Sydney Hinds | Another Mother Her Way
We often speak in this series about perspectives that change in motherhood but Sydney Hinds' story is different. She was preparing for a career in human rights law when she suffered a massive brain injury in a car accident. Following that life altering juncture she committed to a life surrounded by her family and things that added value and happiness to her days. That began her next chapter as a mother and a curator of high-quality, beautiful products for family life. Now she's the founder of The Village Anthology, an e-commerce boutique, alongside raising her toddler son and very new newborn twins. Read her thoughtful perspective on diving into motherhood head-first, finding her way back to her own interests and what mindfulness can really mean in the tug of war between family life and all else.
Q HOW DID YOU CHANGE AFTER BECOMING A MOTHER?
My entire life, I have always been driven by efficiency. The paradox of my experience in motherhood is finding the balance between being fully engaged in the present moment and being efficient, which personally looks like engaging in many things at once. Initially, the two seem like they would be very different from each other, but I’ve learned that combined, they actually create a beautiful dance together. By nature when I’m fully engaged in the current moment, I am efficient- just perhaps not how I once defined it. Being mindful of the present moment means that I release the recurring thoughts of the to-do list and the million things that need to be addressed or tended to, and find peace in the world of motherhood that shifts between the polarities of extreme slowness and quickness. Hours will pass by where I haven’t left the rocker nursing a baby, or be laying with my toddler so he gets a full nap in. And it has taken me a long time to recognize that in those moments, I truly need that stillness in the day, and I’m much better for it when I accept it. When I find myself with two free hands, sans children in these current days, I have to make the absolute most of it. This has made me more efficient in a ten-minute window than I ever was before, and I can’t take it for granted.
Q WHAT CHOICES DID YOU MAKE TO ACCOMMODATE MOTHERHOOD? WOULD YOU MAKE THEM AGAIN?
I will admit, that when I began to step into the new role of motherhood, I really went all in. I allowed my entire world to be consumed by the new little baby, and all of my energy went into him- unfortunately, this also meant that I put up blinders into addressing my own needs for a while. In retrospect, it was ridiculous - but it was such an important lesson in self-advocacy and care. I was still experiencing PTSD and social anxiety from my TBI, and I used motherhood as a scapegoat to avoid the uncomfortable activities of living any form of social life. I got rid of anything that remotely reminded me of my old walk of life- my covetable collection of heels and bags (somehow convinced that I was forever destined to use a diaper bag). Before long, my entire world was unrecognizable to my former self, and I realized that I was struggling with aspects of my identity. When Luca turned three months old, circumstance presented itself as the best thing that helped me to uncover the balance between the old and new worlds. My husband had a conference across the country in Newport Beach, CA for two weeks. It forced me outside of my comfort zone for the first time as a mom, engaging with strangers and being left alone during the days became so isolating that I forced myself out of the hotel to go somewhere each day. I came back from the trip confident in my ability to find a balance between integrating my son into MY life, and not exclusively the other way around. I’m now experiencing round two of motherhood with the arrival of the twins, Ravi and Severiano- and I have consciously made an effort to find a better balance. We’ve already made outings far sooner than I ever did with Luca, and I remind myself that I have to push past the discomfort and be the creator of our new normal as a family of five.
Q DESCRIBE YOURSELF AS A MOTHER IN 3 WORDS. WHAT KIND OF MOTHER WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE?
Empathetic, open minded, mindful.
I make a strong effort to look at my kids as individuals worthy of respect and their own opinions. In the infant stage, it’s a little less complex, but I make a genuine effort to talk through everything with them and tell them about every experience we go through together- I know it sounds strange, but they give me signs that they’re always listening and I believe they appreciate it. When something is hard, I try to empathize with them and validate the emotions they may be processing. With Luca, I make every effort to give him a choice whenever possible (like his outfit or deciding on dinner plans) or picking out music for the car ride (his #1 choice is reggae- giving credence to his Cayman roots from his father, and I struggle to admit that he’s not a fan of Beyonce).
I try to be open-minded with everything related to my kids, and it’s #1 on my list of what I hope to be in the future. Even as young as the twins are, it’s evident that we have three very different personalities at hand. We are continually trying new things and experiences, and at least for Luca, I try to give him the opportunity to form his own opinions and not push my own interests or preferences on him.
Lastly, this is one that takes the most energy because it’s so easy to get distracted, but I make a strong effort to truly be mindful with my kids. I know my friends and family get so annoyed with me because at times I will take days (and sometimes weeks) to return a phone call, but when I’m engaging with my children, I don’t take calls. To be honest, this is just as much for the other person as it is for my kids, but multitasking is impossible for me, and I find so much peace in only giving my attention to one situation at a time. ‘Quality time’ is one of my love languages though, so perhaps the satisfaction of sinking into the present moment brings far greater reward than the alternative. I do have to remind myself because it’s so easy in this world of “instant gratification” to feel obligated to respond to emails and calls immediately.
Q HOW DO YOU TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF OUTSIDE OF MOTHERHOOD?
Right now motherhood takes up 99% of my time - I have a 2 -year-old and newborn twins who are still entirely dependent on me! I allow myself the opportunity to leave them no matter how hard releasing that guilt might be. I will try to sneak out for a reflexology massage once a week, take a quick work call (it's amazing how focusing on something other than feedings and diapers can energize you!) and scheduling in one thing outside of the home each day without kids- even if it’s just a 10 minute drive to buy an iced coffee and jam out to music with the windows down.
Q EVERY MOTHER NEEDS HELP TO FIND BALANCE. WHAT DOES YOUR VILLAGE LOOK LIKE?
I've taken measured steps to form a circle of close family and friends. I’ve structured boundaries between anything that elicits a more complicated emotional response from me. Creating this balance came from recognizing that I’m currently in a place in my life where I do need support. I am so lucky to have a community of friends and family that truly understand what I need and that I still struggle with asking for help more than I may like to admit (hello type A, perfectionism!). I couldn’t get through the days without all of the extra hands that get us through each day. My village starts with my husband- we are perfect complements when it comes to living life together (read: survival), and he’s quick to recognize when I skipped a meal before I realize it, or need quiet space to reset my brain. My in-laws are genuinely our saving grace more than I can begin to express, and because of them, we’re so lucky to be among those parents of young children that can count on family just a few miles away. My grandmother is my emotional backbone and has never disappointed me in always taking my phone call when I need some invaluable life advice. My circle of friends makes me question what I’ve done to deserve such phenomenal, selfless people- but they all inspire me to pass on the kindness any moment that I can. They’re as far away as Japan and as close by as my neighborhood block, and they do more for me than anything I could write would do justice. Lastly, it wouldn’t be a complete picture without giving credit to our amazing nannies who love my children like family. Before we first hired help, I would look at these Instagram moms who appeared to be alone and crushing it, and I felt so inadequate that I couldn’t do it all. Perfectionism is a myth, and comparison is the devil. More often than not, my village also includes copious amounts of takeout, because my cooking skills are nonexistent, and my husband usually reserves his specialties for the weekends.
Q WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON IMPROVING ABOUT YOURSELF AS A WOMAN & A MOTHER?
I'm still working on how to balance my personal needs with that of my children. I am working on maintaining a level of self-awareness of recognizing when I am not feeling well or overwhelmed, and need some personal space. I understand that to be the best mother I can be, I also have to feed my soul and stimulate my mind and creative energy. That can be working on The Village Anthology, travel, or just having an hour to mosey around in the French Quarter. I think it's something that, at least for me, I will always have to put energy and effort towards, but will ultimately make me a better mother and person.