Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Story of Mum

story of mum exhibitionI was introduced to a this great website "Story of Mum" and exhibit by an inspiring woman I met, Joy Rose, Executive Director of The Museum of Motherhood located in upper Manhattan, New York.  Though the site features our fellow "mums" in the UK, the issues of motherhood are universal.

As mothers, it's not often that we feel seen, heard and valued. Yet our everyday stories matter, and sharing them can inspire others.Story of Mum: Mums making an exhibition of ourselves is a touring program of exhibitions and events in galleries and online that aims to put mothers in the spotlight. 

BritMums - Leading the ConversationThe exhibition celebrates motherhood, explores the impact of mothering on our identities, and encourages mums worldwide to share their stories in words, photos, collage and film. 

Find out more at 

Parallel to the real life events, a virtual exhibition is travelling round the world, stopping for mini exhibitions on blogs - like mine! Participants are asked to choose items from the existing exhibition, create one item to add to the exhibition, and share their thoughts on these and their identity in motherhood. I'm proud to be a part of this important work of art and house it here on my blog.  Here is my exhibition: 

  I Curated This:
I selected two photos that resonated with me from the "I"m a Mum and a...." gallery where women complete the sentence with one or multiple words in a photo.

I'm a Mum and I'm Trying My Best!
Even though this mom looks very happy and has lovely manicured fingernails, I know she is likely tired, feels like her house is never clean, and like she is treading only slightly above the choppy waters of parenthood.  When every hour of every day asks you to be so many things, all you can say as a mom is that you are trying to do your best, celebrate small victories, and forgive yourself daily for the ones that you don't achieve.

I'm a Mum and A Non-Stop Worrier!
This mom's photo reminded me of  a recent discussion I had with a friend about how the anxiety of motherhood is endless.  I remember feeling completely anxious the first time I took my daughter for  walk a few weeks after her birth.  She was no more than a foot in front of me, lying snuggling in her stroller, but the inability for me to simply touch my tummy and know that she was safe struck me.  From wondering if she is warm enough, has had enough to eat, if she will be okay because she hasn't pooped in four days, to whether or not kids are sharing with her on the playground, I know this energy of worry will be something that stays with me for the rest of my life and will continue to fuel whatever is making my hair grow grayer by the minute.

I Created This:

I'm a Mom and I'm Afraid
I keep having the most frightening dream.  My husband and I somehow decide to leave our apartment with our daughter sleeping in her room alone for hours.  We are out having a good time when I realize its late and she probably woke up.  I start to panic thinking no one is there with her.  That she is screaming for us and scared.   We quickly hop in the car but it doesn't move so we get out and walk through thick, tall snow.  Its taking too long and I am calling for someone to help and they don't.   I imagine how terrified my daughter is as I answer my ringing cell phone.  Its my husband who somehow got ahead of me.   "Why did I do this?" I scream at him, my voice loud and shaky,  "How can I do this?"  I'm confused and know even in my dream this is something I wouldn't do.  He tells me his sister is there and I'm relieved but when I ask him if our daughter is okay his voice turns somber.  The fear and guilt well up in my chest and pull me out of the dream.  I'm sweating, back in my bed, my daughter safely asleep in hers. The anxiety is palpable and lingering around me as I catch my breathe.

I'm a mother and I'm afraid.  Afraid I won't be able to protect my daughter from everyone and everything.  While I am so many things:  a worker, daughter, wife, cleaner, errand runner, class parent, I am fearful that the one last sliver of energy I have, the most important job of being a mother, will somehow not get my 100% in the moment its needed most.  My dream can represent so many things and so many insecurities I face as a parent.  But the biggest issue I see when I recall these images is the lack of control.  The lack of control you inevitably have as a mother once the child leaves your womb.  From natural disasters to the unthinkable happening in classrooms  I start to ask: Why did I do this?  Why did I bring this child into a world that I may not be able to protect her from?  But I know the answer is clear.  Because that is what we do.  We are not complete without our children.  Motherhood is our evolutionary right and blessing.  And though bad things happen we have to bury the fear in order to grow and experience the depth and beauty of love.

I am a mom.  I am afraid.  I will likely not stop being afraid for my child's safety for the rest of her life.  And I'm certain I'm not the only one.

Find out about how to submit your own mini exhibition or find other mini exhibitions to visit on the virtual Story of Mum: Mums making an exhibition of ourselves tour here.


  1. Such a moving post. Thanks so much for joining the exhibition and sharing your fears - I can relate very much to that sense of overwhelming fear that joins you as you become a mother - a desire to protect them from everything, and yet an awareness that if you protect them from everything they won't have the skills they need to protect themselves when the time comes. In your dream, I also sense that conflict between time for ourselves and time for them - another element of motherhood that seems to pull so many of us - how much time is it OK to take for our own needs, and how much of us do we need to give to them. A really thought-provoking and powerful post, thank you. I wish you calmer nights. xx

  2. I am a Mother and Grandmother. My daughter is 46 with a daughter and son soon to be 43 with 2 daughters.
    Both are beautiful and healthy with wonderful spouses.
    Yet.....I still sometimes worry!!!!
    I always wish my daughter to be "happy" and stress free, as well as my son and his family. Well...Life is just not that way. I am blessed....but still sometimes "WORRY!"

  3. I'm a Mom and I am afraid all the time. I am afraid that my past will prevent me from being a good Mother. I am afraid that my son won't love me. I am afraid that i am incapable of connecting with him because of the walls I have spent years building. The fear is so paralyzing I can even think about giving my husband or two year old son a sibling. I never thought something so beautiful could be so painful.

  4. Parenting is terrifying! Such a huge responsibility to help our children develop into the greatest little people they can possibly be. Sometimes the weight of it is so crushing. The fear of getting it wrong. Then throw in the safety worries.

    I'm afraid too. We can't let it get the better of us!

    Great post x