Words by La (intro) & Rebecca
A very Happy Mother’s Day story…
I met Rebecca & Bruce quite a few years ago when looking for a photographer to photograph our family while out on holiday in Cape Town, South Africa (our home country). Not only are they amazingly talented photographers (husband and wife team), their business name ‘Love made visible’ and beautiful website touched me straight away. They are brilliant at capturing the emotion and love in their images, tell the story and the connection between them while they work together is something rather special.
When I heard the news that they had adopted the adorable Abel, my heart filled with joy. The love is clearly visible! Rebecca has kindly shared her love story of Abel’s adoption and her Motherhood story so far. He is an adorable 8 month old baby boy, he was 3.5 months when he came home.
Bruce and I got married in January 2010, and when we spoke about kids, we always considered adoption as an option for us. We were however in no rush to add children to the mix and planned to enjoy our time as a child-free couple for as long as possible. Over the years we saw many friends adopt, and we loved seeing their families grow in this way. Most of them adopted through an organisation called ProCare, and based on their positive experiences, when the time came for us to start the adoption process we went to see ProCare too. We had our first orientation session in May 2018, and three months later, after completing piles of paperwork, going through an intense but very necessary screening process and attending a pre-adoption workshop, we were declared ‘paper pregnant’ (approved as adoptive parents). The screening process was rigorous at times, but because friends had told us what to expect we felt well-prepared and actually enjoyed most of it. Things moved along much more quickly than we anticipated, so It felt special and necessary to have the various screening steps – in many ways they gave us an opportunity to chat through our feelings around impending parenthood, and it prepared us for what was ahead (as much as you can be prepared for parenthood anyway, ha!)
We felt privileged to have the time and space to discuss and process things, when most parents of biological children aren’t given this opportunity.
Once we were approved as adoptive parents we were told that the next time we would hear from our social worker would be ‘the call’ (a phone call telling us that we’d been matched with a baby). That call came on a Friday afternoon in November -we’d been matched with a three month old baby boy. It felt totally surreal, and we were both a bit numb. We had just over a week to do final practical and emotional preparation – it was a rollercoaster time and we were relieved when the day finally arrived and we could bring our son home. We named him Abel which means ‘breath’ or ‘son’. From the moment we met him he has been such a relaxed and happy baby, and we still can’t quite believe how fortunate we are to be his parents. The adjustment has been huge, as it always is when you welcome a baby into your family, but he has been a delight from day one.
What has surprised you about motherhood?
Honestly, I am surprised that I am enjoying it so much, and that it feels as natural as it does. I have never been a broody person and never romanticised motherhood, always being more aware of the challenges that parenting might present. While I always knew that I wanted kids, it took me a long time to want to take on such a monumental responsibility. Before I became a mother I was very focussed on the things that might be difficult about motherhood, and those things have certainly been true of my experience, but I think I forgot that it might also feel fulfilling, enjoyable and rewarding – so that has been a welcome surprise.
If you could tell your pre-motherhood self one thing what would it be?
Motherhood will change your life, but you will still be you. At first it might feel like you have lost yourself, but as things settle down and you find your rhythm you will begin to feel like yourself again, and you might just discover facets to yourself that you didn’t know were there before.
What advice would you give a friend who is about to become a mom?
A few things that made my transition into motherhood a little smoother were
– accepting help when it was offered and not being afraid to ask for help
– communicating honestly with my husband about how I was (or wasn’t) coping and allowing him to do the same
– not putting pressure on myself to feel a certain way, but rather to embrace the honest emotion or experience of each day or moment as it happens
What is the most difficult thing about being a mom?
I find the ‘non-stop’ aspect of parenthood very difficult. Anyone can deal with one sleepless night, or one chaotic day, but the cumulative effect of day upon day and month upon month, with no end or break in sight can feel overwhelming and exhausting. We work for ourselves (we have a wedding photography business) and because we did not know when we would be matched with a baby, we could not book leave for when he came home, and I found it very difficult not having maternity leave. I would have loved the time and space to really absorb what was happening and to have uninterrupted bonding time as a family, but I quickly accepted that this would not be possible and chose to focus on the positives that come with being a self employed parent instead of dwelling on the downside.
What is one thing you learned from your own mom or a mother figure in your life?
My mother is a midwife and has spent most of her life helping women with their transition into motherhood. She has been a mother figure to so many, and from her I have learned that biology is the least of what makes someone a mother.
Describe a typical day in your life
My husband Bruce and I are both photographers and work for ourselves (https://lovemadevisible.co.za). A typical day for us is like a giant game of tag – I care for Abel while Bruce works for a few hours and then we switch so that I can work and he cares for Abel. We also alternate nights with Abel, so in this sense we share the work and parenting load 50/50. It is extremely challenging and exhausting trying to get through a full time work load in limited hours, but we find we are extremely productive with the time we have, and we are fortunate to both have daily one-on-one time with Abel. It’s a mad juggle but also a great privilege.
Do you have a favourite quote about motherhood or a piece of writing that resonates with you?
Although I did not give birth to Abel, this quote about the birth of a mother really resonates with my experience so far:
“The most difficult part of birth is the first year afterwards. It is the year of travail – when the soul of a woman must birth the mother inside her. The emotional labor pains of becoming a mother are far greater than the physical pangs of birth; these are the growing surges of your heart as it pushes out selfishness and fear and makes room for sacrifice and love. It is a private and silent birth of the soul, but it is no less holy then the event of childbirth, perhaps it is even more sacred.” – Joy Kusek
When thinking about Abel’s amazing birth mother, her brave choice, and the way we will forever be connected in our motherhood, this quote sums it up beautifully:
“He is mine in a way that he will never be hers, yet he is hers in a way that he will never be mine, and so together, we are motherhood.” -Desha Wood
Photography Credit: Maike from honest work
‘We are fascinated by human connection, and we light up when given the opportunity to tell people’s stories through our photographs. Through our work, and our actions, we want to remind people about what matters most. We wholeheartedly believe in love and its power to restore all things. We want to make images that speak to something greater than us, images that really matter.’ words of Rebecca & Bruce (Love Made Visible)
They will no doubt be capturing amazing images of the visible love in their little family unit.
Happy Mother’s Day Rebecca & to all you beautiful Moms (Mums)!