How to feel alive, Mama!

How to feel alive, Mama!

Just when I thought our exhibition tour couldn’t get any more amazing, there we all were in London’s Photographers’ Gallery with Hollie McNish reciting her take on our communal Mums’ Poem to an emotional room of wonderful women (and a few wonderful men), most of us still reeling from hearing five powerful My Mum Stories from five truly inspiring women. Wow.

And in that moment, I felt truly alive.

I was filled with joy alongside my tears. I felt my body tingle and my eyes shine. I was so proud to be celebrating mothers together with my friends from my youth, friends from twitter, with new friends and strangers. With my own mother.

Where did this huge sense of vitality spring from?

Partly from reminders of loss - of friends, of our grown children, of moments that became memories.

But we also gained bubbles of life from these four wonderful precious things:

From community in celebration. From mothers together, joyfully painfully and in awe, receiving the rare credit we deserve.

From creativity. From seeing an idea, inspired by a special friend, take such beautiful flight. Seeing mums creating side by side.

From authenticity. From being completely engaged in something I deeply believe in. From a room full of honest sharing, the good and the bad, the tears and the laughter. From the mothers standing up for what we believe.

From mothers. Creators of life, holders of joy, givers of love.

Pat’s wonderful photos beautifully capture the event. 

Story of Mum: happy mums at the photographers gallery Make Date

With a glass of wine (or juice) in one hand, and cake in the other, we all somehow managed to make Mama Mash-Ups and edible poetry (care of lovely Sally Crabtree), had our portraits taken by the talented Pat Kelman, and added words to the washing line. I seem to remember eating any cake really fast so I had a free hand for all of this…

Story of Mum: mums making at our Make Date at The Photographers Gallery

The stories shared are all now online. Take a moment out of your day to watch one, or two, or the whole lot! And be reminded of the incredible strength and love of mothers.

Amy shares the challenges of mothering a young child while trying to hold down a job and pursue her dream of writing.

As a public person, Shelina explores how she protects her precious mothering space while simultaneously finding a strong voice and demonstrating the value of public activism to her daughter.

Lorna tells her journey from infertility to premature twins and a third daughter – through the bad news, the celebrations, the incredible support, and the joy in those everyday family moments.

Sue Atkins, Emma Murphy of FACSA, Shelina Janmohamed, Hollie McNish, Lorna Hauff, Amy Beeson sharing their stories for our Story of Mum Make Date at The Photographers Gallery

Emma describes her transformation from self-conscious woman to brave campaigning mother, who now works to raise awareness of FACS (a condition that has affected all of her five children in different ways), facing daily challenges but voicing hope too.

Sue shares her feelings of grief at an empty nest – her daughter has just left for university, her son is already there, and she is currently going through a divorce. She reflects on the joys of bringing up her children, and wonders how she will survive the shift to living their lives second-hand.

You can read Sue’s lovely post on what happened after the Make Date here – the power of the universe bringing you what you need, just as you need it.

Finally, watch this! For here is the fabulous Hollie McNish ‘curating’ the mum poem. I loves her. She’ll be releasing new material very soon, so keep a keen eye on her website.

Story of Mum at The Photographers Gallery: Dina of Kensington Mums, Angela and her mother, Pippa Best, Gretta Schifano

Thank you to all at the gallery, to the five brilliant mums who shared their stories, to the genius wordsmith that is Hollie Mcnish, to fabulous Pat Kelman Photography and Caroline Smith for their wonderful I'm a mum and a... portraits. To Jen at BritMums, Dina of Kensington Mums, all at the Museum of Motherhood, and all our lovely partners for collecting I'm a mum and a... photos.

Thank you to Takbir for filming, & to every wonderful person who joined us.

We were truly alive.

We wept and we laughed and we hugged and we were heard.

And we went home to our families a little stronger, inspired and strengthened by the reminder that what we all do is amazing.

Because it is. It really is. And together, in that moment, we all knew it. What we are doing here is special.

Thank you from my mothering heart. Thank you for giving life.


You can get in touch with Pat at Pat Kelman Photography – if you know anyone looking for a portrait or wedding photographer, send them his way!

Read about our daytime Make Date in "How to Find Out You're a Good Mother".

Find out more about the exhibition. We would love you to join in too. Why not add your own I'm a mum and a... photo like these below - there are lots more in the gallery!

I'm a mum and a... photos from The Photographers' Gallery

PS if you are admiring my rather lovely bling here and in the daytime post, these were a fabulous gift on the night from the delicious Jackie at Nibbling, and the only time I have stopped wearing them since is when my children have wrestled them off me...