Mother’s Day: Madeline Donahue

Becoming a mother is a life changing experience, no matter where you are from. To celebrate Mother’s Day, a handful of inspiring mothers from all over the world share their thoughts on family rituals, loneliness, morning routines and on the lessons  motherhood have taught them


Which family rituals do you value the most?

“Snuggling all the time. Walking to and from school, walking around New York City. Eating meals together.”

Name one thing you have learned about yourself from becoming a mother?

“I’ve learned that compassion, especially with kids, comes naturally to me. I’ve also learned how to sleep! I had a hard time sleeping until I got pregnant with my first kid. But once I was pregnant and had kids, I embraced my exhaustion and was more open to rest. Sleep can also be really hard with kids but I no longer have any trouble falling asleep.”

Which morning routine do you have with your kids?

“On weekend mornings, we relax at home for hours – making breakfast, the kids watch cartoons, sitting on our stoop. Then we go out for the day. We don’t make any plans on the weekend mornings so we can all be together those mornings. Weekdays we scramble to get ready for school then we walk to school together before I head back to my studio for work.”

Being a mother can be intense. How do you spend five minutes alone?

“I read a lot about mindfulness and breathing while I was pregnant. This has created some tools and language for myself to take breaks when things are intense. I love Box Breathing and use that to take a break or meditate when I’m feeling overwhelmed.”

Do you ever get the feeling of loneliness in your motherhood?

“Yes! It’s real! Even when I’m with other people I can feel really alone in motherhood. I exercise – exercise is great for everything, I talk to my husband, I talk to a friend. I write out what I’m feeling and thinking, and I also talk to a professional.”

Is there a taboo around motherhood that you would wish to break?

“I live in the US where women’s reproductive health and rights are being taken away. It is clear that the politicians who are voting away these rights don’t actually understand pregnancy, gestation, birth. They also don’t understand the basic anatomy of someone who can give birth nor the burden of being someone who has a monthly menstrual cycle. When you listen to mothers you often hear of the many basic physical and emotional difficulties of pregnancy. Then you hear about more difficult experiences mothers go through. Women should have appropriate healthcare and should be able to chose how to make the best decisions for their bodies – to become a mother or not. It is out of touch, disrespectful and terrifying to put limitations on reproductive rights. I wish we talked more openly about the basic anatomy and cycles of women’s bodies, about reproductive health and sexual health. I wish these issues were just common sense – that men had to learn about the complexities of our bodies in the detail that we learn to care for ourselves. I wish we didn’t hide so much of our experiences of our reproductive systems – from periods to fertility to birth to menopause and everything in between.”

Text Anna Rolin, Andrea Smidt

Photos Corey Towers


Madeline Donahue, 40, mother of two kids aged 6 and 3. Works as an artists and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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