Don’t Let Comparison Kill You!

The Braids

An excerpt from ‘Moments On Mothering’ – Reflective inspiration from one mother to another

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I often must sacrifice my own needs and desires for the purpose of giving my children what they need and modelling for them the depths of Christ’s love – Sally Clarkson

I was recently scanning Instagram – I like to read the ‘bio’s’ which tend to reveal what you’d like the world to know about you, to draw you in and win you to their world. Leave it blank, quote Mother Teresa or form a mini Curriculum Vitae – it all speaks. I came across one mother somewhere across the globe who was adamant that she wasn’t going to post ‘pretty pictures of folded laundry’ and luscious lavender trailing across her deck; neither was she going to quote ‘dead people’ but she was going to reveal her #reallife. The thing about that is that I can just look up and see my piles of dishes, unmade beds and unbrushed heads. I can smell the reality of my occasional unkempt life every time someone opens the fridge (it’s no.2 on my ‘to do’ list: clean out fridge) but I use Instagram because I am.

I am who I am – I’m a beauty seeker and treasure keeper; whether that’s in the form of a photo, a quote, a pine cone or a pre-loved coffee cup; I need these layers of simplicity to form in the quiet of my soul. Laundry will always be with us but that sunset that swept you away, that look of elation on your 4 year old’s face when the first snow fell and the page of that book that rocked your world, yes – I’m all about that. I’m all about celebrating the small, the seemingly insignificant; a well-crafted web of words, written or read that forms like a wax seal upon the envelope of another ‘normal’ day.

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We talk about ‘real’ and being authentic; we shout about our messy lives as if we have to prove to each other that these things exist – but mama I know. My day is filled with cleaning up spills, managing their (my) emotions, cleaning up dog mess from the yard, fighting off the temptation to scroll the day away on my phone, playing catch up and recovering from the repercussions of not finishing my ‘to do’ list last week! Yep, I’m there – I know it and I live it.

I am who I am – I’m a beauty seeker and treasure keeper; whether that’s in the form of a photo, a quote, a pine cone or a pre-loved coffee cup; I need these layers of simplicity to form in the quiet of my soul

The fact that I bare my soul through a book and a tea cup is a moment’s glimpse of treasure amongst a measure, of normal and beautiful…I’m not running away from being dutiful.

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My daughters and I have long hair; my eldest daughter likes to show me fancy braids on YouTube and we bumble along attempting to recreate them to some success. I was admiring (following, stalking – call it what you will) a displayer of braids from across the social media airwaves over a period of time and was quite abruptly stopped in my tracks and was shocked by what I discovered; her beautiful, long, blonde, thick, luscious, always looking fabulous locks were FAKE!! I trawled and discovered a video of her attaching her magnificent mane to a pretty average mop and naively sat there with my mouth open yelping “Nyah her hair is fake”, to which she obviously replied “yes Mum, how could you not know?”, to which I replied (mostly to Nyah but somewhat to said YouTuber) “but mine is real”. It’s sometimes messy and thrown up into a top knot, it’s sometimes blow dried and carefully curled, it generally gets in the way. But it’s real.

Mess is real and so is beauty. Unkempt and cluttered is real and yet so is neat and complete.

My favourite social scientist, awesome TED talker and shame researcher Brene Brown says “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it” and we run so much don’t we? We hear our songs in other musicians lyrics, we read our stories in other writers pages, we gaze upon art that came from our heart but we stay in the shadows, hiding under labels of ‘it’s all been done, said, painted or created before’ – but you, you have never been seen. It’s time to get our authentic selves out from under the duvet and step forward as it’s your time too.

We all have a story worthy of being told.

It’s time to stop being afraid of what might be and what could be and who you think you should be. Between the gaps of school runs, chopping onions and polishing taps there’s a dreamer. You’re pushing buggies and forming melodies and imagining words on a page or colours on a canvas or feet gently choreographed in movement to move people and lives and hearts. And if there’s time for this, there’s time for that.

That idea you can’t shake, that recipe you’re pining to bake is real and true. It’s you.

There’s so much of ‘us’ that we set aside for a time, especially in early motherhood, which is good and right because it’s all about sleep reserving and flying mushed food swerving. But stop looking longingly at that woman who’s creating and helping and doing and walking and see yourself as alive and able to do and be, at the right time; authentically and fully. Be you.

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So next time you’re scrolling and aching over a picture of perfectly folded floral napkins or a well kempt 3 year old wearing a floating dress and cute laced boots;  when you click onto Instagram tomorrow and she’s all over it again with her beach views and pastel hues – celebrate with her. That mama has carved some time out of her life just like yours to take a picture, savour a moment and share it with you.

Doesn’t that change our perspective? She’s not trying to portray perfection – she’s choosing a selection of important moments or creations that will mark her life and make her smile.

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Want to read more? Go over to Amazon and download your copy today; don’t miss the great $2.99 (£2.12) sale on now!

 

The Marvel Of Motherhood

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Pregnancy and motherhood are the most beautiful and significantly life-altering events that I have ever experienced – Elisabeth Hasselbeck

So, here’s a peek into my collection of essays on motherhood that I published this time last year if you haven’t read it yet – thought I’d post the introduction to give you a little taste of what the book is all about, and then you can hop over to Amazon whilst the $2.99 (£2.07) sale is on and download it for yourself! Enjoy, Leah x

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This collection of creative pieces comes to you after 12 years of mothering but also after many more years of dreaming and carving out the time to write. This merging of passions has enabled me to begin to process so many of the incredible elements of the motherhood journey and I’m so excited to bring you along with me.

I was introduced to motherhood just over 12 years ago in a pretty basic delivery room in Leicestershire; I knelt up on the metal framed bed with my assiduously labouring and sweating body wrapped around a bean bag masking my groans and cries. Sometime after 10pm the midwife passed a bloody, wet and wriggling being under my legs and into my arms. I looked down through this surreal experience with tear filled eyes and quietly whispered to my new-born daughter “I knew it was you”.

And this prolonged, agonizing but incredible experience was all worth it, it felt right and raw; with my new found birthing expertise and her intoxicating suckling smell we could take on the world! And thus began my parenting journey. I went on from the Leicestershire labour ward to birth three more children; two of which were in the comfort of my own home.

The mothering experience continues to encompass so much of the birthing journey, as Ann Voskamp so eloquently puts it: “And the realization — that a mother’s labour and delivery never ends and you never stop having to remember to breathe.” And these moments of breathing and reflecting and remembering are what I’ve hoped to capture in this compilation of writings.

This collection of creative pieces comes to you after 12 years of mothering but also after many more years of dreaming and carving out the time to write. This merging of passions has enabled me to begin to process so many of the incredible elements of the motherhood journey and I’m so excited to bring you along with me.

When I think back over my primary years of being a mother I could easily laugh or cry in equal proportions around the decisions I’ve made, the conversations I’ve had, the theories I’ve believed and the paths I’ve chosen to walk but thankfully with each lesson, victory, challenge and failure it has shaped the mother and woman I am today.

These musings are in no way parenting advice or a motherhood heist; I’ve promised myself that I won’t write a ‘parenting book’ till my kids are at least in their 30’s! Each essay or poem is a reflection of my journey and personal observations as I’m living out this mayhem of maternity whilst doing my best to love my children, honour God and enjoy the ride.

Each piece should take you no more than 10 minutes to read, so even in the midst of sweeping and peace keeping, pour yourself a cup of tea, pull up a chair and let me tell you a story.

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They’re Watching You!

 

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Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you – Robert Fulgham

 

The following post is an excerpt from ‘Moments on mothering

Who we are and what we say, what we do and how we play out our lives is really important to our children. Every day we influence and greatly impact the little lives in our homes and hearts – but often without even realising the longevity of our loving leadership.

A big part of my life is spent facilitating my children’s learning. We’ve been home educating for almost 9 years and my greatest thrill is seeing my children thrive in their learning, especially when we’re ‘off the clock’. I’m a huge lover of nature study; I frequently point out beauty with authentic awe and wonder on any journey; from picking up milk from the corner shop to a family hike in the Warwickshire countryside.  One of my greatest learning influences is an 18th century educator called Charlotte Mason, she put great emphasis (as many have done since her) on children spending lots of time outside; observing God’s incredible creation and making their own connection with what they see.

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I can often teach and share life with my children but with very little immediate feedback, and then just like that your 18 month old wanders out into the garden and by using baby sign language tells you there’s a ‘bird’ whilst she watches the sparrows tap for worms on the lawn. And just last night I was out in the car with Nyah; she stopped me mid conversation and said “mum, look at the moon; it’s majestic”. It’s not merely that we suggest to our children what’s important to observe and commentate on, but we do it ourselves; we live it, we breathe it, we experience it and they see all.

And what if we saw all of life this way, what if we saw mothering as a plethora of perception, a nullah of noticing and a flowing river of recognition; how we live our life is how they will live theirs. Their lives may take on a different shape, but an oval is just a circle slightly squashed right? We can’t get away from the fact that our children will end up a lot like us.

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The hard thing is seeing the reality of our frailties and imperfection when we were hoping for momentary deflection. But hiding isn’t an option and neither is sitting on that pedestal. Our children need truth telling and wholehearted dwelling. They need to see conflict and wrong actions forgiven. They need blatant veracity and loving tenacity knowing that real is the raw deal but it’s within our capacity to feel and to heal.

I tell my children that I’m hopelessly flawed, very much human and I ask for forgiveness, regularly. The scandal of grace is in my face, every day and I drink it in. There’s no shame in taking the blame for what they do and say, but we have to be quick to forgive ourselves and remember tomorrow is another day.

Robert Fulghum said “Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you”; and as much as I endeavour to daily win my children’s hearts through what I say and what I do, they certainly don’t miss a thing.

Your life and choices are important to your children’s day dreams and life schemes, so you’d better watch your back mama, they’re watching you!

 

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Moments On Mothering – Reflective inspiration from one mother to another by Leah Boden

The Brave And Beautiful Act Of Asking For Help

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Every woman must and will walk her own journey of motherhood treading carefully in faith and fragility

 

Micah was three weeks old when the excruciating pains in my body left me doubled over; just as I was beginning to recover and my womb had reduced back to that pear-like shape that the Miriam Stoppard books so beautifully describes. The bleeding and the after pain and the walking like John Wayne had diminished and then I got ill. It was a summer’s day; the warm sun was glistening and comforting on my home birthed boy who needed nothing more than a cloth nappy and a sleeveless white vest showing off his kissable arms. I traipsed my three children to numbing doctor’s appointments, chemists, blood test clinics yet no one seemed to know what was going on. I finally called in the cavalry; my mother-in-law held down the fort downstairs whilst I slept, held my stomach and cried between feeding intervals when she would bring Micah upstairs so I could nourish my son. What would be my final trip up to my doctor’s surgery with my brood resulted in two doctors trying to convince this super-woman-being-so-stubborn mother to go.to.hospital. My infection levels were really sky rocketing and my doctor commented on my obvious high pain threshold and said I shouldn’t have even been walking. I called Dave at work and all fell into place; like it should when we let go.

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I was admitted to a private room at the local hospital with a transparent cot by my side so Micah could stay with me; the interns and student doctors and consultants busily researched the appropriate antibiotics for a breastfeeding mother who refused to ‘pump and dump’ and with a final diagnosis of a major kidney infection (mostly major due to the fact they discovered one of my kidneys has been non-functioning since birth) I was cared for, medicated, hydrated and after two nights sent on my way to heal but mostly to realise that it’s ok to not be ok.

Authentic, wholehearted parenting means being exactly that – authentically you. Every woman must and will walk her own journey of motherhood treading carefully in faith and fragility. It’s that perfect place to be able to believe in ourselves and our ability to raise our children but being free to sing of our imperfections and ask for help when we need it.

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Let vulnerability reveal her freeing ways and watch; maybe a community of not-got-it-all-together mothers will gather around you.

You may not have a mother rushing to collect your washing, a neighbour eagerly ready with a casserole and home-baked ciabatta. You may not have sisters to help scrub and clean and de-ice your windscreen but you do have a voice. Let vulnerability reveal her freeing ways and watch; maybe a community of not-got-it-all-together mothers will gather around you.

It really is ok to not have it all together, to not get it right first (or second) time, to be in a mess or not quite know what your next move is. Grace is the forever giving and living hand of God reaching out and saying ‘let’s do this together’; and His grace is infectious and explosive and leaks out of us and makes us like Him. So let’s reach out to each other in heart and words and deeds and let’s ‘do this together’.

This is an excerpt from ‘Moments On Mothering’ – available on Kindle today!

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The Letter

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“Love her but leave her wild.”  Atticus

 

To my daughters,

I never imagined doing life so close and intensely with two other girls; two girls who came from my womb, whose hearts grew and beat inside me, who fed from my very body and face life, daily, right in front of my eyes.

I never imagined loving two emerging women so fiercely and at times so fearfully. Your beauty and grace exude you; your spirits are strong, as is your will. That can be hard at times.

And I have so much to say, so much I want to tell you, so much I want to pass on – from my frailties and imperfections. Not that I expect you to be perfect but I long for you to live, to be authentic you, to be free; even though you look a little bit like me.

You are incredibly unique; there really is no one like you – not just in a snowflake, fingerprint way, but in a womb dwelling, heart swelling display. There’s a place for you in the caverns of my soul that was created before the beginning of time. I was made for you and you for me. The web of your design so intrinsically connects with the threads of my twine. You so delicate, I so strong – inseparable, in harmony like a perfectly crafted song.

I see a woman in your eyes; your voluminous childhood voice gives me a choice to tame, shame and extinguish, or I can love and guide and blow upon the embers of passion, life and liberty in your song. I refuse to quash – I choose to wash over you with words of encouragement, inspiration and light.

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And here you are living in the midst of a social explosion; a connection erosion through scrolling screens and vicious teens and my inmost being wants to drag back in, like a near dead body on a front line battle, the clear and the combined and coherent process of living again. Guard your hearts dear daughters from the pressure of Pinterest perfection which leaves authentic being as just mere inflection; which leaves girls like you (and me) in a sea of correction and rejection. Lift up your eyes and see your King; the One who knitted your inquisitive soul and made you whole.

He is the mirror we hang on our wall and stare into timelessly until we no longer feel small.

See the detail in the day; His splendour on display – let your senses come alive, breath deeply daughter – thrive!

You see I could come at you with wisdom and lived advice but in the end that’s like rolling a dice; you can choose to walk my way and follow patterns of my life – I can guide you into motherhood and inspire you as a wife. But I’m compelled to show you Jesus through every season of your days so when success or favour crowns you it’s to Him we give our praise. Or when darker days are heavy like grey clouds on the horizon – I’ll teach you to kneel, and look up; there’s always a glimmer of light about to break through; a peace that helps us wisen.

My daughters you need to know it’s by grace I daily mother your souls and I get it wrong so often; I pray with every fallen word your forgiving hearts will soften.

My dependence upon Him ties me to you and to what your future holds and I guess what we’ll watch unfold. But in these days ahead I’ll love you lavishly and liberally, unhindered in peeling back the surface of your pleasing, precious, present and imperfect life.

I love you.

This is an excerpt from my Kindle book ‘Moments On Mothering’; you can purchase the whole book here – enjoy!