What I Love About Being A Mother

Yes, like every other parent, I have my off parenting days. Days where I literally feel like I’ve completed no tasks but yelling till my throat is tired. I could vent for hours upon hours on how my son James laid on the floor of our local Kmart screaming, because he didn’t want to leave ( I felt his pain, I never want to leave Kmart either). Or how my daughter Maddy told me I “broke her heart into two” when I told her she can’t have an ice block for breakfast – true story.

Honestly I’ve had the moments where I’ve been so frustrated I actually yelled “FUCK” to the ceiling (as if someone was actually going to bust through the roof and save me) and yes I’ve had minutes where I day dream and make a mental note of all things I’m going to do when the kids finally hit primary school (6 hours of complete silence – heck yeah!). All mothers do that. It doesn’t mean we hate motherhood, or that we regret having babies. I love being mother. Hands down has got to be the greatest thing that has ever happened in my life. Apart from discovering Korean Dramas – have you ever watched an episode? It’s a drug I tell you!

You know what beats the thing’s that my kids do that drive me insane? The things they do that make me love being a mother! To celebrate our special day – Mothers Day. I have listed a few things that I love about being a mother.



1. The Lessons They’ve Taught Me

My kids have taught me more lessons than I could have ever learnt in my years of studying, reading books and pinning on Pinterest. All us mothers can agree that our kids have enlightened us, taught us things about ourselves, about the world and about empathy.

As annoying as the constant “why?” our kids ask us can be, it really opens up our minds.

“Mum, why is the sky blue?” Had to google that one.

“Mum, why does everything cost money?”

“Mum, if you and daddy are true loves first kiss then why are you yelling at each other?” 

There was even a time when I explained to Maddy what poverty is and she asked me “Why don’t people who have money share it with the poor people?” Yes, my four year old asked me that. Trying to explain an answer to what seemed like a simple question made me just sit still and think “far out, ay.”

I’ve always been a person with a lot of empathy, but never to the level that I have now. Our kids have so much innocence. They haven’t been jaded like we have. They don’t see things as complicated as we do. They have a fresh new set of eyes that makes me look at things and learn lessons that I’ve never realised before.

2. Forgiveness

Kids are all about forgiving. One minute they are literally fist fighting with each other, the next they are both holding hands and playing like nothing ever happened. Kids forgive so easily, they never carry a grudge.

No good parent loves spanking or yelling at their children. Yes we do it, because it’s our job to teach them the difference between right and wrong, and sometimes yes we do it out of frustration, but the second we do it we feel guilt and sorry.

I can’t even count the amount of times I secretly cried in my room after I’ve spanked James on the arse for drawing on the walls. I spank him, he cries, I cry and then he forgives me.

No matter how much I’ve yelled, “broken my kids hearts into two” or made my kids cry, they will always come to back to me, hug me and love me. And that’s one thing I will never forget. Your kids will always forgive you.

3. Purpose & Strength

When I went through morning sickness for three months, I felt like giving up.

When I pushed and got 2nd degree tears during birth, I felt like giving up.

When I had sleepless nights because I was rocking a crying baby, I felt like giving up.

There were tough days I thought I’d never get through and I’d think “Shit, I can’t do this.” But somehow I did. I got through them all. And that was because of my children. They gave and showed a strength in me that I didn’t even know I had.

And this is the reason why I think parenthood is probably the most challenging thing you will ever go through in your entire life. Because when you become a parent, you will forever have the responsibility of being a parent. You can’t give up and say “I quit this job, it sucks, I don’t want it.” You force yourself to get through the tough times. And you do it, every-fucken-day.

I remember it took me about 2 years to realise my fathers death, 2 fricken years from his funeral to realise he was actually gone and wasn’t on a long vacation. Boy, was I a mess. I didn’t want to get out of bed, I didn’t want to eat or get ready for the day. I wanted to stay in bed for a month, not change my underwear and just cry. But I didn’t. I had a purpose to wake up for, I had my children waiting for their mum to come and get them out of bed.

On my lowest of lows my kids always remained to give me a purpose, a purpose to get up out of bed every single morning, a purpose to take care of my health and myself. They are your reason to keep on going and stand up tall during the hardest of times.

4. Laughter

As much as my kids drive me up the wall with their antics, they also use those antics to have me rolling on the floor laughing (literally, ROFL).

I could spend the entire day chasing my kids, yelling at them, putting them in the naughty corner over something ridiculous that they’ve done. But, no matter what, at the end of every single day, I find myself reflecting and I start laughing. It’s the exact same ridiculous things my kids did which drove me up the wall, that also had me laughing in bed that very moment.

There was a time when Maddy was just under 2 years old and she kept running away from me every time I tried giving her her medicine. She would bolt and I would have to chase after her. She tried running and hiding from me so many times that she ended up getting stuck under the dining table – don’t ask me how. At the time I was so upset and frustrated, but later on that night I was in tears from laughing at the exact same situation.

Children will make you experience a time of laughter you’ve never had before, and they will guarantee to give you that every single day, for the rest of your life. It’s amazing.

5. Love

I’ve loved many before my children. I loved hard. But then my kids were introduced into my life and I experienced a whole new level of love. It’s really a different kind of love. It’s different to the love you have for your own parents, for your friends or your partner. I don’t know if this will make any kind of sense but the love a mother has for her children is like this warm, pure, light, unconditional glow of love.

I remember when I had my first born Maddy, I was head over heels in love with her. My whole universe revolved around her. Then I got pregnant with James. I had this fear before he came. I was worried and thought “No way could I have enough love to give him, I’ve used it all up on Maddy.” But I was wrong. As soon as I held James in my arms for the first time, I felt it. I felt that warm, pure, light, unconditional glow of love for him. It was like the love just poured out and kept refilling. I didn’t run out of it like I thought I would. It was an outpour of love.

Children give you this sense and type of love that you will never experience any other way. It’s just beautiful.

There are so many more things I love about being a mother. Like seeing my kids satisfied faces after they eat a home made meal I’ve prepared, dancing like crazy with them to Kpop or the late night cuddles I get when they sneak into our bedroom at 2 o’clock in the morning. Motherhood has a lot of perks and I would never exchange it for anything in this world.

Happy Mothers Day to my fellow warriors out there. Please never forget everything we do as Mothers. We are strong, amazing women, who always gets shit done, juggles tasks, has a permanent memo in our heads and continuously wipes spilt milk. We are the bravest and strongest out there and no one could ever replace our position – because only we can do, what we do, for our own. Happy Mothers Day!

xo Vanessa



Dear Maddy Ava,

To My Dearest Daughter Maddy,

You, only a few hours old. My precious little girl. So new to this world.

As I am writing you this letter I am watching you play with your baby brother James in the park. You are both currently pretending to serve invisible cupcakes and pizza to invisible customers. You always had such an imagination. Ever so often I am hearing James call out for you to help him climb something. You’re such a good Ate*.

I am writing this letter to you in hopes that you will read this in the distant future. Hopefully as you are reading this myself and other women before you have made the world a more hopeful place. A place where you can fulfil your dreams and have more opportunities.

Mum isn’t the wisest person you will ever come across – Well, I certainly hope not. But as I’ve lived my life thus this far, there are a few things I’ve learnt along the way. A few secrets to a happier life. Shh… don’t tell anyone. It’ll be our little secret.

1. Don’t let anyone tell you how you should live your life – even dad and I.

This is your life, you are the only person living it, you are the only person dealing with the struggles, the thoughts and the results, so live it on your own accord.

I spent a lot of my years wasted by following other peoples rules, other peoples labels and expectations. I thought I had to be a certain way or else I was living life wrong. It was mentally and physically exhausting. It made me often cry and feel like I was never good enough.

You were always so eccentric with your fashion.

People would tell me “You’re a mother, you can’t have a career, your only obligations are cooking and cleaning” or “You’re a Christian, you’re not allowed to associate with gay people and others belonging to different religions”. It wasn’t what I believed in, but it was what I was expected to live by.

People will tell you ‘You’re a girl, you’re a mother, you’re a wife, so you’re suppose to only do this and you can’t do that’. Honey, it’s all a bunch of bullsh*t.

Do not let other people define you. Whether it be a religion, a culture, a clique or society. No one tells you how you should be or what you’re expected to do. Follow your own set of rules – just don’t break the law. You know the difference between being a good person and being a bad person and that is all that matters. The sooner you free yourself from other peoples expectations and rules, the sooner you will be able to live your life for yourself.

2. Relationships.

19th November 2012 – The date you were brought into this world.

In your lifetime you will go through many different types of relationships whether it be friendship or love. People will always come and go. I just want you to know the difference between someone who’s only meant to pass by and someone who’s meant to stay.

When I was younger your grandma and grandpa use to tell me “Vanessa I don’t like so and so as your friend, they don’t really care about you.” I use to snub their opinions and I ended up getting hurt. It’s true when they say you’re parents can tell when you’ve got a good person in your life and when you don’t. I was stubborn and blind, so I learnt the hard way.

You will have “friends” who only talk to you seasonally, who only approach you when they want something or need something. Those aren’t friends.

You will also have “friends” who only care about social status and climbing the social ladder – those aren’t friends. They have issues they need to deal with on their own.

Then you will also meet the people that only want to have fun. That is what they are there for. To have fun. So have fun with them. Just remember gossiping is not a way to have fun, hurting others is not a way to have fun.   

Don’t be friends with people who make you question yourself as a human being, who make you cry or feel awful. Don’t associate with people who enjoy hurting others and gossip. If they can do it to other people, how do you know they don’t do it to you?

Find a partner that cherishes you and loves you as you do them. There has to be a balance. No they love me more than I love them. I don’t want you to be in that kind of toxic relationship. Find someone that is gentle, caring, loving and passionate. Find someone just like your father. I struck gold with him  there aren’t many men as wonderful as your father is.

Your partner needs to be present. Your partner needs to notice when you are struggling and they need know when to help you. Never settle for someone who only has their own feelings in mind.

Remember, relationships need a strong foundation and hard work from both ends. It is a a two way street. If you don’t find the right person, then don’t be in a relationship. Don’t fear the word single.

3. Work your ass off.

You always snuck into mummy’s make up drawers.

You can be anything you want to be in this world. Anything.

You want to build an empire? You can do it.

You want to teach primary school? You can do it.

If what you want to do isn’t even a job title… make it one.

You can do absolutely anything this world has to offer. BUT. You need to work your ass off. The world owes you absolutely nothing. You will never get what you want by just sitting down and expecting it to happen. You have to go out there and do what you can, with all you can, to get what you want.

Have passion for life and work hard. If you work hard, you put in the time, the effort and the focus – you can do anything you want in life.

4. Be strong and stand up.

Your love for music started at a very early age.

It’s hard to know who you are as a person. It’s taken mum this long and I’m still unsure on days. Some people live their whole life not knowing who they are until they’re last five minutes of life. But know your values, know what you believe in and don’t be afraid to stand up and argue.

Live your life with passion, be offended. Because I want you too be a strong woman who’s not afraid to speak up. Don’t sit on the side lines while you watch someone get bullied or hurt. Don’t just sit on the side lines when someone tells you you can’t do something. You shut them up and let them know they can’t make that same mistake again.

Don’t be afraid to be who you are and act like how you want to. This is your life, your body, your personality. Don’t change yourself to “fit in”. Right now there are far too many women who look like a Kardashian – it’s ridiculous.

5. Don’t judge. Always be kind.

You would always sneak into your baby brothers cot whenever he cried.

Be kind. Princess please be kind to people. Stay as kind hearted as you are now. Share. Give what you can to those who are less fortunate. Mum and Dad didn’t work hard so that the world could suffer.

 

Never ever hurt someone on purpose. The last thing I want is to receive a call from school to find out that you’ve been a bully.

Treat everyone with respect and stand up for those who have no voice. We are lucky and fortunate enough to live in a country where our voice is heard and I want you to share that blessing with the world.

Don’t be afraid to apologise – when you’ve done something wrong.

Don’t judge. Be open minded. The sooner you realise there is diversity in the world, the sooner you will lose your fear of the unknown and instead become curious and happier. Not everyone will live their life like you, and you won’t live your life like everyone else.

Mummy pregnant with you. You and your brother made being a mother the best job in the world.

As much as I’d like to trust that your father and I have raised you with enough knowledge to battle everything that comes at you in your adults life, I’m never sure. And in all honesty, that terrifies me. It terrifies every mother.

I never want to see you suffer, hurt or experience any moments in your life of self doubt.

There’s a quote by Peggy O’mara and she said “The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” And I am doing everything in my might to instil in your mind that you are a beautiful, loving, strong woman who can do anything and everything she wants to in life. Please never think otherwise.

I love you so much.

Love mummy.

Ps. Make your brother read this, if you can… he’s always been a stubborn little bugger.

*Ate – a filipino term added to females older than you as a sign of respect.

The Power Of Woman – Maria Gallardo Goddard

This is an article about one woman’s courage. A story about finding yourself in the darkest moments of your life and finding that inner courage, the inner strength and will to stand up and fight towards the path of happiness. 

Meet Maria Gallardo Goddard, also known to many as Maricel. She is a mother, a cancer survivor and a fighter. She is a woman who has fought her battles, struggled with her demons and traveled from depression and anxiety, to a home of happiness and contentment.

Picture This… 

It was a Thursday morning, the sun was peaking through the clouds and the sound of silence filled the room. The kind of silence that tells you the kids are at school and everyone else is away at work.
It was during this silence that Maricel and I were seated on her back porch, the still water of her pool and vegetable garden in view. 

“You look so nervous!” She teased, a cup of fresh coffee in one hand and a cigarette lit in the other. 

“I am,” I admitted. It was my first interview and I had an excited feeling that this experience was going to exceed my expectations. It did. 

My hands trembled as I pressed the record button on my voice recorder. This was one interview, one story that forever changed my perspective and my life. 

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” This is a quote from Confucius that has resonated with Maricel’s life. It is the best way to describe what she has been through, to where her life is now. 

As I look at where she is now, how happy she is, her family, her beautiful children and supportive husband, I can’t help but feel empowered at what a strong woman she is. All the stones she moved, to move her own mountain.


“I was blinded by my fears…” 

“Depression back in my days was looked at as a sickness. It wasn’t known or
spoken about, as it is now. People were afraid that it was sickness that was not accepted… I felt alone…” Maricel began to describe to me her battle with depression and anxiety. 

“When you feel like you’re alone you have a different mindset. I felt like I had no one there, when really I had everyone there. I just felt like I couldn’t turn to them. Instead, I ran away from them – the people that cared about me the most. Instead, I turned to drugs and alcohol…”

She took a drag from her cigarette. “I had all this built up anger and resentment… I hurt people. I wouldn’t care about the consequences of my words, I wouldn’t care if what I said would hurt someone… I was blinded by my fears.”

Escaping from reality

I asked her about her darkest moment, her brows furrowed as she remembered the day. “… I’ve tried to commit suicide. I was on suicide watch. There was also a moment where I nearly over dosed on drugs. I was found passed out on the floor of an RSL club. My mum was concerned, she started yelling at me and I just clicked it. I remember pushing her so hard that she fell to the gutter. But her eyes, I looked at her eyes, even though she was angry, her eyes were filled with tears of hurt and disappointment. I remember just thinking to myself ‘what have I done?’…”

That’s when Maricel decided to escape from her reality and buy a one-way ticket to the Philippines. “Now that I think about it, now that I have more clarity, I think my parents let me go to wake up. Let me experience it all in hopes that they would get their daughter back.” And she was thankful. Living in the Philippines for seven months changed her life. “At the time I was involved with the wrong people… If it wasn’t for my experience in the Philippines, if it wasn’t for what I had gone through, I’d probably be 6 feet under right now.”

“…I went through the worst parts of my life…”

Maricel described her lifestyle in the Philippines. “I had no money, no work. I gambled, drank and spent it all on drugs. I went through the worst parts of my life there. I was kicked out of my families home in Manila.” 

She then fled from the city of Manila to her family in the province of Zambales. A place where poverty and struggle is real, where there were only hard working farmers and her own thoughts to keep her company. 

“When I was there that’s where I felt the loneliest. My aunt was a pig farmer. There was no running water. There was no one around. I’d spend my days learning how to raise pigs – from the moment the pig fell pregnant, sleeping next to her days before she gave birth, to helping deliver the piglets, I learnt it all. It was my family’s livelihood. I did it because they did it.” 

She began to smile. “There was no running water. Only a well. A well that could only draw water once it reached to a certain level. I would use that well as my exercise. ‘How many buckets of water can I draw today?’ I would use that time to meditate, pray, gather my thoughts and reflect on life. That’s when I found my spiritual side.”

Her moment of clarity…

“My aunt and uncle had a family of five kids, plus our grandmother and I. That was 9 people living in that house. Everyone was in hardship and yet they were still so accommodating and kind.” 

She began telling me the page-turner; the moment that snapped her out of her mind set and made her want to make a change.

“Papa would send me money every fortnight, I would put that money towards my aunt, my cigarettes, and coffee. On this particular day, it would be a week before I’d get that money. My aunt had no money; we couldn’t even afford to buy any food. They ended up borrowing a can of sardines from the corner store; we weren’t even able to pay for it. That small can of sardines was to feed the 9 of us that night.” She took a pause and lent forward. “They told me to eat first. I looked at my aunt and I just couldn’t… Yes, I was hungry, but I just couldn’t. I couldn’t take away what little they had between themselves.” 

She altered her future.

It was at that significant moment that Maricel found herself. She began comparing what happened to her in Manila; being kicked out of her families home, the money she had wasted on drugs and alcohol, things she didn’t need, to what had unfolded right before her eyes. “I had my family, my own flesh and blood, who were barely surviving. They were doing everything they could to survive. The kids would wake up at 3 o’clock every morning just to take the long travel to school.” 

It was then and there that Maricel made a promise to herself. “I can do better. I can do something to help people. I can do something to make life easier for them. I am so blessed with the opportunity in Australia to work hard… so that they would never have to share a small can of sardines again… I can turn my life around.”

 She then returned to Australia to attend her brother’s wedding. She had no job, no money, nothing to offer her brother and his wife as a wedding gift. All she had was a $10 note in her pocket and her handmade card. “It wasn’t much, but it was all I could give at the time. I wanted them to know it’s not much now, but in the future, I want to provide for them with all that I can. It was a symbolic moment in my life where I knew I was heading to better things.” 

Family gave her strength, purpose, and support. They gave her courage to see past her depression and anxiety, to see past the negative and fight for life.

“Depression happens to everyone for different reasons, it doesn’t mean that you are weak. The more that people acknowledge depression, the more that you as an individual acknowledge it, means the sooner we can accept it and work through it. That is when you start to heal in ways that you could never imagine. Never tell someone that they’ll get over it. Never ignore and dismiss it. People need to hear encouragement. People need to hear ‘are you okay?’ They need to know they are not alone, that they have someone to turn to – someone to talk to.”

Maricel changed her life. She took control and changed the direction her life was taking. “When you can manifest an idea and you can take the first step, you are already on the way to success.” 

Faith & Love

She then met Kenneth, the apple of her eye, her number one supporter and husband. They fell madly in love and cherished the idea of one day having a family. But as I stated before, Maricel lived her life moving stones. 

 They tried. They tried everything for a long time to have children of their own. Disappointment would hit them, month after month, negative pregnancy test after negative pregnancy test. 

I, as a mother myself couldn’t even imagine wanting to have children so badly, being ready physically and mentally to have children, and yet to find it so hard to fall pregnant.

But they never gave up.

One beautiful day, Kenneth and Maria got the news they had been waiting for, they were going to be parents to a beautiful little girl. 

Her war with cancer

On her 30th birthday, just before the news of her pregnancy, Maricel noticed her voice had disappeared. A month went by, she fell pregnant with their first born, but she still knew that something wasn’t right; this couldn’t be just a regular cold. Countless visits to the doctor told her that there was a possibility she had cancer. The doctor advised her that being pregnant, you’re not in a position to take the tests, the radiation and chemotherapy that you would normally undergo due to the risks to the baby. So she waited. 

It was on the 10th of July 2009 that their beautiful daughter Lotus was welcomed to the world. Maricel and Kenneth were now a family of three.

It would be six months until Maricel would go under examination. That’s when she was diagnosed with Thyroid cancer. She underwent radiation therapy. She fought hard so that she could spend her life with the family that Kenneth and her had fought so hard to create. “I remember when I was under radiation no one was allowed near me. I couldn’t see Lotus. Kenneth had to wear a protective suit when he saw me.” It was heartbreaking. But she conquered and fought. Now she is cancer free, has a happy home and has not one, but two beautiful children.

My own moment of clarity…

Maricel did not let the things that happened in her life define her; she did not let these events control her. Instead, she chose to rise above it all and learn from it. She overcame obstacles that make me question whether I would have been strong enough, if I were in the same situation.

“I didn’t surrender, at any given time I could have, but I didn’t. And that in itself made me realise how strong of a woman I really am.” 

“Embrace everything that comes to you. Life will give you things you never asked for. It will give you things you never wanted, but that’s no reason to run away. People always assume they know their life’s outcome before they’ve even tried to live it, so they get scared and they run away. Face your fears, learn from your fears and keep trying. Losing could be the greatest lesson you’d ever get before you try again and actually win.” 

That night I went to bed with a perspective I didn’t wake up with that morning – with a lesson I didn’t learn until that interview. I remember watching her talking to her children, snuggling with her husband in front of the television and I just thought to myself – If she had given up so many years ago, if she had been successful with her suicide attempts so many years ago, then she wouldn’t be where she is today. She wouldn’t have met Kenneth, she wouldn’t have had her children, she wouldn’t have shown me a different outlook on life. And I thank god, I thank every being and greater existence out there that she didn’t give up. That she fought and showed the world how powerful she is. 

Thank you Maria. Thank you for teaching me so much and for having such a kind heart. Thank you for trusting me with your story. I only hope I could bring your great worth justice. You are a strong woman, a role model to many and I hope you see that you give women everywhere the power and the strength to fight through the struggles they meet in life – no matter how big or small they may be. 

To end this post I will leave you with a Chinese proverb that inspires Maricel and humbles my heart:

“There are many paths to the top of the mountain, but the view is always the same.”  

Take your own path, work through your own struggles and know that you will get to the peak of that mountain – your happiness. 

xoxo Vanessa