Colleen’s Motherhood Session

Hello friends! I hope you have been enjoying this series on motherhood I’ve been working on. When I decided to work on a personal project, I immediately thought of working with some local moms because I have a dear place in my heart for mamas. I wanted to use this space to hear different perspectives on what it’s like to be a mom.

I’m involved with a local group for moms, and one of their hashtags for this year is #thisismotherhood. I loved that line so much, and have been honored to be a part of a group of moms who embrace their differences, embrace each other, accept each other just as they are, and our group is really a non-judgmental place for moms to get together. I reached out in my group to see if anyone would be interested in sharing part of their motherhood journey, and I was blown away with the responses I got. I have been able to start meeting with the moms who I’ll be working with, and I get to sit down with them for an hour, take some photos, and listen to them share. It’s been so beautiful and such an honor for me.

Because I’m sharing parts of the stories of different women who have voluntarily sat down with me, I’d ask that you approach reading these posts with respect and an understanding that these stories are sacred. Please honor this space. The moms I’m interviewing all have a unique and different story of their journey to motherhood. No two will be alike, and that is so beautiful to me. Please honor these women and listen to their story free of judgement, assumptions, or negativity. We deal with enough of that already, right? 

Please accept these stories as parts of the bigger picture of being a mother and being human, and recognize how rich that makes this world. Thank you for taking the time to read and listen. 

With much love,




Colleen lives in Fishers with her husband Alan and their two sons Oliver (5) and Graham (1). In addition to being a mother, Colleen is a speech therapist, author, and world traveler.

It was so nice to sit down and chat with Colleen about her journey through motherhood. She has such a kind and calm presence about her, and it was a joy to hear her share.

Enjoy her story below!

Tell me a little bit about your journey to motherhood.

“With Oliver, we had tired for a year and half, and decided to pursue adoption, and that’s when I found out I was pregnant. So that was really nice. We did just a little bit of medical intervention, but we didn’t want to do IVF with such a high rate of not working. So we were going to pursue adoption. My nieces are adopted too, so we have adoption in our family. But ended up getting pregnant, which was exciting.

So Alan is an only child, and we always thought we would just have one child. But after my niece passed away, and my dad was diagnosed with cancer and everything with my family, I didn’t want Oliver to be an only child and I wanted him to have a sibling. My husband agreed, which it took a lot to get him to agree. And so we had Graham, and I got pregnant with him a lot faster, I think it only took 3 or 4 months, so that was nice for sure. So that’s how I got my babies, my boys.”

What is one of the things you love the most about being a mother?

“I think that I just love seeing them experience things for the first time, which is so fun. Something I didn’t realize with Oliver, him being older, is that he gets to experience Graham’s first things too. Which is fun because even if I forget it’s his first time doing something, Oliver will say ‘Oh that’s the first time he ever did this or that!’ And it’s really fun.”

What has been one of the hardest things about being a mother?

“I just think it’s a never-ending job. You’re on 24-7 and it doesn’t matter if you’re sick or tired or any of the above, they aren’t going to change because of that. So I think the constant of motherhood is hard. My oldest loves to talk all the time, loves to be next to me all the time, so that can be exhausting for sure. The neediness and the constant can be hard.”

How do you maintain a sense of who you were before you had kids?

“I think a big thing for us, even as a couple, is that we really love to travel a lot. So we still try to travel. I took the boys by myself to Florida, and flew with them back in January. So we try to do those things.

And then I also spend time away from them, and I still work a little bit, so I try to do a little bit of what I used to do.”

What is something that makes your motherhood story unique?

“Maybe it’s not as unique now, but I am older. So being 40 with an infant is more unique. Although it is becoming more common now, and just when I feel like I’m the older mom, I’ll meet someone who’s older than me, which is nice. So that’s maybe more unique. But I also like that I had a long time to do a lot of things. I mean, there are benefits of being older; being more financially stable, just having lived a little longer. But also, I’m tired too.”

What is one of your biggest dreams that has yet to be realized?

“I would like for us to travel with the boys later on. So I think it would be dreams of what our family will do together when they’re able to be potty-trained and such and travel easily. And it will be neat to see what their interests are.”

*I asked Colleen about her and Alan’s travels since I had seen  a map with all of their travels pinned on it and knew travel was important to them.*

“Yes, we went to 5 of the 7 continents – we haven’t been to Antarctica yet – before Oliver was born. We were planning on going to Thailand but then found out I was pregnant with Oliver, so we postponed that until he was two. We were able to go back afterwards though and it was so nice. So traveling is a goal for us, and it will be fun to do it with the boys someday.”

What would you say to your younger pre-motherhood self now if you could?

“I think I would say that it will all work out, and it will all be ok. Just because I didn’t know if I would be able to have kids, and there was stress and anxiety through all of the waiting and worrying. And I think I’d floor myself knowing that I have two kids and I stay home, because that was not on the radar – kids and staying home. But it all worked out.”

In what ways has motherhood changed you?

“I think it changes you because you’re not first anymore. I think just needing to be the primary person for somebody else, which is a good thing too, has definitely changed me. I think about my kids and my family before I think about what I need to do, which maybe isn’t the healthiest sometimes and sometimes it’s good to think about what you personally need. But it’s fun and good, and I couldn’t imagine my life without them.”

What’s something you wish all mothers would truly take to heart?

“I think that it’s ok to take a break, and to have a messy house. Something I struggled with when I first started staying at home was thinking that it’s ok to still have a weekend. I felt like I needed to be doing something all the time. It’s important still to stop and be ok with not doing anything, and trying not to feel guilty about that. I think slowing down and knowing things only last for a certain amount of time, both the good and the challenging.”

What is one thing you expected to be true about motherhood but turned out to be different?

“I anticipated the relationship between my boys would be really rough and hard. Because Oliver was so needing of my attention, I thought he would be resentful of his little brother, but he continues to surprise me. He absolutely adores Graham, and he was so proud when he was born. It’s just been really fun to watch him interact with his brother. I mean, he gets mad now when Graham crawls and tears down things or pulls on his hair or clothes, but he really truly adores his brother. I was ready for it to be this horrible experience, but it’s worked out so much better than I could have thought.”

What’s something about motherhood that you wish everyone would be honest about but maybe not many people talk about?

“Probably just the struggles everybody has. I think with all the technology of seeing Pinterest pins and Facebook posts and how everything seems perfect is hard. I had seen a post of someone who said to post photos of our dirty houses so everyone could see what they really looked like. I think that’s hard. We can get into our own mom bubble, but we need to remember that it’s ok, whatever is going on, wherever you are, and knowing there are others in the same boat.”

What is the best piece of advice you have ever gotten about being a mother?

“I found a quote I really liked, and I probably don’t have it down exactly, but it was something like ‘It might not be as important what you do as it is who you raise.’ So I thought that was a nice quote to hold onto. This is valuable what I’m doing, raising a human who will hopefully grow up to be a good person. You don’t know where they will go or who they will influence, and if you feel like motherhood is the monotony of the day after day things, realize that you are still raising a person.”

What is your favorite way to wind down after a long day with your kids?

“I think I just collapse. 🙂 I think I’m winding down even before they are asleep. But I do like having tea at night, I like getting my cozy blankets and just having silence. Or else mindless tv, either of those where I don’t have to think. But I do fall asleep pretty easily and early. My college-age niece was here and we were going to bed, and it was late for us, it was probably closer to 10, and she was like ‘You’re going to be now?’ Uh, yes. Graham gets up by 6, and it’s just constant, it’s just non-stop. And I can’t even sleep in when we’re on vacation. I’m up so early and think ‘there are no children here to wake me up’ and I still get up. It’s nice to have a coffee and watch tv and not actually get out of bed, but I still get frustrated. I used to be so good at it! I used to sleep in so well. But not so much anymore.”

Tell me one thing you love about yourself as a mother?

“I love when I just play and have fun with them, which isn’t all the time. Or I love when they do something new and they’re really proud of that, and it’s fun watching them and their little changes that I get to see, being able to be home with them. Because I did work for a year when Oliver was born, and so it’s nice with Graham to be here every day. So that’s nice. I like that.”

Tell me one thing that scares you about being a mother?

“Messing them up, or doing something wrong. But yeah, it’s scary, it’s scary not knowing how things will be when your kids are older, just hoping they will choose the best and make good choices. But it’s scary not being able to control everything around them or their choices and just hoping that they are raised right and know what’s best to do. It is scary having them in the real world. We’re just doing the best we can and hopefully it’s somewhat right.”

What would you do if you had a whole day to yourself?

“I would sleep, I would eat a great brunch. It would be great if I was out and traveling. It’s kind of funny to think about a whole day to myself. Usually in that case, we’re on vacation. I think I would enjoy my time, but then I think I would also want to do something with Alan. But it is nice to have some alone time though to recharge. I’m a much better mom when I’m not around them all of the time. We’re actually planning a trip now and it’s just nice to have kind of a light, or something that we can look forward to, something that will be fun. And hopefully later it will be something we can do with them, trips with them, but for now it’s nice to get away sometimes.”

Who has been your biggest inspiration/mentor/go-to someone as you have journeyed through motherhood?

“I would say my own mom has been absolutely wonderful. And also my friend Lindsey who is the same age as me but her kids are 10 and 14, so that is really wonderful to have. I’ll call her over sometimes. One time Oliver was being really hard and we were in this bad phase and I didn’t know how to get out of it. I didn’t really like him at the time, which sounds terrible, but I just was needing help to get out of this cycle of terrible behavior time. And she came over, without being judgmental at all, suggested things to try and it really helped. So she is my go-to for asking perspective questions, which is really nice. But I tease her that when she is an empty-nester I’ll have an 8 year old or 9 year old, so it’s very different from being the exact same age, but with different aged kids.”

What are ways you find time for yourself?

“One of the big ways is that I signed Graham up for a Mother’s Day Out program when he was 9 months old. It sounds a bit young, but he loves it, and it’s just nice to be able to get a haircut or go to the grocery store alone, or have breakfast with a friend. So that’s been huge. Other times, I’ll have Oliver watch a show so I can think. We feel very fortunate that we have this big open space behind our house in our neighborhood between the houses behind ours. A lot of kids that are Oliver’s age live close, and he just plays back and forth and we have kids coming in here and then they’ll go out to other houses, and that is wonderful. I don’t really have to organize playdates, they just play and just go. It’s very free, and I like it because I don’t have to worry about him being in the front of the house or the street or somebody driving by. This way I can still see him, and as parents we just text if we don’t know which house the kids are at. That gives me a little break, and it’s been great.”

How do you describe #thisismotherhood in your own words?

“I would say that it’s different for everybody. We all have that commonality of having kids, but there’s such a wide range of what that looks like. For me being a mom is that I adore my boys, it’s exhausting but it’s fun and it gives me a different purpose. And it’s fun to teach them and watch them grown. It’s quite a journey, a rollercoaster.”

What makes motherhood beautiful to you?

“Just the relationships I have with the boys and watching them and how much they adore their aunts and uncles and cousins. I also love watching the boys together, it just makes it all worthwhile.”

Thank you so much to Colleen for being willing to share part of her story of motherhood! You can find the other posts in this series here: Hannah, LindseyKatieKristin & Erma.


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Hey friends, my name is Leah Rife! I am a wedding, and lifestyle photographer based in South Bend, Indiana.

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