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,
Pris lives in Indianapolis with her husband David and their two children Noah, 3 and Emma, 1. She is originally from Orange County, CA and misses the beach and hopes to one day move back near the ocean. I asked her to message me an update since she started working full time after I had interviewed her, and here's what she had to say:
"I actually just started working today full time and it's a new journey for us. I cried to and from work but have been blessed with a good opportunity. I was blessed with two full years at home with the kids and I was ready to work. I'm looking forward to taking on a new chapter in our lives. If I had time for hobbies, I would probably take up quilting and reading again."
t was so beautiful to sit down with Pris. She has such an energy about her, and it's obvious how much she lives her life with passion and her everything. We talked all things self-love after kids, natural birth and co-sleeping, and how the journey towards parenthood and marriage looks different for everyone. I hope you enjoy her story below!
Tell me a little bit about your journey to motherhood.
“I’m originally from Orange County, and David had moved from Indianapolis to Long Beach, so he was living in California when we met. I thought he seemed like a nice midwest guy, and I had never dated anyone from the midwest. I really liked him. He was really conservative and quiet, timid and reserved, but super funny in a discreet way. David and I met online and we dated for 10 months, and then we got pregnant with Noah, so our story is totally different than the traditional steps towards becoming parents. It’s been a rollercoaster. You’re fighting against the grain a little bit because you’re doing things a different way. You’re getting to know each other differently than “I met you, I fell in love with you, I want to have your children.” This is different in that you’re kind of becoming friends and lovers and everything else at the same time. It takes some work!
I always wanted to be a mom; like there is nothing in the world I wanted more. I met a guy who I loved, and when we got pregnant, even though it was a surprise, I knew from then on that Noah was going to be everything. Motherhood came as a surprise, but yet it was something I had been dreaming of.
We went through a rough patch after Noah was born because David went through some father’s postpartum depression, and he struggled knowing how to be a dad. So he asked me to move out 2 weeks after Noah was born. I had to find a new place and it took us about a month to find a place, but it didn’t matter because I was going to do anything for my baby. It was the toughest part of our relationship because I expected David to man up, and at that moment it was like he was pulling away.
We then had to seek counseling, because after he asked me to move out, he realized he had made the biggest mistake of his life so we went to counseling for several months. I decided to give him a second chance, and we got back together. And I love him. And we have to have a lot of Jesus in our lives to forgive from that experience. Ultimately after counseling we realized that shockers like that happen - getting pregnant surprisingly and unplanned - and sometimes for either partner it can come as a big life-changing event, especially when it wasn’t something you were striving for. It took a lot of patience for me to understand that we didn’t have that mutual feeling in the beginning, but now you see David and it’s like ‘Wow.’ You don’t really realize how much you can love somebody and how they love your kids. Even though it started rough for us in the very beginning, it shaped us to be strong people. We love these babies so much.
All of my family is back in California and it’s very hard. I think that’s a hard part about being here. You take this leap of faith trying to move out here, but as a mom you need your village. So I constantly FaceTime my sisters who are my best friends. One is in California, but one got married and went to Texas. So we absolutely have to stay connected because I have to reach out to them for constant advice. They have kids as well, and they have been very supportive of my journey of breast-feeding, natural birth, and co-sleeping. When you have family that inspires you and also supports you, you have to really keep that connection, so we really work to keep connected.”
What is one of the things you love the most about being a mother?
“I think I love how motherhood has shaped me. It’s humbled me, and it’s made me stronger. You have to be tender as possible with your kids, but yet strong at the same time. It’s shaped me to become a stronger person than I thought I was - from a natural birth, birthing at home, and overcoming goals and obstacles in motherhood itself like feeling I can’t get through one more day of nursing with chapped nipples, and then again the next day. Always thinking ‘We can get through one more day.’ So I think it’s taught me so much how to be strong.”
What has been one of the hardest things about being a mother?
“I think it’s feeling not crazy. The level and variety of emotions you experience in a 24 hour period can be so hard. From happy to stressed out, to rushing, to a moment of pure bliss in a moment of interacting and playing with them, to right back to frustration from a tantrum the minute you say it’s nap time. I think that’s been the hardest - not feeling nutty. I have two toddlers and I really have to adjust to all the emotions. I think that’s been the toughest. And then feeling ‘Am I ok to vent about this? Am I ok to share this? Do I sound like there is always something to vent about every time I talk to my mom and sisters?’ But it’s totally normal to feel this way, and you hear other moms talk about feeling this way too, and it’s totally ok.”
How do you maintain a sense of who you were before you had kids?
“I listen to hip hop when I’m in the car alone, and I turn it up really loud, and it’s really inappropriate, and I feel completely normal for a quick second. I drink a lot of coffee. I have to ocaisionally go shopping to feel like that girly girl that I was before that was selfish in a way. That or getting my toes and nails done - all those ‘selfish’ things you get to really enjoy and take in before motherhood and then you realize it’s not all that easy afterwards. When I can and when it’s available, I’ll take up those things in a heartbeat.”
What is something that makes your motherhood story unique?
“I think the fact that we really strived for natural birth. We had a natural hospital birth and then had a home birth with our daughter. I also have been extended breast-feeding for 3 years, and then we co-sleep two kids, so we’re a family of four in one big bed. I think that’s something that’s unique, you don’t really hear that too often. I love that David is so supportive of it as well, and that we are both ok sacrificing our very personal space for the sake of cuddles and time with our kids for as long as we can. That is a very personal space where parents retreat to after the kids go to bed, and in our story it’s not like that. So it’s very unique and very different, and it’s hard to explain to other parents especially if they haven’t been exposed to co-sleeping before.”
What is one of your biggest dreams that has yet to be realized?
“Ideally and on a big scale, probably living by the beach again or owning some property and being close to the water and sand. Otherwise, I would say having a honeymoon with my husband once we’re done breast feeding and sleeping through the night and no longer dependent on me. Then I can definitely have a honeymoon with him. We were pregnant and had a toddler when we got married, so I think that’s dream for us. I just want to have a vacation with him, just the two of us.”
What would you say to your younger pre-motherhood self now if you could?
“Really enjoy sleep. And then not be so judgy towards other moms when you’re not a mom. You see that and you hear that, and I know I was like that. At that time before having kids, I would say do a lot of research for the choices you want to make, and for us it was breast feeding and co-sleeping. Parenting is not cookie-cutter, and you have to find what works for you. So probably not doing that side eye toward moms because you don’t really know what’s going on.”
In what ways has motherhood changed you?
“Like I said before, I think it just made me really strong. I was always loving and caring, but now it’s just about them and nothing else matters. I will sacrifice my all for the sake of keeping them rested and happy and fed. I think that’s how its changed me. I make it about my family now.”
What’s something you wish all mothers would truly take to heart?
“ I think maybe self-love as a mom after kids. I think that’s kind of a topic that gets brushed under the rug based on expectations of how we expect to be perfect and bounce right back after having kids. And I was never real thin to begin with so for me it’s not as big of a deal, but I think just loving your body afterwards is so important. Because you’re going to teach your kids that. I’m big on that. I’m big on ‘It’s ok that mommy has cellulite and stretch marks, and it’s ok. This is your wonderful mama, and hopefully one day you’ll love a woman and you’ll love her for whatever shape she is.’ I’m not going to engrain in my kids that women shouldn’t look this way.”
What is one thing you expected to be true about motherhood but turned out to be different?
“Probably the idea of ‘you can sleep when the baby sleeps.’ You hear that all the time and that only works when they’re really little and there’s only one. It doesn’t work when there’s two; it’s impossible because you can’t neglect the other one. So that really taught me the lie of that saying.”
What’s something about motherhood that you wish everyone would be honest about but maybe not many people talk about?
“I think that we all have bad days, and it’s ok to talk about them and it doesn’t make you a bad mom. Those bad days are ok. I think we need to talk more about that.”
What is the best piece of advice you have ever gotten about being a mother?
“When Emma was born and I felt like I was possibly neglecting Noah, I called my mom and she said ‘Honey, these kids have so much love from you, even if you leave to watch something while you nurse for an hour, he still knows you love him.’ I think just knowing that I was enough, and having my mom remind me - that was the best piece of advice.”
What is your favorite way to wind down after a long day with your kids?
“So typically it’s a Friday or Saturday night. David puts Noah down and I put Emma down, we go lay both of them in the bed and turn on the monitor. We turn on Netflix and watch our show and I have a beer, and that’s our unwind on the weekends. It feels like date night, and it makes me feel good. If the kids are sick and we have to skip, it kind of throws off my week, because I love that time with my husband. I love being able to watch something and hold hands, and feels like adults.”
Tell me one thing you love about yourself as a mother?
“I love how I’ve been able to accomplish goals as a mom. So I’ve never been one to follow through prior to motherhood. I’d always say I would take a class and then never finish it, or sign up for belly-dancing thing and be totally into it and I would do it for a little bit and then be over it. So I love how motherhood has made me be someone that can actually complete things and accomplish the mini goals we have done. I have been able to follow through on things that I wanted.”
Tell me one thing that scares you about being a mother?
“That’s a tough one. Because everything scares me. I get scared if I lose them at the park, or if a stranger talks to them at Target. But I think maybe emotionally somehow doing some damage. Like will I cause some kind of need for therapy for them in the future. But it’s something you have to leave in the hands of god and do the best you can, but I think that’s what scares me the most.”
What would you do if you had a whole day to yourself?
“I would probably, as tired as I am, and most people would say sleep, and I need sleep, but that’s not me. I would probably just go enjoy me and go get my nails done, watch a movie at the theater by myself, and eat sushi quietly by myself. Or a full daytime concert. :)”
Who has been your biggest inspiration/mentor/go-to someone as you have journeyed through motherhood?
“I think my mom and my sisters. But as mothers we also have to reach out to other mothers out there. I had to join La Leche League because as knowledgeable as my mom and my sisters were, I needed a mom who was doing it right then and there in that moment in time. All moms have something to teach us, and it’s little bits and pieces here and there that can adapt to your family.”
What are ways you find time for yourself?
“I think in the evenings when they go to bed, because nap time is cursed and I don’t get time then. I get time in the evenings after bed, if they aren’t sick, and it’s watching a show and just relaxing, and it’s my time. Even if it’s folding laundry and catching up on my show, that makes me feel good and I feel recharged for the next day.”
How do you describe #thisismotherhood in your own words?
“Motherhood is me cooking while baby wearing Emma and having Noah trying to help me, cautiously trying not to burn him while the screaming toddler is on my back. I think that’s what motherhood is for me for now.”
What makes motherhood beautiful to you?
“I think its when I allow myself to be present and really get involved with my kids and soak in all those giggles and fun that they get just from me being loving to them. I think that’s motherhood - when I really get to play with them on the floor, and they’re pulling my hair and I become a human jungle gym - but they need me. They absolutely want that attention and need me to interact with them, and that’s what’s beautiful to me about motherhood.”