Welcome back to another week of our Motherhood Unfiltered series—where we’re removing the stigma of talking openly and honestly about motherhood without judgment. We’ve invited moms within our community to share their experiences with motherhood, and what they’ve found both wonderful and challenging about this important phase of their lives.
Today we’re honoured to have spoken with Celena Arthur, Vancouver Branch Director of Mamas For Mamas, a nonprofit organization we feel strongly about here at Smash + Tess. This vital organization is dedicated to facilitating the connection of moms in a space of empathy and compassion, and to ensure that every mother, regardless of experience and socioeconomic background, feels supported, lifted, and well taken care of during their parenting journeys.
We’re so happy that you’re joining us today, Celena. Tell our community a little bit about yourself.
My name is Celena Arthur and I’m a proud single mama of a beautiful boy turning 5 in July. I’m originally from Peterborough, Ontario, and I’m the Branch Director for Mamas for Mamas Vancouver.
What have you felt has been the best part of motherhood for you up until this point?
I love that motherhood lets you experience life at your very rawest form. There is something beautiful in knowing that even when you haven't showered in who knows how many days, and you can’t remember the last time you slept through the night, there is someone who looks at you like you are their whole world. That someone sees you in all your messy glory and still loves you unconditionally.
Something that comes up a lot when getting real with moms is the topic of shame. Do you ever feel shame when discussing your experiences being a mom?
Anytime we open ourselves up when it comes to motherhood, it can be a scary experience. There are so many conflicting opinions when it comes to how to raise a child, and opening up yourself to motherhood puts you in a very vulnerable position. The way to combat that shame, is to not only share, but to listen to others with an open heart and honour the way that they choose to raise their little ones.
Is there anything you wished that moms talked about more openly?
Anything and everything. Most of all the hard times. The more we talk about our struggles, the more other moms will realize that we all have those days. You know, the days where we are crying on our bathroom floor exhausted, and just needing a minute to ourselves. I would also love to see more single parents, either father or mothers, talk more about how we can better support each other in various ways.
When you first became a mom, did anything stand out for you as being surprising or unexpected?
I didn’t expect to be a single parent—I’ve been solo since 3 months pregnant. The journey alone was scary and the unknown was terrifying, but as soon as my son was born I met the love of my life. I didn't expect to have the bond I do with my son but we’re inseparable. I think what surprised me the most is how strong I've managed to be with the small village I have.
What do you think is a common misconception about motherhood?
The biggest misconception to me is that a good mom knows how to “do everything” and balance it all, playing the role of both parents. I always thought, ah I got this, but it was hard. It’s okay even when you have a partner helping to know you don’t have to know everything, nothing prepares you for the world of motherhood, you just have to follow with your heart and know that at the end of the day no matter what you did it and gave it your all. We are all superheroes with our hearts existing outside of our chests.
If you could go back in time and tell yourself something before you had kids, what would it be?
I knew kids were a big responsibility but had no idea of the magnitude of that responsibility. Raising kids is a damn difficult job whether you are raising them alone, or with a partner.
When you are raising them alone you have to let go of a lot of things while the kids are young. Traveling, partying, socializing, self care and even shopping takes a backseat. All you ever buy is diapers and formula. Shampooing your hair and scrubbing your face becomes a task—it can get overwhelming at times. You’ll also be worrying constantly if your kids are meeting the milestones at the right time or not. Judgements follow.
This stage isn’t permanent. It chang es when kids grow up. I am dealing with a toddler so I’m forever tired and sleep deprived. It’s no fun!
When kids grow up, there will be other challenges. I just wish I had known the magnitude of it all. I was aware of the responsibilities partially after my son was born but just didn't understand how difficult and draining it all can be.
What would you say is the best piece of advice you could offer to a new mom-to-be?
When in doubt, love yourself and your littles. It's okay to feel overwhelmed, but just know you are not doing this alone. If you need someone, a shoulder or support, come to Mamas for Mamas. I love being able to say I work for Mamas for Mamas and know that I can support other families in various situations. It’s okay to ask for help and it’s okay to need a hand, we all do, we just have to believe that we are worth it.
Thanks for joining us for our Motherhood Unfiltered series, Celena! For more information about Mamas For Mamas and to find a chapter in your area, be sure to check out https://www.mamasformamas.org/