Let’s face it. It’s hard being a mom in today’s day in age. Not to diminish previous generations, at all, but this whole Pinterest social media blasted day and age of mothering can be rough. There are a lot of stereotypes that come into play. How a mom should look. Act. Dress. Going even beyond, and that much more damaging, is how a mom should mother. Not only do we come in all shapes and sizes, but we also all tend to our little(s) differently. Not only is that OK, but it should be celebrated!
With that being said, I could not be more excited to introduce my new series on A Life From Scratch: Moms in Focus. I’ve partnered up with the oh so talented photographer, Michele Ryan of Silver Branch Photography, to bring a you a series that focuses on the beauty of mothering in all different shapes and styles. All of these moms have felt judged in one way or another, and this series has been created to shed light on how that can make a mom feel. Let’s even the playing field a bit, shall we? Deep down at the core, we moms are all really just trying to do our best.
Without further ado, I introduce to you another wonderful Mom in Focus: Meet Beth!
Hi! Tell us a little bit about yourself and three words that describe you as a mom.
I am a working mother to three beautiful (yet “spirited”) children (haha!): Nelson (10), Leila (8), and Lincoln (6). I have worked as a school psychologist for the last 12 years, and just last year took a job closer to home with one day off a week to help manage the craziness that comes as my kids get older and more involved in activities. Three words I would use to describe myself as a mom are devoted, frazzled, and work-in-progress. Although I am not a picture perfect has-it-all-together mom, I am always working my hardest and reflecting on things that did not work well in order to raise happy, healthy, and kind human beings.
And now tell us about your darling kid(s).
Nelson is a bright, inquisitive, and entertaining 10 year old who loves everything about technology and robotics. He recently has become more interested in sports, and has enjoyed playing baseball and basketball for the last two years. While his personality can be “extreme” and he does not always get along with his siblings, he has a kind heart and inquisitive mind. He has such an inspiring love for learning!
Leila is a nurturing, creative, and social 8 year old with a kind heart. She loves everything about arts and crafts, and is a heck of a softball and basketball player. While I used to love dressing her in ruffles and lace, she is beginning to become more independent, and told me she thinks she is more of a “sporty girl.” She is definitely the peacekeeper in the family, takes care of both of her brothers, and loves to help me with everything in our home. She is much older than her years!
Lincoln is an energetic, silly, and mischievous 6 year old. He had some concerns with sensory regulation as a baby and young child, and received therapies to support him, so we are working on finding ways to keep him calm and well-adjusted as he matures and grows. Lincoln is a total lover of all animals and family members, and I am so thankful that he will still love on and cuddle his mama. He says he will be my baby forever!
How do you feel your style of mothering is like others?
I would say my mothering is like others in that I try to let all of my decisions be guided by my love for my children. When we become moms, almost immediately our focus switches from ourselves to our children. While I may not always be perfect, I try first and foremost to make sure their needs are met.
Since we’re focusing on judgment that moms experience, what have you felt judged for?
I met my husband in college. I was a ballet dancer and he was a football player. When I told my friends and family about him, they found the match adorable! When they saw a picture of him, I could tell their expressions turned to one of “polite shock” when they discovered he was African American. His family’s reaction was the same, although sometimes more outspoken (haha!). “Concerned” (and even disapproving) family members and co-workers would say things like, “Won’t it be hard?” “It might create stress in the relationship before you even get started. Relationships are hard enough on their own!” and the ever popular, “What about when you have children??” We were in love and devoted to each other, and felt confident that we would be able to handle (and teach our future children to handle) any adversity and ignorance that may come our way.
How did that make you feel? What was your response to any uncomfortable situations or discussions you’ve been in because of someone judging you (if there have been any)?
While I was hurt and saddened by disapproving family members (and humanity, at times) for continuing to hold such “old school” views about race, I also used our relationship as an opportunity to educate. I knew some of the questions we received were genuinely that: questions out of curiosity or lack of experience. Many people in the small town where we attended college had little experience with interracial couples. My husband was raised in a primarily African American area of Detroit, and he was the first in his family to date outside of his race. My dad was raised with “old school” views, and thought our children would suffer. However, overall, while we still continue to get comments and questions from curious co-workers, friends, and even strangers, our experience has been positive overall, and a great experience to educate and show people a positive example of a diverse family. Our children have been spoiled and “loved on” by family members, teachers, coaches, friends, and neighbors, and have just recently begun asking questions about race and diversity. While we knew our interracial family would be a topic of discussion at times, we also knew that it would be worth answering some questions in order to not have to give up on the love we had for each other and our children .
What would you like to tell the world about moms and why it’s important not to judge our choices?
In my work as a school psychologist, I work with a lot of families that are struggling greatly. I see kids being raised in abusive homes, in poverty, and those not having their even most basic needs met. Even after seeing hundreds of situations and family structures that completely break my heart, I still continue to believe that every mother is doing the best she can to love her children with the resources she has available to her. Some moms do not have access to the finances, education, mental health services, or basics that they need to provide a healthy happy home for their children. Many mothers are stuck in a cycle of abusive relationships, struggles with mental health concerns, drug addictions, and poverty cycles that prevent them from providing for their children. When I meet with these mothers, the one thing I always see underneath the struggle is the love for their children. While the mom sitting across the table from me at her child’s school meeting may be barely coherent due to drugs in her system, with missing teeth due to drug use and poor medical care, in pajama bottoms with slippers on her feet, I see the tears well up in her eyes as she tries to describe her concerns for her child. As mothers, we do not always know each other’s stories. We do not always know the abuse that happened to that mother to get her trapped in a cycle of drugs and poverty. While all mothers are not created “equal,” we all have the same goal. As moms, let’s love on each other, support each other, and believe that every mama is doing the very best that she can.
Tell us your biggest joy about raising your kid(s).
My biggest joy in raising my kids is seeing them become their own individual people with their own interests and talents. I love to see them passionate about topics that I have never explored. I was a ballet dancer through college and I shielded myself from the ball (ANY kind of ball!) in PE class. Now I am raising little athletes who are confident and attack any ball that is coming their way. I have learned more about Legos, robotics, computer coding, video games, basketball, baseball, and art then I ever thought possible. I am proud to see them becoming articulate, kind, and compassionate human beings, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for them!
Thank you so much, Beth, for sharing your time and your beautiful family with us. I have to say, I absolutely love the names of your children! Well done, and I love the ballet dancer plus football player beginning.
Want to see more? Head on over to the Moms In Focus Facebook Page – and be sure to follow us along for updates including more moms to come. Yippee!