This Monday’s MM Mama is Erika Z! I’m excited to share her story and words of wisdom today.
Erika is the mom of 2 boys and a girl, like she will tell you. I got to know her because one of her sons had my mom as his teacher several years ago. Since then, we have kept up on Facebook and through other events in my hometown. The think about Erika is that she is supermom, seriously. She does so much for not only her own kids, but the community that she lives in! She has an incredible servant heart and lots of love to give to the people around her.
1. Explain your “motherhood journey.” Including your kid(s) and their age(s)
My husband (Michael) and I had been married for almost three years when we decided to have a child (we had always talked about having three children). Our family around us was also pregnant, and we thought it would be good to have cousins around the same age. In May of 2003, I ended up needing an emergency C-section at 32 weeks due to pre-eclampsia and Noah (now 13 YO) spent the first three weeks of his life in the Shelby BMC NICU. Postpartum was the most difficult time for me as I was a new mom. This was our first child, and he entered the world not how I had planned or imagined. Flash forward to 2005, we were expecting Sam (now 11 YO) and Noah was being evaluated for delayed speech and developmental delays with Early Intervention. Normally, premies show some signs of delay but Noah never seemed to “grow out of them”. I vividly remembered being big and pregnant with Sam and sitting through a speech evaluation with Noah and just praying for Noah to answer the speech therapists questions. Noah’s qualification for early intervention with developmental delays came prior to Sam’s birth. Sam (who is now 11 years old) was my only typical birth. At the time, I was working at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama and I had just gotten in to work. I was 37 weeks along and my water broke (luckily I made it to the ladies room). I was not having any contractions and had no fear of delivering quickly so I logged off my computer and went to my car. I remember calling my OB/GYN and then stopping off at the house to pick up my “go bag”. My MD was going to let me try a VBAC, and I had hoped to be able to do so but once at the hospital, I was only dilated 2CM and never progressed past there. So around dinner time, I asked for a C-section and sweet Sam came home with us a few days later. Life with two boys was fun and chaotic, and with Noah’s added “official” autism diagnosis that followed, we held off on having the 3rd child we had always wanted. Later on, we came to a mutual decision that if we had not had any other children because of autism, we would have missed out on the miracle of Sam. Fast forward to October 2009, I was working as a RN at Shelby BMC Hospital and after having a typical birth, there was no reason to worry about our third baby, Addi Rose (now 7 YO). I was 32 weeks and started having severe pain (thought to be gall bladder pain) only to be admitted to the hospital and the next day, I had a seizure (preeclamplsia/eclampisa/hypertensive crisis). We had not even come up with a name for our sweet girl at that time. Addi Rose stayed in the NICU for 3 weeks just like Noah. This time, I knew what to expect and being an RN I felt more relaxed and prepared. Life with three feels complete – it is chaotic, silly, fun and a blessing for sure!
2.What is the biggest lesson (or 2 or 3) that you’ve learned from being a mom?
- Don’t worry about the critics (there will be plenty) – you have to do what is right for YOUR child/family and no one else.
- The saying about “blinking and then your children are off to college” is so true. I wish I had more time at home with my boys, but I appreciate the time I got to work a flexible job (RN) and be home with my girl. They really do grow right in front of your eyes, so soak up every minute of their lives (good and not so good).
- Don’t beat yourself up when you mess up – it’s a lesson learned, move on!
3. Share one (or 2 or 3) funny or sweet stories that make it all worth it.
- The first time Noah used appropriate language/phrases to express certain emotions instead of his autism behaviors. Also, the times he used inappropriate words in the right context and when discussing it, he just smiles knowing he was wrong but trying to win me over with his smiles and giggles.
- Seeing Sam become a Peer Helper to help struggling and special needs students.
- When Sam and I can “nerd out” and laugh our heads off at the silliest things
- Seeing Addi Rose share my love of arts (and crafts) and being able to share that joy with her.
- When Addi Rose volunteered to help out our religious education director at church instead of just playing in the nursery.
4.What do you think the biggest challenge of being a mom is?
The biggest challenge is trying to form the best balance between doing too much or too little for your child/children and the balance between being a wife/mother/woman.
5. If you could write a “job description” of being a mom, what would it say?
Seeking individual with excellent project management skills. Skills include (but not limited to): Orienting, training, and coaching family members on a minute to minute basis. Candidate must be able to continuously monitor expenses and implement cost-saving actions with little to no warning. Maintains household supplies inventory, anticipating needed supplies. Establishes a compassionate environment by providing emotional, psychological, and spiritual support to family members. Maintains professional and technical knowledge daily. Candidate must be able to establish personal networks of support (other moms) and participate in professional societies (such as a MOMS group at church). Maintains a cooperative relationship among family members by communicating information. Must be able to respond to requests repeatedly with patience. Must be able to participate in family problem-solving methods (lead by adults or children).
6. What’s something from your family growing up that you think affects your parenting or the way you raise your child(ren)?
My mom taught us the importance of volunteering and helping others. I was a teen-age volunteer back in high school and it taught me the importance of giving and always being grateful for what I have. That is something very important to me that I want my children to know that we are grateful for the blessings we have and that gratitude can be shown by giving back.
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.
Enjoy the crazy, laugh a lot, and you are not perfect but you will always be perfect in your child’s eyes!
8. Anything else you want to include?
I love my job being a mom and would not trade it for the world!
I loved reading Erika’s answers, and I love watching her juggle her crew from afar mostly. One of my favorite things that she said was her job description of a mom. Her answer is pretty all-encompassing and reminds that even though moms have countless things to do, they are all to be done in love for the ones around us. She also talks about how important it is to give back to your community and show how grateful you are, and Erika and her family truly live that out. It is such an honor to be a small part of their lives!
Thank you so much, Erika!! The way you love your family and your community shine, and I am so thankful to get to see your story play out.
What was your favorite thing that Erika said? Do you have a question you want the Motherhood Monday moms to answer? Comment on this post or e-mail me at email@example.com. Know a mom that needs some encouragement or can relate toErika’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.