A Day in the Life of Mamalode: Claire Bidwell Smith

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When I first joined Instagram several years ago I never could have imagined the incredible community of mothers that I would come to be a part of. For me, becoming a mother was a startling experience. I was never someone who dreamed of having children, and I felt ill-prepared for the task at hand when my first daughter was born. Not only was I learning how to parent without my own parents here to guide me, but I found myself lost in a sea of ideas, opinions and judgements about each decision I made for my children. I also found motherhood to be an isolating experience. Long days with wonderful, but demanding, little people can be draining. But the support and inspiration and love I encounter every day in this community of moms I've found on IG reminds me every day that no matter how differently we each choose to approach this privileged role, we are all aspiring to the same goal, one of raising our little people the best way we possibly can.

Claire Bidwell Smith took over Mamalode's Instagram account on May 7th, 2014. This is her story through a #dayinthelifeofmamalode.

I'm Claire Bidwell Smith and these are my two favorite daughters Veronica and Juliette. I'm starting my #dayinthelifeofmamalode with this photo of us because this picture captures the essence of motherhood for me, the fierce pull between these two little creatures who have taken over my heart. This photo was taken on Nauset Beach on Cape Cod, where my parents got engaged. They both died of cancer by the time I was twenty-five and those losses have shaped much about who I am. Now I live in Los Angeles and my days are spent writing my second book and mothering Vera and Jules. Although I never really imagined becoming a mother, now I can't imagine what life would be like had I not. 

Wednesday morning. Twenty minutes to go until preschool drop-off chaos. I am grateful every day that they get along so well. Next month Vera turns 5 and Jules turns 2. Their birthdays are a week apart. I wanted girls so badly that both times I was pregnant I chose not to find out what I was having. I think I wanted girls so much because I desperately missed the mother-daughter connection I lost when I was 18. Every year, leading up to their birthdays, I always experience a kind of replay of their pregnancies and births. I gained 60 pounds (!) with both pregnancies, and birthed both naturally. We're trying like hell to avoid a Frozen-themed birthday party this year. Not sure it's gonna happen though.

After dropping Vera at school, Jules and I did some boring stuff, like getting the car washed. But now we're at my favorite park in Santa Monica, a beautiful stretch of green grass, public art, and palm trees that stretches alongside the Pacific Ocean. Whenever life gets overwhelming this place makes me feel like I can breathe.

Bridge to the beach. I love that these places will be some of her earliest memories.

We go to the beach at least once a week, if not more. I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, a completely landlocked city, so I still find myself amazed to be living in this place. I wound up in New York City for college, and then moved to Los Angeles when I was 24 to take care of my father who was in his last year of life. I left NYC kicking and screaming, but eventually fell in love with LA, and now I can't imagine living anywhere else. It's a strange city, but much more interesteing than people give it credit for. There's so much history here, and so many different cultures and ethnicities. Yes, there's traffic and smog and celebrities, but there is also art and music and food and weird plants and unusual architecture, and of course, the great, wide Pacific Ocean. 

Writing while Jules naps. These days I'm working on my second book any chance I get. My first book came out two years ago, a memoir entitled The Rules of Inheritance. It's now being turned into a film starring Jennifer Lawrence and is published in 17 countries. (It sill feels surreal to write those things.) My second book, due out next year, is a kind of personal exploration of the afterlife. After having experienced so much grief and loss in my life I've been left with a lot of questions about what happens next. In my new book I write about my journey to understand what happens when we die through my experiences of meeting with psychic mediums, priests, rabbis, doing past life regression and dabbling in shamanism, among other things. Trying to write a book while mothering two little kids is probably the most challenging thing I've ever taken on.

A visit to the mothership. For me, becoming a mother was a startling transition. I'm pretty free-willed and also strong-willed. Losing my parents made me feel like the bottom could drop out at any moment, and in reaction to that feeling I spent many years living kind of day to day, following my whims. I've traveled all over the world, thrown a thousand parties, followed crazy impulses to write books, and I've upended my life in various ways. Basically I've just lived like there was no tomorrow. Becoming a mother was a very grounding experience from this way of life. There are aspects of it that I loathe and buck against, but I've also grown to deeply appreciate the stability it's given my life, and the sense of future that it has returned to my world.

En route to ballet class, with one of Vera's pals in tow. (I bet you can guess what were singing along to.) This is around the time when Wednesday begins to feel a little endless. I haven't taken a shower yet and I just found some week-old popcorn in my shirt pocket.

Ballet Wednesday. One of the biggest parenting dilemnas I have these days is this whole sibling thing. As an only child, I have no experience of it, yet I desperately want them to both feel loved, included, and indiviudally recognized, while at the same time helping them foster a deep and loving sister bond. Jules is determined to do everything her big sister does and that includes wearing her shoes any chance she gets. 

5:20pm, glass of prosecco in hand. Two girlfriends and a total of five kids in my house. I find that motherhood can be isolating sometimes so I make a point of inviting friends over for dinner once or twice a week. 

My mothers macaroni and cheese. Even though she was a professional chef, this was my favorite thing that she made. It took me a few years but I finally figured out how to recreate it. (Recipe on my blog.)

8:20pm. The girls are almost asleep. The house is trashed, toys everywhere, dishes, empty glasses covering every surface. The TV remote has been broken and there is mac and cheese ground into the carpet. But my heart is full. Today was a good day. It was my usual Wednesday, harried and overwhelming, peaceful and magical, all the things that motherhood always is. I'm so grateful for the community of motherhood, in my real life, and here on IG. Every day I'm inspired by the photos I see, the meals cooked, the crafts attempted, the adventures taken. We're all so different, and all the same, and we're all in this together. 

If you're interested in being a part of a #dayinthelifeofmamalode, email sarah@mamalode.com.

You can purchase Claire's book here: 

About the Author

Erin Britt

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