Cherish your Cherubs: Ellen Arthur Photography

Ellen Arthur is an avid blogger, photographer, sing, baker and minimal homemaker extraordinaire who fits it all around her 2 kids. Her blog is filled with her photos, heartaches and triumphs as she navigates through the craziness that is her life. I first met Ellen when she was a young girl who came from a lovely family of seven. The family she grew up in inspired me so much I went on to have seven children myself! I hope you enjoy how Ellen cherishes her cherubs.....

1. Tell us a little about yourself as a mother. 
I always imagined that my life would go like this. I would fall in love, get married and THEN become a Mother by falling pregnant but I become a mother in a far less conventional way. My husband, Regan had a child in a previous relationship and so on our wedding day over 2 and a half years ago, I became a wife and a mother, well a step-mother, but I took that role no less seriously than if she were my own. I had just turned 23 and she was this happy, crazy, funny 6 year old who had no clue what sarcasm was and she was the flower girl at our wedding. I must admit that it wasn’t very easy at the start, just as having a new baby and learning how to be a new mother is hard but Ella was so loving toward me from the word go and to this day she says “I love you” more times in a day than I can count. About 7 months later I fell pregnant and Noah came into our lives. Coming from a family of 7 children I always wanted a large family but after experiencing the whirlwind of motherhood I think that 4 might be my max. Ella is now 8 and Noah is 14 months and they are work but there isn’t a day that I wish that they weren’t in my life. Those hard days come and although I feel like I want to run away to the circus, there is this love that brings my heart back to them. Life is hectic as I try to juggle starting a new photography business, blogging, trying to keep the house from looking like an absolute dump (which I frequently fail at) but I am having the best time of my life. I have never been a clucky person. I was always one of those single girls that said that I would get married and then wait for as long as I could until people REALLY started to judge me and then I would have kids. I loved my nieces and nephews but I saw how exhausted my sisters were. Then once I met my husband Regan, I could not wait to see what our little babies would look like and the rest is history.

2. What is your favourite part about being a mother? 
The answer to this question is a double edge sword. My favourite part to being a mother is the fact that they need me. There is no better feeling in this world than to have this little chubby face that comes to you and gives you the biggest hugs and relies upon you for love. I honestly believe that I get so much more out of it than my children. The other side of that is when they get too clingy but that is small compared to the joy I feel.

3. Who inspires you as a mother? 
I know it sounds cliché but it would have to be my mother. She raised 7 children and gave us love whilst always giving service to others, working part time, always making time to dance with us around the living room and has instilled faith and love within our hearts so we are able to do the same for our children. I can think of no better teacher than her. My mother is just finishing off 18 months of church service in Finland and has not yet met my son but someone who has been such help is my mother-in-law. She is constantly asking if they can help or babysit and how she has raised my husband is a testament to how she has cherished him.

4. Why do you think it is important to cherish your children? 
These children are sent into our homes and our lives to bless us with joy and teach us so many lessons, some that I wish I didn’t have to learn. They come to us with blank canvases and it is our responsibility to teach them in every aspect of their lives. They rely on us to build their self-esteem and self-image. How better to let them know of their worth than to cherish them. We send them off into a world full of mixed messages. Pressures from all sides including bullying, peer pressure and images pushed onto them of how they are ‘supposed’ to look. These precious souls need to know that there will be a soft, loving place to fall when this crazy world tells them that they are not good enough. They need to know that they are loved, that they have value beyond what they can imagine. Value has been misplaced in our society and I want it back where it belongs, on character, education, loyalty and the ability to love. It is especially important to me with Ella as we only see her on the weekends so this is the small window I have to show her how much she means to me. I always want my home to be a sanctuary where I’m always at the ready for a hug and equipped with tissues and a shoulder when heartache enters their lives.

5. What do you do to show your children you cherish them? 
I have already given examples of ways I cherish them but one thing that we do is pray together. In our prayers we kneel together and pray for each other. There is a constant stream of "I love you" present on a daily basis as well as positive reinforcement for even the smallest of things. We always try to play together, whether its x-box or the beach, we try and take time regularly to have fun and when we do this we also try to talk to Ella about how her life is going. This makes her feel loved and important and it allows us to gain her trust. I think it is so important to listen to the smaller things now so that when they have bigger issues that they can always come to you. Another thing that Ella and I love to do is baking, followed by stuffing our faces with the end result. One project that Regan and I undertook recently was to renovate both of their rooms as we wanted them to have special spaces where they could play and feel surrounded with pretty things. I know that it made Ella feel so special as she feels that she has a space that it uniquely her within our home.

6. What do you hope your children feel or learn from you cherishing them? 
I hope that they become loving, confident, and well-adjusted adults who believe in themselves and who are able to improve on my parenting techniques when the time comes that they have their own. I encourage them to become self-reliant and I do help them when help is needed but I think that by allowing them to feel like they are capable of making age appropriate decisions that they will be able to conquer the world and they will feel like their ability has been cherished. I want them to feel like they can always come to me for help or advice or simply to hold them while they sob. I want them to know that no matter what society says that they are loved and that they don’t need to look within toxic peer circles or bad relationships to find that.

7. What is your favourite activity to do with your children and how does it help you to cherish them?
I love to read books to them and to take photos of them. I can’t tell you the joy that spreads across Ella’s face as I put photos of her around the home or on my blog. She feels my pride as I display my children for the whole world (or my 24 followers) to see, plus she loves doing a bit of posing. It is in those moments of reading them a book that they snuggle in close, with heir tired eyes straining to stay open as I use a variety of voices to narrate to them. At that moment the TV is off and the house is quiet and they listen. I feel such a closeness to them then.

8. How do you make time for your children in your schedule? 
I am lucky enough to be a stay at home mother and so although I do take time to do photography and some very light cleaning, I have the whole day to cover Noah with kisses every few minutes. I do find that sometimes you can get complacent and he will go off and play with himself a little more frequently so I always have to make a concerted effort every day to really get down onto his level and have a good old fashioned play or sing-a-long. As we only have Ella on weekends I try to make sure that we have fun activities planned when she comes. Of course there is also a lot of lounging but we try to spend as much quality time together as we can.

9. How does it make you feel as a mother when you know you are cherishing your children? 
It makes me feel happy. When I hear Ella say that she loves me every 2 minutes and when Noah trusts and loves on me with lots of smiles and kisses I know that I have done something right. I truly believe that no success can compensate for failure in the home and so I try my hardest, not to be the perfect Mum, but when I fail to pick myself up and try harder.

10. What advice would you give to other Mums about cherishing children?
I can honestly say that most of the readers of this blog have more experience than me but I guess as a blog reader myself I think we have all looked at so many blog posts where mothers post their triumphs in parenting and that’s all we seem to see. There are countless posts around the net that show mothers hosting wedding worthy parties, planning a fun game for every hour of the school holidays and spending a bucket load on doing up the kid’s rooms. Don’t get me wrong, I think they are adorable and if I had the time or mostly energy to do this then I probably would do the same but I don’t and that’s ok too. We have to stop comparing ourselves and thinking that every other mother has got it right, because the fact is that we don’t. Cherishing your children doesn’t have to cost a cent. It’s about giving them a footing into their life that they can succeed. Most of the women that write about the joy have moments of screaming and crying and embarrassing moments involving public places and poo but we just don’t hear about it all the time.

Thank you so much Ellen. I love your honesty and refreshing view on motherhood. Such an adorable family too! You can check out more that Ellen has to say and some of her photography on her BLOG and join her photography site on Facebook.