Motherhood Monday – Judith P.

This week’s Motherhood Monday guest is my sister-in-law, Judith!

Meet Judith

I met Judith for the first time when I was on the way to the beach with Sam and his family. We stopped at Judith’s house in Troy and got to see her students’ perform Grease (she is a high school theatre teacher). We stayed at her house for the night then headed to the beach! She rode with Sam and me to the beach, and I really got to know her sweet spirit and kind heart. Since then, we have shared a lot of memories from holidays to beach trips, weddings to late-night Dairy Queen runs. We became moms about 8 weeks apart. My nephew, Henry’s cousin, and Judith’s son, Crosby, was born about 8 weeks before Henry. We are so excited to see the two of them grow up together! Since having Crosby, I really feel like I have seen Judith truly come to life. She loves being a mom, and the love she has for Crosby is so obvious in her care for him.

The Interview

1. Explain your “motherhood journey.” Including your kid(s) and their age(s)

To be honest, I always thought I would wait to have kids later in life. You see, I had dreams of moving to New York City after college and pursuing a career in theatre. But, as we all know, God typically has something better up His sleeve. When I finally submitted my hopes and plans to him in 2012, He took me in a different direction. Suddenly, my desire to hack it out in New York seemed more scary than exciting. Instead, a simple life in the country with a sweet husband and babies crawling on the floor looked exponentially more appealing. Enter: Brantley Park! My husband and I got married in November of 2013 and I landed a job teaching high school theatre in a perfectly quaint, southern town! We waited two years before trying for a child—but let me tell you, those free ovulation calculator apps really work! We became pregnant almost instantly, praise the Lord. In June of 2016 our lives changed forever when we met our son, Crosby Brantley Park: 6 lbs, 8 oz, 19 inches long. Absolute perfection.

parks-pre-crosby

Judith calls this one “Life Before Kids,” saying, “note my perfectly curled hair and makeup which is far less likely to occur these days.” Picture provided by Judith

2.What is the biggest lesson (or 2 or 3) that you’ve learned from being a mom?

I’d have to say the biggest lesson I’ve learned in my six short months of motherhood is that I fall way down on the list of important people.  You know those “I Am Second” videos, where celebrities share their journeys of faith, admitting to be second to God? I think I’ve learned that I am third or fourth or fifth. After God, Brantley, Crosby, (and sometimes even my students), I find my spot. I’ve discovered that selflessness is synonymous to being a wife and mother. It’s not always easy, and I fail every day in small ways.  Thank God for grace and that babies love their mommies even if they choose to take an extra-long shower with the Pack N’ Play outside the bathroom door.

family-in-hospital

Their hospital did a photoshoot after Crosby was born, and the pictures were the sweetest! Picture provided by Judith

3. Share one (or 2 or 3) funny or sweet stories that make it all worth it.

Crosby has recently learned how to reach out to people with both hands if he wants to be picked up. I’ll never forget the first time he reached out for me: eyes wide, and a grin on his face from ear to ear. His daddy was holding him at the time and, no offense to Daddy, but there’s just something about Mama! I had been at rehearsal for several hours after a long day of teaching. I was drained, but the moment my boy reached out for me, I felt complete. Wanted. Needed. Fully appreciated. Alive.

parks

Sweet, sweet family. Picture provided by Judith

4.What do you think the biggest challenge of being a mom is?

For me, the biggest challenge of being a mom is not necessarily the mom part—but the being everything else AND a mom, part. As a high school theatre director, I’m accustomed to wearing several hats. I am costume designer, set constructor, sound technician, stage manager, acting coach, choreographer, lighting girl— you name it. But for some reason, since having Crosby, I find it so hard to be everything else on top of being his mom. It’s hard to be a good wife- and a mom. A good teacher- and a mom. A good friend- and a mom. He is my priority. He comes first. If my grandmother calls, but Crosby is asleep in my arms, I don’t answer even though I’d love to chat with her. If an important email comes in from work, but Crosby needs a bath, I don’t reply immediately even though it’s expected. If my husband has plans to take me to dinner and book a babysitter, but Crosby is sick and needs his mom to hold him, I cancel all plans even though I’d love to spend more time with my husband. Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s healthy to have a life outside of your child, but right now my heart’s desire is to care for this perfect gift the Lord gave me. I feel honored to have been given that responsibility. But the hats are stacking up.

5. If you could write a “job description” of being a mom, what would it say?

Applicant must have the capacity to love deeply, fiercely, and without ceasing.

crosby-in-towel

A face that is easy to love! Picture provided by Judith

6. What’s something from your family growing up that you think affects your parenting or the way you raise your child(ren)?

My family was communicative. I was told every day, several times a day, that I was loved and that my parents were proud of me. When we got in fights, it was expected to ask for forgiveness before the matter was settled. At the dinner table, we were encouraged to talk about our day and name one thing we learned. We read aloud at night and always said our prayers together before bed. I love that aspect about my family. I hope to bring Crosby up in a communicative household where he feels safe to share his fears and his dreams.

crosby-in-carseat

I love that little nephew of mine! Picture provided by Judith

7. If you knew someone who just found out they were pregnant with their first baby, what would be your two pieces of advice for them? A practical tip and a piece of wisdom.

  • At first, they sleep a lot. Take advantage of this!!!
  • Take mental pictures! One day, Facebook and Instagram will be obsolete and you may have to rely on your own memory, heaven forbid. Stop and smell your baby’s head. Stare at them while they sleep. Be engaged. Be present. Soak in the small moments with your child. I have a hunch that they will be the most precious of all.

Wrap-Up

I love what Judith is said about being third, fourth, or fifth. She says that selflessness is synonymous with being a wife and mother. What a mouthful of truth! I love that she also admits that it is hard to do this. I, too, have felt the tension that comes from living a life completely on my own and for myself, coming second behind Jesus, and having to adjust my way of thinking when I got married and again when I had Henry.

Thanks for answering my questions, Jude! Your love for Crosby and being a mom shines, and I love that.

What was your favorite thing that Judith said? Do you have a question you want the Motherhood Monday moms to answer? Comment on this post or e-mail me at openhandsopenhome@gmail.com. Know a mom that needs some encouragement or that would like the Motherhood Monday posts? Send them a link to this post! The goal of these posts is to reach out, encourage, and empathize with moms all around.

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Motherhood Monday – Allison

Andddd Monday is here again, so I’m welcoming Allison to the blog today to tell some of her story as a mom!

Meet Allison

I met Allison this year, and our boys are only about 3 months apart in age!! She and her family are very sweet, and Sam and I have really enjoyed getting to know them better. Allison is the kind of person whose love and care just oozes out of her. The way she loves her kiddos is such a picture of the way that the Father loves his children.

The Interview

1. Explain your “motherhood journey.” Including your kid(s) and their age(s)

For the sake of my children and foster childrens’ privacy, I’ll use code names. Spunky is 3, Sweetheart is 1, and Baby Bear is 7 months. We had one biological child, and when Spunky was about 5 months old, my husband and I decided to start the process of being foster parents. We had always talked about adopting one day from someplace far away, but were not in a place to do that at the time. Regardless of where we were financially or otherwise, there are 43 million kids in the world that need parents. We may not have been in a place to do what we had initially talked about when dating (adoption), but we had space in our hearts and home and knew that doing nothing, when we could do something, was not acceptable. We’ve had several foster children come and go, and another biological baby as well, which has made motherhood a very interesting journey. It has been a roller coaster of a ride, but I wouldn’t change it at all. Being a mom is amazing.

baby-bear

There’s just something about a sleeping baby… Picture provided by Allison.

2. What is the biggest lesson (or 2 or 3) that you’ve learned from being a mom?

  • You have no control of anything. You can think you have control of things, and sometimes you may have an easy child that fools you into thinking you are doing great and have it all under control, but you don’t. Things change in an instant. A well planned event, doctor’s appointment, Target run, or whatever can turn disastrous or into the best thing ever in a second for a million different reasons. Maybe it’s a sickness, or a meltdown, or an unexpected phone call, or a panic attack from a child who saw something that triggered a bad memory from a broken past, or a wonderful pleasant surprise, but unexpected things and behaviors will happen by/about/from/to your children (this sentence is not grammatically correct, but I couldn’t figure out how to word it! Ha). Always be able to go with the flow and adapt to change. That should be your motherhood motto.
  • Be present and enjoy the moments. Childhood passes so quickly. I look at my oldest now and see a little girl where my little baby once was. Enjoy those late night feedings. Rock them a little longer. Schedules are great (I LOVE them), but snuggling is more important than that Baby Wise schedule. I think fostering has also played into this point, as we don’t ever know how long a child will be with us. Learning to treasure the time you have with your children, whether they are yours forever or not, is so important. Children need to feel cherished.

3. Share one (or 2 or 3) funny or sweet stories that make it all worth it.

Being a foster family, we have caseworkers come periodically to the house to give updates, give little inspections to our home, and check on the child we are caring for at the time. Obviously, this is a time when you want the case manager to observe that you are a real, happy, and put together family. During one of these visits, my daughter wanted to grab a toy from her room upstairs. I told her to go ahead and grab it while I continued getting updates from our caseworker. We spoke for several minutes, and then I began to wonder why my little one was taking so long. I excused myself for a moment to check on her and she was COVERED head to toe in shampoo. She was so proud of herself for getting “cleaned up and taking a shower” (No shower was actually taken. She just covered herself in the shampoo in the shower!). Thankfully our awesome case manager also found the humor in this. It was a simple mess that was very fixable with a bath and gave some good laughs, but I was so worried at the time that I would give off a bad impression from that incident! Parenting is humbling.

4. What do you think the biggest challenge of being a mom is?

I think there are many challenges, but the biggest one for you may depend on your personality. I think a lot of introverted moms struggle with having to be “on” all the time. Introverts need a lot of alone time to recharge, and having lots of noise, people holding onto you all the time, and never having that time alone can be a struggle if you do not make an intentional effort of having that time of recharging.

5. If you could write a “job description” of being a mom, what would it say?

Honestly, the job description is different depending on the child and age. Sometimes it’s just bottles, holding, and changing diapers. Other times, it’s running to doctor and therapy appointments multiple days a week, or taking kids to school. Sometimes it’s soothing meltdowns, getting up at night for bad dreams, playing in the yard, or working away from home so your kids can live a better life. Sometimes mothering is letting children making mistakes so they can learn themselves, and sometimes it’s having tough talks about the more difficult subjects in life. Sometimes mothering is joy, other times it’s grieving. It can be frustration, pride, and gratefulness. Sometimes it’s wondering if you handled something the best way, other times its feeling pride and joy when your child does the most selfless action she could think of as a preschooler for a sibling or friend at the playground.  The job involves teaching kids how to be the adults you want them to become. It’s guidance, sacrificing, and loving. Parenting is lovingly putting a child’s needs before your own.

6. What’s something from your family growing up that you think affects your parenting or the way you raise your child(ren)?

I loved how my dad included me in ministry and community work that he did, no matter what age I was. He never viewed helping others and being a dad as separate entities or parts of life, but more as something families do together. He didn’t shy away from hard topics and hard situations, but taught me how to look at people’s circumstances with an objective, but compassionate lens. From the time I was a preschooler, he took me to whatever project, ministry, medical clinic, etc. he was doing and really modeled that this should be a way of life, not something you do occasionally so you can pat yourself on the back and feel good about yourself. He thought helping others and doing missional work should be integrated into your life and should flow naturally out of who you are and what you do. I hope I can incorporate this same way of thinking and living into my children. I want them to think that loving others and helping people is just a way of life, not something that people do every once in a while when there is a food drive at school or a mission trip opportunity at church. I want to show them that life is a mission trip every day and that helping and loving people should flow naturally out of your life. I am not saying I do this on a daily basis, but that is one thing I would really like to carry on to my children.

spunky

Sweet “Spunky” Picture provided by Allison

7. If you knew someone who just found out they were pregnant with their first baby, what would be your two pieces of advice for them? A practical tip and a piece of wisdom.

  • If someone found out she was expecting their first child, I would tell her to not stress out! It’s all been done before. It may be a new experience for you, but women have been doing this for thousands of years. Pregnancy can be a um….different process. It can feel weird, beautiful, or whatever other adjective you want depending on your trimester and unique set of circumstances, but there is no need to stress.
  • Just prepare for basics (crib, clothes, diapers, love) and expect nothing to go as you plan. The latter is key to being a chill mom who can adjust to whatever life throws at her, from an emergency c-section, to illness, to tantrums, to any kind of crazy. Learn to adjust your sails however the wind blows at you.

8. Anything else you want to include?

Don’t get caught up in things that don’t really matter. Moms get caught up in debates all the time over truly trivial matters. Cloth vs. disposable diapers, breastfeeding and formula, tv vs. no electronics, homeschooling vs. public school, and a million more arguments are made, blogs topics are written over why one viewpoint is obviously superior, and people on the other side get hurt/insulted/angry. Don’t be like these people. Honestly, it’s so dumb. There are bigger battles in life that are actually moral issues and getting involved in this foolishness* is not guiding our kids to be loving, understanding, and sympathizing adults (which is one of the biggest points that needs to be made in parenthood). Life is short, and kids are only kids for a little while. Focus on your loving and caring for your kids and family and not the homemade baby food vs. beech nut baby food debate.

Also, do not embarrass or ever talk badly about your children on social media. Our children are growing up in an age where there every move is documented for the whole world to see. As an adult, I can say I am so glad this was not part of my life as a child. I would hate to look back and see what I think what would have been posted about me. Make your profile private, and don’t post the junk. Some people may say that’s not living “real”. Guess, what? You can post about your own mistakes, but your children may look back at the posts you wrote about them one day, and it’s not fair to have had a mom who broadcasted your mistakes, punishments, or embarrassing moments. Don’t post anything that might embarrass them one day. Consider using the timehop app to delete or make private things that they may not want the world to know about them in 10 years. I’ve found that is a great way to look back and keep myself in check. I’ll get off my soapbox now…

*(disclaimer: I am not talking about issues that impact, really impact, a child’s wellbeing and safety. There are many, many matters that are opinions and someone’s way of doing things for themselves or personal convictions, and this is what I am speaking about in this paragraph. I am not talking about safety issues or anything seriously relating to a child’s wellbeing. If one of these issues I mentioned really does affect your child’s wellbeing, you are not who I am speaking about in the above paragraph and kudos to you for doing what you need for your child!)

Wrap-Up

One of my favorite sentences in all of Allison’s answer is her simple definition of the word ‘parenting.’ She said, “Parenting is lovingly putting a child’s needs before your own.” Doesn’t this remind you of how the Father loves His children?? He sacrificed His one and only Son to reconcile the rest of His children to Himself. If that’s not lovingly putting His children’s needs before His own, I don’t know what is. I told y’all the love she has for her kiddos looks a lot like the way the Father loves us.

Thank you so much, Allison, for contributing your thoughts for the blog!! Your wisdom really shines through, and I learned a lot from what you said.

What was your favorite thing that Allison said? Do you have a question you want the Motherhood Monday moms to answer? Comment on this post or e-mail me at openhandsopenhome@gmail.com. Know a mom that needs some encouragement or someone who can relate to Allison’s story? Send them a link to this post! The goal of these posts is to reach out, encourage, and empathize with moms all around.

 

Motherhood Monday – Becca J.

I’m really excited to welcome Becca J. to the blog for today’s Motherhood Monday!

Meet Becca

Becca and I met while I was in college. Her husband, Blake (who officiated mine and Sam’s wedding actually), was one of the associate pastors of the college ministry I was involved in. I looked up to Becca from the time I met her on. She is wise, sweet, and gentle. By her life, you can tell that she loves the people around her well. Becca is the newest mom I asked in rounding up answers for this blog series (so far). As she says below, when she answered these questions, she had just had her Thomas 3 weeks and 2 days prior. Becca’s wisdom and trust in the Lord’s faithfulness is what stands out to me in her answers.

The Interview

1. Explain your “motherhood journey.” Including your kid(s) and their age(s)

I just had my first child, Thomas, exactly three weeks and two days ago. It’s still hard for me to believe I’m a mom! It all happened so quickly, and yet there were points in the journey that seemed to last forever. Blake and I decided to go off of birth control back in late January. Within the first month, we were pregnant. I remember feeling funny one week, so I picked up a pregnancy test on the way home from work. I took it as soon as I got home, and sure enough, I was pregnant. I stood there in disbelief for about five minutes, then in hysterical tears and laughter for about 30 minutes while walking my dog around our neighborhood. (I’m sure our neighbors thought I was crazy.) I tried to think of a creative way to tell Blake, but I couldn’t contain my excitement, so I just called him and told him while he was at work. The following nine months started out blissful and easy, but the last trimester was slow and exhausting. I was tired of moving so slowly and not being able to breathe. Plus, I had just taken a new teaching job, and preparing current and future lesson plans for maternity leave was quite an undertaking. I started maternity leave at 38 weeks, but day after day passed, and still no baby. I probably walked more in those two weeks than I had throughout the entire pregnancy trying to get that baby out. There were nights of Braxton Hicks contractions, but they would fade away eventually. Then Election Day rolled around, and I already had an appointment with my doctor for that morning. We went in, and (surprise!), I was already four centimeters. They sent us over to the hospital at about 10:30am, and Thomas arrived at 5:52pm. They placed him to my chest, and all my fears of being void of maternal instincts or not having a connection with my baby melted away. I cried and laughed, and cried and laughed some more, and fell in love with that little boy instantly. He was and is such a gift.

becca-holding-thomas-close

Such a sweet moment. Picture provided by Becca

2. What is the biggest lesson (or 2 or 3) that you’ve learned from being a mom?

I’ve learned about another layer of God’s love for me. It can be trying to have to be there constantly for this little human who is so needy and dependent, and to not always even know what he needs … and to do it with a patient and gentle spirit. But to remember that my Father has loved me with such inexhaustible patience and gentleness gives me the desire to do the same for Thomas. And it’s not just a past tense, God has loved me this way, type of love. God is continually ministering to my needy, dependent spirit even now, in the middle of the night when I’m incredibly tired and stressed and wondering how I’m going to keep this mothering thing up. That everlasting, continual, round-the-clock faithfulness is still extended to me, and so I can continually lovingly bear with this little one in the same way, even when he is fussy and demanding.

3. Share one (or 2 or 3) funny or sweet stories that make it all worth it.

Along with my answer to number 2, my answer to number 3 also involves God’s love for us. When Thomas was born and they handed him to me, I was just on cloud nine, not paying attention to much of anything besides his face. When they took him from me, I looked down, and there was poop everywhere. EVERYWHERE, people. I didn’t even realize that he had left that little surprise for me while I was holding him. Normally, I would have been grossed out, but I seriously did not care one bit. Blake and I just laughed and then cried some more. When it comes to your child, you don’t mind getting involved with their mess. Even though I’ve been told countless times that God loves me, there is always that lingering thought of His reluctance to get involved with a mess like me. While yes, our sin does sadden God, His grace abounds all the more.

thomas

That face, y’all. Picture provided by Becca

4.What do you think the biggest challenge of being a mom is?

I’m sure I’ll experience much greater challenges in the future, but so far, for me, the toughest challenge has simply been trusting that God will make a way for us as parents. He will give me the physical energy and stamina that I need. He will provide for all of our physical needs. He will help us to balance work and family. He will give me the words I need to raise this child in truth and love. Yes, we will make mistakes along the way, but there is no need to be anxious. When I submit everything to the Lord and remember His sovereignty, I can trust that He is good and will make a way.

5. If you could write a “job description” of being a mom, what would it say?

If I had to write a job description for a mom, I would say that the type of person required is someone who abides in Jesus. She doesn’t have to be perfect; she doesn’t have to know babies like the back of her hand; she doesn’t have to have it all figured out. When I go to Jesus, He provides the patience, He provides the wisdom, He provides the perseverance, and He provides the grace. When you look to Him, He equips you to be a mother. He is the ultimate source of all of those nurturing, motherly traits that we moms want to portray the most. So don’t look to yourself in order to be a good mother; and don’t beat yourself up when you make mistakes. You’re wasting your energy. Instead, go to Him. Don’t try to draw water from dried up lands; go straight to the source, Jesus Himself.

becca-holding-thomas-in-the-air

Doesn’t motherhood look good on her?? Picture provided by Becca

6. What’s something from your family growing up that you think affects your parenting or the way you raise your child(ren)?

Something that was a big part of my family during my childhood was a love for God’s Word. Our family devotions looked different during each phase of my childhood, but my parents always valued time spent together reading and discussing the Bible. Obviously, that’s hard to do with an almost four-week-old, but I’ve already started listening to the Bible aloud each morning, and as I’m working around the house, I’ll put on sermons and listen with Thomas as he hangs out in the Baby Bjorn. While I didn’t always fully absorb or appreciate what I was hearing at the time, I’m so thankful my parents instilled within me a respect for the Bible. The seeds that they planted have grown into beautiful fruits in time, and I hope the same happens for Thomas.

 7. If you knew someone who just found out they were pregnant with their first baby, what would be your two pieces of advice for them? A practical tip and a piece of wisdom.

One practical tip I would give to a first time mom is to choose things you really like, even if they are a little more expensive, when you’re making your registry. Who knows? Someone may be really generous and purchase it for you, or a group of people may go in together to give you that item. I was blown away by the generosity of our family and friends! If you don’t end up getting something that you need, you can just purchase that item at whatever price works for your budget later. A piece of wisdom I would give is to be confident in your story. Whether you choose to breastfeed or not, labor naturally or with the help of medicine, take all of the offered birthing classes or not, own it. Do what is wise for you and your baby. Also, keep an open mind. Labor often does not happen like mothers expect it to; whether you have to be induced, wind up getting an epidural, or labor for hours on end, each story is beautiful. Don’t expect to be completely in control; trust the Lord and take it one step at a time. Just like your baby is ultimately God’s, so are you. Trust Him.

Wrap-Up

It is so evident that Becca (and her husband, Blake) trust the Lord and continue to lean on Him and learn from Him through their parenthood journey. I also love Becca’s job description for a mom when she says, “She doesn’t have to be perfect; she doesn’t have to know babies like the back of her hand; she doesn’t have to have it all figured out.” I told y’all she is wise!! What encouraging words to read. It is such a gift to release ourselves from the standard of perfection when it comes to motherhood.

Thank you so much, Becca!! You encouraged me and challenged me in the best way. I’m infinitely grateful for the times you have spoken into my life, including this interview.

What was your favorite thing that Becca said? Do you have a question you want the Motherhood Monday moms to answer? Comment on this post or e-mail me at openhandsopenhome@gmail.com. Know a mom that needs some encouragement or someone who is expecting? Send them a link to this post! The goal of these posts is to reach out, encourage, and empathize with moms all around.

Motherhood Monday – Sara B.

It’s Monday, which means it is time to welcome a new mama to the blog! This week’s featured mom is Sara B.

Meet Sara

Sara and I went to high school together, and even then, she was hilarious and kind to everyone she came in contact with. This trait is something that people love about her. She is one of those people that radiates positivity and warmth. She makes you feel comfortable when you’re around her, even if she just met you 5 minutes ago. Sara’s motherhood story is beautiful, and I am thankful to know her and watch it play out, mostly on social media. Get the tissues ready because there will be some things that make you tear up, but don’t worry, Sara balances that out with some laugh-out-loud answers below.

The Interview

1. Explain your “motherhood journey.” Including your kid(s) and their age(s)

My motherhood journey started early when I found out at 18 I was pregnant. At 19, I gave birth to a 10 pound little boy named Garrison, who is now 2.5 years old. Though parenting alone is not ideal, I wouldn’t trade this life for anything.

garrison-close-up

Such a cutie! Picture provided by Sara.

2.What is the biggest lesson (or 2 or 3) that you’ve learned from being a mom?

My biggest lesson I learned is that God’s plan is always different and bigger for your child. I imagined baseball and mud-trucks, but Garrison is different. After finding out he is special needs my life and perceptions changed in many ways. Music is our life and the way we communicate joy and love since he is not able to speak. A lesson in this lesson is to step away and breathe; for every parent this is a need! If your child is a baby, put him/her in a Bumbo, turn a movie on, and step outside. If your little one is a toddler, I recommend a baby gate for their bedroom so you can lock that sucker and run! Trust me, the mess can wait- BREATHE!

3. Share one (or 2 or 3) funny or sweet stories that make it all worth it.

Our journey is hard, but we stick together. Just recently we saw a geneticist at Children’s Autism Clinic. I received sensitive and hard news of future possibilities and more trials. Garrison is not a fan of being touched by people other than me. I stepped outside, plopped in a chair on the back porch and instantly heard Garrison’s little feet coming my way. I looked at him with tears in my eyes, wondering what I could possibly do to give him an easier life, and he climbed up next to me. He hugged me as tight as he could. In that moment it clicked that no matter what motherhood brings you, your little ones always see you as their biggest hero.

4.What do you think the biggest challenge of being a mom is?

The biggest challenge for me is getting somewhere on time.

My thought process daily-
“Did I grab the wipes?”
“Where is his dinosaur?” (his best friend)
“Is that milk good or bad in that sippy cup?”
“Socks… socks… DO WE EVEN OWN SOCKS?!”
“Two left shoes… I’ll just say he dressed himself.”
“Really? 3 days of no pooping and now you want too?”
“….annnnd now it’s rush hour.”
— You know, it’s 2016- when the heck are they going to come out with a teleporting machine already?!

garrison-in-mess

Whoops! Picture provided by Sara.

5. If you could write a “job description” of being a mom, what would it say?

-Can hold a 35lb sack of potatoes (toddler) while making a pb&j and getting juice poured down shirt without crying.
-Sweeps and cleans 6x a day
-Everyday feels like Monday
-Sorry, daylight savings doesn’t include you 🙂
-Yearly Salary: -$15,000
-Cuddles and kisses: Priceless
6. What’s something from your family growing up that you think affects your parenting or the way you raise your child(ren)?

My dad always covered me in kisses before he left for long work trips and right before I would go to sleep- now even at 22 he still does. No matter the age, I will always show affection towards Garrison. It holds trust, care, and the heart of Jesus with his affection towards us as his children.

7. If you knew someone who just found out they were pregnant with their first baby, what would be your two pieces of advice for them? A practical tip and a piece of wisdom.

– Practical tip- sleep while you can.
-Piece of wisdom- SLEEP WHILE YOU CAN!

8. Anything else you want to include?

Don’t beat yourself up. If you’re a single mom or married, your children are your biggest fans- always! You’re beautiful, stretch marks and all (rock those bags under your eyes like they’re designer!). But most of all, believe in yourself and follow God’s footsteps. Lead your children to hope and a future- keep them in church, sing with them, read with them, and pray over them and Jesus will do the rest.

sara-and-garrison

Beautiful mama and beautiful boy! Picture provided by Sara.

Wrap-Up

One of my favorite things Sara said was, “Lead your children to hope and a future- keep them in church, sing with them, read with them, and pray over them and Jesus will do the rest.” Henry is only 5 months old, and I already find myself stressing out about this and that. When we have our identity in Jesus and we trust Him, we can rest knowing that He will take care of our children because He loves them infinitely more than we ever could.

Thank you so much, Sara!! I loved reading every single one of your answers. Your trust in the Lord is so encouraging.

What was your favorite thing that Sara said? Do you have a question you want the Motherhood Monday moms to answer? Comment on this post or e-mail me at openhandsopenhome@gmail.com. Know a mom that needs some encouragement or can relate to Sara’s story? Send them a link to this post! The goal of these posts is to reach out, encourage, and empathize with moms all around.

Motherhood Monday – Cindy H. (My Mom)

With a new year comes all sorts of new things, which for Open Hands, Open Home includes Motherhood Monday! Motherhood Monday will be a motherhood interview from different moms that I reach out to who agree to answer my questions and include some pictures. I have already gotten several in, and they are all such a treat. I know some really, really great mommas, and I am so excited to share their wisdom with y’all.

The first mom I am welcoming to the blog to participate is my own mom, Cindy! It only seemed right to have the woman who raised me be the very first to share her motherhood wisdom!

Meet Cindy

My mom is one of the most caring and loving people you will ever meet. She is the kind of person who would give you the shirt off her back, and I’m not just saying that because she is my mom. She would truly do this for anyone. She taught me what it looks like to love others selflessly, and she continues to be the one I text with motherhood questions about my own child. She is a kindergarten teacher, and she cares about her students like they are her own. She is the best CiCi to Henry, and it has been so much fun to see her as a grandmother. It was a lot of fun for me to read her answers to my questions, so I’m excited to share them today!

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I think this picture of us was taken in 2013. Picture provided by Mom

The Interview

1. Explain your “motherhood journey.” Including your kid(s) and their age(s)

Mark and I had been married for five years and we decided that we were ready to become parents for the first time. We had bought our first house and that was the final step in our plan before becoming parents.  I stopped taking birth control pills and like the doctor told us, we used other protection for a few months before trying. I was obsessed and read everything I could about how to get pregnant. This was before the Internet and Google where you could just type in what you wanted to know about and 100 links would come up. I bought books and followed some tips. Finally we bought an ovulation kit and it worked! I took a home pregnancy test in the first part of November 1993 and was thrilled to see that thin blue line. Mark and I called our parents and siblings and I remember going to work that same morning and telling my closest friends. I remember the morning sickness, the cravings (chocolate milk every night), and the sonogram when Mark was standing at my foot holding unto my cold toes and the nurse telling him, “Hide the credit cards Dad, everything is going to be pink! It’s a girl!” We were both crying and we were fascinated by the image on the screen. We had taken a VHS tape with us and they recorded the sonogram for us. When we walked out of the doctor’s office, Mark took out a pen and wrote “Erin Diane Hutter” on the tape because we had picked out a girl’s name and a boy’s name. Fast forward through getting the nursery ready, baby showers, and finding it hard to sleep during a very hot pregnancy. Erin Diane decided to grace us with her presence a week after her due date and after 32 long hours of labor on July 27, 1994. She had her daddy wrapped around her little finger from the beginning.  Our life was never the same and it was wonderful!

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Kinda looks like Henry sitting there in the face… Picture provided by Mom

About 2 years after Erin was born, we decided she needed a sibling. This time was totally different. It was a little difficult getting pregnant and I suffered a miscarriage. In the summer of 1996, I took another pregnancy test and it was positive and we were thrilled once more! From the very beginning of this pregnancy, everything was different.  There was no morning sickness and my cravings were not that same.  I was so tired but had a toddler to take care of so there were no naps after work or sleeping late on the weekends. I just knew we were going to have a boy and when we had the sonogram this time, I didn’t even have to wait for the nurse to tell me. I saw the evidence on the screen and said, “It’s a boy, right?” The nurse confirmed that I was right.  There were tears from Mark again and I could tell he was thinking ahead of what he would get to share with his son. This time when we walked out of the doctor’s office, Mark wrote, “William Wyatt Hutter” on the VHS tape.  While we waited on our Will to arrive, we got a big girl bed for Erin and tried to potty train her. We got another nursery ready (with a sports theme) and tried to prepare ourselves for parenthood that involved two children! I started having contractions on March 17, 1997 and we took our first trip to the hospital with hopes of seeing our baby boy for the first time.  After spending the night in the hospital, they sent me home because Will just wasn’t quite ready. We made our way back to the hospital early in the morning on March 20, 1997. I was induced and they broke my water. Will came quickly after that! Right after lunch, our bouncing baby boy came into the world. Erin got to come in and see her baby brother have his first bath. Will was born one day before his dad’s 29th birthday.  On that day, Mark and I were no longer “rookie” parents and we were in for the best days of our lives. Our family was complete!

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Will’s first birthday! Picture provided by Mom

Erin is now Erin Hutter Roberts and 22 years old. She and Sam (our handsome and hard working son in-law) were married on August 1, 2015.  She graduated from The University of Alabama Summa Cum Laude on May 7, 2016 with a collaborative degree in elementary and special education.   She and Sam moved to Atlanta on May 22, 2016 and made me a grandmother on August 2, 2016! Will is now 19 years old. He lives in Tuscaloosa, attends Shelton State Community College, and works at Publix as a produce clerk. He plans to transfer to The University of Alabama after this year and major in Telecommunications and Film.  He has been dating a precious girl name Hannah for almost two and half years.

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The FamJam. Picture provided by Mom

2.What is the biggest lesson (or 2 or 3) that you’ve learned from being a mom?

  • I learned what unconditional love feels like to give and to receive.
  • I learned that my children learn more from my actions than my words.
  • I learned that time spent together making memories is more precious than anything money can buy.
  • I am learning what it feels like to let go and that I am not very good at it.
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A rare snow day in Alabama! Picture provided by Mom

3. Share one (or 2 or 3) funny or sweet stories that make it all worth it.

When Erin was in kindergarten, there was a child in her class with special needs. Erin often spoke about him at home but never in a negative way and I knew who he was because I was the room mom for her teacher and spent some time in the classroom with the students.  At kindergarten graduation, the students sang songs and the teachers said nice things. Each child’s name was called out and they walked up to their teacher and took a certificate from her hand. My eyes filled with tears when Erin’s name was called because I couldn’t believe her first year of school was over and how all of a sudden she looked grown up walking up to get her certificate.   My teary eyes turned into full blown ugly cry when she started walking up to her teacher again because this time, it wasn’t her name called but the name of her friend with special needs and Erin was holding his hand and being his helper. The two of them walked up to their teacher and got his certificate and walked back to their seats together.  No one had told me ahead of time that this was going to happen and Erin acted like it was no big deal. I should have known then that her heart would lead her into special education.

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On one of our family vacations! Picture provided by Mom

When Erin and Will were teenagers, they went on a mission trip with our church to West Helena, Arkansas. They were camp counselors for children in a high poverty area that was close to the Mississippi River. The young counselors were supposed to be placed in small groups with one adult and that group would be in charge of a group of children for the week.  The counselors would take their group of children to each activity through out the day and supervise their comings and goings. Well, the group that Will was a part of either didn’t have an adult or the adult had to be somewhere else. Will was 15 years old and the time and the youngest counselor in his group. My sister and Erin told me that Will took charge of his group and that the other counselors in his group followed his lead. The children in Will’s group started calling him “coach”.  There was one particular boy in Will’s group that would seek attention in any way he could get it even if it was in a negative way and Will knew how to handle him with respect. Will loves hats and takes very good care of his hats. He is usually not without one. Well, he used his beloved hats as a way to make a connection with this boy. I was told a story of how this child would not come out from under a picnic table one day and how Will got under that table with him. When they came out from under the table together, the little boy was wearing Will’s hat.  I like to think that this child felt how important Will thought he was by sharing his hat with him.  I regret that I wasn’t there to see this in person. I was so very proud of Will and how he treated that child and earned that child’s trust.

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Will was a model baby…for real. He was in a commercial. Picture provided by Mom

Our family memories are full of funny and sweet times that show every second of motherhood has been worth it. I really could write for days about things that made me cry from laughter or cry from pride.  Like, the time I taught Will where the hands on my watch would be when it was time for church to be over. He used to play with my watch in church. One Sunday, we had a guest preacher and he got a little long winded.  When the hands on my watch showed 11:00, he was not finished with his sermon but that didn’t stop Will from announcing to the congregation and the guest preacher that is was, “Time to go!”  Or, the time when Erin would not stop saying “Momma” before she would tell me something in the car.  In the time it took to drive from church to the grocery store she had said “Momma” about 25 times.  “Momma, we talked about Noah in Sunday School.” “Momma, I love this song!” “Momma, do you like this song?” “Momma, that car is pretty.” Finally, I said, “Erin, you can tell me whatever you want but please stop saying momma before you say it.”  The next thing I hear from her was, “Hey Cindy,….”

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This family picture was taken in 2012 before I went to college. Picture provided by Mom

4.What do you think the biggest challenge of being a mom is?

Each stage in motherhood has challenges. Sleep deprivation, juggling all things that demanded my time, and trying to separate the mommy me and the wife me are all challenges that I remember facing as my children were growing up.  As Erin and Will grew into young teenagers, one of the biggest challenges for me was stepping back and letting them handle their own problems. There were times when I wanted to say or do something in order to fight a battle for them and it was extremely difficult not to do so. With all that being said, I know without a shadow of a doubt that the biggest challenge for me by far in my entire journey of motherhood is not having my children at home with me anymore. I never knew how much I would miss the every day little things that we did together.  Singing in the car with Erin or dancing in the kitchen with Will are some of my most fond memories of them growing up. For years, we spent most of our evenings coming and going from one sporting event or another. Someone always had practice, a game, a match, a lesson, or a school function. Our weekends were filled with traveling to some kind of tournament or just spending time with one another going to the movies or visiting friends. It felt like all of the busy times came to an end all at once and suddenly no one needed to be taken somewhere or cheered for from a set of bleachers. To say I miss seeing and being with my children daily would be a gross understatement. Sometimes I miss them so much it hurts. But, it makes the times we do get to spend together even more special.

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Summer 2015, right before I married Sam. Picture provided by Mom

5. If you could write a “job description” of being a mom, what would it say?

Title: Mom (Mommy, Momma, Mother)

Term of Contract: For the rest of your life!

Salary: Are you kidding? You will owe other people money before it is all over with.

Working Hours: 24/7/365, holidays, weekends

Qualities and Skills Required: must be able to multi-task at all times, prepare meals that everyone will love one day and hate the next, act as a taxi service and ATM, nursing and doctoring abilities, resourceful, knowledgeable in all household organization and cleaning procedures, ability to find long lost items of all sorts, masterful at scheduling any and all social events, afterschool activities, family gatherings, and medical appointments, but most of all you must posses the biggest heart possible because it will be filled more than you can imagine.

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Had to have that Alabama football gear! Picture provided by Mom

6. What’s something from your family growing up that you think affects your parenting or the way you raise your child(ren)?

My mother was and still is the most hard working and resourceful woman I have ever known. All throughout my life, I watched her make my clothes, recover furniture, cook big meals from scratch, strip and paint old wooden furniture and make it look beautiful, and basically use what we already owned to make our home warm and comfortable. She did everything herself. She worked as a cashier at a drug store 8 or 9 hours a day and still ran our household practically by herself. I hope that I use what I learned from her actions while raising my children. I have worked outside the home for most of their lives. I have tried to teach them how to do things for themselves and not to be afraid to try something new.

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The teenage years… Picture provided by Mom

7. If you knew someone who just found out they were pregnant with their first baby, what would be your two pieces of advice for them? A practical tip and a piece of wisdom.

Practical tip – Try to know what to expect in the coming phases of development of your baby/child. This is the best way to be prepared.

Pieces of wisdom – Make memories! Do not forget to live in the moment, soak in the traditions you establish, and spend some quiet time everyday with your children. Read to them, sing with them, play with them, and teach them the golden rule!

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I’m so glad my parents decided I needed a sibling. Picture provided by Mom

Wrap-Up

I love my mom’s heart and the way she loves us and others, and I think you can really see that in her answers. When she says that she learned what unconditional love feels like to give, she isn’t kidding. She truly loves us more than words could ever say. Another one of the things I loved that my mom said, other than the funny and sweet stories from my childhood, is about memories. My parents did a great job of giving us experiences and memories to last us a lifetime and that I want to create with my kids. My mom took us to the library, to the zoo, to the beach, and to my Mamaw’s house to go to the creek with her! I have so many fun memories from my childhood because my parents made sure that we did things together.

Thank you for answering my questions, Mom!! I loved reading your answers and laughing at the funny stories I have heard, told, and remembered many times before. Your love for your family is so obvious!! I love you!

What was your favorite thing that my mom said? Do you have a question you want the Motherhood Monday moms to answer? Comment on this post or e-mail me at openhandsopenhome@gmail.com. Know a mom that needs some encouragement or can relate to my mom’s story? Send them a link to this post! The goal of these posts is to reach out, encourage, and empathize with moms all around.