Motherhood: Unfiltered ~ Aimee

In an age where social media and technology provide us with constant opportunities to take and retake photos, add filters, edit flaws and present an often unrealistic image of ourselves and our lives as mothers, we set out to create a series of real-life motherhood moments – without the filters, without the edits, but with all the beauty.

This is Aimee.

YouTube link

In her words:

Four months after giving birth to me daughter, I was diagnosed with stage IV cancer, which I’d had unknowingly throughout my entire pregnancy. Our first postpartum year was interrupted with chemo and multiple surgeries, and then my daughter’s other mother – my wife – left us just after my daughter’s first birthday. When my daughter was only two, I was re-diagnosed and went through treatment again while raising her largely on my own. We are still waiting for that clear scan. There are not a lot of people like me: queer, single parent, advanced cancer. I would love to see this side of motherhood represented. It’s raw, it’s real, and I know for a fact that I wouldn’t have survived had it not been for motherhood.

What is your biggest challenge or concern as a mother?
I have been living with stage IV cancer since Alexa was 5 months old. For the last two years, I’ve been a single parent to her. My biggest challenge is trying to be a good mother in spite of my health and the fatigue I feel on a daily basis from twenty rounds of chemo and numerous surgeries, and continuing treatment. My biggest concern is dying before she is old enough to really know me, and before I fully get to know and experience her.
How has your experience as a mother shaped the way you experience the world and/or shaped your life?
Children are so incredibly good at keeping us in the moment, as it is all they have. Living with a chronic illness that is likely terminal has a way to have you think only of the future, but Alexa has been able to, time and time again, teach me that being here, right now, with her, is exactly where I need to be. Being a mother has taught me what is important in life – family, friends, kindness, love and community. It has also given me a fierce drive to beat the odds and be there for Alexa as she grows up.
What makes you a good mother?
I don’t see myself as a good mother most days, to be honest. I feel like a lot of our days, I’m just surviving. But it’s often when I’m reminded that I’m raising a fairly spirited child mostly on my own with an advanced cancer diagnosis that I realize I’m doing just fine. I am engaged and connected and I am trying to raise her with the ethics that are important to me, and it’s amazing when I see the person she’s becoming. I chose to talk to her about my cancer from the moment I knew about it, and it’s been there her whole life. Having to see me go through the treatment, she has become an empath, and though I know it is difficult to feel so much, I’m really proud of her, and proud of me for encouraging honest and raw feelings in her. I think it is going to help her in the long run.
To view a selection of Motherhood: Unfiltered photographs in person, you can visit The Birch Tree in Ladner during their regular office hours.
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