To The Mommas: We Love You

Through thick and thin, our mothers are the ones that reassure us when we hold any doubt, keep us safe and protect us when we feel threatened or scared, discipline us when we have done wrong, reward us when we have done right and love us unconditionally from the moment that we are born. Whether it's a scraped knee when we trip over our shoelaces, consoling us when we have been made fun of at school, supporting us through college and our continued education, listening to us vent for an hour when we feel like the world is crumbling at our feet, walking us down the aisle or being the 'no problem, be there in an hour' babysitter for our little ones so that we can enjoy the freedom of having our alone time - even just to run a few errands in peace - she is there. Someday, I will understand how meaningful the latter is, but get back to me on that in several years.

We gave her grief during those teenage years when we were too selfish to see that she was just trying to look out for our best interests, however she was always there. As we mature and become wiser beyond our years, we understand the importance of our mothers in our lives and how much of a better person we are because of them. With the upcoming weekend in honor of all the mommas out there, I did a little digging with a few of those mommas to see what aspects of motherhood they have valued so far and how they still manage to find time for themselves (it's far and few from what I have learned). I appreciate their willingness to open their hearts and be completely honest, sharing a piece of them that they may not typically feel comfortable revealing or opening up about. I certainly enjoyed reading their stories as well as having the opportunity to get a glimpse into their world as new mothers / a very experienced mother of three daughters (raging hormones times three - eek!). My hope is that you do, too. 

To the mommas...we love you, dearly. 

 

Stephanie Mize

Mother of four: Kensington, Maryalice, Patrick, and Liam

What has been the most rewarding aspect of motherhood so far?

Knowing that you have an unconditional bond of love. We have open discussions in our home that adults, like children, make mistakes however we continue to love each other unconditionally and forgive. Daily. 

What factors came into play with you and your husband deciding to bring Liam into your family? 

John and I started looking into fostering/adoption ten years ago, when we were first married. We knew we could have children biologically but fostering was a feeling we couldn't shake. After having our first child and discovering she had special needs, we were humbled. Neither one of us had experienced something so painful and unnerving. That experience, 8 years ago, softened our hearts and continued to lead us to helping children in need. Liam was recently placed with us and we are blessed to begin this journey with him!

As your children are growing up, what have they taught you?

 As our four children begin to grow older, they have taught us more than they will ever know. The first thing that comes to mind is love, a fierce love. This love is indescribable and always growing. Kensington has taught us tolerance and to always have faith. Maryalice has taught me patience and to keep a sense of humor when raising kids. Patrick has given me gentle, mother-son love that I have never experienced. Liam is teaching me to be fervent in prayer and that hope is real, alive and possible. 

How do you manage to find time to take care of yourself? What is your "me" time?

My chosen "me" time is my daily exercise. Some days this doesn't happen but I make a daily effort for it to happen. Exercising is my release and I absolutely look forward to it each morning. I feel like making "me" time allows me to be a much better and nicer mom, wife and person. :)

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Aubrey Jewell

Mother of one: Braden

What has been the most rewarding aspect of motherhood so far?

This is actually a difficult question. There's really no one thing that is the most rewarding. There's something about being a mom that you don't get until you experience motherhood. For example, people always say "everything changes when you have a baby". I mean der! Of course it does, your life does a complete 180. You're awake when you used to be asleep, you're soothing a crying baby, you're feeding them every 2-3 hours when they are newborns (and feeding can take up to an hour, so if you're lucky you get 1hr of sleep before you need to be up to do it again). You're actually responsible for another human being. That errand you wanted to go run real quick ain't so quick (or even possible at first) any more. It's painful to sit down for the first week or so. Things that you think "come naturally" may not feel so natural. It's completely scary and stressful. The reason that women continue to do this (and sometimes have multiple kids) are for the reasons you can't see, and sometimes can't even explain regarding their feelings towards their child. I love my husband to death. My family is so important to me. But when it comes to Braden, there are no possible boundaries. I'm a sleeper, if I could sleep 12 hours a day, I think I would. But I didn't even need an alarm clock to wake me up every couple of hours when he was an infant. I hear him make little peeps throughout the night without the monitor. I love him with all my being. I think of the challenges that some people have trying to get pregnant and I am so grateful that I have a beautiful, healthy, rambunctious boy. Really, the greatest reward is to have that little angel in my life.

How has your outlook on motherhood changed since Braden came along?

I used to work with babies, I have a Master's degree in elementary and special education, so I thought I was all set when I found out I was pregnant. Ummm wrong. When I worked with babies, my shift was up after 8 hours. Being a mom is 24/7, and sometimes that 24 is far more literal than one would think. I had no idea the role of "mom" was such a demanding one. There's really no way to prepare for it. But refer to number 1 to see why all the hard work (and often little recognition) is completely worth it. Although now whenever I see a mother traveling with a baby I go out of my way to help her with something. Holding the door for her, making funny faces at a fussy child, whatever I can do to make her time easier because now I get it.

How do you manage to find time to take care of yourself? What is your "me" time?

My "me time" is working out. I love training and competing in triathlons, and I love doing yoga. I knew my hubs would be away for 6 months shortly after Braden was born so I found a gym with a little daycare and introduced myself to everyone so that when the time came I would be comfortable bringing Braden there. And I do that just about every day. Eric is really good about coming home and doing daddy stuff so I can do something I want to do. On the weekends we tag team or do things all together. We've worked out a pretty rockin' system and that is essential.

What's the best piece of advice that your mother gave you?

My mom told me that all you need to do as a parent is love your child and give them your attention. I think she's so right on that. When they know you love them, you can have your bad days and it doesn't matter so much, because they know how you really feel. The best way to show them is to make time for them, be silly, get on the ground and play with your kids. Who cares if you look a fool, chances are you're making your child laugh, and come on, is there any better sound?

What advice would you give to other new moms / moms-to-be?

Don't sweat it! Seriously. You lost your temper? Everyone does, time to move on. Your kid fell down and cut his knee? No big deal, they all do that. Every "mistake" is a way to learn and grow as a parent. But keep a close eye on those little guys, because they get into mischief fast!

Shannon Wiltshire

Mother of two: Avery and Easton

What has been the most rewarding aspect of motherhood so far?

Seeing my children grow and learn. Everyday is a new adventure. There's an unconditional love that you receive from your kids and that never changes. At this age, they are so young and so innocent and all they want is to be loved. 

How has your outlook on motherhood  changed since Easton & Avery came along?     

A LOT! You think you are ready but you are not until you actually become a parent. If I would've known how hard it is to be a stay at mom, I would've helped out a lot more when it came to my friends who had children and I did not. It is a lot of work. I thought I had a ton of patience but then I had kids and that patience went out the window. But that could also equate to the fact that I have 2 toddlers. 

What's your most cherished memory of Easton & Avery so far? Any cute / funny stories that you love telling?

I know that I can comfort them right now. I might not be able to give them what they want when they are older but right now, I can comfort and console them just by holding them and just being there. 

There are always stories. Avery has a way of repeating comments back to us but she says the same thing that we say. For example, "Avery do you want momma to carry you?" Avery's response, "Momma carry you" instead of "carry me." I went to Avery's school the other day to have lunch and it was eye opening because you forget sometimes how much they grow up right before your eyes. I was very touched. I will always have pictures of her carrying Mr Giraffe around the house. She is our sour patch child. Sometimes sour and sometimes sweet. 

Easton is completely different than Avery. Easton loves to explore. He is into everything. We call him our little purple minion because he makes growling noises and eats everything he can get his hands on. He is just a ball of energy. He loves to dance to the "Happy" song. Every time he hears the song, he will stop what he's doing and walk over to where the music is being played, clap his hands and bend his legs. It's pretty stinking cute. 

How do you manage to find time to take care of yourself? What is your "me" time?

You never realize how selfish your life was until you have children. Going to the store, going to the beach, going to the movies, going to dinner, going to the bathroom..alone…does not exist anymore! Thankfully I have an amazing husband that understands that I need time to myself. My "me" time is every Saturday morning at 8:30am. I am in my hot yoga class for an hour and 15 minutes. Then I leave there and grab my iced coffee. Heaven! I do get more time to myself but Saturday mornings keep me sane. I enjoy my alone time walking the aisles through Target! Not to mention a mani/pedi thrown in there every so often. 

What's the best piece of advice that your mother gave you?

Always treat others how you want to be treated. Sometimes just listen to people talk. You don't always need to give advice. Sometimes people just need to vent so sit back and just listen. 

Anne Walton

Mother of three: Shannon, Kristin, and Allison

What has been the most rewarding aspect of motherhood?

In their early years, the way my girls have shown their love for me over the years with drawings/pictures, handmade cards and gifts.  In the later years it’s the poems, notes, hand written letters or cards that have touched my heart and brought me to tears.  I have saved so many of them and have looked at them periodically over the years.

What have you seen to be the most important phase of your daughters’ lives?

Their young adult years to current. Of course when they were growing up, I was very proud of their accomplishments in school as well as their extracurricular activities. But seeing how they use what I taught them growing up in their everyday lives now is very rewarding for me. Establishing themselves in the careers that they have chosen and facing the everyday challenges is inspiring. Now that Shannon (my oldest daughter) has children and is raising them with many of the methods and values that she learned growing up is a truly wonderful compliment and means a lot to me.

What pieces of yourself or your mother have you seen in your daughters as they’ve grown?

I have noticed over the years little pieces of myself in each of my daughters. It could be a mannerism that I have, coming up with the same solution to a problem, similar tastes in clothing, food or a career path. As far as appearances I have always said that our oldest daughter resembles her dad, our middle daughter is a combination of myself and her dad and our youngest daughter resembles me. In recognizing traits of my mom, every now and then they will say or do something and I will make the comment - "That's what Granny would have said or done."

What’s the best piece of advice that your mother gave to you?

Treat others with respect and you will be treated the same. Do for others less fortunate than you are. Using good manners will get you far in life (saying please, thank you, yes ma'am, no sir, etc.).

What have your daughters taught you?

It’s not too late to change aspects of your lifestyle and to continue to try new things (organic foods, tofu, etc.). My daughters are very encouraging and are my biggest cheerleaders!!!

 

To our mommas near and far, alive or no longer with us, thank you for making this world a better place. It is because of you that we are who we are today and are grateful for you being with us every single step of the way. Happy Mother's Day, we love you!