New Orleans native, Jessica Bride is the southern woman of dreams. A writer and skilled chef, Jessica is the brain and hands behind life, travel and food blog BelleAnnee. When she’s not sharing pretty images of her Nottinghill neighbourhood with us on instagram (if you are not following her yet, you are truly missing out!), Jessica can be found either writing for Life &Thyme, or planning a holiday with her husband and three kids.
My mother was a flower child, an American hippie. Her parents left Tennessee to open a truck stop at a key highway juncture in Louisiana when my mom was just 13. At Power’s Junction they were the first in the area to have blacks and whites sit at the same counter. Traffic was so heavy on weekends that police would be sent out to direct cars, and my mom’s job was to bring them large Styrofoam cups of beer to keep them cool while working. She went on to study Psychology and English and then earn a Master’s Degree in Anthropology. She was a sorority girl at 18 and shortly thereafter was a young wife with two children. She was a divorcee, then, in the 1970’s, she was an earth mother when she and my father had me. They rebuilt a late 18th century home in the bayou of Louisiana until she could no longer block the sound of the city calling her name. They divorced and she returned to her first love, New Orleans. She was an honorary drag queen in the 1980s and when the 1990s rolled around she found the role she would keep for the rest of her life as a tireless advocate for musicians, music and culture in New Orleans. She lived many lives. She was extremely intelligent and insanely opinionated. People loved her or hated her, rarely indifferent. She also gave the most intense hugs and always smelled richly of Chanel Number 5. She had a powerful, attention-commanding voice that was part Tennessee-Twang and part Continental-Newscaster and it is in that voice that I can hear the single lesson she tried so hard to pass along to me for as long as I can remember knowing her: “Be Here Now” she would go on to explain to the young me, “If you are always looking forward to the next thing you never appreciate what you are doing.” It took me decades to understand what she meant and why it was important. When she died I had bracelets made for myself and my two sisters with the words BE HERE NOW. I tell my children, mostly my son, frequently. Be where you are. Enjoy what you are doing. Appreciate the time you have. Be here now, because you won’t always be.
When my husband and I met we were both in the midst of divorces. We were in our early thirties, neither of us had children. We had both been career driven but were ready to take some time off and find our respective places in the world. We entered into a whirlwind love affair that transcended legal battles (his), visa battles (mine) and existed under its own magical momentum. We married 11 months to the day after meeting. When I got pregnant, 4 months before we married, I genuinely worried that I would never be able to love someone as much as I loved him. I wondered if I hadn’t made a huge mistake – after all, where would the love come from to give a baby? The first 48-hours after giving birth were so mind blowing that I couldn’t really get my head around the fact that I was a MOTHER but gradually it dawned on me. I was responsible for this tiny, innocent, helpless person. Gradually I got to know his smell, the softness of his hair, and the sound of his breathing while asleep. I found out that I loved him, my son, naturally, fully and unconditionally. Meanwhile my love for my husband grew as well because I looked at him as a father as well as a partner. When I got pregnant with our second child I wondered again, “How will I find room in my heart for another child?” And, once again, I found my heart just expanded exponentially to make room for the sweetest girl.
So that was all amazing, and surprising to me. But the most amazing thing, and the most surprising thing about motherhood is the intense joy I feel when I hear my children’s voices. I have a nanny who comes in the afternoons to give me time to work for a bit and cook dinner. As I type this I can hear Powers, the youngest of our three children, laughing as she is woken from a nap. The sound of her voice, her laughter, her silly words for things, her smell…it is like an extreme endorphin rush. I don’t notice the cause at first but I can feel the result. I can feel stress melt away, my mood lift, a smile break out on my face. I get giddy, like when a 13-year-old girl sees a boy she likes. The same thing happens when I see the older two leave their teachers side and run to me at school pick up.
So, to make it short, the most amazing thing, and the most surprising thing about motherhood is how much love I, an ordinary person, am capable of holding in my heart. Something I would never know if I hadn’t had children.
My ideal mother’s day would be spent on Pensacola Beach in Florida with my husband and my children. It would be sunny and warm and I would watch the three children and my husband play in the water while I sat in the sun soaking up the colours and the ocean breeze. We would walk home to our tiny beach bungalow and everyone would take naps with the doors open, the dog guarding us, and the warm wind blowing through. In the afternoon we would start cooking together, my husband would make the two of us Margaritas and the five of us (and the dog) would go sit on the deck of our beach house and watch the sun start to make its way down into the water. We would eat dinner, go to bed early and do it all again the next day.
Our Mother’s day series continues tomorrow. Remember we are publishing these stories daily in honour of everything motherhood stands for in the run up to Mothering Sunday.