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Monday, May 5, 2014

In praise of that magical mystery tour called Motherhood.

I became a mama on March 2nd, 1989. I was a month short of my 21st birthday. Following the birth, my British obstetrician brought me a six-pack of Guinness and told me to drink it. He said it would help bring in the breast milk. I will never forget the feeling when I rather suddenly, with a course of surprising convulsions in the breast area, morphed from a flat-chested recent teenager into a voluptuous, life-giving woman. I shuffled in my hospital slippers into the bathroom to admire my new bust in the mirror. Alas, I only got to keep those as long as I was breastfeeding.
The decision to become a mother, I once read, is like agreeing to have your heart beat outside your own body. And as a mother, you go through phases where you feel extremely close to and fulfilled by your children, and other phases where you feel slightly detached and removed. Motherhood is a mind game, a thrill ride and an epic drama, all rolled into one. We define ourselves by our success and failures, and motherhood can teach us harsh lessons.
Our relationships with our mothers (and with our fathers) help to shape us as people. Our relationships with our children help to shape them into the adults they will be and so on it goes.
I think the biggest lessons in my life have not been the ones I have taught my children but rather the ones they have taught me, as we all went through the phases of child rearing, divorce and blending into a new family.  I am so proud of the independent women they are – not because of my parenting but because of their own strong characters.
My girls and I were recently the models for a Mother’s Day campaign. We were asked to ‘glam it up’ for the photo shoot, in dressy black tops and full makeup, with our best hair. Getting four busy women together at the same time in the same place is a feat in itself. Milena had to be brought in the night before to sleep at her sister’s house in Kemptville. Anastasia was up before dawn as usual so that wasn’t a problem but I went early to Paulina’s place on that Saturday morning because, as a night person, I knew she would need a fire lit under her to get her going.
When I arrived, Milena was running around in search of a hair dryer. Paulina admitted she didn’t own one. Milena, who has her mother’s fine hair, was a bit distraught to say the least. “But I need it to puff my hair up! How can a person live without a hair dryer?!” I offered to run to Giant Tiger to get her one but she adapted. We each chose a black top to wear, as per the photographer’s instructions, and made it just a few minutes late to our appointment at the residence and photo studio of Elenora Luberto ( in the eQuinelle subdivision.
Elenora opened the door with a big smile on her face that said she was happy with our hair and makeup (despite our decision to opt out of the false eyelashes that most of us cannot deal with). Upon inspection of our outfits, however, Paulina and I had to change. Her v-neck sweater was too casual and my button-up blouse made it appear that I was simply late for work.
The photo shoot lasted just over an hour but it gave all of us a better respect for professional models. At the end of the session of arching that back, leaning toward the camera, squatting just so and holding that pose, we all felt like we had just been through a workout with a professional fitness trainer.
Here are some of the comments that I saved throughout the session, first from the photographer: “If I curse, that means it looks goooood.” “No burping, no farting.”
And from my oh-so-elegant and ladylike daughters whilst trying to hold the prescribed pose: “Hey I don’t fart.” “ooops I just burped.”  “My face is itchy…whose hand am I holding anyway?” “My quads are screaming!”
“I smell peanuts.” “I took a biscotti.” “Now I’m hungry. That was my stomach.” “Shut up!” And the prize-winner that cracked us all up: “Someone’s boob is on my shoulder.”
The resulting photos; some serious, some Mona Lisa smile, some busting into communal laughter, are timeless reminders that despite my days of doubt and nights of worry, somewhere along the way my three girls and I turned out okay.


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