The Mumbelievables #10: Grateful Mother
This week I’m over the moon to interview the brilliant Amy Bradshaw, founder of Grateful Mother and all-round inspirational human. Amy and I connected on the Mumbelievable Facebook page and I’m a huge fan of her work – particularly her passions for introducing children to the concepts of mindfulness and for finding ways to help us all be more present and appreciative of our days . Her daily posts in the Grateful Mother Facebook group have helped me by reminding me to be more present in my life, which isn’t always easy to do, I find. There’s some serious wisdom here. Enjoy! X
I’m Amy, a mum of three, wife and teacher. I have three amazing children who remind me daily why life is so wonderfully amazing, unpredictable and chaotic! I’ve been a primary school teacher for 15 years and more recently I qualified as a mindfulness for children teacher and deliver sessions to children in my own school and other local schools to aid wellbeing, resilience and positive mental health.
I’ve suffered with chronic back pain for the last 14 years after a spinal fusion. Mindfulness has been a game changer for me both personally and professionally, allowing me to manage my pain better, deal with the emotional baggage a chronic condition brings and change the relationship I have with the pain. I’ve also used it with my own children at home to help with sleep issues, and managing their BIG emotions. As a parent, mindfulness has given me space to feel the myriad of emotions we feel on a daily basis; from pure joy and unadulterated bliss to utter frustration and exhaustion, and everything in between, while not allowing them to take over and impact my actions. This has taken a long time and I still have moments where I don’t handle things so well, but mindfulness isn’t about not feeling, rather the opposite in fact; feeling and acknowledging what’s there, but having the space to notice it and choose how to respond. My dream is to bring mindfulness to as many parents, families and children as possible, to support them in this crazy thing we call life!
Who are you? What makes you, you?
I’m a mum, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend. I’m also a teacher. What makes me me is my sensitivity. It’s a blessing and a curse in many ways; it gives me and openness and and honesty that makes me real. It allows me to connect and form deep and lasting bonds with people. I have come to see it as a strength as I am not afraid to show my feelings and to allow others to share theirs with me, though I didn’t always feel that way. On the flip side, sometimes I lose perspective when I become overwhelmed by my emotions. Like everything, its all about balance I guess!
If someone else was to sum you up in five words, what do you think those words would be?
Caring, kind, honest, humble and passionate.
Who are the three most important people in your life, and why?
I’m going to cheat on this one! Annabel, Charlie and Stanley, my three amazing smallest smalls. I sometimes look at them and can not believe I made these amazing beings; a little bit of me, a little bit of Mark and a whole lot that just them in all their unique and bonkers glory! They remind me of what’s important, love me unconditionally even when I don’t like myself, make smiles and laughter a big part of my day and never fail to amaze me. They are what make me feel alive, give me purpose and drive me. But I wouldn’t have my 3 without my husband Mark, so I’m cheating and saying Mark too! He always believes in me, even when I doubt myself, keeps me grounded. We are a team in every sense of the word and I feel so lucky to have a husband who is so present in raising our children. We share everything 50/50 – childcare, housework, work commitments. We balance each other, know our faults but also know our strengths and work to them.
What are the three most important things in your life and why?
Mindfulness – it gives me the space and perspective to just be, to go towards difficulties and explore how I feel. It helps me focus on the present moment and to enjoy what is here and now in this moment, not to be preoccupied with anxieties and worries.
Music and singing – I didn’t realise until recently how good singing makes me feel! I love the way music can uplift, envoke memories of times gone and bring people together. I try to sing every day (easy in school where we sing a lot!) usually to the annoyance of the smallest smalls!
Friends – my friends have always been central to my life. Never having had a sister, my closest friends are my sisters. I feel empowered and uplifted when spending time with good friends and get a lot out of being a friend.
What does confidence mean to you?
Confidence to me is about feeling happy with who you are, seeing your strengths and shining, but also recognising your faults as part of the fabric of you. Confidence is about being able to empower and uplift those around you. Its about loving what you do and that showing through your actions and words. Confidence is believing in yourself. Its been a long and rocky road for me to find my confidence but I feel like I am there…almost!
How do you feel about yourself now compared to before you became a mum?
The unconditional love you give and receive being a mum has changed me deeply. I always lacked confidence in myself in pretty much every avenue of my life – friend, teacher, daughter, wife, and on my journey through motherhood I have had moments where my confidence in my ability as a mum has been rocked to its foundations. But alongside those moments, I have found a serenity in knowing no matter how rubbish I feel, 3 little people love me with all their heart and soul. I have found an inner calm that is no longer searching for validation from external sources, but has found all I need in the 3 smalls who call me Mummy.
What advice would you give to someone who doubts herself?
I would say, you’ve got this! Be a little kinder to yourself, you are doing a great job. Take time for yourself to give you space to recharge and re-evaluate, to find the space to focus on the positives. I’m a firm believer in gratitude for all the little things in life; a little hand holding yours; the rare moments of total and absolute quiet when no one is around; drinking a cup of tea while its still mildly warm! By bringing gratitude to the fore, we can refocus our perspective on life and begin to notice all that we are, all that we have and all that we can be grateful for, rather than focusing on not being, having or doing enough.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in your life so far?
Ooh, tricky one! I think the most important thing I’ve learned it that I’m enough. I don’t need to judge myself against the unrealistic expectations I set for myself, or compare myself to anyone else. We are all dealing with our own challenges and difficulties and by being a little kinder to ourselves and others we can make life a little easier for ourselves.
And finally, where is your happy place?
My happy place is on Brighton Beach, the sun on my face, listening to live music playing in one of the bars that is far too cool for me to be seen in, with the kids dancing around, ice cream running down their faces and big smiles on our faces.