In February 2011, my son was just over 12 months old and I had yet to find my village.  I was feeling isolated in a world of Mother’s Groups and structured play classes for children, none of which felt right to me, and none of which I quite ‘fit’ in to.   Having other mothers over to my house was becoming more stressful than enjoyable as the pressure of having to ‘host’ and provide a lovely morning tea, clean home and perfectly behaved child (unsaid, but implied), was wearing me out emotionally. I wanted to hang a sign at my door, “You are welcome in my home, but don’t expect cake.”

I wanted more than that.  I yearned for support and camaraderie in Motherhood.  I wanted to serve cake, but I wanted someone to bake it with!

And so, into my life came MamaBake.  After following the movement online, I finally took action and put the call out to my friends to join me.  We haven’t looked back.

Me being me, this first Canberra MamaBake was a little like hosting a morning tea, but on a grander scale.  I admit to being a little nervous that this would be as important to my friends as I felt it was going to be for me.  Even before that first MamaBake, I wanted to make a difference in our lives, not simply be another ‘have to’ in everyone’s calendars. So I planned, and planned and planned.  Now I know better! For whatever reason however, the preparation of food and drink before my mama-sisters arrived was done lovingly, knowing that they would be working beside me in my kitchen and sharing their creations and hard work with my family.

(image: Hilary Wardhaugh Photography)

*In the 2 years since, MamaBake is now a chaotic, shambolic, ‘take me as I am’ event and I care not if I haven’t come up with some gourmet beverage or meal! (And our days are better for it!)* 

(image: Hilary Wardhaugh Photography)

We were a small group made up of Hilary, mum to an 8 year old son and photographer extraordinaire, Von, soon to be Mum of one and Bonnie, and old school friend that I’d found again after the birth of her first daughter.  Hilary got cracking on her baked chicken and capsicum dish, Bonnie came laden with masses of pasta sauce, Von served her now famous Laksa and I made the Hot Apple and Tomato relish from the MamaBake website.

(image: Hilary Wardhaugh Photography)

As the food bubbled away, we got busy with the job of lunch, drinking watermelon rose slushies and catching up with each other.  With only two little people, the day was actually very calm and peaceful!  As the last crumbs of the gluten free quiche fell to the table, I sat back and thought ‘THIS is what I’ve been looking for.”

(image: Hilary Wardhaugh Photography)

From little things, big things grow……..from that first MamaBake with 5 of us, we are now a group 60 strong!  MamaBake is now my daily life, my community, my pseudo-family.  The women that this simple, yet ground breaking idea, has bought into my life have grown some of the closest friendships I’ve ever shared.

You might think it sounds a bit complicated.  It isn’t.

You may think it’s hard to organise.  It isn’t.

There are no rules.  Find your own way.  You won’t look back.  I promise you.

*Hilary Wardhaugh is an award winning AIPP accredited Canberra photographer and busy MamaBaker!  Check out her work here.


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