August 11, 2017

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a portrait of my son, once a week 

Rafa Top three things: Bird, Wo Wo (water), and Buses

Previous portraits here.

That Mum

August 10, 2017



photo by kama catch me

I read, quite a lot actually. Which surprised me, especially in those first few weeks with Rafa (who didn’t sleep much). In those early weeks I was devouring books at a pace that surprised me. It’s in my nature to turn to books: for solace and for information. I’ve since read a lot of books about child development and yes, parenting. Growing the human seemed like the easier part. The more I read I notice sometimes subtly and other times more obviously how “that mum” is often mocked, and how that ”other” mum is praised.

It seems easier for people to hear “parenting is hard, this shit sucks, today my baby screamed, pooped on the rug and vomited on me.” This mum seems to be congratulated for her honesty. This mum is the mum literature suggests is an accurate representation of motherhood and the realities of parenting.

Much harder, it appears, for people to hear is “I’m so tired, but we had a great day. I managed to get to the green grocer, got a healthy meal on the table, took my child to the art gallery and got a fluffy and hot chocolate on the way home.” This mum, no one wants to know her. And if they do, it’s only to ridicule her unfair, and dishonest representation of motherhood.

After reading many version of the latter description and the ensuing analysis that this type of mum is unrealistic to aspire to, and the suggestions that this mum is somewhat fictional and not good for herself or her child. I felt disheartened and was left feeling that my experience of motherhood shouldn’t be shared or spoken about beyond my absolute inner circle. Or that if asked how things were going, I must under no circumstance talk about that latter description. No. I must instead mention how tired I am, and then society will comfort me, offer me ‘support’ in the form of tremendously unhelpful words.

You see, friends, I did find parenting shitty – those first few weeks. I didn’t find them joyful. I was over the moon and so in love with my child, but there was no magic in it. He cried, he didn’t seem to want to sleep anywhere other than on me, I was so tired and so sore. It wasn’t until later that he started engaging with me, doing things, interacting with the world that the magic began. Back then, there were so many messages from new mums saying thank you, I was too scared to say this, or yes, this is what it’s like for me too.

Now. Now things are very different and they have been very different for a while. I absolutely love the days that Rafa and I share together. Sure we argue – like in any relationship. But I cross my heart, we manage splendid trips to the greengrocer, read, play, make a mess, get dinner done, enjoy an outing (either the museum, art gallery, or the park, or some place, any place), and then a cafe date, and then at around 4pm we clean up the toys together. Lately, Rafa has loved vacuuming so we vacuum. I might spend the early evening baking. There’s a little bit of time of read, a little more to work (either creative or professional) and some for Patrick and I.

I’m by no means the perfect mother. I’m learning so much from other parents, from books, from Rafa. From failing, spectacularly (often). The reason that I write this is because I truly do not feel like one type of mother should be placed on a pedestal. I can’t talk about shitty, crappy days if I don’t have them (the same way I can’t talk about a child that naps for 3 hours in the day, because I’ve never had one that does that). And being dishonest about my experience would be a disservice to my child, to our children. But for so long I shied from talking about our days because they weren’t full of poo explosion, vomit down my clothes or drama. I felt that, that was all people wanted to hear about. No one wanted to know that Rafa and I spent almost 40 minutes sitting and putting stickers on paper (which really is a wonderful activity to strengthen hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills).

I want to be able to freely express my mothering and my motherhood experience. And you should be able to freely express yours. Whatever it maybe. And however you choose to express yours (expletives and all, if you choose).  What I don’t want to do is say “so tiring” in answer to “‘how is it going?”, I want to answer honestly, which at this point in time is “wonderfully! I feel like we’re both thriving!” The mum that I AM, that’s the mum I want to be and to talk about. “THAT MUM”, is the mum that I am at this point in time. I want to hear about the mum that you are, whatever and however she maybe. We might have a thing or two to learn from each other, or perhaps, we’ll just sit quietly with nothing to offer the other except silent strength and a safe space to be “that mum”.


August 7, 2017

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a portrait of my son, once a week 

Rafa We cut it fine, but this is the last time you get the bassinet when we travel

Previous portraits here.

The Handiest Skincare Product For Travel

August 6, 2017


We’ve just returned from our sojourn to Fiji, crashing right into Winter with single digit temperatures but thankfully a clear and sunny sky. These two months away have taught me so much about parenting, myself and the things we own and use. Most relevant to this post is the handiest skincare product for travel – Something I discovered, rather serendipitously. In my little, clear carry-on pouch I quickly collected items for the flight – lip balm, hand-sanitizer, face mist/toner, lipstick and this Savar Advanced Hand Repair. The only reason this 60ml bottle of hand cream was thrown in was because Rafa had been playing with it. He loves it when you pump some onto his hands and he rubs them together, and then hits himself in the face (trying to rub it on). It’s the cutest thing, and it also means he has the nicest hands.

During the numerous flights, I quickly discovered that not only did it keep Rafa entertained but it served as more than just a hand cream. I was using it on my face (and Rafa’s face) and on his hands and legs. Rafa also loves lip balm and will destroy ours if given the chance. So the hand cream doubled as a lip balm. It proved just as moisturizing and quite pleasant in its newly acquired role (I continued using it as such). Serendipitous use number three, a weapon to tame fly away strands of hair – again, on both my and Rafa’s head. For most of our trip I tried to keep Rafa’s hair semi-acceptable using the hand cream, and tamed my locks in the process.

The product wasn’t in my carry-on case intentionally, but I’m glad it was. A single product that can be stretched for a variety of uses helps minimize waste, space and allows you to get more from your money. The Savar Advanced Hand Repair truly surprised me – a real workhorse, but humble in comparison to the other glamours products on offer.


August 1, 2017

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a portrait of my son, once a week 

Rafa “Daddy, daddy…DAD!”
*not the best quality photo, but it’s my favorite from this week

Previous portraits here.

What Women Supporting Women Looks Like

July 23, 2017

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Photo by Adi Kautea Nacola for Talanoa

I haven’t understood how important the whole concept of women supporting women really was until I experienced the un-supportiveness of women I admired and respected. It seemed that while I was in the infancy of my education and career it was easier for these women to be supportive. As my career progressed not only did their support dwindle, but oftentimes they actively acted in ways that were detrimental to opportunities and development.

How easy it is to support those who are trying to find their way. When you’re a little ahead of them, it’s easy to be supportive and encouraging. But what happens when you perceive the same individuals to have caught up, or to be doing better than you. I say perceive because that’s all it is, your perception of their ‘success’ and your perception of how this compares to who you are and what you do. I’ve been challenging myself to be as supportive and helpful to individuals, women especially, regardless of where they are in their journeys. Slowly making their way, or wildly successful.

When the Pacific storyteller, Arieta from Talanoa announced her plans to hold an event in Suva, Patrick and I jumped at the opportunity to attend and show our support. This was before even finding out exactly what her event was about. Here’s what women supporting women, or the spirit of community over competition means and looks like for me – sitting at the back of the room, a baby asleep in your aching arms. Not being able to participate entirely as I would have liked but being determined to be there nonetheless. In the end I rocked my child, breastfeed and followed him around as he tried to get to all the food on the table!

What I’ve learnt about supporting women, and others in general is the importance of showing up and engaging. Using Arieta’s event as an example, I didn’t go in thinking about what Arieta could teach me (though I left with a better understanding of what she wanted to achieve with Talanoa) and I cringed at the price of the tickets (and by two, as Patrick came along as well). But we went because here’s a young woman pursuing what she’s passionate about. My thoughts about the session are irrelevant in this context because what I wanted was to show my support. You don’t always have to understand everything, or agree entirely to show someone support. And there’s nothing worse than talking about something without having experienced it.

It is vital that we put our differences on issues, methods or opinions aside to show support. I think even if you vehemently disagree with someone it is important to engage with them. How else can you strengthen your argument or develop clarity about their point of view. I feel like watching other people succeed, and being a small part of their journey, is incredibly rewarding, but also so important for my own growth and development.

At this point in my life and career I try to support women by offering a few pro-bono mentoring slots, offering a mentoring and coaching program, dedicating a few hours or days of work time to run workshops, training or develop lectures to local NGOs pro-bono, attending events, and connecting as many individuals to other individuals or organisations as I can. Essentially making connections between people and opportunities. And these days my supporting women is supported by the two men in my life. Patrick coming along to show his support but to also help look after our child whom we take everywhere with us!

How do you support women? How do you think women could best support each other? 



July 22, 2017

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a portrait of my son, once a week 

Rafa Every where with us, all the time.

Photo by Adi Kautea Nacola

Previous portraits here.

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