I live in North Wales and have a 17-month-old boy called River. His papa lives in Essex and and we come together for family time once a fortnight. I’m the creator of lifestyle brand Mère Soeur (Mother Sister, en Francais) and I design products that celebrate motherhood, give a nod to sisterhood and aim to encourage positivity, self care and solidarity among mamas. I launched my first product almost a year ago after being inspired by the incredible Instagram mama community and the constant source of support and guidance it was for me in my early days of motherhood.

The area that we live in is incredibly beautiful with rolling hills and miles of green. I was born and grew up here. I’ve left several times but I always come back. When River was born we were living near Peterborough but we moved back to the valleys when he was 3 months old. I’d say we’re in limbo at the moment and a move is imminent. That is, as soon as I’m in a position to tackle moving house on my own with a toddler.

When River was first born I found being a mum really easy. He was still a baby and would actually take naps in the daytime. But as time went by and my workload increased at a similar rate to River’s demand for constant attention and supervision (long gone are the days of popping him on the boob to buy myself an hour or two to wade through some emails), I decided the time was right to look into childcare. My first choice turned out to be terrible. I pulled him out after three weeks and was left feeling confused, guilty and reluctant to try again. We took six weeks out and slowly introduced him to his new caregivers. He now runs to the door when I drop him off. I get two full days to work (or take really long solo baths) and he looks forward to seeing his friends.

River absolutely adores my mother. She is the only family member he will stay with but unfortunately (for me) she still works full-time. She helps when she can but it’s mostly just us two. It does get hard but I find that it’s better to just embrace the situation. Those dark, intense moments are what make you a stronger, more patient person, and teach you so much about yourself as a mother. I realised that falling into the guilt trap is a dangerous mistake, chances are you’re doing absolutely brilliantly and you just need to be a little kinder to yourself.

River changes all the time. With each new developmental leap his needs alter and we have to adjust. At the moment, he is obsessed with being outside. He will bring his shoes to me at least twice an hour and will knock on the inside of the front door to let me know he wants to explore. Just a few weeks ago, he showed no interest in being outside at all. We’ve ditched the pram and are now walking to the shops and running through the fields and parks. Yes, everything takes twice a long and yes, he has tried to eat a few dandelions but watching him learn about his surroundings is a joy. Bedtime is a breeze, he rarely wakes up in the night, but after spoiling me with 8am lie-ins for months he has now decided that 6am is the perfect time to start the day.

My day starts with a speedy breakfast situation and a dark coffee. The rest of the day is then a blur of rushed meals, playing with River and being as present as I possibly can. Learning to dedicate myself to playtime when we’re playing and working in the in-between moments was a tough one but it has changed everything for me. I look forward to bath-time all day, I always feel a bit triumphant once he’s splashing and laughing in the tub. I know the day is almost over and it’s nearly time to catch up on orders, emails and new designs, etc.

I think it’s important to ride the wave of productivity when you’re onto a good thing, and embrace the calmness on slow days. Listening to your body and the needs of those around you will generally keep you on track. My work involves everything from coming up with new designs, sourcing new products, ordering a million samples until I find the perfect one, being my own assistant and chief order packer, covering my house in a blanket of tote bags when I have a screen-printing day, growing the girl gang, and meeting and working lots of talented, vibrant women. Throw in a lots of late nights and many hours spent thinking about the thousands of different ways everything could go wrong and you have the whole package. I’m a self-confessed workaholic but I do genuinely enjoy every aspect of working for myself. Even the book-keeping.

The fact is that I really do love the products that I put out there, the work that I do never fails to spur me on. Also, having the opportunity to be part of a wider community of likeminded, super supportive people just makes it all worthwhile. Knowing that I have the freedom to take a break if I need to, or if River is poorly, is a huge bonus and I never take that for granted. I consider myself incredibly lucky.

Becoming a mother has given me confidence, self belief and drive. If growing a new life and getting stuck in to the task of raising a good person, no matter how you feel, doesn’t make you realise that you’re capable of anything, then I don’t know what will. That doesn’t mean I don’t have moments when empowered is the last thing I feel. I am surprised by how lonely motherhood feels at times. I am surprised by just how difficult it really is to raise a child and how low that can make you feel. I’m surprised by how my inner lioness comes out in certain situations too, but most of all I’m surprised by the strength and resilience we all have as parents. I’ve learnt how to be selfless, patient, to think before I judge, and to love openly.

For more about Carrie Anne and Mère Soeur check out meresoeur.com

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