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“Sometimes the biggest dreams to come true are the ones we didn't even know we wanted.” Matrescence’s Natalie Burrow shares her insight on the joys of motherhood and the twists and turns in her journey that led to amazing revelations. As a former writer, blogger, web designer, and current savvy Social Media Manager and mom of four, (including a new baby born this year!) Natalie teaches us to better navigate the unexpected as mama, surrender to the universe, and live a life guided by our intuition.
Natalie, tell us about you:
I am a creative at heart, a designer, an aspiring writer, and a mother of 4 who is married to my high school sweetheart. My husband and I are both born and raised Californians that traded our beach town on the coast for small town country life in Texas almost two years ago. I spent nearly a decade blogging, teaching myself photography, graphic design, coding, web design, and anything else I could learn along the way. I eventually retired my blog with the intention to keep writing and share my experiences within motherhood, but I've never been able to keep a consistent writing practice so most of my writing has lived on Instagram and in newsletters over the last several years. I've been doing branding and website design for the last year and half and am now the Social Media Manager for Matrescence, which I'm so stoked about!
What was the most unexpected part of your own motherhood journey?
My fourth baby! We fully thought we were done after three, but life had other plans and sent us the greatest gift we had no idea we needed. To be honest, it was a shock and took some time to fully wrap my mind around. But I knew deep down it was meant to be. When we were teenagers, long before we knew anything about the reality of having kids, we'd talk about how one day we'd have four...funny how things come full circle!
Trying to understand how we'd manage four kids felt overwhelming, and knowing I'd have to give my body over to the process of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum again was difficult to accept at first. My mind was so prepared to be moving on to the next chapter. Shortly after my second trimester began, things really shifted and it ended up being my most enjoyable pregnancy of the four. He's been here 3 months now and every day I look at him in total awe and adoration thanking the universe for knowing better than we did. Sometimes the biggest dreams to come true are the ones we didn't even know we wanted.
Talk to us about “mom guilt.” Have you felt it? How have you worked through it?
I definitely have. It's come up more recently as I've begun to work again which means my two-year-old son is with either my parents or my in-laws 1-3 days a week, while my older girls are in school and the baby is with me. I've felt like a terrible mother for not having that time with him like I did with my daughters when they were that age. What gets me through is remembering what he's gaining: time with both sets of grandparents that's good for not only him but also them. It's helpful to widen my lens so I can remind myself that I don't have to be with my kids 24/7 to be a good mom. It’s actually so good for them to have a variety of influences in their lives and to build strong bonds with the people they love. Seeing those special relationships form, knowing how invaluable they will be to them, and remembering that's something not every kid is lucky enough to have, helps me find gratitude for our circumstances instead of feeling guilty about it.
What struggles have you encountered balancing work and motherhood? How do you navigate them?
The biggest struggle has been simply figuring out how to do both. Since my first job out of college, I've always worked for myself and my husband was always the primary earner in our family. I've had a few different businesses throughout the years, but have always struggled finding consistent work time. The thing I've learned is I simply can't make work time consistent and keep my sanity without some kind of support. Trying to mother and work at the same time not only feels impossible, but makes me feel like I'm doing both things poorly. It's only been the last year and half where I've been able to find a blend of work and mothering that works for us, and it involves having the help of both sets of grandparents and my husband leading the charge on the days that he's off (he's a firefighter so he works an irregular schedule) so I can work. Having that support is a huge blessing because being able to work feels like a gift, not just financially, but mentally. Having that creative outlet and being able to do work I really enjoy is incredibly nourishing.
How does Matrescence’s Mission to “mother the mother” resonate with you as a mom? In your career?
It's a lesson I've had to learn over and over as my motherhood journey has evolved – from kid to kid, season to season. One of the things that fascinates me endlessly is the complete dichotomy that motherhood is. The human experience in general is filled with dichotomy, but I think it's amplified in motherhood. Becoming a mother makes life so much bigger: it becomes about so much more than just you. And at the same time, in order to do the bigger picture justice and ultimately be there for these precious little beings, it really starts with us. Sure, mothers have an incomparable ability to pour from an empty cup at times because we're possibly the most resourceful beings on earth, but it's not sustainable (or enjoyable) in the long run. Caring for ourselves has to be part of the equation for the longevity and wellbeing of ourselves, our children, and our families.
In what ways do you feel your path to motherhood was different or unique?
My path to motherhood was straightforward in a lot of ways, which I'm incredibly grateful for because I know that's not the case for so many. With the birth of each of my children, my motherhood journey became more and more intuitively led. My first two births were in the hospital and involved an induction for the first and epidurals for both, whereas my last two births were home births. There is no right way to birth, but for me as time went on, I felt a strong intuitive pull to have a home birth with my third – I really wanted to experience the process in its fullness with no interventions if possible. Both of my home births were transformative, incredible experiences that allowed me to meet parts of myself I never have before and likely never will again. I'm proud of myself for following my intuition even when others didn't understand it.
What is the best thing you learned about parenting and who did you learn it from?
The best thing I ever learned about parenting was something my dad has always told me, which is simply "just love them." It sounds so simplistic, but in this day and age we have so many pressures on us to perfect every little thing and to parent in the perfect way so we don't leave our kids with scars they'll have to heal later on. It feels like a sigh of relief to remember that at the end of the day, my children knowing they are loved unconditionally is truly the only thing that matters. If they know that and feel that, then we can get through any challenge together.
What is the most challenging aspect of being a mom, and how do you manage it?
For me, the biggest challenge is probably the lack of autonomy. My life is currently a beautiful circus that involves zero personal space, endless requests, and always trying to meet the needs of my little humans. I am someone who always has ideas and creative callings. I am a very reflective person, love my solitude, and thrive when I have the freedom of time and space to indulge my creativity and take care of myself in all the ways I want to. Having to reconcile these things with the demands of motherhood has been challenging, humbling, and full of lessons. My children are hands down my greatest contribution to the world and being their mom is the honor of my life. Balancing that role with those parts of my personality has required a lot of trial and error and calling in support from other people.
Anything else you want us to know?
I always say motherhood was my greatest unraveling that led to my ultimate becoming, as I feel like I'm more myself now than I ever was before. The identity shift that comes along with becoming a mother can be so tough to navigate. For me, there was a steep learning curve of not only learning how to care for this new, precious human but also how to care for myself along the way. There was also a big process around learning how to slow down and untangle my worth from achievement and external validation. When you're in it, it can feel so tough, but I just want to encourage moms to keep going. Those trials will build resilience, adaptability, and transform you in all the best ways if you let them. Ultimately, motherhood helped me shed a lot of worn out identities and become more of who I always really was. It has been the thing that ultimately led me to living a life guided by my own intuition. If there's one thing I want every mother to know, it's to follow your intuition above all else.
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