Indianapolis lifestyle photography

Sydni's Senior Session | Broad Ripple, Indianapolis

Ok, so Sydni is pretty much one of the most amazing humans on the planet, and if you're lucky enough to know her, you'll know what I mean. I first met Sydni when we were looking for someone to help babysit our boys, and ever since, I've been constantly in awe of this girl. She is so, so kind. She is passionate, quiet, artistic, talented, beautiful inside and out, and has a heart for others. I see such a spark in her - a love for others and a sense of adventure - and I was so honored to be able to capture some senior photos for her.

We headed to a few spots in Broad Ripple, and basically hung out for a couple hours, talking, taking photos, and dodging the sprinkles that held off enough for us to get some wonderful images. It was kind of amazing. :) Sydni is heading off to college next year and will be studying nursing and is considering studying photography as well. My family and our boys will miss her tons, but I am so excited for her to head off and experience all kinds of amazing things!! 

Enjoy some images from her session below!!

xoxo

Indianapolis senior photography | broad ripple
Indianapolis senior photography | broad ripple

Motherhood Series Wrap Up

When I decided to work on a personal project at the beginning of this year, I knew I wanted to work with mothers. I wanted to hear their unique stories, take photos of them in their own spaces, and share their beautiful stories with others.

This project has been nothing short of amazing to be a part of. It has changed my perspective, and I hope it's helped change the perspective of my readers as well. Motherhood looks as different as each mother, and the stories are endlessly unique and beautiful. I believe that sharing different perspectives can help tear down assumptions, judgements, and break down molds of "shoulds" and "normal" because every person is different and every story of motherhood is different. I also believe listening to another perspective can help foster empathy, draw lines of connection, and help one realize that we are all humans and all in this together. The more we are present and connect with others who are not like us, I think the more beautiful this world will be.

I reached out and asked for a few mamas to interview, and I was blown away with the response I got. Ten beautiful mamas participated in this project, and I have had ten amazing experiences. I can't thank them enough for opening their homes and lives for an hour so I could peek in and listen. Friends, this sort of work is so beautiful and sacred to me. The "everyday" and the "ordinary" are so incredibly beautiful.

I couldn't think of a better way to wrap up this series than picking some of my favorite answers to the questions I asked each woman. So with that, I'll share some of the answers that stood out to me from each mama. Thank you for following along with this series and this journey. I hope it's touched you in one way or another.

xo

Hannah

 

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

“I feel like I’m very passionate and I have a lot of compassion.  I feel like, for the most part, I’m not quick to anger. I try and work through things many, many times with my boys just trying to take the moment and really help them learn from it, and not yell and send them to their room. Although that happens too some days. But just trying to really, maybe the better word is have empathy, and just kind of get in their shoes and try and see things from their perspective and take that step back. And be the all-giving mother - to step back and not yell.”

 

Lindsey

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

“When I make a new friend, I want them to come over when my house is messy. If we’re going to be good friends, then my house is going to messy. We always think that every mom is judging us for everything we do or say, but in all reality, they’re not. I mean, our kids are alive, and they’re happy, like I said before.”

 

Katie

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

“So I consider Glennon Doyle to be my spiritual mentor. I just love everything about her and what she has to say. She is just it in life. And one of the things she talks about is her response when she found out that her husband had been cheating on her their entire marriage. She was obviously devastated initially, and then her next thought was to worry about her kids. Ultimately, she said she viewed that as an opportunity to help her children walk through the fire, and how in life, they’re going to go through fire-like situations, and that will continue happening for the rest of their existence on this earth. She said that any time her children feel like they need to step out, she’s tells them to get their asses in the fire and that she’s going to step in there with them and help them get to the other side. She said that if we don’t teach our kids how to go through tough stuff, we’re going to help them grow up to be incomplete people.

Her words helped me to invite my child into the fire with me and to teach him that we don’t shy away from life’s problems. I’m trying to teach him that we hit problems head on, together.”

 

Kristin

 

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

“I’m a big fan Brené Brown. I found out she is a Texan too, so that made my heart a little bit happier. So I was a reading one of her books and she said we’re just all trying to do the best we can. And I feel like that should be the motherhood anthem: don’t judge and everybody is just trying to do the best that they can. Every time I find myself judging myself, I think of that. Just try to do the best that you can because you’re a hot mess too.” 

 

Erma

 

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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.”

 

Colleen

 

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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.”

 

Erin

 

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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.”

Pris

 

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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.” 

 

Cynthia

 

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How do you describe #thisismotherhood in your own words?

"The good, the bad, and the ugly. I’m not sure those are my own words, but it’s relevant. It’s not just those picture perfect moments, but it’s also not just the bad stuff. It’s the messes, it’s the tired, it’s the beautiful, it’s the when things go right, it’s when you’re kid has been having an attitude all day and that night tells you he loves you. It’s all of that."

 

Sharon

 

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

“I love seeing the world through my daughter’s eyes. I love seeing the wonder in her eyes and seeing how she sees things at face value. She doesn’t have the background or hate of anything bad in the world. She sees everything for good, and I love that about her. And I love that seeing that in her reminds me that there is so much good in the world.”

 

Thank you so much to all these amazing women! If you would like to check out their stories, you can find them each here.

HannahLindseyKatieKristin  ErmaColleenErinPrisCynthia, & Sharon.

Cynthia'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,

Leah

Cynthia

Cynthia lives in Ingalls with her husband Patrick, and her 4 children, Cole (7), Aurora (almost 4), Payton ( almost 3), and Logan (almost 1). She works at East 91st Street Christian Church Preschool in Indianapolis. She is working towards finishing her Child Development Associate degree and desires to become a lead Preschool teacher. If that all goes as planned, she also has plans to work on her personal training certification. Cynthia is quiet, kind, and during our session wasn't afraid to be completely real, which is a quality I admire so much. She welcomed me into the very real life she leads with her family of 6, and made me feel right at home in their routine. I really enjoyed hearing Cynthia share, and I hope you enjoy reading through her story below.

 

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Tell me a little bit about your journey to motherhood.

"My husband and I met in high school, and we got married when we were 19. I was going into my sophomore year in college and Patrick was going in as a freshman, so we didn’t have plans to start a family right away. I’ve always wanted kids, I grew up around kids, I babysat a lot. In my family you got married, you had kids, and that’s just what you did. 

I got pregnant with Cole the beginning of my senior year of college. And I was so sick, couldn’t keep anything down and lost a lot of weight during the first part of that pregnancy. I experienced preeclampsia with his pregnancy, and enjoyed all the side effects of water retention and feeling swollen. That was really hard because aside from having to deliver early, and even though we were only an hour from family it was just far enough that we couldn’t have much help. Cole was in the NICU after he was born at 35 weeks and 3 days. He was only in the NICU for 10 days, and did really well. He was tiny, but perfectly fine. He was born the week before finals week at college, but thankfully I had really great professors who were flexible with my exams and it was really awesome.

With all that went on, delivering early, being away from family, being the first baby, and having the NICU experience, it triggered some pretty rough depression. It took me about 9 months before I really did anything about it, and the only reason I went in was because I kept experiencing bleeding after the birth. So I figured while I was in there, I’d talk with them about the depression. I started some antidepressants after seeing a counselor, and Patrick was really against it at the time and wasn’t very supportive in the beginning, so I actually took myself off the antidepressants. In high school, I was diagnosed with Dysthymia or persistent depressive disorder, which is only slightly different than clinical depression, but I still had periods of feeling low. I actually lied to my doctors about my diagnosis when they asked questions ahead of time during my pregnancy. I was afraid to talk to anyone about feeling depressed because I was scared that CPS would be called on me, or they would take my baby, because you hear so many stories of really severe cases of depression where it’s hard for moms to care for their babies. So because of the depression and the traumatic period around Cole’s birth, I feel like I missed out on the bonding time with him, and I feel like he is closer to Patrick because of that.

We ended up having to move back in with my parents, Patrick was in between jobs, I was working two jobs, and we found out I was pregnant with our second child. Patrick later got a job in Noblesville, so we had moved from Muncie to this area. My friend was in the hospital in labor at the same time I went into labor with Aurora, and she was born only hours apart from my friend’s daughter. They had the same doctor, so that was fun. 

Aurora was 5 months old when I found I was pregnant with Payton. There’s so much repenting that has gone on through that experience. I’m incredibly impatient, so I always find out when I’m 4-5 weeks along. I had gone out with my MOPS table for a mom’s night out, and another mom said how she always feels phantom kicks when she’s first pregnant, and I said how I was feeling the same thing. My cycle had been inconsistent, so I decided to pick up a test on my way home thinking it would be no big deal. I couldn’t sleep and couldn’t wait until the morning, so I got up in the middle of the night to take the test. And after I took the test I think I said every bad word you can probably think and probably made up some and I was every emotion you could feel. I felt panic, a tinge of excitement because it was a baby, but mostly panic. I was trying to think of how to tell Patrick. I had to wake him up and tell him and his response was “great.” So we got through that and had our baby girl.

Then with Logan, he tried to come out a few months early but with the help of medication and the doctors we were able to keep him in until 37 weeks. He was in the NICU for a few days and is doing so well now. So that’s kind of how my journey has gone."

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

"That no matter how much I mess up, they still love me. Especially with anxiety which made me so stressed that I would yell. There were rough moments, but at the end of the day, the kids were patient with me and showed me such unconditional love."

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

"Functioning with the lack of sleep. Having kids takes sleep deprivation to a whole new level, and I’ll even have to call friends while I’m driving to stay awake. I forget things a lot. I have a heart condition which makes me fatigued anyway, but the sleep deprivation just got a whole lot worse and made me feel so much more tired after having kids."

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

"Growing up in the family that I did, where everyone just got married and had kids, I always knew I wanted to have lots of kids. Four is good, by the way. :) I did a lot of babysitting and was always around kids growing up, so this is who I always was, I think. I mean sure, sometimes I’d love to go out and see a movie and not have to worry about a $20 movie ticket, and $50 for babysitting and having to organize it all ahead of time. I think the only other thing I did before kids that I don’t do very often now is read. We have to schedule time for me to read because I’m not one to only read a couple chapters, I get into the book and end up reading it all. So I would love to have more time to read someday."

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What is something that makes your motherhood story unique?

"Anymore, I think it’s the fact that we started so young. As far as my friends from high school go, some are just recently married or getting married soon and there are no kids, and I have 4! But as far as my family goes, my grandma got married at 15 and had my mom when she was 16. My mom got married when she was 18 and had me at 19. I got married at 19 and I had just turned 22 when I had Cole, so we’re progressing out. :) So with my family, it’s perfectly normal. But as far as my peers, I’m just apparently way ahead of the game."

 

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

"So I know I said 4 was enough, my body is done, but I’ve always wanted to adopt. We want to obviously wait until these kids are older and until it would work out financially. I’d love to adopt sibling groups or older kids. It’s definitely something that we want. Patrick’s joked before as we’ve driven past a hotel that if we bought it I would want to fill every room with kids."

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

"The dishes can wait. That’s one of the things I really stressed over with Cole and Rory. I wanted to have a straightened up, not necessarily spotless, but somewhat presentable house. It was probably in a MOPS group, somebody said ‘What do you want your kids to remember, that your house was clean or that you played with them and did crazy stuff and had fun with them?’ So as you can tell, I’ve really embraced that. The dishes don’t have to be done every night, and as long as there’s no mold growing on the dirty dishes, we’re good! Patrick is really good at helping me and doing the dishes. We’re a family of 6, so after one meal, the sink is full! So we try to not stress about it too much."

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In what ways has motherhood changed you?

"I think it’s forced me to stand up for myself a little bit more. I was always shy as a kid, and always tried to avoid confrontation. But now, if someone even looks wrong at my kids, I’m ready to throw down. And it translates to me with jobs and other interests too, and I don’t have a problem saying no to things that won’t be best for me in the season I’m in."

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

"To just try and not to worry about what’s on Facebook or tv, or what other people say. As long as you’re doing your best for your kids, it will all be ok. When I was pregnant with Cole and was so sick, I’d watch shows like Bringing Home Baby, and I wanted to learn as much as I could. But now, as long the kids are fed and taken care of, I don’t stress about all the other stuff."

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

"I thought that I could balance being a mom and keeping the house together. My grandma had 5 kids, and her house would always be so put together. I figured it was no big deal, that after the kids went to bed you just tidied up and it would be great. That is so wrong! My heart condition does make me more tired and I need to log more hours to get enough rest, but even people who don’t have that, it’s just this season with young kids. You can’t get anything done unless they’re asleep. I feel like I can’t even load the dishwasher without my kids getting into things, drawing on the walls, stuff like that."

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

"The postpartum mental illness struggles. If I hadn’t felt like someone was going to come in and take my baby away with Cole, I’d have gotten help much sooner. And I think I would have had more time to bond with him. With Logan, I was stretched to the max and I kept an eye out for signs of signs. I experienced postpartum anxiety with him, and got on top of it and got on medication to help. I would have experiences of feeling shaky, like someone was sitting on my chest and like I couldn’t breathe, and couldn’t talk to people. And people don’t understand, and they just figured I would be in a bad mood. I was able to up my dose after a follow-up appointment, and even though I still get overwhelmed, I don’t get as panicky. If people talk about mental illness, I feel like they talk about it in such a negative way, that it isn’t helpful. I wish we could talk more openly about it and in a way that doesn’t make people feel bad."

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

"I know it sounds cheesy, but the saying ‘they’re only young once.’ Because I feel like I missed out on so much of Cole’s younger years, it feels like he is growing up so fast. I think that experience has helped me appreciate my kids and realized that there is something to enjoy at every age."

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

"Well we don’t keep wine in the house. :) I think its just finding somewhere quiet, even if it’s just for 5 minutes to let my ears stop ringing from all the yelling and the noises. Just a chance to regather my breathing and find some calm."

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

"With me wanting to be a preschool teacher, I feel like I do a good job teaching my kids. We get a lot of compliments that Rory can speak so well, so it makes me proud that I can teach my kids well and prepare them."

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

"I get angry a lot and can default to yelling. So that’s one thing that we’re working on and finding ways to help me get grounded. My dad was verbally abusive and I come from a long line of people who get angry, and that’s not something I want to continue".

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

"Sleep! I would go somewhere and sleep in a freshly made bed, with blackout curtains, and room service, and of course somebody else footing the bill. That would be my dream."

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

"It would be my grandma. It’s hard for my mom to understand sometimes because she only had me and my brother, and my grandma had 5 kids. So I feel like she and I relate in that way. I’ll call her all the time and ask her for advice. She never makes me feel like I’m burdening her when I call."

 

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What are ways you find time for yourself?

"I don’t, but it’s something I’m working on. Right now Patrick works seconds and I work days, so it’s hard to find time. I do try at least once a month to send at least 3 of my kids to a family member’s house to get a small break. And I try to sleep when I can get some extra time in. Patrick is a big help with reminding me to take time for myself when possible, and helping with the kids."

How do you describe #thisismotherhood in your own words?

"The good, the bad, and the ugly. I’m not sure those are my own words, but it’s relevant. It’s not just those picture perfect moments, but it’s also not just the bad stuff. It’s the messes, it’s the tired, it’s the beautiful, it’s the when things go right, it’s when you’re kid has been having an attitude all day and that night tells you he loves you. It’s all of that."

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What makes motherhood beautiful to you?

"We’re responsible for these tiny little souls and we get to impact them in so many ways, and meet their needs. I think it was at the IF Gathering where they said it’s possible for a lot of stay at home moms to feel like they’re not doing enough. But you get to spend 24-7 with your kids and have the opportunity to lead them to Christ. I can be the hands and feet of God to them and show them how to do the same for others someday."

A very big thank you to Cynthia for sharing and letting me see a little slice of her beautiful normal. You can check out the other posts in this series here: 

HannahLindseyKatieKristin  ErmaColleenErin & Pris.

xo

Pris' 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,

Leah

 

Pris

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!

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.” 

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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. :)”

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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.”

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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.”

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A huge thank you to Pris for sharing part of her story! You can find the other posts in this motherhood series here: 

Hannah, LindseyKatieKristin  ErmaColleen & Erin.

xo

Erin'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,

Leah

 

Erin

 

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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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How do you describe #thisismotherhood in your own words?

“Sweet, rewarding, beautiful, messy, intense, fun, selfless, and profound.”

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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: 

Hannah, LindseyKatieKristin  Erma & Colleen.

xo