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Spotlight on: Instagram poet and Christchurch Mum Jessica Urlichs

JESSICA URLICHS regularly bears her soul about her motherhood journey through her writing. The messiness and beauty of her experiences resonate with other Mums around the globe and she has over half a million people supporting her via social media.

The Instagram poet and author has just released her latest book Beautiful Chaos: On Motherhood, Finding Yourself and Overwhelming Love, a poetry collection she says reflects the highs, the lows, the confusion, the loss of identity, the becoming, and the brutal but beautiful ways our children hold mirrors up to us.

Jessica tells us how she manages to shoehorn writing into her life with three small people around, what she’s struggling with as a parent currently, and what parenting has taught her about herself. You can check out some of her poems on Instagram here.

Tell us a bit about your family…

I married a Melbourne man and we moved to Christchurch (my hometown) to start a family. We now have three children aged six, five, and 18 months.

How long have you been writing poetry and what brought you to it?

I wrote my first poem at age five and that’s when the poetry books began. I had so many little notebooks on the go – I have them all stored in a box out in the garage.  I really need to get them out! I think even at a young age I enjoyed the play on words and the way writing helped me express myself. I loved telling stories. I discovered really early on that even basic stories about everyday life, if written well, could be completely captivating, and I loved it when people enjoyed reading my poems and short stories.

How has your writing influenced you as a Mum and vice versa?

It has been a cathartic release in many ways, I dealt with feelings in the beginning that came as an unwelcome surprise. I didn’t know about the struggles of breastfeeding and post-natal anxiety; I didn’t know about a lot of the feelings that came to the surface in early motherhood especially.

Despite loving being a mother and loving my children, I needed to talk about some of these feelings and it was hard at first because there is still this stigma in motherhood that you need to enjoy every minute. I realised through my writing and consequently growing this village through sharing my poems, that actually I wasn’t alone, and we were all out here loving our babies and going through things and trying our best. It was healing in so many ways. I never thought it would lead to writing a book.

How do you manage your time between family and writing?

I am very sporadic with my writing; I don’t often take things on with deadlines. I usually work in the evenings or during nap times. Before having three children I had a little more time up my sleeve. Now I’m jotting down ideas in the notepad on the run! Finding time to bring them to life is the challenge!

I know it won’t always be this way though and I am so grateful I get to be home with them in these early years. It’s also the chaos of everyday life that draws inspiration for me, I have to live it to write it.

What parenting challenges are you facing at the moment?

I find toddlerhood challenging. It’s just so constant between trying to catch them falling off the deck or explaining that you don’t like being hit in the face for attention. Each stage comes with its challenges of course. The school years are quite busy too and I find they grow up so much in that first year. There is so much pride with that, and it’s also bittersweet.

What has parenting taught you about yourself?

It’s taught me a lot about finding patience. I have always been quite impetuous and impatient, just as a person really. I have had to slow down in many ways and hold a lot of space, and so for that I think I am a softer and better version of who I once was.

My son has dyspraxia, and it has been a journey of challenges and a lot of advocating for him. I think that has also taught me a bit about myself too. I see a lot of me in him, especially in his highly sensitive nature. I have become a lot more accepting of some of my traits by seeing the beauty in his.

What’s the next project you’re working on?

I have a couple of books on the horizon as well as some lullaby songs for mums to sing to their children, and a new jewellery line for Mother’s Day.

What’s your biggest piece of advice for parents?

If you are new to this, remember so are they. You are both learning together, both making mistakes, both growing alongside each other. Go easy on yourself. Even if you had a bad day, they will go to sleep knowing how much you love them.

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