It wasn't until I became a mum myself that I started to see the natural environment as something more than a place to run around and let off steam (although it's very useful for that too!). I began to see nature as something I belonged to - sensing my place in a bigger eco-system. This month's activity, Meet Mother Nature, is all about looking at the natural world afresh.
Even though I grew up in London, my parents always encouraged us to get up close to nature - a trip to the park to feed the ducks, a stroll through the long grasses in Walthamstow marshes, a wintery stomp on Autumn leaves in Epping Forest. We went on camping holidays in Europe and regular jaunts to my gran's home on the Isle of Arran - one of my brothers reached the top of Goat Fell at the age of 3, no doubt tempted by my dad's promised chunk of Yorkie bar - at that stage, I would attempt almost anything for a piece of chocolate, (not much changes).
8 years ago, my Cornish husband finally persuaded me to move to Cornwall from London. I'm so happy he did. My two lovely kids now have the beach 3 minutes walk from home, along with beautiful local parks and a host of cliff-tops, moors, tropical gardens, woods and fields within driving distance. We don't have as many museums, cinemas, galleries and libraries, but we have enough - and more importantly, we have all of mother nature to learn from.
Whether you choose to live in the city or the country, it's certain that nature will be doing something amazing nearby. It could be as simple as a flower poking through a pavement slab or a park squirrel jumping from tree to tree. Take a moment to stop, to look, to reflect - and there's inspiration to be found, for your kids - and most importantly, for you.
To join us in the Meet Mother Nature activity this month, simply take a walk in nature and take a photo of something that inspires you. Take your kids and see what you can learn from their fresh eyes. Or go alone and allow yourself some precious time to explore. What messages are out there for you?
Sometimes I just see being a mother as a list of tasks to be done - the washing, the feeding, the cleaning, the working, the wiping of snot and tears. Some of our mums' words in Handle with Care echo this. But motherhood is so much more than this, and nature reminds us of its miraculous complexity. What could that pavement flower tell us about persistence, optimism, or consistency? That squirrel about taking a risk, a leap of faith, setting an example for our own children?
We lead such busy lives that we rarely consider our place in the world. Nature reminds us of the eternal journey of motherhood. We grow. We create. We nurture. We mums have a valuable role in this huge eco-system, along with all the other natural forces that exist.
And if all of this just sounds like hippy nonsense, go for a walk anyway - we mums deserve some fresh air, and a break.