letters from lauren

Relax and Pedal Harder

Relax and Pedal Harder

My daughter has been learning to ride a big girl bike; it is hard, scary, and frustrating (For both of us.) Re-perched after a fall, she began to sing, "relax and pedal harder; relax and pedal harder when you're scared on a bike."  I smiled and breathed deeply – those were just words Mama needed to hear.

Letters from Lauren: Responsibility

Letters from Lauren: Responsibility

As a culture, we tend to isolate and delegate the health and well-being of women and infants. We tend to make them "someone else's problem" instead of taking joint responsibility as individuals and as a community. Do we as friends, sisters, mothers, nurses, doulas, midwives, and more consider the comfort of the mother's environment, her quality of her story, her specific and unique desires? Do we consider her emotional, physical, and mental well-being during the labor process? 

Letters from Lauren: I See You

Letters from Lauren: I See You

We're taking a little detour from our usual 'Friday Introductions' and sharing our executive director's very personal letter this week. This letter serves as its own introduction of sorts, not only to Lauren, but to our organization. We hope you enjoy it.

Letters from Lauren: The Why

Letters from Lauren: The Why

Questions and information in hand, I found myself sitting naked in a paper gown in the office of a female care provider. I expected my questions to be met with a feministic cheer... maybe even a pat on the back! You can imagine my surprise when, instead of support, I received an eye roll and a trip to "blood work" without any explanation. No conversation, no questions, no referrals, nothing.

Being Known

Being Known

At the Motherhood Collective, one of our taglines is "no one is alone." The reason it is phrased this way is because often, we feel the opposite. We sit alone in our homes attempting to do "it” alone, while all around our cities and communities other women sit doing exactly the same thing. You are not alone, my friend--you just feel you are.

Does our work matter?

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Does the unnoticed, messy, relentless, thankless, work matter? In a world full of big and grand, I have been dwelling on this recently. We applaud high attendance at events, we worship those with millions of Instagram followers, we praise leaders who bring help to thousands, and we yearn after bigger houses, bigger cars and bigger paychecks.

But what about the small? What about the mother with several children at home who bathes, feeds, and dresses the same little bodies every day? Does her work matter? What about the mother who balances daycare, employment, and bedtime routines? Or the mother who just gained custody of the older children? Does her work matter?

I would argue that, YES, her work matters immensely. For her investment is not in something that quickly depreciates or that will fade away with time. Her investment is generational. Her investment is in something greater than herself. Her investment leaves a legacy. Her investment, though quiet, teaches the most beautiful of all lessons. Her investment teaches how to love.

So keep up the good work today, my friends. I see you. THEY see you. You are changing lives in the most beautiful way.

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Our stories.

Photo by Liz Cook of Sincerely, Liz, Inc.

Our stories. Are they important? Do they shape our children? Do they shape us? As a culture we are losing the art of storytelling. Oh, we can boast. We can complain. We can argue. We can "talk". I know I personally hesitate to tell my story if it is messy. After all who would want to hear my pain and my struggles, my unmet expectations, mistakes, and failures?

I know one person who would, my daughter. In fact, just the other day she asked about how I "disappointed my mama." What did I do to make her sad? How did I learn? It woke me up and made me realize that stories are not supposed to be perfect. Stories present us opportunities to learn.

Each of you, as women, has a story. You have a life story. You have a motherhood story. You have a narrative that is longing to be told and that just might encourage someone in a season right behind you.

Maybe you're in the midst of infertility struggles. Maybe you've just lost a baby. Maybe you're pregnant for the first time. Maybe you're the mother of twins. Maybe you're a mother through adoption. Maybe you're the biological mother of 10. Maybe you dislike breastfeeding. Maybe you long to breastfeed.

We need to hear your stories. I long for you to use them to encourage someone around you or to share a lesson learned with your children. You are valuable and so is your story.

With love,

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You're not alone.

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I've had two hard weeks personally. Snow, sickness and the lack of school has not really helped my outlook. Do you have weeks like this? Weeks where you can't get ahead? Where laundry piles up, emails go unwritten, texts and messages pile up on your phone? You ever feel like you're failing as a mother, partner, friend, employee? Perhaps your struggles run even deeper. Perhaps you roll your eyes at the things above and think, "if only she knew the extent of my pain." Well, I might not know each hurt, each ache, each problem. But I know this. You're not alone. I'm so sorry for your bad week. Your bad month. Your bad year. I'm sorry for the pain that might run beneath it all. My heart hurts for you that this journey of MOTHERHOOD is not as simple as we all dreamed.

It is easy to isolate myself when I feel this way. To imagine my problems (small or large) will annoy my friends. But we need each other, don't we? We need to walk MOTHERHOOD together. This is one of the reasons I am so thankful for this organization. I has brought me into relationship with women I never would have known. Women who are nothing like me, but are my who are my partners in MOTHERHOOD.

Even if your little world is pain free, don't do MOTHERHOOD alone. Pour into someone else now, today. For, together we are SERVING WOMEN and CHANGING LIVES. I know you've changed mine.

Most sincerely,

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We need relationships.

Photo by Liz Cook of Sincerely, Liz, Inc.

Sending you warm and loving thoughts as we near Valentine's Day. Motherhood can be such a lonely and isolating job. I don't desire that for any of you. We need relationships. We need them on the sunshine and rainbows days and on the dark and stormy days. Sometimes, though, it takes a first step. It takes being uncomfortable. It takes effort. It takes reaching out.

Will you challenge yourself? Will you push your fears aside as we near the holiday that celebrates relationships? Text a friend. Go on a walk with a neighbor. Join us at playgroup. Practice self care and attend a support group.

I loved seeing all the new and familiar faces at the Café yesterday morning! I applaud each of you for putting in the work to make it there. I hope the laughter was refreshing and the panel educational. If there is ever any way in which we could be serving you better, would you email me at: lbarnes@themotherhoodcollective.org?

We are here for you. We long to see a societal change in maternal health. Will that change start with you?

Most sincerely,

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"Nurturing the mother to grow the child."

Photo by Liz Cook of Sincerely, Liz, Inc.

January is almost over. Winter storms cover the East Coast. What an honor it has been to serve you wherever motherhood finds you this winter. Are you familiar with our tagline? "Nurturing the mother to grow the child." Do you know how deeply we believe this? Motherhood is challenging. Our primary goal is to nurture, support and educate you; enabling you to make the choices best for your family. We are passionate about cheering you on - helping you find your truth.

My heart was filled to overflowing as I watched so many of you play with different baby carriers at the Saturday Café Express and Monday Café. Your laughter and encouragement was contagious. For those of you who joined us for the first time, I applaud you for your bravery in stepping out to connect with women you did not know. For those of you who missed your time with us, be sure to visit the blog for recaps and valuable information.

Be sure to check out all of the upcoming events listed on the calendar. There are many opportunities for connection and support wherever you have need. If there is any way in which we could be serving you better, please let me know.

All my love,

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Happy New Year from The Motherhood Collective!

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For those of you who joined us for the first time yesterday morning, welcome! We enjoyed meeting each of you and truly hope you were able to connect, learn and receive support. If you have any questions about yesterday's topic, panelists, our resources, please let me know: lbarnes@themotherhoodcollective.org. The Café panelists covered a vast array of subjects, from adding value to our children to their methods of correction. They encouraged us to embrace today, reminding us that the challenges we face today will fade and new obstacles will arise with each year of growth (even when our children are grown!). Each season with our children is precious and brief. Eileen spoke of how she writes out a blessing for her children full of hopes for their future and affirmations of who they are today. She reads this to them on their birthday and frames them. What a beautiful idea!

Our hope for this year is to bring more depth to our education and support by serving you in love, on purpose and with focus. We are honored to create spaces where women of all philosophies, parenting theories, ages, and backgrounds can come together and support one another. Together we will "nurture the mother to grow the child".

Most sincerely,

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