Barbara Valente, Rebecca (13), and Jonathan "JJ" (11)
Nyack, NY | Brooklyn, NY
This is Barbara's third time participating in the project. You can view her previous photos and stories here.
Barbara shares -
"When I gave birth to my daughter 13.5 years ago, I had never felt so powerful. My body did what it was supposed to do and the birth process was truly magical. I fed her from my breast and she grew and grew and grew. It truly was life changing. But after my son was born, it took some time for me to get reacquainted with my new rounder, softer, bigger body. I lost a ton of weight and then gained a bunch of it back. I also went thought a divorce and subsequently a bad breakup. During all this I was able to make peace with my ever changing and evolving body that I new can see as a gift.
After my daughter was born, breastfeeding was not as easy as I had expected. It took a few weeks to establish a solid breastfeeding relationship but after we "got it" it was beautiful. When my son was born two years later, it was much easier to get in the groove of feeding which overall made life as a family of 4 much less stressful. The way I fought PPD was to keep busy, maybe to a fault. I left the house right away and did not let each birth keep me inside, away form the world. Also, I was able to stay on the medications that kept my brain in check which was huge. As they grew and chanced, I kept putting one foot in front of the other and that was critical for me not sinking into depression.
Now that I seem to have fully entered perimenopause, my body is changing yet again. I am traversing it with as much of an open heart as possible, however there are days I just cant get out of bed. I am gentle with myself when needed but know that that can be a slippery slope. This new era feels like my body is something I don't 100% understand and a total stranger, yet I love it more each day.
My truth is I am not perfect and that is OK! My motherhood journey is hard, and messy, and beautiful, and amazing, and painful, and loving, and uncomfortable, and empty, and full, and unconditional, and everything in-between. I have learned to pick my battles with my kids AND with myself. There are days that are fantastic and there are days that are ugly. I am trying to keep it all together but also am not too hard on myself when there are days life feels like it is all falling apart.
I lost myself for years trying to be something I am not, conforming to what I thought motherhood and relationships were supposed to look like. In the last two and a half years I have realized that my perception of life and what life really is are two totally different things. Thought countless therapy, spending time in silence, creating new positive friendships and ultimately putting myself first I have discovered a whole new amazing world I never knew existed. I have excepted my place as a mother and a women, imperfections and all.
The other thing I have realized is that truth telling has to be at the core of everything. One of the biggest things I have learned is that my voice matters and I need to use it to speak my truth. When talking about relationships, friendships, co-parenting, or with my own parents, speaking my truth is all I have. Lies only hurt my heart, being told them or telling them. Opening your heart and practicing truth telling will change every aspect of your life.
This is our third time and the first participating with a group of mothers. I am so looking forward to meeting other women and they children and hearing there stories.