Who, What and Why

Welcome! This page is about you really. Because you're the most important 'who' in Story of Mum - you and all the mums who join us here to share your stories. Thank you for being here. And thank you for everything you do every day as a mother - especially the most thankless miserable crappy bits. We see them, we appreciate them, and we love you for them.

To find out more about Pippa and Penny Best, the co-founders of Story of Mum, read on below, or explore these interviews in UK Handmade and Good Housekeeping magazine.

Pippa Best

Pippa Best, Story of Mum

Before I became a mother, I had a successful career heading up a film development agency, a lovely house in Cornwall, a handsome surf-dude husband who worked in film too, a busy social life, and (I thought...) a strong sense of who I was.

Everything was on track, and in its place.

I prepared for motherhood by reading books, going to pregnancy yoga, and signing up for Babycentre emails. I didn't really think beyond labour. 

And at 35, I became a mother.

Motherhood hit me like a brick. Having been defined so completely by my work, I had absolutely no idea who I was any more. The only thing I was sure of was that I was a failure.

I couldn't breastfeed successfully. I dreaded my weekly trips to the health visitor where my baby was falling off the bottom of the weight charts.  

Throwaway comments from helpful 'others', kept me up all night, weeping - when I was barely sleeping anyway. 

This wasn't something I could be 'good' at. I didn't know how to adjust. I didn't trust my instincts. My body was letting me down. I was letting myself down. 

 I lost faith in myself - and that just made it harder.

Pippa Best, Story of Mum

But I pretended that I was doing just fine. I pretended that I still had everything under control. I went straight from workaholic to mumaholic - never stopping, trying to be perfect in spite of everything.

... and it took me quite a while to realise that perfect mothering doesn't exist.

Luckily for me, I had great support from family and friends. 

I often wonder what would have happened if I hadn't had that honest loving support. Because it helped me get through.

Friends admitted that they were struggling and told me that was normal. My partner looked after me, even when I seemed to be a shadow of the woman he had married. My mum would visit to hold the baby so that I could drink a hot cup of tea. And breathe. 

I found that the more I talked about the challenges, and heard that other mums were facing them too, and overcoming them, at all stages of motherhood, (grans too!) the more normal I felt. The smaller my failures felt. 

Pippa Best, Story of Mum: come join usIn fact some of my failures even started to feel like successes...

Slowly, I got more confident, and as my first baby finally grew and I thought about having a second, I realised that I needed to make time for myself - time to be more than 'just' my children's carer.  

Knowing how much it had helped me, I really wanted to help more mums to talk about the messy ups and downs of parenting - not just in the early days, but as our children grew, and new challenges came along. 

I had a niggling idea about how I might begin to make that happen, but I was too scared, too busy, too easily distracted by other people's needs - to follow it through.

Then my dear friend, Loz Hardman, died suddenly. She had been an incredible source of brilliant parenting, work and relationship advice. Someone who offered the world everything she had. She was that friend who had told me that I could call her any time of day or night when I felt lost in those early days - and that struggling was normal. 

Her life was my inspiration to step forward with my idea. Failure would be fine.

Pippa and Penny Best, Story of Mum - credit Pat KelmanAnd so I took a risk, with my own mum at my side, (also struggling with the transition into grandmotherhood), to try to create a joyful gloss-free creative community for mums struggling to make sense of this huge transition, whatever their background, experience, or stage of life.

A place where mothers could start to find themselves again, to discover the woman they had become in motherhood and beyond.

And Story of Mum was born. 

I continue to work as a script consultant on feature films - stories make my world go round. And I keep wiping bums, and trying to get kids to bed, and out the door on time, and I make mistakes, and try to work out what on earth I can learn from them, and I get up, and start again... 

Pippa Best, Story of Mum

And what makes me feel deeply alive in my one wild and precious life?

... playing with my kids and noticing the beauty all around me every day through their eyes

 ... focusing all my attention and love and knowing on a worried mother, and seeing her face soften into a smile as, at last, she knows her own power 

 ... dancing joyfully in an inappropriate party frock, surrounded by friends and kids and water, and laughter

... sat cross-legged in comfy yoga gear, hair glinting in the sunshine, smiling, aching and stretching, and feeling reconnected to who I am 

Story of Mum exhibition, Photographers Gallery, London - credit Pat Kelman

... holding a precious Sunday morning space for a group of tired hopeful mothers, and hearing the busy chatter of mums connecting as they create something beautiful, joyful, and imperfect together

... finding a heart-stone in my path and being reminded of all the miracles and love in the world

... drinking a latte and eating chocolate peanut-butter cake, having put work and chores aside for a moment of quiet peace in the park before school pick-up

... secretly leaving a leafy love note or nature mandala behind for someone else to find (it's even better if I get to spot them finding it!)

What brings you alive? Drop me an email and let me know.

Share your story, you never know whose life it might change. It might even be yours.

With love, Pippa x

Penny Best, Story of Mum - join our community at www.storyofmum.comPenny Best

As well as being a mum of 3 grown 'children' (including Pippa) and now a grandmum of 4, at heart I am a dancer!

Professionally a supervisor, researcher and trainer involved in learning through creative playfulness now for over 40 years. Fascinated by the power of the body's mind.

I am inspired by my daughter's passion and her creative energies. Loving working with her; holding on to her shirt tails as she whizzes around the digital world. 

I hope other older experienced mums, grandmums, greatgrandmums get inspired by Story of Mum to share their numerous identity transitions, and find support through these.

I feel most alive when I’m...

Penny Best, Story of Mum... picking wild blackberries on a sudden whim in the countryside with my hubby

... cycling alone through autumnal sun rays and fresh air without any need to reach a destination

... silently witnessing courageous folk as they move within the sacred circular space during Authentic Movement retreats

... running giggling across a Norfolk beach as the sun sets after a hilarious freezing skinny dip with other ladies of a certain age

... trying to breath through my nerves and anticipation moments before I open a creative workshop for others

... dancing barefoot anywhere

... catching myself laughing out loud WITH my grandchildren when we simply all get it!  

If in doubt, dance!

With love, Penny x

What we believe

Mothers have the power to change the world - but we don't often feel that power. 

We're playing a vitally important role in shaping the next generation - yet we don't often feel important, or appreciated for all that we do.

Story of Mum: Who, What and WHy

We want that to change. We want mothers to feel happier, more resilient, creative, valued and vital. Because we know that motherhood is a huge responsibility - a joyful privilege, and an exhausting challenge. One that we experience slow moment by slow moment - and yet which seems to have passed too fast whenever we look back. 

It's hard, exhilarating, life-changing work. Where else can you be inspired so deeply by circumstance and love to change who you are and how you live your life? 

And yet we receive very little support as mothers. There's no training, no how-to manual that could possibly serve every individual's experiences, no personal development career targets to meet, or appraisal to let us know if we're doing OK. 

It's us, on our own, doing our best in the moment. Over and over again.

And so we fail to see that we're succeeding in so many amazing ways - and that if we just took a little bit of time out to nurture ourselves, to connect with who we are, to tell our stories, and discover what we deeply need, we would be capable of so much more.

Story of Mum: Who, What and Why

It would all feel easier, and more joyful - and those insurmountable challenges would become more manageable.

We would stay calm when we want to be calm, clear-thinking when we need to act, and brave in the moments that test our love to its core.

And that - can change the world.

We are the heart of our families, and if we feel strong and happy, our families feel strong and happy. The happier we are as families, the more we support our communities. And as our communities grow stronger, we can create a kinder fairer happier world together.

And we need that. So much. For ourselves. And for our children.

Story of Mum is part of this journey, a precious space in which to hear ourselves think - a rare opportunity to connect with our incredible power and intuition (which funnily enough is kind of the same as that how-to motherhood manual we've been dreaming of...) in ways that nurture us. Creative activities; encouragement and inspiration on twitter, facebook, pinterest and instagram and in our newsletters; our Mamas' Retreats, and one to one sessions. Whichever you choose, we offfer a space that you will leave feeling rested, revitalised, and reminded of your strengths.

You can read more about the history of story of mum and all the people we'd like to thank over here.

    mummy oscar    Story of Mum exhibition, Photographers Gallery, London - credit Pat Kelman    

Sign up today for a monthly burst of gloss-free inspiration, and a unique community that isn't ashamed of the mess. 

You can find us at our monthly #somum Make Dates in Mamas' Everyday Retreat, our private (you're welcome to join us!) facebook group (think of them as a free mini Mamas' Retreat), or on twitter. You can join one of our e-courses to connect with us and other mums, and be reminded to look after you. You can come meet us in person at a life-affirming Mamas’ Retreat, or online to explore having some precious one to one time - we're always happy to connect for a 15 minute chat to see how we can help you to change the world, one beautiful brave precious mama at a time.

We want to make a positive difference to mums around the world, whatever your background and experiences, and we want to make it possible for you to get the space and support you need - find out more about our social enterprise work and bursaries.

With love, Pippa and Penny xx