A few months ago I was asked to contribute a story to a collection that would be called The Love More Stories. At the time I didn’t know of The Love More Shop or the kind woman, Amanda, who ran it. But I said yes, because, well, she had me at the title. The book was released last week just in time to give Mother’s Day a little bit of extra celebration this year.
The Love More Stories is an e-book of 15 personal stories written by mothers about learning to love more, whether it was loving themselves more, their children more, their partner more, someone or something else more. The stories are honest, some very raw, inspiring and enlightening. I am truly honoured to be in a collection full of such wise stories words written by some very inspiring women.
My story talks about our decision to have only one child, based on the idea of loving the earth more, by taking less from it, but also based on a surprising admission from my husband. Here’s a little excerpt:
“My heart still wanted that big family, so I began to talk about adoption, which I thought Matt would agree to since it wouldn’t bring new people into the world. And this is when I got an answer I never ever expected. ‘Danielle, I love Ro so much there is just no way that I could ever love another child as much. I would never forgive myself for having a second child in the family that I didn’t love as much. That child would know, they would feel the lack of love. And if by some crazy stroke of fate I did love that second child as much as I love Ro, then I would certainly have to rob Ro of some of my love.’ I could see the calculus of love floating in thought bubbles above his head. Like any resource, there is a finite amount. In a family you only have so much time to share among its members, there’s only so much food in the fridge and bedrooms in your home. Who was I to say, naively, that there would be enough love to go around? When I thought about the woman living in the apartment below us, who had 19 children (yes, nineteen), I thought Matt’s right, there is no way she loves any one of those children as much as we love our one child. This was without any poor judgment of her, it was pure math, pure logic. And so, once again, I conceded to Matt’s view. It would be one child for us. Logically, I knew he was right, but I’d be lying if I said my heart was happy about it.”
There’s an interesting twist in the story that brought us to our two children, but you’ll have to get the e-book to read how our story unfolded.
As the collection came together, and I got to know Amanda a little better, I wanted to interview her to share her story and get the word out about her project with the Love More Shop. I love hearing from women who have been able to follow their passion as mothers. If you ask me, that is living the dream.
What part of the world do you live in?
I live in the beautiful state of Oregon. After six years in Portland I just recently moved my little family back to Hood River, where I grew up an hour east of Portland.
How many children do you have and how would you describe them?
Theodore (who goes by many nicknames but I call him Theo) is pushing two years old. He is a happy, energetic, and curious little guy. He loves to play outside and is obsessed with trains, nursing, spaghetti, and dancing. I’ve never seen a baby bust a move the way he does and I love it. He is turning into a toddler now and I love seeing the ways he changes and grows each day. When you are a parent you notice all the “unnoticable” things. “Oh he has never walked up that slope without falling!” “That’s the first time he said “R” like that!” I didn’t expect to notice as much as I do before becoming a mother. He takes all of my energy and he is amazing.
Graham is my seven year old step son. He is mature beyond his years and has a wisdom that most kids his age don’t. My partner, Isaac, raised him on his own for the first three years of his life so they have a special bond. Being a stepparent is far more challenging than I ever expected but I have also learned more than I ever imagined. Through him I am learning that I can’t hide from my pain or my shortcomings. Through him I am learning that the only way out is deeper in, enveloped in a blanket of love. Through him I am learning what it means to be a true and vulnerable woman.
I could write a book about our experiences navigating the waters of step parenting and dealing with the pain caused by his birth mother because it’s been a huge part of our life for the past three years, maybe someday I will.
What are your core family values?
To be kind and loving. We are broken people that have felt what darkness really feels like – something I am grateful for because we haven’t been destroyed and each day that we live an honest life we discover that we won’t ever be destroyed by it. We try our best to be kind, good people even if that means we are going to be uncomfortable or that we aren’t going to get what we want; that’s our goal each day.
How do you spend most of your days?
I spend most of my days trying to figure out how to do this mom thing well. Our life has been chaotic for the past three years. A lot of uncertainty, a lot of transition and change, a lot of disappointment to move through. I crave routine and structure and I think it’s on the horizon with our move to make a better life for our family and our new home.
I stay home with Theo and run my shop the best I can while he sleeps. We spend a lot of our time at the park, library, cooking, taking multiple baths a day, and going on walks.
What is your favourite thing to do as a family?
Now that we are in the new house we like to work out in the yard together. Planting our garden and making our home our home. We like to go to the park, having dance parties, building forts, sitting down for dinner together, and going out for coffee and donuts or pizza. Snuggling up to watch a movie together is also a favorite.
What are you passionate about?
Motherhood, living simply and well, natural childbirth, documenting my family, design.
What inspires you?
Other mothers being honest and real. Other mothers embodying their values and beliefs.
Water is something I need when I want to feel inspired or connected. A bath, a shower, walk by the river, float on a lake, listening to the rain. Water grounds and inspires me.
Did your career aspirations change once you had a child?
Definitely. I have always wanted to be a mother and when I got pregnant I knew I wouldn’t want to return to working away from home. I was a designer and I didn’t want to go back into that world unless it was doing something that I truly believed in. Even then, I was not about to leave my baby with someone else both because I just didn’t want to and childcare is too expensive for what designers make around here.
So things shifted and are still shifting. I am hoping that design can weave it’s way back into my life in the near future. We will see!
What is The Love More Shop and why did you start it?
The Love More Shop is a brand that reminds people to love their family, friends, and world more each day because creating empathetic, kind, whole human beings starts in a loving home. Our shirts remind each other to love a little more each day – because there is ALWAYS more love and sweetness to give.
A portion of proceeds goes toward sending parents out on dates to nurture their love with the idea that creating a loving home starts with united and loving parents. When our baby boy was a few months old our friends gave us $100 to go out on a date. It was such a thoughtful and unexpected gesture that really touched our hearts. We were broke but desperately needed some time out together and to escape one evening for a couple of hours together. (We pretended we didn’t know each other and drank too much.) Love More had been my mantra for a few years and then I thought “well why not print it on shirts and see if I can sell them and give back in someway.” I wanted to find a way to give back that was authentic to me and a little different and what our friends did for us inspired me to help other parents have a night out together. So, each time the Love Fund reaches $100 we donate that money to one sweet couple to go out together and nurture their relationship.
It’s small and I know that giving people cash to go on on date together won’t heal the world. But it’s something and it starts a conversation and hopefully when people see the shirts being worn it will inspire them to love a little more.
What is the Love More Stories book all about? And why did you want to publish it?
I started a series on the blog in September called The Love More Letters. They are short love letters written by about a dozen mothers who wanted to participate. Then I thought it would be nice to collect longer stories to put together an e-book that would inspire mothers to love more in their own lives or celebrate the ways they already do. I love reading other peoples experiences when they come from an honest and vulnerable space. I can feel what they feel. I am tired of the judgment and shaming of how mothers choose to raise their children. There needs to be more acceptance and empathy and my hope is that sharing simple stories will help build understanding and community.
How can people buy the Love More Stories?
On our website right here.
What are your dreams for the Love More Shop and your family?
My dream is for the Love More Shop to grow into a movement of some kind and a business that can help provide for my family. I want to be sending a couple out on a date each week! Wouldn’t that be awesome!? I also don’t plan on simply selling shirts forever and I think the e-book is the start to growing into something bigger.