Amanda Wearn is based in Perth and runs fashion label Willa in Spades and the Island Blonde blog. You can follow her in Instagram here or read her blog here.
Fluffy puppies, brunch feasts, bronzed bodies, dreamy holiday locations, sparkly engagement rings the size of my right boob (ok and the left, don’t panic they’re the same size), headstands on the edge of a cliff in to die for yoga wear and more selfies of girls with flawless makeup on than you can count. Our social media is full of these images, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, blogs, twenty four hours a day seven days a week we have instant access to all these beautiful pictures. Its easy to forget that these are not always a true representation of someone’s whole life. They’re what I like to call the “frosting”. It takes work to make a cupcake, preparing the batter, baking in the oven, waiting to cool down, only then can it then be frosted, decorated and put on display. Now if there were only two cupcakes left on the counter, one soft white cupcake with creamy peaked pink icing with perfectly placed heart sprinkles and one browned from over baking, the icing and sprinkles now half way down the side of the cupcake and running onto the counter from being iced to early, which one would you choose? (FYI when I bake mine always look like the latter). The same principal applies for our social media, most of the time we’re going to choose the “frosted” photos.
A silly example, when Chris and I went to the Gili Islands last year, so that we could stay on Gili Meno as well as Gili T we chose a really cheap villa, it was horrible, there are no photos anywhere of us in that villa, however there are an infinite amount of photos of us walking the white sandy beaches with the clear turquoise water in the background. Of course that is a fairly trivial example, but just helps to show that behind every beautiful photo that makes you wish you had the money to go on that holiday, or the body to wear that, or the friends to do that with, there’s another story.
We are not completely deprived of the real world, we see photos of courageous woman battling cancer, starving children in third world countries, men at war and victims of domestic abuse, but we don’t see many of the average, the normal, the more common struggles. When you see a beautiful photo of a mother, father and newborn, you don’t generally see the photo of them 1 year, 2 years prior, being told that once again the embryo implanted didn’t take, they have one last chance to bring a little person of their own into this world, one more embryo, you don’t see the photo of the friend or family member going through the counselling, months of hormone injections to donate those eggs, behind every beautiful photo there are many stories, that story could have and has have ended with a beautiful photo of that amazing couple smiling with joy in a helicopter over the Grand Canyon instead, no baby, but unforgettable memories with each other, both beautiful photos, different endings, but the same story, looking at either of those two photos would make you feel joy (or jealousy, helicopter over the Grand Canyon? Yes please!), but there’s been a bit of baking behind those frosted photos.
With all this running through my head over the last couple of weeks, with perfect timing I received an email from my beautiful friend Casey from Sunbella. I met this incredible woman after a collaboration through our businesses, not only are Casey and her Mum changing the face of sun protection but she has now initiated the #beautifulwarrior movement and asked if I would be interested in joining them on helping woman feel more empowered and also empathetic towards each struggles. The frosting is positive and infectious, but it’s important to see that we all struggle, no matter how many beautiful photos we have.
When I first thought about the #beautifulwarrior movement I thought I was going to write about and share more of the visa troubles for my wonderful fiancé and I, but now, as I sit here with frustrated tears rolling down my cheeks and a bed full of used tissues I think I will share another silent struggle. As my readers, friends and family know I was married and divorced rather young and we have a cheeky little boy who is now four. They say everything gets easier with time, but there’s always that one thing that seems like it never will.
When we first separated I had majority care of the little man, the first few months were hard, there was a lot of hatred, in those first few months his Dad contemplated travelling round the world for a year, and in my depressed, frustrated and and angry moments I wish he had, obviously that would not have been ideal for the little man to not have his father in his life, but it would have made my life a lot easier. A year and a bit down the track from there he was remarried and settling into family life again and I had managed to re-enter the workforce. The obvious downside to starting a full time job to support yourself and your son is you then have to place your child into child care, which means less time with them but means you can put a roof over your head and food in your child’s tummy. It was at this point that we came to the decision that we would try 50/50, he laid out the terms, the change over times, he was the one with money for lawyers, and the most important thing, the confidence, I however, did not have the confidence, so I signed those papers, I did not try to change or question anything, just signed away. From the moment I started to work the real problems started. I will admit, I was an emotional wreck at that time in my life, I was working close to 55 hours a week, little man was not sleeping so I was up all hours of the night, I was struggling through a bad relationship and still felt like I was being controlled and judged by my ex husband. There were moments where I hadn’t slept in days, worked a 53 hour week, trying to run a household and cope with a toddler, so I’d ask my Mum if she could have my son for a few hours on Sunday so I could either just have a nap, get some washing done or have a little time to myself before I went insane, now I look back at those times and wish I had just powered through, because those moments are now used against me, they’re now made to make me look like a horrible mother and bad person, and to be honest sometimes they still do make me feel like it.
A couple years later and we reach now, obviously right this second I am sat in front of my laptop writing this for you from the UK, so I am on my best behaviour for fear my telephone sessions with my baby be taken away from me, but when I return home it will go back to how it has been, me only having my son one or two nights a week. As I had to work, and for me to work my child would have to go into daycare, my sons Dad threatened to take me to court, he thought he had more right to have him as he worked from home and I didn’t. After all these years of stress and heartache, I just couldn’t once again go through the months and months of mediation sessions and the court process, I couldn’t handle the stress that causes not only between my ex and I, but also my fiancé and I and also the stress that puts on our son, its not fair to everyone, so to keep peace, I agreed, he could have majority custody. Looking back now I don’t know if this was a weak moment, and I should have battled and persisted through the months or years in took to fight, fight for my right to work and be able to have a life with my son, or if in fact it was strength, and it was the right thing to do, his Dad is home, he has a loving family with a step sister, they have a house and mortgage, the perfect little family life and my feet are still struggling to find the ground a little bit.
Sometimes, its moments like these, where I’m sat here bawling my eyes out, that I wonder if its all worth the struggle, would he better off if I just gave up, its a hard thing to contemplate, its also a hard thing to talk to people about, most of it I keep to myself, I don’t talk to anyone about it. It’s not an empowering thing, to have no control or say in your own sons life, to have to beg for an extra night, to have to explain exactly how and where your child will sleep whilst in your care, it does make you feel like a failure as a parent and as a person. Do I love him so much I have to fight or love him so much I have to bend, to make sure his life is stress free, and the people around him are stress free, as his life is the most important. There is no measure on true love, you either have true love or your don’t, I love both my fiancé and my son, I will not say I could not live without them, but I will say I could not live without them being happy.
So in a nutshell (having Austin Powers visions as I type that), that is one of my struggles, I won’t be the only mother, or father, going through this at the moment. It’s hard, very hard, I have another friend just starting her journey down the same path and my heart breaks, there’s nothing I can do for her besides be a listening ear, just like there’s nothing that anyone could do for me besides listen. If I had one piece of advice for the parents out there separating, be fair, don’t let yourself take a more dominant position over the other, these are peoples lives, one argument, one stubborn moment can effect someone’s whole life. We all get thrown different curve balls, we all have little ping pong curve balls and giant bowling ball curve balls, it doesn’t make any individuals life better than another. I had to get a full time job and put my son in day care, but I couldn’t be happier, I found independence, financially and spiritually, I went through another bad relationship, I couldn’t be happier, it taught me who I was and what I stand for and I fell in love with someone I have to fight to live in the same country with, and couldn’t be happier, he is my true match in every way, but none of these curve balls should determine how much time I get to spend with my son, but they do. You have to start seeing the good in every situation, I could say “I only get to see my son one night a week” or I could say “I get to spend one amazing night a week with my son where I can devote all my time to him”, its my choice now, I can’t change the past, and I can’t give people compassion, but I can make sure I am in charge of my feelings, and I choose not to be miserable, besides, we never know what curve ball could be next, it might be a life changing one ;)
It’s hard for me to share this, but I hope in sharing my story I help other parents out there, be respectful to each other, life is to short and we only get one chance at it.
If you would like to join the #beautifulwarriors and join us on empowering woman through sharing our struggles head to the Sunbella website for more information and while your there why not give this wonderful woman a few minutes of your time and vote for her for the Ausmumpreneur Awards.
That’s two rather deep and meaningful posts over the last week, I shall make sure the next few are light hearted and full of all things beautiful, pineapples, beaches, bikinis and flamingos.
Until next time, peace, love and coconuts xx
Follow along or share your story on Facebook or Instagram. #beautifulwarriors
Six months ago we came up with a concept of "warriors" as a theme for a photoshoot for Sunbella because, let's be honest; you need to have courage to carry a parasol (regardless of how stylish it is) and it is essentially a shield that can prevent some skin cancer battles.