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,
Erin lives in Fishers with her husband Wes and stays at home with her two boys Chase (9) and Will (almost 5). She works part time as a preschool teacher at the school her boys went to. She is originally from Louisville, KY but has lived in Indy for the past 16 years. She has a passion for reading, and it was obvious from our session that she is passing her love for books down to her boys. Erin was so easy to talk to and listen to, and her warm and inviting personality would make anyone feel at home. I hope you enjoy reading her story below.
Tell me a little bit about your journey to motherhood.
“My road to motherhood was a little rocky. I met Wes when I was 19 and we got married young, what I consider young, at 24. We wanted to be married for a little while, travel, and get our careers underway before we had kids. We always said we were on the 5 year plan before having kids. Once we were ready to start, we had some trouble, and we had Chase after about 2 years of fertility treatments. I feel kind of blessed in a way that it didn’t take any longer. Two years is a very long time when you’re in it, but some people go through it for a lot longer. And I felt blessed that things were fixable and it was something where the doctors knew exactly what was wrong, because some people have unexplained infertility and they never know what the cause is. So he was an answer to prayer for us.
We went through the same exact treatment with our second son Christian. At our 18 week anatomy scan with him we were told that he had a fatal prenatal condition. We did decide to carry him to term and just trust God in the process. The prayer for us became ‘Just enjoy the time that we have with him.’ That pregnancy really took its toll on us, as you can imagine. He was born in April of 2011 and we were blessed with 2 1/2 hours with him. It was just a really low point in our lives. Our faith was questioned, and it was very hard. He is so missed every day and changed us in so many profound ways.
After that pregnancy, it obviously took us awhile to get to the point where we were ready to try again, because I was terrified. Even though it was a total fluke what Christian had, I think it was a 1 in 4,000 chance, and it was still scary to think about with our next pregnancy. After several rounds of failed fertility treatments trying to have our third, Will came on his own without any treatments.
So we named Will for God’s will. (Turns out it’s more like strong will.) We were shocked, but his life is such a story of God’s redemption in that pain. It’s about 7 or 8 years later and it’s still hard to talk about, especially as this time of year approaches. But we look forward to seeing Christian again. And for now we just enjoy the two we have, you know.”
What is one of the things you love the most about being a mother?
“I think just all the laughter that they bring. And I like the bond that I have with them; I feel like I’m close with them. I love their growing personalities and seeing who they’re becoming as people. It’s a blessing to see all the world’s possibilities in their eyes and all their new experiences. I also feel like motherhood is very exciting because no day is like the other day; everything is new and they’re constantly growing and changing and experiencing new things. So it’s fun to witness that.”
What has been one of the hardest things about being a mother?
“All the laundry. :)
I think just the day-to-day grind. I feel like it can be tough just how every day can feel like Groundhog Day, over and over again; the same day. And I think it can be a very thankless job at times. Our youngest, as I mentioned, is very spirited and has some anger issues that we are still working through, so that can be really tough and make the days really long. So just figuring him out and knowing where that’s coming from has been a struggle lately for us.”
How do you maintain a sense of who you were before you had kids?
“I try to take time for the things that I enjoy and that I’m passionate about. And I feel like recently going back to work has been really good. It was an adjustment but since I’m only doing it two days a week it’s given me a way to tap into my creative side and then I really enjoy getting to be around children who are preschool age. So that’s been really good for me.
But I do feel like motherhood has also changed me a lot for the better. I feel more compassionate, more patient (most days), just forgiving. I feel like it’s changed me in those ways.”
What is something that makes your motherhood story unique?
“I think losing Christian after already having a child was tough because I feel like I knew what I was missing out on. I feel like being able to have a child after that loss gave me a lot of perspective on just how big of a blessing they really are. Just to have a child is such a blessing. It doesn’t mean that they don’t drive me to the edge some days, but I feel like I try not to dwell on the little things as much.”
What is one of your biggest dreams that has yet to be realized?
“This one was hard for me. I think since the boys are getting older and it’s getting a little bit easier as far as leaving the house, going places, and traveling. I would like to travel with them and a mission trip with them is on the bucket list one day as a family. And just watching them grow up and being healthy and having a heart for Jesus are some of my main goals for them.”
What would you say to your younger pre-motherhood self now if you could?
“Probably just to have faith and to wait on God, in my specific circumstance. The uncertainty of infertility can be crippling. The unknown is just really hard and you’re not aware of the outcome and you can’t see the light at the end of tunnel. You just sit in that and it can be toxic if you allow it.
And kind of joking but kind of serious, but to just start sooner than we did, because kids are exhausting and I wish I’d been a little younger when I started.”
In what ways has motherhood changed you?
“I felt like I wore my emotions on my sleeve before having kids, but now I feel like I’m just a big mushy mess a lot of days. I feel more deeply, I feel like I laugh harder and dream bigger. I just feel like life became more colorful once I had kids and once they were placed in my arms, everything changed. And I feel like it’s given me confidence too. Motherhood has given me that.”
What’s something you wish all mothers would truly take to heart?
“This is such a cliche, but it’s true, like how fast it goes. It does go fast. I’d give anything to go back to those newborn nights and nurse them one more time. It’s funny too because I don’t want a baby right now, but just one night with them as newborns would be so special.”
What is one thing you expected to be true about motherhood but turned out to be different?
“There’s a lot. I think I was totally unaware that it wasn’t easy. Easy to get pregnant, easy to have kids and raise them. I was really naive about things. I just thought when we decided when we were ready then, poof, I’d get pregnant. But God laughs when we make plans.
I used to totally judge other moms when their kids would misbehave and look at them and think ‘What’s she doing wrong?’ Because Chase, our first, never, like I mean never, had a tantrum. We struggled with nursing with him for awhile but that was the only struggle, really. He was so good. But then God blessed us with Will and he is as spirited as they come. So it was very humbling experience for sure.”
What’s something about motherhood that you wish everyone would be honest about but maybe not many people talk about?
“I feel like no one talks about making that decision to be done having kids. I turn 40 in a couple of months, and deciding when you’re done having kids is a hard decision, and it’s not always your decision to make. I think because of our loss, our family won’t always feel 100% complete, but I am content with the family that we have created. But yeah, I don’t feel like people talk about that part of motherhood.”
What is the best piece of advice you have ever gotten about being a mother?
“I remember at one of my baby showers, they had cards for people to write down advice, and one of my friends wrote ‘Trust your own instincts.’ Like you can ask advice from people who have been there before you, but at the end of the day I always felt like I had to do what was best for us. For example extended nursing. People would be like ‘Why are you still nursing him?’ And they were things that felt so right to me, that I had to do and go with my instincts on.”
What is your favorite way to wind down after a long day with your kids?
“A hot bath. A good book. Maybe a glass of wine. And then we have mindless tv shows that Wes and I will watch. And then I like trying out a new place with my girlfriends and go out to eat and things like that.”
Tell me one thing you love about yourself as a mother?
“I would say that I like celebrating all the little things like holidays and half birthdays. I just try to make everything fun for them - big and small. I love getting into making birthdays extra special, or surprising them with a fun breakfast just because. I just like the traditions that holidays bring and a lot of ours involve food.”
Tell me one thing that scares you about being a mother?
“I struggle with having open hands with my kids. I’m not a total helicopter mom, but I do feel the most at peace when we’re all at home, like we’re all in our safe little bubble together. I just feel like the world feels crazy and every day it seems more and more nuts. So for my boys, I just pray that they always keep their eyes on Jesus.”
What would you do if you had a whole day to yourself?
“I would sleep in, then probably get up, workout, shower. Spend time with God or in the Bible. Maybe get a massage, eat a dinner I didn’t make, lay in the sun with a book.”
Who has been your biggest inspiration/mentor/go-to someone as you have journeyed through motherhood?
“My mom for sure. She is in Louisville but we are really close. We lost my dad when I was 15 and she was just a rock for me and my brother who’s five years older. She went back to school and became an occupational therapist and supported us all throughout college. And she is the definition of selflessness. It’s hard being two hours away, but she makes such an effort to come up and visit and give us a night out if we need it. She’s retiring in May and I cannot wait! ‘There’s room in the basement, mom! You can move in!’ But she’s the best. She’s a wonderful listener, and I’m just blessed she’s my mom. She’s my person.”
What are ways you find time for yourself?
“Usually in the winter, almost every night I take a bath once the boys in bed. I really enjoy reading, like I mentioned. I just feel like it’s a really good escape at the end of the day. I like to workout and I feel like I need it because it helps clear my head and helps with any stress and anxiety I may have. And I feel like it gives me energy to be there and take care of my kids because they have boundless energy.
On Fridays, Will goes to school and I usually have those 4 hours to myself, so I really cherish Fridays and that time. I’ll usually run errands, workout, or treat myself to a manicure and do all those things that are sometimes easier by yourself. I have even found that I like going to lunch by myself; just sitting and reading a book while I eat. It felt weird at first, but I like it now.”
How do you describe #thisismotherhood in your own words?
“Sweet, rewarding, beautiful, messy, intense, fun, selfless, and profound.”
What makes motherhood beautiful to you?
“I love being the center of their world. Being needed is nice. Like when they fall and they come running to you to make it better - there’s no greater feeling than that. And as they get older, watching them master things they’ve worked really hard for, just the pride that rises in you is so unexplainable. But they’re my world.”
A big thank you to Erin for sharing her story. I really appreciated her raw honesty and willingness to share. In honor of Christian's life, every year Erin and her family and friends participate in random acts of kindness to celebrate, remember, and pass on love to the world in his name. If you would like to participate, the event is coming up this week and you can find details here. I'm planning on participating with my own boys and I know it will be a beautiful day to spread love to the world.
If you would like to check out the other posts in this series you can find them here: