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,
"I live in Fishers with my husband Brad and our two sons Gabe, 4 and Jude, 2. I am a stay at home mom (the BEST job ever). A few of my hobbies are cooking, baking, working out and eating. :)"
It was so great to sit down with Erma and hear part of her story. She is so easy-going and warm, and her home was so obviously full of love. I hope you enjoy reading along below!
Tell me a little bit about your journey to motherhood.
“So I was 33 when we got married, and we knew we wanted a family, so we went ahead and decide to try right away. So 4 months after we got married I got pregnant, and we felt very lucky because we didn’t have any problems getting pregnant. We got pregnant right away and it was awesome and such a blessing.
Not getting married until I was 33 and not having my first child until I was 34, by that time I was so independent that I knew it was going to be very, very hard. But I also knew so clearly that there was always a piece missing, and that was children, in my life. It makes me emotional thinking about it. Just when you know that something’s missing and something’s not quite complete; without a doubt it was the puzzle piece of children in my life.”
What is one of the things you love the most about being a mother?
“I absolutely love, love watching the boys be buddies. They have a love/hate relationship of course, just like all siblings probably. But when we’re out and about, and when we’re at church and they deliberately find each other, it just melts my heart. I’ve always been close to my siblings, so I’m like ’My boys *have* to be close!’ So obviously I can’t totally control that, but it’s definitely my prayer that they will be close.”
What has been one of the hardest things about being a mother?
“When I read that question, a million things came to mind. But the number one thing that came to mind is the fact that it is SO constant. So constant. And overwhelming. And constant.
So even when you get away from them and you get some alone time, they’re still with you like, right here on your shoulder, in your thoughts and in your mind. It’s so constant. That word just keeps coming to me. And it’s beautiful and it’s great, but it’s constant. I think that’s one of *the* hardest things. There are lots of things obviously.
I’m one that has always needed a lot of space and I’m independent. I kind of like to do what I do when I do, and I know that sounds selfish, but I guess that’s just kind of a little bit how I’m wired. So to have two little ones constantly in need of me is hard. And it’s not even the laundry and the dishes and the cooking and cleaning. That’s hard. It’s just being needed all the time.”
How do you maintain a sense of who you were before you had kids?
“First of all, I find time for myself. And I know that’s very hard. It’s a little bit easier now that Gabe and Jude are 4 and 2, versus when they were newborns in diapers - it was so hard. Time alone meant *maybe* going to the restroom alone, and that was maybe.
Now time alone for me looks like getting up in the morning before the boys get up, and it might be 20 minutes or 30 minutes. Some mornings they get up at the same time. But just having that little bit of time. And then when they’re napping I always, I don’t care if the house is on fire, take a little bit of time for me. Just to sit and scroll through facebook or Pinterest, or whatever. But it’s so important for me to get a little bit of time.
And I also, once a year like to go on a weekend trip with my sisters and my mom. And Brad and I both strongly agree on this, but we try not revolve our whole life around our children. And a lot of it you naturally have to revolve around your children. They need you, you gotta feed them, you gotta diaper them - all that. But aside from that, not dote on them 24-7. Like maybe make them wait a little bit for breakfast because you’re doing something. Or not put them in every, every activity so early. We let them know they are obviously number one in our lives, but not number one *all* the time in our lives. So that’s how I keep that sense of who I was before I had kids. Erma is still Erma. I’m just a mom now.”
What is something that makes your motherhood story unique?
“So Gabe is 4, and pretty much from the time I got pregnant with him to, well really over the next four years. Brad had dealt with a lot of health issues. And the timing was really horrible, and I say that joking obviously. Through that time, he wasn’t able to help the way I envisioned, and I felt so alone. It was extremely hard, and often, many, many, many times I felt like a single mom - with a sick husband too, to help take care of.
I think that’s been one of the challenges for me in my motherhood. There’s always so many challenges. Just maybe not having that sidekick of a husband to help me or the backbone that I needed. But you know, through that, and I’ll say this until the day I die, God is so faithful. God is faithful to me and so good. I remember often being in the middle of the night feeding the babies and just thinking ‘I can’t do this, I can’t do this.’ And every single time, and it was almost audible, I just felt like he was saying ‘Just keep doing what you’re doing. You’re doing great.’ He’s so faithful.”
What is one of your biggest dreams that has yet to be realized?
“I don’t think I have that one big dream, but maybe a lot of small ones. I dream of traveling more, being debt free, and living the simple life. But I also dream of being an encourager and a mentor, especially to new moms. I’m not even sure what that looks like, but I’m so big on community and relationships, that it excites me to think about walking alongside new moms that maybe don’t have the support that they need. So that’s one of the dreams that I have.”
What would you say to your younger pre-motherhood self now if you could?
“I feel like I barley remember that person! I traveled a lot, I was a business owner, I worked hard, I had a few jobs at one time. And then I played hard too; it was great! It just makes me smile thinking about it. But - I would never want to go back to that. Like I said before, I always knew there was a piece of the puzzle missing. And as a wife and a mother, my life is a million times better now. Even though I get much, much less sleep, and I have two little humans around me all of the time, I wouldn’t trade it.”
In what ways has motherhood changed you?
“I think this was one of my favorite questions. It’s such a good question. I can honestly say that I love more now than I ever have. It’s a deeper, more rich love. I just remember holding each one of the boys when they were born in the hospital and just sobbing. I remember the nurse running over and asking if I was ok. I was just engulfed with an unexplainable love like never before. And yet, our heavenly father loves us even more than that. And since having children, I’ve understood the love of god a little bit more. I’ll never fully understand it, but through that, I’ve gotten my identity in Christ - really just through my children. I’ve understand the love of God and my identity in Christ, and it’s been so beautiful.
And also, I judge so much less. We don’t know what the other person is going through. I’ve heard the saying ‘Be kind, that person might have toddlers at home.’ So being kind to that stranger when you don’t know what she’s going through; I definitely judge less. I appreciate the small things in life more, and my perspective in life has changed.
On the flip side of that, I’ve also become a much more anxious person. And I’m overtaken with the feeling of being overwhelmed. But as a whole, motherhood has definitely made me a better person.”
What’s something you wish all mothers would truly take to heart?
“The first word that came to me when I read this question was Grace. Just to give yourself a lot of grace. Motherhood is so hard. Just as being a Christian is hard, but God gives us the grace when we need it, and we need to give ourselves more grace. We tend to be way too hard on ourselves.
Also, don’t get caught up in the lies of ‘you’re not enough.’ All the lies that the enemy puts in our head like ‘You’re just a mom’ and the mundaneness of the day-to-day things getting to you.
Like I said before, finding your community, finding your tribe, so to speak. I really think we have to stick together, we really need to help each other since it’s such a hard job. And also self-care, and by that I do not mean going to the gym and being skinny. By that I mean mentally taking care of yourself. And again, when you have young ones, it’s really hard. It might look different when the kids are so young versus when they get a little older.
I find for myself if I’m maybe upset with something Brad has done, or I’m being grudgeful toward someone; all that affects my mothering and the way I treat my kids. So when I say stay healthy, check in with yourself. Why are you feeling grouchy? Why are things hard? And also, if you need help, get help. There are lots of counseling options and good resources that we have. I think, basically, if we’re hurting and dealing with problems, it’s going to pour over into motherhood, and it makes it more challenging.”
What is one thing you expected to be true about motherhood but turned out to be different?
“I have lots of nieces and nephews, so I thought I somewhat had an idea of what motherhood would be like. But obviously nothing will ever prepare you. I expected it to be hard and time-consuming. I’m a quality time gal, so I anticipated a lot of fun and bonding time, and I say that with a little bit of sarcasm. But I didn’t realize quality time meant not using the restroom alone. I get it now. And it goes back to how constant it is. And I think nothing could have prepared me for that.”
What’s something about motherhood that you wish everyone would be honest about but maybe not many people talk about?
“For me it’s the loneliness. This sounds kind of morbid, but the dying of old self. And I mean, overnight you become a different person. I was Erma, and I’m still Erma, but I’m not the same Erma. So you really become a different person without meaning to, and it’s a good thing, it’s just hard.”
What is the best piece of advice you have ever gotten about being a mother?
“I think a few things. One of my favorite mom quotes is ’The days are long but the years are short.’ And let me tell you, the days are SO long, but yet now, I can’t believe my boys are 2 and 4. So the years are short. And then also, just embrace the moment and let things go that don’t really matter. And prayer - prayer to get you through the day, and also just to cover your family and children in prayer.”
What is your favorite way to wind down after a long day with your kids?
“Alone time. I’m a bit of a social media junkie, so I’ll get on my phone and go all out - I’m on it all. It sounds so lame. :) I think it’s because then I can cash out mentally, I mean I don’t have to think about anything.
Also, I love to go for a walk, or meet a girlfriend for dinner.”
Tell me one thing you love about yourself as a mother?
“Motherhood has made me a much more confident person. Much more confident. The inner strength that I carry is so empowering.”
Tell me one thing that scares you about being a mother?
“My number one goal as a mother is to make little disciples; followers of Christ. And you know, then comes the doubt of am I teaching them enough? Am I setting a good example? Are we making the right choices for the boys?”
What would you do if you had a whole day to yourself?
“I love this question, it made me smile. I think it would start out with sleeping in, obviously. And sleeping in nowadays is until like 8 o’ clock because my body has gotten so used to getting up early. I’d go get some *really* good coffee, I’m not talking about just McDonalds coffee, but really good coffee. And then I’d go shopping, treat myself to a nice a lunch, maybe go get a pedicure. I’d find a nice park and just walk or maybe journal. And I think after that I’d want to meet up with my husband, or some girlfriends - preferably my mom or sisters - for dinner. I think that would be a really awesome day for me.”
Who has been your biggest inspiration/mentor/go-to someone as you have journeyed through motherhood?
“My mom. Even though we live three hours a part, I feel like she’s been there every step of the way. She would probably roll her eyes and be like ‘Why? What have I done?’ And it’s not even like she’s done specific things, it’s just that she’s just been there.
And also she is my biggest inspiration since there are seven of us. I often ask her how she did it, and she’ll just look off faraway and say she doesn’t remember. I think it’s so true, motherhood is so crazy that I think God allows us to forget some of the bad. As we journey on, we’ll remember the good things and not just the bad - thank you God.
And also, my friend Heather. I would consider her my 3am friend. She is my rant friend, so we’ll text each other in the middle of the day and go off about our kids and how horrible they’re being. So she’s been that friend to me.
What are ways you find time for yourself?
“Some bigger ways I find time for myself are leaving in the evenings while Brad takes care of the kids. But also, for example, the IF Gathering. It’s a weekend kind of away, and also MOMCON (a conference Mops International puts on for mothers.)
Brad and I will also take a weekend and go somewhere. I mean, I’m with Brad, but I don’t have that ‘constant’ from the boys. So those are probably the biggest ways I find alone time and get my cup filled up, so to speak.”
How do you describe #thisismotherhood in your own words?
“It’s a beautiful, beautiful life. It’s all-consuming. It’s heart-wrenching. It’s exhausting, and it’s challenging. And yet, at the end of the day, I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”
What makes motherhood beautiful to you?
“Motherhood is beautiful when my 4 year old comes up to me and randomly asks me about heaven. Or when my 2 year old is in the other room singing ‘There is Power in the Name of Jesus.’ Or when I mess up, and they immediately forgive me, and I’m their number one no matter what. It is truly, truly an honor and gift that God picked me to be a mother to Gabe and Jude.”