We Are All Mothers - A Project by Julia Stride - Little Bird Birth Services

In every essence of my being, I have understood motherhood to be raw. There have been days where I question every part of myself--my body, my mind and my soul. I have learned more about myself in the last two years then the twenty six that I've been on this earth. I have grown to accept all types of people, regardless of how they choose to live their life. I have grasped at the end of the rope for far too long to question why someone chooses to do the things they do. Instead I now choose to reach out my hand for the others who may be grasping at whatever strings they may have left on the end of their rope. My struggles have taught me that regardless of the struggles we may face, the barriers in our way, the culture we grow up in, we all have a story. We all have hearts and we all have struggles. In every essence of my being I know one thing that is true:

We Are All Mothers.

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For the last five months I have spent countless hours cultivating, growing, and delving within this project. I have met with 10 amazing mothers in various stages of motherhood (pregnancy, newly postpartum or with children up to three years old) who have willingly shared their stories with me and bravely share their stories with you. Upon meeting with them in their homes I photographed them and their children in a documentary type style photoshoot, then they shared their story with me. This project is about empowerment. It is about  bravery, strength, maternal mental health and destigmatization. It is to celebrate every type of mother. It is to celebrate uniqueness, but also to celebrate the sacred interwoven connectedness that all mothers have. This project is meant to honour mothers and to share resources within our community. It is to celebrate that even amongst the struggles we are beautiful. It is to honour, respect and validate the fact that regardless of how we choose to parent, choose to live, whether we have struggled with maternal mental health issues, grief, loss, or birth trauma we are mothers.

These amazing mothers that stand beside me in the above image have bravely shared their stories with me and you, in hopes of building community, support and a village. Over the next 11 weeks I will be sharing their stories on my website and social media platforms as part of this project. With each story, you will see these mothers in their normal everyday environment--their home with their children. Each story is shared with permission and I ask that when you read it you respect and honour their stories. Along with their stories, I will be sharing resources that are available to mothers and parents in the community of Powell River. 

I strongly believe that story telling is a vital part of bonding and community. By sharing our stories we become vulnerable yet also relatable. We open up a part of ourselves when we share our stories. Our worlds seem less lonely and there is nothing better then knowing that you aren't alone in the path you must walk. Parenthood is hard. Pregnancy is hard, child birth is hard and postpartum is hard. It is transformative and beautiful amongst the chaos. Some days when we are in the thick of it, it is hard to remember that we aren't alone, but if you are reading this I want you to remember that you aren't alone.

At the end of the eleven weeks once I have shared each mothers story in the series, I will be sharing our final group get together that I recently held and photographed with the wonderful Tara from Tara Glenn Photography - You can find Tara on Instagram and Facebook. This group get together was held to have each mother meet with each other and build a village amongst ourselves. It was held to celebrate their journeys and as final thank you to all of the moms who participated. The images provided of us in our undergarments were to celebrate our bodies and our awesomeness. Postpartum is an intense time, and we all deserve to celebrate our own self worth. The beautiful photos that I have provided on this blog post are courtesy of Tara. 

If you've stuck with me this far, thank you. This project is dear to my heart and I have spent much of my time creating and building it. While there are like projects amongst social media this project is unique in the fact that the sharing of each mom's story is presented and photographed in her own home. This creates an even more intimate and relatable experience because we all know how many dirty dishes and piles of laundry motherhood entails. I hope that when you read these stories you find a sense of belonging and courage. I hope this project reminds you of how beautiful your story is, regardless of the path you are on.

 We are beautiful, We are strong, We are courageous, We are brave, We are worthy and We are enough. 

We Are All Mothers.