March 07, 2014

heart to heart with stacey clark

Mothers are brilliant at conversation; we can talk about anything and everything. But rarely do those honest, nothing-to-prove transcripts make it onto the web. There's something beautiful, comforting and reassuring about a good old chat - unashamed and off the cuff. Every week we'll bring you a conversation with a Mum; a conversation that took place in real time via Facebook messenger. We haven't edited it or made it pretty. It's just what it is - a heart to heart conversation between mothers. 

This week we meet Stacey Clark; mother of three and a freelance stylist, she talks about letting go of ideals, packing lunch boxes and the lessons that the first born provides.

stacey clark
mother, stylist  |
- - -
Tamara: We should get the basic details out of the way... your name, how many children? Is mothering your full time occupation? If not, what else fills your time? Do you have a web presence where our readers can find out a little bit more about you?

Stacey: Ok, so my name is Stacey and I have been married for 11 years to my high school sweetheart.

T: Awww... love that story.

S: We have 3 beautiful (and I mean beautiful!) children, Holli is 9, Bella is 8 and Zac is 5. I am a stay at home mum and event stylist. Freelancing means I can make my work fit around my family and not the reverse.

T: And how do you actually find that balance? Seriously...

S: My website is where I share shoots and I occasionally blog. I would love to start blogging more personally again so stay tuned. Ha the balance...

T: It can be easy to become so distracted, particularly if its something you love doing?

S: Well, first of all my husband Paul is incredibly supportive. Our daughters are VERY into dancing, meaning 4 days out of the week we spend between 45 minutes and 2 hours down at the dane studio. We split that and share the responsibility. We talk a lot, shout a lot, I cry sometimes and we just drop all the spinning plates sometimes but we try and try again. As the children enter new stages we are having to readjust. We're learning daily how to find a balance. Practically I wake up at 6am and do an hour of emails until 7am. I freeze 15 sandwiches and freeze 12 half filled bottles of water on Sunday. My oldest gets up before me and sorts the lunchboxes with recess and fruit and they are all dressed before I get out of bed (I know...crazy). We have breakfast and I drop them off around 8.40 then I have to hit the gym. If i don't I get cranky. Then after school we sit and have Arvo tea together. Paul cooks dinner every night. He thinks he is Jamie. And that's ok! I work on the computer sending emails or pinteresting (which actually is really important in what I do) and then Paul and I usually watch Ellen or Rules of engagement together after the kids have gone down.

T: Ahh, the mother juggle! If I can take you back a little bit... particularly given what you just described, what did you expect motherhood to 'look like' before the birth of Holli?

S: I was going to be the perfect stay at home mother in an apron making cookies all day and having dinner on the table when my husband walked through the door. I'd lived my life so that was over?! right?? I was going to sew their clothes and be patient all the time.

T: Your idea of the perfect mother?

S: Tamara, do you know how many pairs of undies I've just chucked away because it takes too much time to wash them after they've had an accident? I laugh when I think that I wanted to use cloth nappies. The 'perfect' mother.

T: Ummm... I have done the same thing! Can you recall the moment when you realised motherhood is nothing like you had expected? If you can, are you able to describe how that felt?

S: That's a really tricky question. I can't remember the first time but I can tell you that I feel that every time one of them enter a new season.

T: Because it's all new all of the time, right?

S: Yes! And because Holli is the oldest it's always her who presents the challenges. I suppose it started with the emergency 
caesarean with Holli. That wasn't the plan. Then I couldn't breastfeed her.

T: And no one could have told you that's how it was going to be, could they? First borns are always our first borns... every single day!

S: Not those things, no. But something I've realised is that other mothers lie. They say you glow and it's the best time of your life, but it's not really is it? It's a crazy ride.

T: Why do you think they do that… do you think our vulnerabilities often cause us to downplay the darker side of motherhood… Opting to share all the brighter moments instead, when in fact they exist together?

S: Absolutely! That's what it is! No one wants to have the child that says they hate you. Or the kid that bullies other kids. No one wants the fussy eater or the non-sleeper. But the truth is kids come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes I love my nearly 10year old so much but I detest her behaviour. Sometimes I love her but I really don't like her. But every. single. day. I would take a bullet for her. She's the most challenging and most rewarding part of my life all bundled up with a bow on top. By the way, you can rewrite this however you want. It feels like a counselling session and I may be being too honest!!

T: Too funny... honest often feels like a counselling session:) You are speaking from the heart and it's so beautiful to hear, Stacey. How many times a week do you hide from the kids and eat chocolate?

S: Hahaha! I just laughed out loud because I cough or clear my throat when I open something sweet at least twice a week!! Last week I even ate THEIR chocolate! Hahaha!

T: I love that... I hide in the toilet now... I have a magazine rack installed:)

S: I love it! Maybe that's what I need too! Mama Cave.

T: Yes! You are obviously a beautiful spirit Stacey, so what makes you a wonderful mother?

S: Is this a trick question?

T: No!!!! You make me smile.

S: So what qualities do I have as a mum that make me a good mother? In my opinion...I'm honest. My kids will never be those really bad singers that end up on Australian Idol because their mum said they were good at singing. I love my kids but I don't think anything good comes from deceiving our children. I try to give them a soft spot to fall. I always believe them first but I never let them get away with doing the wrong thing. We hug and kiss often. I'm starting to work on holding their hands
more. I love their dad with every fibre of my being.

T: And now you are going to make me cry... It's nice to think about what we are good at, don't you think?

S: Last, I say sorry when I'm wrong. Even if it's its quietly right before bed, they need to know it's ok to be wrong but important to say sorry. Sorry, don't cry! It is. I think us mothers are too hard on ourselves.

T: No... I love how prepared you are to share. That's the 'sisterhood of motherhood' right there.

S: I love that. The sisterhood of motherhood. Got shivers just then. I think personally, it says a lot about you Tam. I don't share openly with perfect mothers because I hate the looks I get back. You know? "what you've told her about sex?!", "Zac still sleeps in your bed?!", "you have pancakes for dinner when Pauls not home?!" You're a trustworthy friend!

T: I hope this means you're okay sharing this on the web! And just on that, I think that is also because it is so hard to find now, that sisterhood... we seem to want to hide away our fears and joy when it's so much more comforting to share... we are just not used to it, so out of practice and too busy wearing the motherhood mask. So, lastly, I'd love for you to share a piece of wisdom, something you have learnt and know to be true for you about motherhood that you wished you knew before?

S: Yes, share it on the web! Authenticity baby. Wisdom... Mothers aren't meant to be perfect. We are meant to be perfectly imperfect. If you want their respect, give them respect. Say sorry. Play together. Your daughters will become the woman you are today. Its NEVER too late to change. Love hard. Hope that's okay!!

T: It's perfectly imperfect. Thank you so much for digging deep, Stace.

S: No worries babe, now I need chocolate and a box of tissues!! Not really...

images 1, 4  louise buma  |  images 2, 3  tim coulson


  1. What a beautiful concept and a perfectly imperfect conversation indeed. Might be because I'm pregnant with my third, but it made me feel a bit teary too! All the things I promised myself I would never do as a mother - like having a snotty nosed child with no shoes having a tantrum in the middle of the shops - seem to have happened! Oh, how perfect a mother I was before having children... And how much more relaxed I am third time around. Thanks for a lovely start to the day. I will be checking in often. xx

    1. Hi Christina! How things change the more children you have...for the better, I say. Congratulations of number three x

  2. She made me cry too. This is the hardest most wonderful job in world, so to share these stories of motherhood in all their glory, the good the bad and the ugly, is going to be like food for our souls. I'm loving this blog so much, thank you fabulous women!
    ps. Tamara, I'm looking forward to hearing your stories of motherhood, mum of five boys, you might be my hero! x

    1. Oh Mel, now you're going to make me cry! Your comment is *exactly* why we started this space - we all need to hear an honest voice, sharing the wonderful and the awful. There are plans to do interviews with all of our contributors - Tamara's story will be the first on the list ;)

  3. Love this. Thank you!! Honesty is so refreshingly beautiful, and empowering too! Perfectly imperfect has very much been on mind xx

    1. Can't really describe it better than that! x

  4. Just a gorgeous interview. Love it! I only know Stacey a little bit from our Intagram interactions and from admiring her business & blog. I adore her even more after reading this! I'm the mum that does the stay at home cooking thing but doesn't do the cleaning well and isn't any where near as patient as I should be with 3 kids 5 and under. I do feel better with my many inadequacies when I hear mamas I respect tell tales of their small parenting struggles. We all do our best and imperfectly perfect is a fabulous thing to strive for! Thank you for sharing the love xoxoxo

    1. You are very welcome beautiful mama! Here's to more honesty and encouragement on the interwebs :)

  5. This is one of the most beautifully honest and comforting interviews I have read. EVER! Well done, and thank you! Good to know I am not the only one who cries! xo

    1. Isn't it? And doesn't it just make you love her MORE, not less *because* of her honesty?

      Crying ain't just for babies ;)

  6. Ahhhh, the 'mother juggle'! Living the dream!

  7. Honestly: this is THE most lovely new 'blog'. I'm so hooked! Thanks for sharing all your little tenders- What a joy to read- I think this site is going to be my new 'Mama-Cave' :)

    1. Well call us the 'mama cave'! Thrilled you like it here and we can't wait to share more beautiful stories each week.

  8. Love this, thank you! This is the blog I want to curl up and read with a strong, hot, coffee. Fills my heart; great job ladies.

  9. This is such a wonderful read. I enjoyed each word. I feel like embracing the computer. "Tamara, do you know how many pairs of undies I've just chucked away because it takes too much time to wash them after they've had an accident?" yet I still use cloth diapers to save some money and when I feel like taking a me time I run to the toilet too.