Motherhood: Unfiltered ~ Leigh Anne

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 Leigh Anne.

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In her words:

I’m a librarian. It only made sense that while I was pregnant I read all of the books. Seriously. All of them. I was pregnant but I was in control. I had done the research. I had this covered.

Then I gave birth. And there was the crying, the sleeplessness, the certainty that everything I was doing was wrong. The books lied. Every book I had read used quiet, confident words in tone so gentle I could barely hear them. Motherhood to me was loud uncertainty – a baby screaming, “YOU ARE NOT ENOUGH,”

The screaming eventually stopped: the baby’s and my own voice of insecurity. That only happened with time, counselling, and the help of medication. I became pregnant again. This time, I didn’t read books. I read my diary. It was the only book that told the story of my family. Those words reminded me how I got to the point where I could look at my first born and feel confident saying to him, “I am enough.”

What is your biggest challenge or concern as a mother?
I am a perfectionist; I’m in recovery. My biggest challenge is accepting how messy life is now – how little control I have over these two small people, my marriage, my work, myself.
How has your experience as a mother shaped the way you experience the world and/or shaped your life?
When I was pregnant with my son, Jude, and feeling overwhelmed I would cry. Actually, I would cry anywhere and everywhere – on the bus, at the dinner table, in the bathtub, at my desk. As tears would trickle down my face, Jude would start punching me, would wiggle like Elvis, or jump up and down. Even in the womb, Jude would try to remind me that – whatever I was feeling – it wasn’t so bad. I would imagine this little life inside me screaming, “Mommy, stop crying! Cheer up!” until my tears stopped and I started laughing. Motherhood has really challenged me to acknowledge those feelings of sadness, helplessness, dizzying self-doubt, anxiety. We all have them. The key is remembering they aren’t the only emotions – joy, happiness, humour are just around the corner. It sometimes takes a while to get to that corner but it’s there … just keep moving.
What makes you a good mother?
I can only be a good mother because I have the support of a community: a supportive husband; amazing daycare providers; a manager who encourages me to go home and take care of my daughter when she has an ear ache; supportive friends that listen to me gripe about my kids still not sleeping through the night and the fact that I’m 15 pounds heavier than I was before I had kids. I am a good mother because when everything goes wrong, I’m still able to be guided by gratitude for these people who support me and for my two children who look at me – unshowered and harried – with pure grace.
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