Motherhood Monday – Ashley C.

Happy Monday, friend! It’s time for another mom to take the plunge and answer some of my motherhood questions. This week’s mom is Ashley C.

Meet Ashley

Ashley is one of my husband, Sam’s, cousins. While we don’t get to see each other all that often, it is always a treat when we do. Ashley is so sweet and extremely thoughtful. The love she has for her little one, Isaac, is so evident. As you’ll read below about Ashley’s story, we have loved seeing the Lord’s hand in their family. Sam and I have prayed for them as they have been faithful in seeing the Lord fulfill their passion and desire. I love seeing stories of the Lord’s faithfulness in those around me, and Ashley’s story is definitely one of those stories.

The Interview

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

Not long after Micah and I were married we started trying to have a family. Unfortunately we soon discovered that this would not come easy to us. We spent the next 7-8 years working with fertility specialists, trying on our own, and just taking breaks to enjoy our marriage. In 2014 after lots of prayer we felt that God was telling us our family would be built through adoption. I immediately told God, “just not foster care!”  I just couldn’t imagine that for us. The thought of loving a child and then possibly losing them was just too much for me to bear. BUT God had other plans. We had all of our paper work filled out and ready to submit to an adoption agency and we just felt something was off. God was putting foster care everywhere in our paths. We had a precious boy in our Awana class at church that was in foster care, some friends from church has just adopted their two children through the foster system, and another friend from church actually worked at our local DHR as a social worker for foster children. We just couldn’t get away from it. So after more prayer we went into a meeting with our friend from church at DHR and left knowing without a doubt that this is what we were supposed to do. From there we applied to be foster/adoptive parents, took the required classes, readied our home and had numerous home studies and back ground checks. Then we waited. We were approved and liscensed as foster parents in November 2014. We received the call that forever changed our lives on January 29th, 2015. It’s a BOY!! I will never forget that phone call or the first time we met our precious boy. He was 6 months old and absolutely perfect. He is now 2 1/2. We have spent the past two years having home visits, birth parent visits, and court dates. Its been a roller coaster of emotions but so worth it. He brings us so much joy and we know without a doubt he was meant to be our son. We got to officially make him ours December 14th, 2016. We are so thankful for the seasons of unknowns and waiting. It has tested our faith and made us stronger. God never once left us, and we are forever changed by our journey.

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Y’all. This one just makes me tear up. Bless the Lord! Picture provided by Ashley

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

Being Isaac’s mommy is the most rewarding, amazing thing I have ever had the honor of doing, but it can be the toughest too. As a mom I have awesome days where I feel like I have this mom thing figured out and I’m rocking it. Then there are the days I cry after I put him to bed because I feel like I am messing it all up. Luckily our littles love us no matter what. I have learned to embrace the good and the bad days because even in the midst of the really tough days I can always find joy. It’s in his smile, hugs, his little voice saying “I love you mommy!”

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Little man! Picture provided by Ashley

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

Every time I pick Isaac up from somewhere he has been without me (school, church, family), he always greets me with an excited, “Hi Mommy!!” and a hug around the neck. Time always pauses for just a moment when we look at each other, hug, and say “I love you.”

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

It’s the mom guilt. As a working mom, I miss out on a lot, and that’s really hard. I want to be there for everything, but that just hasn’t been apart of God’s plan for our lives right now. But we are so blessed with the daycare/school he attends. He loves his teacher and his friends, and he has learned SO much. He amazes me everday with how smart he is.

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Big boy! Picture provided by Ashley

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

  • Story teller
  • Chef
  • Boo-boo kisser
  • Play mate
  • Discipliner
  • Tickle monster.
  • Best Job Ever.

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

I don’t have one big thing that stands out. It’s lots of little things weaved throughout that I notice as we are loving and teaching our little guy. Something I will say or do that hits me out of nowhere my dad or mom did that or said that as I was growing up. The one thing I HOPE to pass on/instill in Isaac that my parents did in me is how to love others. We were brought up to love everyone regardless of race, social standing, differences, ect. I am so thankful to them for this.
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I could eat him up. Picture provided by Ashley

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 every day. Don’t be so hard on yourself. The house, laundry, dirty dishes truly will be still be there the next day. Enjoy your baby!

When you find a bottle/sippy cup under the couch or seat in the car ( and you will) just toss it. Its not worth it. I promise.

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The sweetest little family. Picture provided by Ashley

Wrap-Up

As I was reading over Ashley’s answers, her trust in the Lord’s plan is so encouraging! Like she said in the answer to her motherhood journey, her faith has been tested, but how beautiful it is to see her on the other side! Our Heavenly Father has a plan for each and every one of us, and that includes our family, and we can TRUST Him in that. Ashley’s story just reminds me of how faithful He is, and I love it!

Thank you so much, Ashley!! We have loved watching your family’s story play out so far, and your trust in the Lord makes it even more beautiful to see.

What was your favorite thing that Ashley 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 Ashley’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.

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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.

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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.

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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.