Interview with Bonnie Way of The Koala Mom

Here is an interview with my friend and fellow Love Rebel: Reclaiming Motherhood author Bonnie Way. I’m excited to be starting as a guest writer a few times a month on her blog, The Koala Mom, and was interviewed on it last Monday. I so love having a blogging buddy to talk about writing with! Hope you enjoy meeting her, too! 

 

Bonnie Way                          The Koala Mom

Please tell us a bit about yourself…
I’m a SAHM with three girls (ages 7, 5 and 2) and another baby on the way in November. My husband and I both grew up in Alberta. We met at university and got married when we graduated, then moved around a lot before deciding to go back to university in Victoria. Now we’re settled in Vancouver, where I’m homeschooling our oldest two. We enjoy going swimming and hiking together, watching movies, and playing board games with friends.

Why do you love to write? How does it help you be more yourself?

I’ve always been a writer. I started my first diary when I was ten and printed my first novel when I was fourteen. In my teens, I wrote several fantasy novels and started various other novels, which still sit on my computer. Then I did an English degree and worked as an editor for a year before going on maternity leave. I started my blog just before getting married and it has slowly evolved to be my biggest writing outlet. It took me a few years as a mom to realize that I needed the support of other moms; my blog has been one way to connect with other moms and to share this journey of motherhood. Writing is kind of my way of processing what I’m thinking and going through, and blogging allows me to combine my passions for writing and mothering.

What made you want to be part of this project? Why do you think it’s important? 

I love supporting other moms and writers, so the idea of contributing to an anthology was a lot of fun. Moms and families are also very much under attack in today’s society, so I believe it’s important that we as moms encourage each other. I’ve often felt looked down upon for being “just a mom” or wanting lots of kids. Society seems to see kids as a burden, an expense, a stage in life to “survive” until they are more interesting. So I wanted to share that kids are a joy at any stage – even through those night wakings of the first year or two and that it’s okay to want nothing more than to be a mom. Reading Anna’s essay on being a love rebel is what really encouraged me to share my whole struggle with wanting to be a mom in a culture that looks down on a mom, and how finally, after nearly seven years of being a mom, I feel like I really have embraced that role and stopped looking down on myself. I hope that will encourage other moms too, to stand up to our society and be love rebels.

  

What benefits do you think people will gain from this book? Could it be used in a mom’s discussion group or book club?

Yes, this would be a great book for a mom’s discussion group or book club. I think each of us contributors provides a unique perspective on motherhood. Any of the essays could inspire a good discussion. 
I also picture this book inspiring the mom who doesn’t have a mom’s group, who is busy all day with her toddlers or babies and snatches a few minutes here and there to read. Many of the chapters are short (well, except for my long essay!) and easy to read in a few minutes (put it in the bathroom if you have to! I used to read a lot of magazines there!). As moms, it can be easy to get bogged down in the tantrums and the messes, the daily chores, and to lose the big picture of motherhood, so I hope this little book can inspire moms everywhere to look beyond the sleepless nights and the other trials of motherhood to the joys and the long-term goals of raising kids.

Why is friendship with other moms so important? Is there a friend who has made a big difference in your journey as a mom?

I was among the first of my friends to get married and the very first to have a baby. That created a bit of a gap in my friendships, as all my friends were focused on their careers and I was at home changing diapers and doing laundry. Then we moved several times and went back to school, and I finally found a mom’s group at a local church. That group of ladies was like a breath of fresh air. It was so amazing just to show up every week and talk about everything, from who was up all night with a grumpy baby to how to help a kid transition into Kindergarten. We’ve moved again since then, but I still keep in touch with the moms from that group and miss them so much. They were the ones who taught me how much moms need other moms – whether they can answer the question I’m struggling with, pray for me, or just offer a shoulder to cry on until a certain parenting phase passes.

Tell us a bit about your pieces in the book…what is your main message, or best piece of advice for moms?

I have a couple little poems in the book, a short essay I wrote about my oldest daughter’s first pair of shoes, and then a longer essay about my journey into motherhood. I think the first three pieces each focus on little moments of motherhood – things we could overlook, but might look back on later with a smile. I want those pieces to encourage moms to treasure the little moments before they are gone. My longer essay is about my desire to be a mom in a society that says women should be more than moms. I hope that essay can encourage other moms who also struggle with that to stand up for their desire to have kids and be mothers. Even if we wear other titles as well, “mom” is an important and worthy job and we shouldn’t let society look down on us because this is what we chose to do with our lives.

  

Who was your favourite author growing up? Was there someone in literature who modeled for you how to be a woman or mother?
Just one favourite author? LOL. On the topic of motherhood, I’d mention Little Women and Louisa May Alcott’s other books. Marmee is a constant, loving presence through that novel and we also see Meg and Jo growing into their roles as moms—Meg as the mom of her own twins and Jo as the adopted mother of a whole school of boys. Another favourite author is L. M. Montgomery and her Anne books. I love the way the relationship between Anne and Marilla develops through that novel, and then again, seeing Anne become a mother in the later books is also inspiring. And I should mention Cheaper by the Dozen, a hilarious book about a family with twelve kids that kind of started my own joke that I want twelve. All of those books talk about motherhood, adoption, and large families, and had an impact on me as a young reader. 

Can you tell us a little about your blog?

Well, I write a mom blog so it covers a little bit of everything. Right now, I blog five days a week and have a rough schedule of blogging about motherhood on Mondays, travel (around Vancouver) on Tuesdays, marriage or other things on Wednesdays, homeschooling on Thursdays, and book reviews on Fridays. I’ve been blogging for nine years this summer and do product reviews as well as sponsored posts. I call my blog my work-at-home part-time job and I love the fact that I can do something I enjoy, make a bit of extra money for our family, and still be at home with my girls. Plus, I’ve met so many other cool women through my blog so I love the way that social media and the blogosphere can connect us as moms.

  

Visit Bonnie at 🐨 The Koala Mom 🐨

“Love Rebel” up and rolling!

I’m excited to see our book “Love Rebel: Reclaiming Motherhood” on Amazon!

We have been blessed with some really beautiful reviews. It’s so great to see women responding with warmth and joy to our collection of essays, poems, and experiences of motherhood. This is anything but a ‘know it all how-to’ book…it’s more like a bunch of good heart-to hearts with girlfriends over coffee…sharing laughter and tears, and feeling encouraged to not be alone in the bumpy adventure that is motherhood. 

Chicken Soup for the Soul contributor Glynis Belec said in part of her wonderful review:

As I was reading, I started jotting down notes – joy phrases; sage advice; brilliant quotes. I was barely halfway through before I realized I had almost two full pages. Something rings true as each author ushers me into her life. Perhaps it is the vulnerability and the frankness of the authors. The stories are all different yet share a common thread -mothers are vessels for the miracle of life. A good reminder to our society where motherhood is too often considered secondary or not as important as career and climbing the corporate ladder.

I think Bonnie Way said it best in her story – “As I gave myself permission to just be a mom, all the little daily tasks of motherhood became a joy, instead of a chore.”

My sweet mother-in-law, one of my chief cheerleaders, noticed that you can now see inside on Amazon! This nice feature means you can read our editor Roberta’s intro to the book, see the table of contents, and also read the other reviews inside it. This all gives you just a little more of a taste of the book before you decide if it’s somthing you’d like to have next to your bed, on your coffee table, or at your mom’s group or book club. Happily the $10 price for a print book makes it quite accessible. Buying it as a Kindle e-book is another option, and is $2.97 American or $3.78 Canadian. 

Brenda J. Wood wrote this about reading “Love Rebel”:

What a charming book. I cried, and laughed (sometimes both at the same time!) The authors wrote their hearts on these pages and speak of loss and stress and every crazy emotion that occurs when you are a mother. They speak up for a dying art, the art of motherhood and the difference it makes to a child when it’s done right. It is ‘technically’ a Catholic book but don’t let that put you off. Highly recommended because it is heartwarming indeed.

A warm thank you to all the women who have reviewed our book and taken the time to give our stories a place in their hearts. Cheers to all my fellow moms! May we always support and encourage one another, and never fall prey to the danger of comparing ourselves to others and feeling we should try to be anyone else but the best version of ourselves. 

  

Check it out Amazon!

Love Rebel: Reclaiming Motherhood

  
I am so excited to announce that my first book, with four other awesome women writers, is about to be published!

This beautiful labour of love (sorry for the birthing pun!) started with a spark of friendship that caught fire a few summers ago, when my friend Laura’s cousin Roberta Cottam, now a close friend of mine, first came to my mom’s group. We were discussing the importance of spending time on our artistic pursuits, even as busy moms…how spending time on things that make your soul happy and stimulate your mind is actually good for your whole family. A happy fulfilled woman is a happy fulfilled wife and mother. 

This was a huge point of connection for Roberta (artist, writer, designer) and me (writer and photographer) and began a series of great conversations about the topic. We both felt that our spiritual lives and our artistic output were very connected, and encouraged each other to deepen both. This book is one of the fruits!

It also came about because of another very good friend, Monique Leblanc, who had inspired me to start blogging about a year earlier. I found her blog so genuine, funny and refreshing that I decided to start blogging myself. I liked that her writing was so real…you felt like you were having tea with a dear friend…rather than remaining an aquaintence who is only shown all the pretty bits…it was the opposite of contrived. I connected with joyful Melanie Jean Juneau and fun-loving Bonnie Way online through blogging and mutual friends, and when we began the book project, Bonnie invited her good friend Monique Les to join in as well. 

So five moms, five bloggers, five friends, brought together through the passionate work of Roberta Cottam and designer Laura Wrubleski (http://www.visualaura.net/), have resulted in an anthology which I hope will encourage and inspire many mothers in the beautiful and worthwhile vocation of raising the future citizens of the world (yup, I mean being a mom!). Look for it soon on Amazon in print or as an e-book!