Motherhood came unexpectedly early in my marriage for me. I remember waking from sleep in the night to use the bathroom and just knowing I was pregnant.
Feeling this dynamic change, I looked at myself in the mirror and felt a wave of uncertain realisation. Although we hadn’t planned it in any official way, I had known it was possible and here I was with this unshakable sense of the beginnings of new life inside me.
I don’t think my first reaction was one of blissful joy. There was definitely joy there, but mingled with a quietly nervous curiosity and some fear. I was only 23 and I’d never really thought much about having children. My head was too full of dreams and aspirations to explore the world and make a difference for good. And I really wasn’t at all keen on the idea of giving birth! I’d only really seen women screaming on television programmes and I suppose I feel I’d never really had the precious and positive experiences of labour emphasised well enough to ease those nerves. I feel it’s important to say here that for the majority of women, once they have embraced the idea that they’re expecting a baby, the horror of the potential pain and hard work involved in the actual birthing process, tends to meld more or less into a practical thinking of things through and a strong sense of maternal resolve. Like my father used to say to me growing up, “Well, however awful it must be Alison, there are millions of women who go out and do it by choice all over again!” .
So God had other plans for me and he had planted one of them right there in my womb!
It’s still one of the most fascinating things to me, how despite my ardent ambitions to explore, travel and conquer, my bodily chemistry flipped virtually overnight to produce in me one of the broodiest, motherly types going! No one could have predicted it and I have certainly not regretted a single moment.
Thank you Lord God for the beautiful, wonderful, hilarious, each unique in their own way children you have given to me; I feel blessed beyond imagining for these treasures of my life and heart.
Thank you too for my own mother, who has worked tirelessly and lovingly to raise me and my siblings at much cost to herself. To enthusiastically take on the world and to be fearless in the face of challenge and most of all, to love the Lord and trust in Him with all our hearts.
One reason why I photograph so much is my need to hold on to as many hilarious and precious moments of our children’s lives as possible. When they are young, you don’t think you could ever forget their cute little ways and funny ways of pronouncing words delightfully incorrectly. You don’t think you’ll ever be able to forget that favourite outfit they had or those fantastic happy face drawings they made for you. And it’s true, some of these things you’ll never forget but you won’t remember everything!
I’ve included some of my favourite pictures ever here today. One of them shows my young son running along the beach with a bucket and spade and looking almost delirious with joy. I love this picture so much. It was October and yet the sun was splitting the sky. He hit the beach like he’d never seen it before, like there was no other place on planet earth he’d rather be. My daughter who was also there, enjoyed the beach as well although in a much more measured fashion. Their joy in these simple pleasures of sunshine, sea shells, sand and water made my heart sing.
I love to look at pictures I’ve taken of the children when they were younger and see indications in those pictures of the people they are now, how those young childhood enthusiasms have flourished and blossomed into serious passions and interests that they pursue to this day.
When your children are little it can feel so exhausting, in amongst the joy and enjoyment and there’s sometimes part of you that wishes for a little bit of respite! But when the time comes for them to fly the nest it can be so hard to see them leave. Much to their chagrin, my lot joke they’ll always be my babies and I think every mother feels that to a certain degree. You want them to go out and conquer the world, you want them to find purpose and fulfilment. You want them to do their part in making the world a better place. So it can be so hard when they go. They were once part of you in a way they can never be part of anyone else. But in letting them go and preparing them to forge forward with their dreams and passions and working to foster a healthy and appropriate indépendance in them, you have done something extraordinarily wonderful. You have given them wings. And when you see the reality of that, no matter how much you miss them, you know you were a good mummy bird and that brings you an incredible sense of peace inside.
To be a mother is a very high and worthy calling. Society won’t necessarily respect you for it, but to carry, nourish and raise baby humans into adulthood is no mean task.
So… Happy Mother’s Day to all you amazing mother’s out there and to those also who are not biological mothers but who have devoted their time, energy, resources and love to caring for and protecting those who don’t have parents or guardians to take care of them.