The Blog

The Unworthy Worthy Mother

by Leonie Dawson on October 14, 2015

failings of a mother


I have spent a lot of the last five years measuring up all my failings as a mother.

I worry that I’m too introverted… That I don’t engage enough… That I read too much… That I need quiet time in order to be okay in my body. I think I am less than the perfect mother because I need, I crave, I adore my work, and I take time away each day to do it.

I see so painfully all my failings, my spiky bits, the hard parts and I hope my daughters can forgive me for them when they are older. The truth of parenting is I absolutely do not enjoy parenting every single minute of every single day, and I think it is downright bullshit and so harmful when any person claims to or tells you should to.

I love my children deeply and ferociously. I would choose them again. I was born to be their mother. And still, it is hard. And fraught with the pains of being human, of living in a world with physical and energetic limitations.

I’ve spent a long time feeling anxiety and shame about my inside feelings. I didn’t think they were the right feelings to have. That it make me a bad person to have them. That I wasn’t allowed to feel them. And I sure as fuck couldn’t speak them. I don’t know what changed for me.

All I know is once I started speaking my truth — my full truth — the one that isn’t pretty or easily resolved or inspiring — life got deeper and a little more true.

Wherever you are on this big old path… I just want to send a wish from my heart… That you and I both know we are allowed to have all our feelings. And that we are worthy enough just as we are.

I get it bae. Love you.

P.S. Brutal honesty- I wrote this on the toilet because it is the weekend and it’s the only quiet place I can think. Except they found me within 2.5 seconds and both my 5 year old and 18 month old crammed themselves into the same cubic metre as me until I kicked them out and my 18 month old had a meltdown and I yelled at my husband to let me TAKE A SHIT IN PEACE GODDAMIT.

The End!

P.P.S. “Enjoy every moment! They grow up too soon!” – obviously spoken by someone who is able to take a dump by themselves without an 18 month old trying to peer into the toilet or unroll every damn roll of toilet paper in the place.


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Hi lovebugs,

I went to see the amazing Steve Biddulph talk last night. He’s the best-selling author of a bunch of parenting and self development books including Manhood and The Secret of Happy Children.

His talk last night was on Raising Girls.

raising girls

I was hoping me and Mr D could have a hot date together for it, but he had to do Dad-Duty, so I had to ride solo like the Lone Ranger. The Lone Ranger with his beloved horsey Toto. Was it Toto? Let me check… WTF? TONTO? And it wasn’t his horse? WHAT? WHAT WORLD HAVE I BEEN LIVING IN????

Anyways… what I’m trying to say… it was just me and my journal. Which is totally a hot date in my books anyway.

I took some illustrated notes, coz that’s how I digest information… shared them on Instagram. Just like at the Growth Summit.

Let it begin!



I love how he started his talk:

I’m just one guy, sharing what he has experienced and learned.

If your heart or your head don’t agree with it, just leave it behind.

Wise advice for everything in life (and business).

raising girls

Two important pieces of parenting wisdom he shared:

  • The best parenting question you can use over and over again is ask your kids: “And how do you feel about that?”
    Instead of just jumping in with every solution or what’s right or wrong. Just ask them how they feel. Let them develop faith in their own gut instinct.
  • Whenever your kid tells you something (even if you feel freaked out about it), make sure you understand to use two voices.
    1. What you think in your head
    2. What you say outloud to your kids
    And always stay calmer than your kids.

self confidence

This talk was bloody good and heart breaking all at once.

I felt really panicky once Steve started talking about the issues with raising girls right now.

He said he has spent his whole career focussing on men and boys, because as a family therapist, he believed he had to work where the disaster zone was.

And now the disaster zone is girls. Teenage girls.

After I came home, I had to have a loooooong talk with Chris on the couch. I went through all the notes of the lecture and told him what all the data was saying.

It was really full on.


I feel like I’ve been a naiive, overly-optimistic Pollyanna about the depiction of women + girls in media.

Probably because I don’t feel that affected by it – I’m pretty in love with being Leonie usually.

But when Steve spoke of the marketing research done eight years ago that found that 8 year old girls were an untapped market, highly susceptible to social approval… and decided to exploit that…

I just felt rage.

8 year old girls, man! 8 YEAR OLD GIRLS!

Kids that because of bullshit marketing start believing they need to worry about their weight and attractiveness.

That’s all kinds of messed up.

teaches girls

I guess the thing is — we know that the above stuff isn’t really true.

Well, I hope we do.

And we also all grew up in an age pre-social media where we didn’t have to feel viligant over what our schoolmates were saying about us online.

Steve spoke about kids with iphone addictions who wake up during the night to check what people think of them.

And where as we – as adults – usually have a better sense of self and have coping mechanisms – for our kids… it’s way too much, too soon.

They don’t have the emotional resilience and sense of self… because that time in their childhood is being robbed from them.



age part 2

What each age of girlhood is all about.

This was useful to look at ages and what each girl needs at each stage.

After this part, I just felt so so so bloody grateful to be married to Mr Dawson. Grateful that my girls get to have this dad who does this stuff totally innately.

And to try and garner some patience for my now five year old to tell me continuous friendship angst stories. And know that she needs to for healthy development.


We can only teach our kids what we embody.

And a beautiful way to finish up. Steve reminds us that we can only teach our kids what we believe and know.

 I was thinking about how perfect this video fitted in.

Our girls have to be surrounded by images and dolls of what it is to be a real girl and woman.

The lecture was incredible. Brilliant.

I’m so grateful that Steve is in the world, sharing his much needed message.

And am very grateful to my local council for doing such an amazing thing as bringing him to our town to help parents.

Steve Biddulph

Steve is beyond wise. An utter earth angel.

Highly recommend. His voice is so needed in the world.

I would highly recommend any of his brilliant books:

Feeling like a fierce mama bear.

Big love + blessings to all of you… and your children…



The Mothering Book I Wish I Had Read

by Leonie Dawson on October 27, 2013


Dearest one,

You are doing a good job.

I know this is hard.

I know this is hard.

I know.

I’m sorry.


I’m sorry you’re in pain right now.

I’m sorry it feels like your life has been ripped apart, asunder, in a million different pieces right now with none that are yours.

I’m sorry.

It will get better.

It will get better.

I promise.


Give yourself what you need.

You are the non-renewable resource here.

Give yourself time out.

Give yourself space to breathe and think and take a moment or twelve.

Give yourself the gift of those things you loved before the great earthquake came.

Ask for what you need. Ask for it again and again.

Ask for it from different people.

Find the support you need.

You need it.

You deserve it.

It will make it better.


There is not one right way to do this.

Not one way that will grade you as the perfect mother.

Not one way that will cure all the ills in this world.

And that’s okay my darlingheart.

That’s okay.

Please don’t grade yourself on those books.


Fuck the ideologies.

Fuck the experts.

Fuck the how to do it rights.

Fuck it all.

Cherish you and your truth and your child and your family

and that particular constellation of cells that make your universe up.

You’re the expert here.

You’re the one that has the authority and the power and the truth and the right

to make a life that is good and kind to your spirit and your families.

You can do it.

I trust in you.

You’ve got this.


Please don’t grade yourself on what mothering looks like on others.

You can only see the outer of their lives, not the inner.

You are important. You are needed. You are good and you are right.

You are a mother.

A wonderful mother.

And that’s enough.

It’s going to be enough.


You’re going to keep learning of course.

It’ll happen without you even pushing and straining.

It’ll happen because that’s how it always happens with life.

You’ll find out what you need when you need it.

You’ll find out because when you need an answer when you need it.

You don’t need to know everything before it’s begun.


Fuck it.

Burn the books.

Give yourself what you need.

Ignore how everyone else is doing it.

Follow only the simple song in your own heart,

the lightness in your own step,

the path that is calling you.

You deserve goodness.

You deserve to thrive.

You are mother.


All my love,
Always and all ways,
the stumbling, humbled, haemerroid-ridden, puking, but slowly getting it,