I am so excited about this new blog series... from today I will be featuring a group of strong, real women and their very own, personal Motherhood Stories on my website as part of a blog series with the intention of inspiring others. Those who are about to embark on their own journey into Motherhood while also connecting local Perth Mum's who may be going through the same experiences, the beauty, the tears, the chaos and the messy!
I felt it only fair to share my own motherhood story with you if I'm sharing many others, so here I am being real with you, showing my flaws and hoping you will see I don't have my sh*t together either! Grab a coffee or brew your favourite pot of tea and read on if you would like to learn a bit more about me and My Motherhood Story...
Tell us about your children?
I have two boys, Leo will be 7 in July and Elijah will be 4 in July
Tell me about your journey into Motherhood? Did you always want children and is it what you expected?
I definitely knew around age 20 that I wanted children. I can recall telling my best friend at the time "I feel like my purpose in life to be a mother", I laugh now when I think about myself saying that. I was so young and incredibly naive!
I wasn't expecting to become a Mother so young at all! My pregnancy was unplanned. I had only just started dating my now husband at the time and falling pregnant was a HUGE shock and surprise to us both. It was incredibly stressful, we worked together, we weren't living together, my husband was also grad out of uni and I was just starting to find myself but we made the decision to give this a real shot for our baby, we owed him that.
I spent 3 years at home while my husband worked a 4:1 FIFO roster, that was difficult. We welcomed Elijah when Leo turned 3 and that is when we started to notice unusual but beautiful quirks and a few more challenges with Leo, Kindy and Pre-Primary have been very challenging for us as a family, Leo was diagnosed the day after his 6th birthday with ASD. I never expected to have a child with behavioural challenges because myself and my husband were raised with boundaries and strict parents, to be honest I never thought it would be this hard especially when I talk to friends and they aren't experiencing the same challenges however I think it has forced me to grow, have a lot more patience, be more selfless and ultimately grow me up and become a better Mother.
What has surprised you most about Motherhood?
How it's changed me as a person. I had ZERO patience prior to becoming a Mother and was probably very selfish, I have a lot more patience now. But it wears thin at times and I can lose my sh*t. The anxiety is a big one for me too, I didn't know what it was prior to becoming a Mother. I can pinpoint when it started, I was 6 weeks pregnant with my first son Leo and was at the hospital with my Mum in emergency, I watched her have 3 seizures within a couple of hours. I'd seen her have them before but not like that.
The anxiety has increasingly got worse over the last 6 years and I found myself having panic attacks when my marriage broke down and again more recently at Leo's appointments with therapists following his diagnosis. I had no idea what anxiety was, it is debilitating and it can be very scary, I did not expect that at all when I became a Mother, especially not before my kids were teenagers anyway!
Tell us a little about your birth story? Did it go to plan and was it what you expected? How do you feel about it today?
Both pregnancies were horrendous, constant vomiting. I actually had never been skinnier the morning after Leo was born, my tummy was completely flat. I had lost a lot of weight during my first pregnancy.
I wanted a natural birth, had a birth plan but accepted that if it didn't go to plan that was ok. I went into labour spontaneously with Leo and it lasted 22.5hrs ultimately resulting in an emergency c-section due to baby distress. He was over 4.6kg or 10lb 3oz, he was massive so although I was disappointed I didn't get the birth I wanted... I was relieved. I don't think I could have handled a natural birth at all, I was expecting a tiny baby!
The birth was so traumatic and the aftercare at the hospital was pretty poor (they didn't get me out of bed for 2 days) I opted for an elective c-section the second time round with Elijah. I am SO glad I did this! I had a fantastic doctor from the very beginning of my second pregnancy Dr Van De Merwe. He delivered Elijah and became our GP in the years following.
Looking back now I am grateful I got to experience labour, mostly drug free but i'm also at peace with having c-sections. I doesn't make me any less a mother or a woman, and to be honest I truly admire any woman that gives birth naturally because I seriously do not think I could have done it myself. Really! You are AMAZING!
What has brought you the most joy in this season of Motherhood?
Seeing what interests my boys develop and what they are naturally talented at. For example Leo is an excellent drawer and I have no doubt he is gifted in that area, he draws constantly, creates amazing books, has an incredible imagination and draws very detailed pictures he has thought of in his head that tell a story. Elijah is a risk taker has always been drawn to motorbikes and cars... I have no doubt Elijah will end up in emergency with broken limbs one day.
What is your best memory from your own childhood?
I've actually been thinking about this a lot lately and chatting to my husband about it. My Nanna + Grandad lived at and ran the restaurant and bar at the Wanganui Golf Club in New Zealand, my best memories are running a muck with my cousins hiding in lockers in the club rooms, making sandwiches and baking with my Nanna in the kitchen. Rugby was also a big part of our lives, went spent every weekend at rugby watching Dad play and it was always on the TV. I have many good childhood memories at rugby, I miss belonging to a club and that community.
How has your relationship with your Mother changed since you became a Mother yourself?
I have so much more admiration for my Mum now I'm older. I think she has incredible patience, much more than me. She doesn't judge anyone, makes friends very easily and is always helping the elderly. I've rarely seen my Mum cry, she is a very strong woman, that is something i've realised in recent years and admire.
What would you say is the biggest differences between your childhood and the one you are creating for your children?
I would say creating more family memories together, for one we take a lot more holidays with our boys than I ever did in my childhood. Taking the kids out for picnics, to the movies and to restaurants is also something we do that I didn't really get to share with my parents in my own childhood. Basically just ensuring our boys have a bank full of quality family time memories.
One thing that is important to me is for us to be able to travel with the boys, we are planning a trip to New Zealand in a couple of years when Elijah is a little older so they can see where i'm from and where their Mum used to live, meet family and play in the snow, learn to ski etc.
We also plan to take the boys to Hawaii when they are older and can enjoy and remember it, along with Switzerland or Canada. This is very important to us because it's not something our parents were able to do for us as children and we want to make sure the kids see the world outside of Australia.
What societal pressures on motherhood do you feel most? (ability to work, judgement, housework, body image, always having it together etc)
Work has been a real issue for me. Before I started my own business (it was many years ago now) I had a toddler and my husband was working FIFO. I was offered an administrative role and promised a promotion to office manager within a few months (the office manager was leaving) with flexible work conditions. I was qualified for the role and had the experience required. It was agreed in my interview I would work 4 days in the office and 1 at home.
A few months went by and I discovered my employer advertised the role without disclosing it to me and when I approached him about it he told me because my husband worked FIFO and I had a toddler, being young and likely wanting to expand our family in the near future (I never expressed that to him or anyone and we had actually planned to put a second child on hold because of the job and importance it had for our family) meant I probably wasn't capable of fulfilling the role.
I was so angry at the time because the promotion was the only reason I accepted the role and it was very important to me, it was going to help "set us up" so to speak. They knew my husband worked FIFO and I had a toddler in my interview! Needless to say I stood my ground and resigned the following week! I accepted the role solely for that promised promotion and felt completely discriminated against. It really affected me because I want to work and I need to work but there wasn't much support for working Mum's in that male dominated industry..
What do you feel has been the most challenging in this season of motherhood? How did you deal with it?
I think experiencing the challenges we have with our eldest son, I wasn't expecting that. I never expected to have a child with behavioural challenges AT ALL and I have had to defend our parenting and take a stand for my son which hasn't been easy.
Who do you turn to for advice?
My Nanna, she passed a few weeks after Elijah was born and unfortunately didn't get the chance to meet him. But she was always the person I went to for advice. Now? Probably my husband more than anyone else.
What are you most proud of in your motherhood journey so far?
That's a tough one, I think knowing what's best for my children and our family and having the courage to make those decisions at the cost of "losing" a parent. The majority of our family are very supportive though and we are so thankful for that.
Are you employed? Tell us about your work and the challenges you experience juggling work and family. How do you overcome those challenges?
Obviously I am self employed. I often have friends and clients tell me they don't know how I'm juggling it all and I tell them... honestly i'm not! I'm dropping balls everywhere and have no time for self care. I do not have my life together at all, but i'm doing my best and im trying!
When I started my business it took off very quickly and i was spending a lot of time away from my family and putting everything into my business. Subsequently, my marriage fell apart a year later, thankfully we are doing much better now and are happier and closer than we have ever been but it taught me A LOT of lessons! I now have boundaries in place for my business to protect myself and my precious time with family.
Im thankful in that having my own business allows me the flexibility to work whenever I want, but Leo is now home full-time with me for the interim and Elijah is only at daycare 2x a week. I tell myself this isn't forever and when the boys are both in full-time school in 2 years time life "should" be much easier. I can only hope right?
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Leo will be almost 17 and Elijah will be almost 14. I see my husband working part-time or retired and our business well established in Perth with a luxury studio. I also see myself mentoring business and photography, as well as owning a couple of other businesses.
I am currently writing a book and I am excited about accomplishing that! I would also like to take a month off every year to travel with our boys before they are grown adults and leave us for their own adventures!
What life lesson or important value do you want to teach your children?
To respect women! I have said this from day one to my husband whether it is their mum, their wives or their daughters. They must learn to treat all women with respect and kindness.
What is your best piece of advice to other Mothers?
We all make mistakes! We all feel like failures every now and then. No one really talks about or owns their mistakes on social media, but we all do it! Know you are doing the best with what you have right now and as long as your kids are fed, clean, safe and more importantly feel loved you are enough!
I was told at a positive parenting workshop "you only have to get it right 20% of the time and your kids will be fine". It was reassuring and has always stuck with me. I hope it helps you too!
What are your hopes for your children?
Ultimately to be healthy and find happiness within themselves.
Mental health is a big one for me and is of the most importance when it comes to our boys. I often say to my husband I don't care if they have no money, live in a van, run a muck and surf every day... as long as they are happy that is all I care about. Life has never been about money for me or achieving success in the form of a career or physical appearance... it has always been about doing what makes you truly happy.
What is your go-to meal for busy mums? Please feel free to share the recipe
Oh! I just discovered an excellent recipe, I kind of made it up and now its going to be my go-to every week! Oven bake gnocchi! All you do is combine the ingredients in an oven safe dish for 20-30 minutes until the cheese is melted and the cream has thickened a little into a sauce. Done and delicious! Enjoy and let me know what you think!
2 packs of gnocchi (cooked and drained)
1 tub of cream
mushrooms fried with garlic
onion fried with garlic
sliced roasted red peppers
Images from my personal family collection above by Melissa Sprlyan Photography, Lana Pratt Photography and Erin McKenzie Creative E
Melissa Sprlyan Photography specializes in newborn portraiture in Perth, Western Australia. Melissa Sprlyan Photography also specializes in maternity and family lifestyle sessions in the Perth metropolitan area including Fremantle, Rockingham, Mandurah, Scarborough, Joondalup, Yanchep and Perth Hills. If you are looking for a newborn session in Perth I would love to begin planning your newborn portraits in the comfort of your own home.
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