Today's Heart to Heart is with Belinda Kypriotis, a mother of three beautiful children. In this chat with Lou she shares her experience of balancing working life with mothering, the importance of letting go the feelings of guilt, and listening to your heart. Set within the parameters of Facebook messenger, here is the unedited, unscripted chat between two mothers - enjoy!
Belinda Kypriotismother, teacher, photographer | billyandaugust.com
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Belinda: My name is Belinda, I have three beautiful children who make my heart melt. Lotus is 13, Noah is 10 and Parker is 18 months. Mothering isn't my full-time occupation. We own Kindergartens. I currently work full-time. My husband parents full-time. I muse over at www.billyandaugust.com I share my images on Instagram: Billy and August and I have a Facebook page www.facebook.com/billyandaugustphotography
Lou: You have such a wonderful family! How do you balance it all?
Belinda: I have tears as I type this because I don't! For many years I have strived to find that 'perfect balance' and I have been left feeling deflated with a sense of failure. This year my intention was to be imperfectly me and with 'balance' find my own and not compare. I had to accept that I can not do it all and be grateful that I have a supporting husband who can assist and that didn't me failure.
It's so true isn't it! 'Balancing it all' assumes that everything is working perfectly... I'm yet to meet a mother who feels like she has got the balance completely right. How does your husband feel about being a stay at home parent?
It is his calling. When we had children my husband and I agreed that one of us was to always be at home with the children. Noah was 1 when we purchased our businesses and my husband resigned from his full-time career and for a period of time left his music career to be completely present at home. I recall a dinner with friends a few years later and one of them offered Brad a unbelievable job. He declined it there and then and said, 'No amount of money can replace the job I was called to do. Be a full-time father'. In that moment I cried and gave blessings for the unbelievable man I married.
Oh wow! That really is incredible. What a special, special man you have! We should interview him one day... Going back to the very beginning of your mothering journey, what did you expect mother hood to 'look like' before Lotus was born?
He would love to, I am sure. Mothering before Lotus looked a whole lot different in my head. I expected a completely different reality than I was living. I expected a movie fantasy. I was 23 when I had Lotus. None of my friends had children. I was lonely; I was not receiving the family support I envisioned I would have. I felt disconnected and desperately needed someone to say to me 'you are doing an amazing job'. Brad worked during the day in hisfull-time position and in the evenings he worked with his band. I never expected the pressure I felt to do things 'perfectly'.
So with the reality of motherhood apparent, how long did it take you to find your feet as a mother?
When I stopped looking for outside influences dictating me on what it should look like.
Is this advice you would give to new mums?
Absolutely. When I birthed Parker, my midwife gave me advice that I use everyday, 'Trust your instincts, parent intuitively'
That's really wonderful advice!
What is it like being a mother to a teenager and a toddler at the same time?
I think like every mother who has more than one children, I find it difficult spreading myself between the three. When Brad and I decided we would like another baby, we had a family meeting and were prepared if Lotus and Noah didn't want another sibling, we would really have to honour that because having another baby was going to change the dynamics of our family. We have included them in every decision we have made when it comes to our family. I believe that having Lotus and Noah at Parker's birth moved them so profoundly that that 'love' comes through always. I haven't been too challenged yet because we are all aware of each others different needs . We all communicate very honestly.
Has having Parker given you an opportunity to do anything differently? Things that you may have learnt from your experiences in Lotus and Noah's pregnancies/births/early childhoods?
Yes it has. When I fell pregnant with Parker I thought this was my opportunity to get it right because I had so much guilt attached to what I recognised as past mistakes with parenting. What I became aware of was, I am much older, I have grown into a mother of two and a mother of three and those 'guilts' I see as lessons. I am no longer the same person so why stay attached to those guilts and getting it right when I believe there is no such thing. Perfection is boring. I am honest with my children, I say sorry if I need to, I explain, I learn. I trust my instincts, tomorrow is a new day, you can always start over. I don't wish anything away (even those bad days) and try not totake any part of motherhood for granted.
Absolutely! Too often our vulnerabilities cause us to downplay the darker side of motherhood, we tend to share the brighter moment instead, when really, they exist together.... Can you share a moment or experience of the good and the bad? Things we wouldn't necessarily share because they aren't "pretty" ... For instance I feel like often I'm portraying a very cheerful home and lovely children when in reality people yell, or hurt each other, and my dining table is always covered in folding...
When Lotus was born, control crying was they way I was told to get her into a routine and sleep. I felt guilty every time I did it. My intuition told me it was not for us, but a 'professional' told me it was. When Noah was born, I did a little of both although I don't recall the control crying as much. When Parker was born, I did many things differently. I knew you can't over love a child too much. Believe it or not, someone once told me you could. When I was very sleep deprived with Parker one day and exhaustion got the better of me and I felt insane, I called a help line. The information I received didn't match my beliefs. When I hung up the call, I couldn't believe it took me so long to realise that as a 'pre-school teacher' I don't expect all children to fit aformula, why would I expect my child. That is when I surrendered. I continued not to control cry, I continued to co-sleep and we found our own beautiful rhythm.
I love this. No two children are the same, even your own... Between your job and the huge commitment to your family, what do you enjoy doing for YOU. How do you recharge?
I express my creativity through photography, as that is a very dominant part of my personality. I write and read. And then there is yoga and meditation for my soul. Oh, and recently I have started crocheting.
I'd love to learn to crochet - it looks very therapeutic!
Belinda you know I could chat all day but you've got to get back to work and I have a shouty baby who needs a cuddle... Before we finish, can you share a proud mama moment? You know the one where you sigh and think 'yes, this is all worth it!'
Birthing Parker at home with Lotus, Noah and Brad.
Would you like more?
Nope - that's a massively proud moment! There's no prouder moment.
Thanks so much for chatting my dear.
Thank you. I have sat still and drunk two pots of tea.
You're the best - thanks for your beautiful honesty x