MOM CRUSH: LU
Photos by nikki fenix (the lovelies project) + lu featherstone
interview by karin hesselvik
LU lives a life bursting with color. she’s a crossfit coach, an OOTD STYLE MAVEN, a POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION SURVIVOR AND an HONEST AF ‘Mum.’ READ about her rip-tide journey into mom lyfe, her decision to only have one child and her thoughts ON NAVIGATING THINGS LIKE CONSENT, SOCIAL MEDIA AND HEARTBREAK WITH A teenage son.
What’s the first thing you remember creating?
I created quite the scam when in was in my early teens. We had very little money while I was growing up, so I started writing to magazine to tell them how poor I was and I’d beg for clothes and free stuff from photoshoots… It worked and for years I would receive parcels of the most random odd items of clothing!
What’s the most recent thing you created?
An epic Indian salad I made for dinner tonight. Baby spinach, lentils warmed through with mustard & cumin seeds and a fresh chili, feta, carrot and cucumber & a mango chutney & cilantro dressing! Yum!
Are you a kid or a grown up?
I will forever by 29 in my heart. When I was 29 - I was still a kid!
What are you most proud of?
I am proud I have lived my life to the max. I have made the most of everything and every opportunity. I am proud that if I got hit by a bus tomorrow, I would die happy, knowing there are not many things I haven’t done!
When are you your most creative self?
When I’m outfit planning or when I have an event in the process. My attention to detail is utterly exhausting - but when i’m busy I am fire! There’s no stopping me.
Three words that describe your take on motherhood
Wondrous. Exciting. Challenging.
What role does creativity play in how you parent?
I have to be creative and adapt as my kid grows. He’s 15 now and the changes are coming thick and fast! (and that’s not just his body hair!) Dealing with the hormones and the challenges that comes with being a teenager means being on your toes constantly. Trying to trust your teen while sniffing for weed in his bedroom, trusting him to make good choices while trying to crack the code to his phone and keeping an eye on what he’s up too! Finding a balance between letting go of the parenting reigns bit by bit but keeping him close so he will come to you if he gets into trouble……..it’s a creative juggle!
What have you learned about yourself since becoming a mother?
It turns out, it’s not all about me! Being a mum has not been an easy journey for me. I had a very challenging pregnancy, a general anesthetic C-section followed by 2 years of postpartum depression, which I made worse by trying to hide it and secretly suffered alone. I’ve learnt I am not as tough as I once thought I was and yet I’m also a bad ass mum who’d fight to the death for my kid and also to bring my kid up right.
what surprised you about motherhood?
Motherhood unraveled my whole being. I thought I would have it all sorted, good Lord could I have been more wrong…. From the first days of pregnancy I became consumed with nausea and as my body started to change before my eyes, I lost myself. I got married at 5 months - wobbling down the aisle, already 80 lbs heavier and looking like a stranger to myself in the mirror. By 8 months I could no longer get shoes on my swollen feet and ankles and in the grips of pre-eclampsia. By 9 1/2 months “the Dude” still refused to come out and at 2 weeks overdue, the hospital rushed me in and tried to induce me. After two days of prodding and poking without a contraction in sight - they decided to open the ‘sun roof’ and yank him out.
As they put the mask over my face, I drifted to sleep sobbing silently and already mourning the dream of the natural water birth I had planned.
When I came back into consciousness, I found a huge 9lb 11oz baby feeding on my breast. What should have been magical, was traumatizing. Without so much as a contraction, I felt a fraud masquerading with a baby that had been delivered by a stork claiming to be a mother. I could not bond with him, I didn't even believe he was mine and became convinced that there had been a mixup at the hospital.
can you talk about your experience with postpartum depression?
“People would ask if I loved being a mum and I'd lie and say yes, while for 2 whole years my mind was screaming ‘no I fucking don't!!! what about ME???’ I found the sacrifice too much. The sacrifice of my body, my mental health, my sleep, my husband’s attention, my sex life - while I thought I should feel overwhelmed with joy and happiness at having this baby, I just wanted to get 'me' back. Because I hid my depression away from everyone, I lived a life of lies. In those lies, I lost myself.”
WHAT HELPED YOU REACH THE OTHER SIDE?
Around his second birthday as he learnt to talk and communication became easier - so did mothering. This is why we have an only child. I can never go back to this dark place. For anyone. For me, for my husband and for Oska. Now, Oska is about to turn 15, HE is the one who teaches me things
The best thing about having a son?
Watching him grow up into a (so far) decent, respectful, honest, young man.
Talking to him about condoms and watching him squirm.
Picking up random sticky socks from the bedroom floor and chuckling to myself.
Cuddles on the sofa watching trashy TV!
The hardest thing?
He thinks i’m the coolest, strictest, meanest most terrifying embarrassing human being in the world. I can’t lie - it hurts. Is that pathetic?
what is it like dealing with the every changing tides of teenage life as a mom?
Oska's just broken up with his first serious girlfriend and we are navigating heartbreak, social media and contraception and consent and I'm trying to guide him towards being a good man and the understanding that the world is his for the taking, but that the choices he makes now will determine his path. I try to teach him to be thoughtful and considerate and to be honest, kind and grateful for what we have.
As we move through the new phase with him at high school, ironically it feels like he needs me more. The more he pushes me away as he finds his own path, the more present I need to be. He hates me every night as I take his phone away from him at 9.30pm. It's a regular nightly argument as he pleads and moans and I lie in bed wondering if I am ruining his social life. Then I hear the ting of snapchat at 1am from his friends still awake and I remember that I am his parent and not his best friend.
It's my job to do the best I can for him. If we didn't fight over my rules - I wouldn't be doing a good job.
What does freedom mean to you?
Freedom is fresh air. The ocean. Being with my boys in our camper van or on a road trip - having adventures and laughing. Also - being alone with an audio book. I like that too.
What’s something that energizes you?
Coaching kids. They give me life. Their enthusiasm and perspective on life is infectious.
Where does your inner peace come from?
My faith. I was raised in the church of England and my father was a vicar (minister). My faith gives me a strength and determination that good times will always come after bad. That the universe will always provide. That if I stay positive and treat people with love and friendships with care, I will always be ok.
And… crossfit! Every time I get through a workout - it gives me confidence and reminds me I can achieve whatever I put my mind too.
I also married a really really good man who has my back and I have some ridiculously amazing friends.
Finally, working with kids and victims of abuse has opened my eyes to world where I count my blessings every day and taught me to make the most of every damn day and take every opportunity that comes my way.
what is the lu life motto?
Say yes to everything! I try to live this and live out loud. Share my time and energy as much as I can.
How do you define success?
By finding joy in every day it keeps me focused on the positive.
We try to eat dinner as a family as often as possible and share our best bits of each day. By counting every blessing - it keeps me focused on the good stuff and that drowns out the negative! I hope that rubs off on Oska too and that he learns to look on the bright side.
Why do you think being part of a female community is important?
Women understand women. We have an understanding of each others needs and just ‘get it.’
What’s a question you wish more people asked?
Do you want to go dancing?
What’s one thing you would still like to do?
Learn to kite surf
One lesson from 2018?
Take nothing for granted.
One dream for 2019?
Get my bloody website finished. Keep evolving the luinluland brand. Starting outfit rentals and spreading the sustainable style love far and wide!
One thing you’d like to tell another pom pom mom trying to figure it all out
Be realistic. Know there will be rough times, and that when they come, hold tight and just know better days are not far away. It’ll all be ok. I promise.
as you approach mid life, what is your perspective on motherhood, 15 years in?
With every phase of his life, I too have found a little bit more of who I am again but it also challenges me. When we caught him smoking pot, it was the very first time in a long time that I was flummoxed as a mum and felt at a loss as to what to do. The burden and responsibility of motherhood suddenly felt very heavy again. Do I lock him up? Do I ground him for life? Or do I keep him close and work together with him on helping him make better choices for himself? I thought I was ready for these inevitable exciting high school adventures - turns out - I wasn't ready at all.
The day I had him, I think I started my life again. It's only gotten better with him in it. I like to tell him he'll thank me one day - thank me for being strict and taking his phone away at night and limiting his play station hours so his brain doest frazzle. He'll thank me for the table manners I have drummed into him and the firm polite handshake and eye contact he makes when he meets someone will maybe pay him back one day.
“But the real story is, I shan't sit around waiting for the thanks.
It's just mothering. We don't do it for the thanks."