Some days I need courage just to get out of bed. Courage to think of yet another way to get the kids to brush their teeth without screaming at them. Courage to put on a smile and lead the way when things have gone wrong and it's all my fault.
Courage to face the things about my life, about myself, that I wish were different. And courage to try and change those things I can change (which is HARD!) so that I don't pass them on to my children.
Other days, I'm so fired up with joy and vitality and authenticity that bravery comes easily. I can stride towards things I used to be scared of. Keep on going past the voices of fear and shame. Trust in my brave mama heart to take me where I need to go.
On those days, I'm one brave mama. And one brave mama can make a difference. On those days, I remember to tell my daughter that she is brave as often as I tell my son.
This month we're all about sending a little courage to another mama who needs it.
So I've made a simple template for an Encouragement Card that you can make and send. Send it to yourself, send it to a friend, send it to someone whose courage you see when they may not.
Make a card any time and share it in our gallery. Come join us for our next #somum Make Date on Wednesday 13 November from 8.30-10pm UK time (find world times here) to make them together and talk about what gives us courage: Encourage a Mama.
What happened last month?
Our exhibition events at The Photographers' Gallery in London made me feel truly alive.
There were heart-melting moments of sons showing their mothers how much they appreciated them.
We had fun getting creative with BritMums, connecting with other mums, and sharing our stories with our kids.
Hollie McNish was amazing - did she include your words in her version of the communal Mums' Poem? Find out here.
We also heard five moving stories from brave mums. You can now watch them all online. Find out more below. 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.
In her My Mum Story film, 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. (That's her with the "I'm a mum and a... woman (hear me roar!)" sign below)
Lorna tells her journey from infertility to premature twins and a third daughter, finding the joy in everyday family moments.
Sue shares her feelings of grief at an empty nest - how will she survive the shift to living her childrens' lives second-hand?
We had a fantastic #somum Make Date with The Big Draw - check out the gallery of moving drawings from mums, capturing precious memories of mothering, the good and the bad.
Including this delicious squidge of a hug from the amazing Doodlemum.
Go on, grab a pen and draw one of your own for us. No skills required! You can also follow some of the Make Date chat here and find some more drawings in this storify.
Win some fabulous prizes this month!
In case you need any more encouragement yourself, we have some wonderful card-related prizes to reward you for sending out some courage! (Or to use next time if your own attempt is a delightful mess...!)
First up, the extremely talented Sam Osborne has been busy designing an exciting new project for us!
All we'll say for now is that it features encouragement cards designed by her fair hand amongst many other delights... and we are looking for some brave mamas to road test it for us in the next few weeks. Could that be you?
In the meantime, Sam's offering two lucky winners a gorgeous gift-pack of cards and a notebook (like these lovely ones above).
To have a chance to win one of these lovely packs, just upload your encouragement card to our gallery some time this month - we'll draw the winners at the end of November.
My top Sam tip: check out her etsy shop for some particularly ace wall planners...
Secondly, the wonderful Teika of Mothers' Milk Books is also giving away some goodies from her shop, The Mother's Milk Bookshop, which is chock-full of mothering beauty, in the form of books, cards, art and poetry prints.
Join our #somum Make Date on Weds 13 November, adding #somum to your tweets, and you could win a pack of 10 gorgeous greetings cards (choose either those on the right, or another pack which is equally gorgeous).
PLUS you'll win a free entry to the Mothers' Milk writing competition (how's that for inspiration to get a little bit braver!)
My top Teika tip: There's a special offer on her brilliant anthology, Musings on Mothering right now.
What more incentive do you need to get through your day with courage, mama?
(If you're struggling right now, and you'd like to receive an Encouragement Card that you haven't sent yourself, drop me an email with your address - I would love to send you one).
Looking forward to seeing you on the website, twitter and facebook, and on the 13th November.
With love and courage,
Pippa and Penny
PS Look out for an ace cut-out advent calendar giveaway from the very clever Freya Laughton later this month too, just in time for, eeek!, Christmas...