Almost a week ago my mum left, after having lived with us for 8 weeks. I love my mum to pieces, and she was the most amazing support and friend to have with us during that time, but we both agreed it was the right time for her to leave, for me to find my own pace as a mother of 3 - and to start doing my own damn laundry again! (Seriously, she even folds my knickers, and puts things in beautiful neat piles in my drawers, instead of stuffing things in like I do.)
Anyway, as I was driving home, I felt so sad - not because I missed her - which I do, but because I had missed so many opportunities with her.
Honestly, most of the time my life is nothing like the pictures in my head.
I had imagined that we would take lovely walks together, take the kids to the beach and sit and talk while we watched them play, I had thought we would share lunch in a beautiful restaurant, and maybe even drive up the coast to do some treasure hunting in the op-shops.
But mostly I was sad because during the whole 8 weeks she was here, I didn't take one picture with her and me in it together. Without my mama, my homebirth wouldn't have happened, and there isn't any moment of us together captured.
This got me thinking - what other moments am I missing? I didn't have kids just to rush through the routine stuff, and I didn't invite my mum to stay for her laundry super powers.
You know that question people ask, "What would you do differently if you knew you were going to die?" - which I always find mildly ridiculous, because of course we're all going to die.
Well, I used to think I wouldn't change anything, that I was living the life I wanted to live.
But honestly - and yes I know you might think I have an excuse because I just had a baby, but I don't - I would change the small things.
I would take photos with my mum.
I would take photos with my newborn.
I would take photos with myself in them full stop - rather than hanging out behind the camera all the time.
I would call her everyday.
I would stop trying to rush through the dinner / bath / bed routine with my kids and enjoy that time together.
I would let the kids sleep in my bed, even though it's against "The Baby Whisperer" rules.
I would send naughty texts to my husband - yes I would.
All of this reminded me of a photo-project that @underthesycamore ran a year or so ago on instagram #embracethecamera.
The project was to take one photo each day, with you in the picture - not just the cute kids. The idea being that your kids want to have memories of you too, of your presence in their life. When I did this project with @underthesycamore, I really started paying attention to my kids and my life in a different way. I became much more present - the opposite of what you'd expect social media to do.
I've got about 5 photos of me with my sweet little newborn who is coming up 5 weeks. This makes me incredibly sad. Another missed opportunity. It's not because I don't want photos of me with him (though I must admit, I do feel a bit baggy eyed and drawn most days)! It's because most days I'm just trying to keep up, unloading the dishwasher can feel like a major accomplishment, and taking a photo with a timer can feel overwhelmingly difficult, - but not taking the time, not doing it - that feels overwhelmingly sad. (Oh yes and I could ask the hubs, my kids, or my friends to take photos too!)
It's not just about taking photos. It's about being present in my life, doing the small things I love doing, rather than just getting through the day. It's about making the pictures in my head a reality. Calling my mama, hanging out with my kids, parenting from my heart, connecting with my husband, showing up in the way that feels like a true reflection of myself. Creating and nurturing my life.
This week I'll be taking a photo a day, me with my littlies - namely the littlest. If you want to see me in my post-natal haze (no make-up, no sleep - it's not ideal), you can follow along on Instagram. AND, if you want to join in - DO! You don't have to have a baby, or even be a mama to join me. If you notice there's a gap between how you imagine your life to be, what you want, the actual reality - do something small to change that - and take a photo of it, with the hashtag #picturesofthelifeinmyhead.
You can find me on instagram @truenature
I'd love to see what you do to make your life more like the kind of life you'd like it to be....................