"When are you guys having kids?" Over and over we were asked. Let's face it: together 18 years, married seven, seems like the next step. Little did people know, we were not "not trying"; it just wasn't happening. We took an "if it happens, it happens" approach to the whole parenting thing, loving life as free spirits. If it wasn't meant to be, it just wasn't; we'd get another pet or something.
June of 2015, at the age of 38, I was diagnosed with adenomyosis, basically like endometriosis but contained to the uterus. Long story short, I was told that my chances of having children were slim. I'll admit that was an eye opener. Apparently, that's all we needed to hear. In September, during a visit to my "menopause specialist" she delivered the news: "You're pregnant! I don't ever get to tell anyone that news!" Tears started flowing!
Our due date is May 15, one week after Mother's Day and just five days after my 39th birthday. I will embrace my bump more than ever, awaiting my turn to have slobbery baby kisses next year! I feel truly blessed that God has given me this honor.
—Leigh Ann Towne
BREAKING NEWS! Leigh Ann's baby has arrived! Now she will get to experience Mother's Day holding her little bundle in her heart and in her hands. Welcome to the world, Bronson!
For me, being a mother is a lot like herding three fairly ungrateful cats. I have three girls, ages 6, 3, and 9 months, and my dear husband, who works long hours as a surgical resident, often jokes that I'm a single parent because the day-to-day highs and lows predominately fall on me. I love my unruly disorganized household, but there are things I could do without. Arguments over hair brushing when we're running late, diaper messes or those extra special "I missed my nap" evening meltdowns. But even during those episodes, my girls look at me as only your child can when all they want is you. Because I am Mom. Mom, just hold me. Mom will fix what is wrong. Because I am Mom, I can make things better even when they are tired or angry or sad. I find myself putting in heroic efforts with glue and duct tape to preserve a favorite toy. When my girls give me that look, the one of love and need that only I get, I am filled up in a way that maybe doesn't erase irritation or exhaustion, but does shore up patience.
No matter how crazy or messy my three cats get, holding them still gives me that sense of calm. Holding them reminds me that these kids made me a mother. And motherhood made me happy. That's what love will do for you.
—Jaime Pullman Beaulieu
MY FIRST MOTHER'S DAY AS A MOM
At 45 years old, I will be celebrating my first Mother's Day. It feels strange to have a day that exclusively acknowledges my new role, as I am so used to celebrating other mothers on this day. Also, I think what makes it so strange for me is that I lost my mother to lung cancer in 1984. I was 13; she was 43. I have spent more of my life without my mother and have also outlived her. I only have 13 years of "mother training." At first I was scared of all that I didn't know about how to be a mother. The most comforting advice from other mother's is your natural instinct will "kick in" and guide you through your new role. My son is healthy and beautiful. He wakes me up smiling every morning, and I couldn't imagine my life without him and not having the experience of being a mother.
I wasn't sure at my age if I would be able to ever be a mother. To any woman who wants to be a mother, today we have many options including adoption, donor insemination, et cetera. If you feel it in your heart to be one, I say ... follow your heart!
A DAY I NOW CELEBRATE!
My husband and I struggled with infertility for many years before making the decision to become foster parents. Mother's Day had become a day I avoided. I stayed home from church, didn't go to brunch—I'm sad to say I sometimes even neglected to send cards to celebrate the special mothers in my life.
Once I became a foster mom, it was like the sun came out on Mother's Day for me. I cried through my first Mother's Day church service—but for an entirely different reason than in the past—because I finally felt in my heart what people had been telling me all along. I am a mom. I make a difference in the lives of the many children in my life, especially these precious kids whose hearts I have the amazing opportunity to help heal.
So when my foster and adopted children bring me breakfast of burnt eggs, soggy toast and cold coffee on Mother's Day morning, it is the best breakfast I've ever tasted. Because in that moment—looking at their beautiful faces watching every bite I take for the love and approval they seek so badly—I'm so grateful and blessed to be their mom!
—Shel Bell Sullivan
I'm fortunate, honored and humbled to always have been loved by the mom I love in return—every day of the year. I have friends who've lost their moms, friends who are lost without their moms, friends who are lost with their moms. I have friends who barely knew their moms. I have friends who've had to stop knowing their moms. I have friends who never got to be mom, or never thought of being a mom. And I have friends who were, are and have become wonderful, beautiful, loving moms. On this day and every day, you're in my heart.
—Amy L Charles
MOTHERHOOD MEANS CONSTANT CHANGE
One thing that has remained the same in my life as a mom is that nothing remains the same! I thought I would only have boys and now have six daughters. Miscarriages happened and then we had twins. It felt like diapers would never end and now it's cleats and backpacks that clutter the kitchen. Six seemed like the end, but then God sent us to Africa to adopt teenage girls.
Even little things like a kid changing his favorite food puts a new spin on how I do my "mom-ing." When I think I've got a handle on the season I'm in, my world shifts and forces me to adapt. Instead of letting these shifts make me motion sick, I'm learning to see them as a signal of new adventure.
Immoveable flexibility is the key—being able to move around fixed priorities with the ebb and flow of life. I value the same things with teenagers as I did when the kids were little. There are non-negotiables that are oak tree-solid and hold everything else up. Kindness matters. Respectful obedience is required. Play and rest are important.
When off-kilter feelings come, I try to boil things back down to basics in my head and remind myself of what I'm trying to accomplish. My confidence as a mom comes from solid priorities that do not change. But my deepest happiness has depended my flexibility and creativity. That's what lets me throw my hands up and enjoy the adventure.
—Lori Florida | www.loriflorida.com
Gifts from my mother spark thoughts of tradition without exhausting purpose—thinking of her creates memories and feelings of nostalgia I embody. Eating a particular food, smelling a whiff of perfume or hearing a sound often reminds me of my mother. She is always with me, enriching my senses, even if she is far away. This saturating warmth ignites an enduring love.
My mother's explanation of tears: Everybody needs to cry to moisturize their face. This phrase supports emotions, embraces crying and reduces shame. It encourages one to be vulnerable—a practice to pass down. Every time I cry I think of her—she is sustainable and she is loving. It's calming and encouraging.
She is my boat, rocking and singing me to sleep. She is the feeling of reminiscence fueling me from the inside and making me smile. Her touch makes me tingle with the sense of contentment. Her comic relief is intentional. Her hug makes me feel weightless, as though I am still the child (who is pretending to be asleep) she can carry upstairs to bed.
My mother magnifies me and halts my self-deprecation. All that she has given to me guides me in all I give to my children. I only hope what I give back to her is close to mirroring the gifts she has given to me.
—Stefani Boutelier | http://mamagenericana.com
"I AM A MOM!"
"So, what do you do?" While attending social and work events with my husband in the past, I would cringe when asked that question. Earlier in the evening as I was getting ready for the event, I would rehearse answers that sounded more dignified than, "I'm a mom."
Our culture doesn't seem to put a whole lot of value of "just being a mom." The top rungs to the ladder of success never seem to hold the label "mom." So, sadly, as a result I struggled with my identity ... until I decided to change who dictated my value.
I realized that I am responsible for raising the next generation of women. I have five daughters, whose ages range from 4 to 18 years old. Of all the lessons I have taught them over the years, none of them had anything to do with how to aspire to reach that top rung of the success ladder. Instead, our conversations and teaching moments have included honesty, kindness, finding people who are lonely and being a friend to them, generosity, sharing, respecting others and authority, valuing life, working hard, courage, having a good attitude, being a person people like having around, humility, confidence in who they are and loving God. I find myself teaching these lessons at every age. They never out grow these life lessons. Every time I see my girls live out these values, the pride in my heart swells to the point of tears, and that is when I think, "WOW! I love being a mom!"
Today when I am asked, "So, what do you do?" my excited reply is, "Well ... I can tell you the long version: I am an eyewitness of little girls making elderly women smile with compliments of their lipstick and jewelry. I witness girls approach men and women wearing veterans hats and thanking them for fighting for freedom. I get a front row seat as a junior high girl befriends the 'weird kid.' I am a cheerleader as I watch young women experience the joy of accomplishing goals they have worked so hard to achieve. I offer tears and hugs as I watch a high school girl's heart be broken by the betrayal of a friend, and offer tears of pride and encouragement as she continues to offer kindness and friendship to the betrayer.
"Or I can tell you the short version: I am a MOM!"
We thank our wonderful West Michigan Woman readers for sharing their mom stories. Please tell us yours!