Mothering Tutorial – Using Mac’s Pages to create a custom shape filled with text

One of the primary ways I still mother Xavier is through creating things.  Whether I write, sew or scrapbook, I feel solace when I set aside quiet time and make beautiful things in his memory.   It is a way to connect and reflect and most of all, continue to make room in my life for him.

I wanted to share how I made this text butterfly so that others might be able to create something similar for their loved ones gone too soon.


I used Pages on a Mac, and my instructions will be specific to that program, with an assumption that the reader is relatively well acquainted with the program.   This blog post explains how you can do something similar in Word –

So here, goes:

  1. Firstly, find an image that has a clear outline that speaks to you – perhaps wings, a heart, a flower, etc.
  2. Save that image.
  3. Create a new pages document and insert the saved image.
    Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 9.04.17 PM
  4. Choose the free draw tool from the shapes menu.  Trace around the edges of the image.  To soften the lines use Format > Shape > Smooth Paths.
    Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 9.04.32 PMScreen Shot 2014-03-05 at 9.07.13 PM
  5. Select the image and delete it. You should be left with the shape you have traced
    Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 9.07.46 PM
  6. Find the lyrics, verse or prose you want to form the text part of the image.   Copy them to the clipboard and then paste into a new pages document.
    Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 9.10.06 PM
  7. Find all the paragraph markers and replace with a space using the find tool. Copy the resulting text.
    Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 9.10.25 PM
  8. Back in the document you originally  created, double click on the shape and paste the copied text. You might need to paste it a few times to fill the space.
    Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 9.10.55 PM
  9. Click on the outline of the shape and choose no fill as the line colour.
  10. Click on the inspector and go to text.  Justify the margins.  You can also alter the character ligature and line spacing here.
    Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 9.12.36 PM
  11. You may like to change the font.  If you don’t  like the options available, download a font you like. There are some great font resources on the web, I like fontspace the best.   You may like to pick out words and phrases that mean a lot to you and change the colour, font, bold or size.  To quickly change the size in pages, select the word/s and press control and +.
    Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 9.16.27 PM
  12. To add the name and dates, create a text box.   Change the properties to floating.   Place this onto the shape and type your names , dates or other messages.
    Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 9.16.47 PM
  13. Edit the font size, colour etc. to your liking.
    Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 9.19.31 PM
  14. Save the document.  You may like to export to a PDF for easy printing.

The things that stay the same – Mothering after loss


Motherhood is a strong bond.  Not even death can sever it.   And there are certain things about mothering a child no longer here that are exactly the same as mothering a living child.  I wanted to write a list of them.  To provide comfort to those also missing their children.  To let those that surround the grieving know how important this most invisible of motherhood remains.

1. You love them a little more each day
The first moment I held Isaac, I could not imagine my heart could accommodate any more love.  I was bursting with it.  But each day went on and each day I woke up surprised to find I loved him a little more.  It was the same with Xavier and now with Elijah.  But loving them a little more daily does not cease with death.  Every morning after Xavier left, I loved him more than the day before.  In particularly that first year, where the mounting love seems exponential is its growth.  That love that begins when you learn you are pregnant, expands with each scan, each kick, swells when you hold them for the first time, grows each time you even think of them.  It does not go away.  I do not miss him less each day, I miss him more.  I do not love him less each day, I love him more.  And this is perhaps the crux of why it takes a very long time to arrive in a place of peace after losing a child. The passing days do not take away the hurt.  For the first few months, they only added to it.  Just as I do his brothers, every day I love Xavier a little more.

2. You worry about them
I worry about Xavier.  Worry if he is happy.  Worry where he is.  In the early days of grief I felt that if I just knew where he was, just knew he was okay, the pain would be so much more bearable.  I worried about burying him.  That he would be alone at nights.  I worried about leaving him in the hands of the funeral home.  Worried that they would treat him tenderly.  I worry that others won’t treat his memory as gently as I do.  As he has grown, and my understanding of him has changed, I worry less.  But, just as I do with his brothers, I will always worry about him.

3. Sibling rivalry and jealousy still exist
Whenever I make Xavier something, Isaac wants me to make him one too.  The Christmas after Xavier died, I made him a stocking and Isaac immediately wanted one.  If I buy a toy or ornament for Xavier’s grave, Isaac wants one for himself.  There are some things that bind brothers, no matter how far apart they reside.  They will always be brothers, and they will always demand the fair share of my attention.

4. You get mother guilt
I often feel that I am not a perfect mother to Isaac and Elijah.  I sometimes watch other parents and I am concerned that I am not measuring up.  I have guilt about certain decisions.  I watch other bereaved parents and they way they honour their children.  Through amazing creativity.  Through inspirational fund-raising.  Through words and deeds.  And I wonder if I am doing enough.  But how can we ever feel we are enough for our children?  I will never reach it for Isaac or Elijah.  And I won’t for Xavier.  Because I want to be perfect for them, and I am imperfect.

5. You are proud of them
Every parent is proud of their children.  I so love watching new parents with their firstborn.  The absolute pride is tangible.  They are walking a well-trod path but they act like the first people to discover how amazing starting a family is.  I know we did.  Parents want to share photos, tell stories about their children.  It is no different when your child lives somewhere you cannot go.  I share photos of a beautiful, living Xavier.  But there are those whose only photos of their precious ones are after they had passed.  How privileged I feel when I get to see those photos and share not in that parent’s grief, but in that parent’s pride.  I feel proud of what Xavier has accomplished through his journey.  Each of my boys will do amazing things that will make my heart soar with pride – the two on earth and the one in heaven.

I parent each of my boys according to who they are and what they need.  But I will always be mother to each and love them to eternity.