I am starting a regular feature on the blog and Instagram. I will be sharing a spotlight on Moms I admire who are "in the trenches of Motherhood. I will share about real, amazing, women I know personally, some who are dear friends and family and some whom I admire via Instagram. This feature will happen weekly and I am asking them to share real feelings, experiences, stories and advice. I know as I get to know these women better through reading their answers I am amazed at their depth, strength, humor and resilience. They are super women!
I hope this doesn't appear to be self serving, but the first spotlight I am doing is about my motherhood journey. I figure I should be willing to answer the same questions I am asking these women and you can get to know me a bit better.
Tell us about your motherhood journey:
I have 5 children ages 8-19, 4 boys and a girl. My Motherhood journey started over 40 years ago. I have wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember. I played with dolls until I was 12, I became an aunt at age 8 and absolutely loved my nieces and nephews. I loved babysitting and playing with young children. I majored in early childhood education because I loved children and found I was really good with them. I married my husband David at age 25 and after a year of marriage we wanted to try for a baby. We were able to get pregnant fairly quickly, but ended up losing that baby at 7 weeks. I was surprised at the grief I felt over that loss, I had only known for 2 weeks that I was pregnant but I did grieve. After the miscarriage it took us about a year to get pregnant with my oldest son. We were able to have our older two boys close together and I thought we would have our kids 2 years apart and be good. However between our 2nd and 3rd sons we dealt with some secondary infertility due to some uterine firbroids that threw our plan for a loop, so we have a 4 year gap. I was able to have my 3 youngest children fairly close together (with actually another miscarriage thrown in between #4 and 5), and those 5 completed our family. There are lots of stories with all of those pregnancies, my last three pregnancies were difficult, but that is for another post.
What has surprised you most about motherhood?
How hard it is! I thought with my love of children and all of my experience and education that it would be easier for me. The saying, "I was the perfect mother before I had children," certainly applies to me haha. Motherhood has humbled me and driven me to my knees many many times. It has exposed my weaknesses (many of which I thought were strengths previously) and has made me realize how much I DON'T know about children. I also think the mental load we as moms carry is exhausting. I have days I want to run a way for a bit and not deal with it, however that mental load NEVER goes away. Even when I was on a cruise with my husband for a week away from my kids, that worry and responsibility of being the mom was constant. Also the letting go of them as they get older is hard for me.
What do you love about motherhood? What brings you joy?
I love really looking into my children's faces. I love the sparkle and joy in their eyes. I love to laugh with them, teach them, and experience the world with them through new eyes. I love to read to them. I love watching them grow into the people they are supposed to become. I LOVE to travel with them. I love to be in nature and to share my love of the outdoors with them makes me so happy. When my son texts me a picture of the sunset or my missionary son takes pictures of the beauty around him and emails it to me because he knows I would love it, it brings me great joy.
What is the best advice you have received as a mom?
My mom has always said, "This too shall pass." I have found that to be mostly true. Potty training has passed, zombie mom from newborns has passed, tantrums from toddlers has passed. However other things have also passed by like sweet baby smiles, chubby toddler bellies and kids learning how to read. It is good advice to live by, don't let the good pass you by focusing on the challenges.
But there are other things in life and motherhood that may never pass. There are circumstances that might be difficult that may not pass and we may have to live with for life. I won't go into detail, but just know that advice doesn't work for everyone and everything.
What is advice you could give a new mom?
Make yourself a priority! It is not selfish to care for yourself because nobody else will be. Have daily self care habits that are non-negotiable. Soak this whole experience in, write things down, take photos, but not too many that you miss the moments because you're always behind the phone. Put the phone down and laugh and play and read with your babies. It's hard and it's okay to admit that and acknowledge it. ASK FOR HELP! Find your tribe. I know the end of the night you are exhausted and want to just be DONE. But take an extra two minutes with your kids at night and lay by them and talk to them. Connect with them at all ages and stages. When your kids invite you into their world, TAKE THE INVITATION!
How do you feed your soul? What do you do for self care?
Reading scriptures and other inspirational books, podcasts, prayer, temple attendance. Going to lunch with dear friends (preferable no more than 3-4 at a time so we can REALLY talk). Getting into nature regularly, walking, belly laughing, good music and good food.
How do you avoid the comparison trap?
Gratitude. Gratitude is my key to contentment in my life. A daily practice of gratitude is a game changer for me. Writing it down, but also saying out loud what I'm grateful for puts my life into perspective.
this is my hilarious 3rd child...I promise I'm not rolling my eyes at him in this photo...but it has been known to happen a few times in his 13 years of life. He's awesome!
My third son is hilarious. He is probably the most observant child I've ever met. He is extremely smart and was talking VERY well before age 3. He also has no filter whatsoever. He was right around 3 and I took him to the grocery store, just he and I to have some one on one time. We rounded the corner and he saw a woman who was on our aisle and said very loudly, "MOM WHY DOES SHE HAVE THE BIGGEST BUM IN THE WORLD?" I mean there was no way she didn't hear it. I wanted to crawl in a hole! We quickly left that aisle and I went to the opposite end of the store to shop. Unfortunately we saw her several more times in the store and he would say, "THERE SHE IS MOM!" She gave me lots of dirty looks and I just didn't know what to do about it! It was embarrassing for me, but he was just stating what he observed. I tried to explain that it wasn't very nice to say that, but he was three and he was just stating a fact that he found to be true in his little mind. Oh man! There have been many other stories with this child that are pretty entertaining.