so used to training that every now & then I think I’m being lazy. I have to remind myself to enjoy this time where making training gains is not important.  The opportunity to train down the track is plentiful.

What has the journey into motherhood taught you about herself 

That I am more patient, loving and comfortable being a mother than many of the other roles I’ve taken in my life. I am also very lucky to have the women in my life that I can model motherhood from.

What will you teach your son, Harry, about women one day?

I want to expose Harry to women from different religions, races, sizes and sexual orientation. I want him to understand that regardless of what a women looks like or where she comes from she deserves to be treated as an equals and with respect.  I want him to have female role models who are empowered, strong, positive communicators and creative. I would want Harry to have male role models who demonstrate those qualities too.

How has having a baby changed your relationship with your partner?

There has been so many changes. We have to make a conscious effort to have quality “us time” knowing that quantity of that time is less than before. We talk about how important it is to carve out those moment but I notice how hard it is to make them happen right now.

Because of that it is the little things that bind us together. When we look at each other after a tough moment with Harry – or a joyful moment –  it is filled with so much depth. Words aren’t required to convey emotion but we use them to affirm each other. Most mornings Mark takes the time to tell me what a great mama I am for looking after our boy during the night. I constantly tell Mark how natural & caring he is with Harry. We are both more sensitive and at times fragile but we also work harder to resolve conflict and struggle.

Can you tell us a great goal or adventure you have planned this year?

As a family we are heading to the Pilbara region in northern Western Australia with World Vision in July. We are going to learn about their maternal health & access to education programs. It is such a unique opportunity & I am pinching myself that I get to share this with my little family. I cannot wait to meet people from within these communities & listen to their stories. These takeaways & reflections will form the foundation for a project in the months to follow… stay tuned.

We are also heading to Bali at the end of May to support the Bali Hope Project. This is a Running for Change campaign where 15 runners from around the globe are running across Bali & raising funds to support education initiatives through the not for profit, Classroom of Hope.

KIRSTY GOW-GATES – FOUNDER LULLABY & MAMA TO ARCHIE & JORDI

Motherhood is…

A precious gift that presents lifelong joy – and a lifelong challenge.

What’s the greatest piece of advice you’ve received on your journey through motherhood?

To trust your own instincts.

Tell us a little about your mother and what you admire most about her?

My mother is fearless, kind, loving, warm, caring, intelligent and compassionate. She has a wonderful sense of humour and takes initiative to always help others. I admire how she has always been able to juggle the art of being a savvy business women, an incredible mother and a philanthropist who is always giving to people in need. I am constantly inspired by her and feel grateful for the endless lessons I learn from her.

What will you teach your children about women one day?

I have two little boys (two years and three years) who are growing up surrounded by caring and nurturing women and they will certainly need help to understand that this is not the only important role that women play in their lives! I am aware that children must be prepared, as they grow up, to recognise that there is much more to womanhood and that women, like men, make the world go round!

Self care tips for busy mothers?   

The most important thing here is recognise your worth as a mother and to understand that self care is an important part of being healthy, caring and a successful mother. Yoga really helps me to be mindful of my breathing – it allows me to settle my mind down, to rest and to recharge so I can be the best version of myself and for my loved ones.

KRISTY WITHERS – FOUNDER INCY INTERIORS & MAMA TO OSCAR & POLLY 

Motherhood is …

The hardest and most rewarding thing you will ever do!

The biggest lesson motherhood has taught you?  

Motherhood taught me to chill out and to realise that there are things in life out of my control

Can you please impart a golden piece of advice for other mothers?  

Pick your battles. If that means taking an iPad to a restaurant so you can all have dinner in peace just do it!

Wellness secret for busy mamas? 

Sleep and be kind to yourself

ANDREA TAN & JOEN KING – FOUNDERS ANDREA & JOEN & MAMAS TO FLYNN & EVIE

Motherhood is….

A: Unconditional love

J: Being able to do almost anything

Can you tell us a little about your mother and the greatest lesson she has taught you?

A: Don’t dwell on the past and keep moving forward – she is an inspiration to us, whatever life throws you, you need to be adaptable and move forward.

J: My mother is fearless, she opened various successful restaurants throughout Sydney while raising three girls, I now know how hard that is.

What would your dream ‘you day’ look like?

A: Stay in my pyjamas, check into Golden Door Retreat for the weekend with no communication from the outside, lots of sleep, good wholesome food and spa.

J: Total silence and time out from everything. The day would start with a long walk, big breakfast at a cafe (not making for anyone), then straight to pamper spa day,

catch up with friends over a long dinner at Momofuku – with no curfew! Then check into a hotel for a long bath and sleep with no alarm! Bliss!

Best beauty secret for busy mums?

A: When you have a shower cleanse your skin at the same time.

J: Use a tinted moisturiser with SPF – one less product to add and saves a bit of time.

Fashion advice for mothers?

A & J: Choose simple shapes that are timeless. Well tailored relaxed pieces such as T shirts, well cut pants in two lengths, basic tops and classic shirts this is the beginning of a capsule wardrobe. Different combinations can be achieved with a few key pieces.Basic does not mean it cant be in luxurious, fabrics such as linen and cashmere, make them special and feel amazing.

The personality trait you admire most in your child/children?

A: His sense of humour

J: Her bravery

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