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 Vanessa!
Hi! Tell us a little bit about yourself and three words that describe you as a mom.
I’m a part-time working, part-time stay-at-home mom of four children. I lived and worked in the city of Chicago for 10 years in a fast-paced career in marketing/advertising of consumer packaged goods. I always dreamed of being a mom of many children (my now-husband had to agree to try for at least four children before I could marry him!). When our first child was mobile, we moved and live a happy life in suburbia. When my first child was born, I resigned from my job to stay at home. I quickly realized “the grass is always greener on the other side” and really missed working! I decided to re-invent myself, to seek out something meaningful to me that I felt passionate about and pursued a second career as a lactation consultant. I now work as a lactation consultant both in a hospital setting as well as in the private practice I established in 2015. Three words that describe me as a mom: Comfortable: Motherhood is very natural for me. My college roommate told me way back then she thinks the happiest time for me in my life will be when I’m a mom. She was right! Laid Back: The funny thing about this is that I am so Type A in every other aspect of my life, but I’m a laid back mom. Everyone close to me agrees! Weird. Soft: While I have a harder edge in other aspects, I’m soft as a mom. I prefer to let my husband be the heavy. I like to think I’m warm and loving to my littles.
And now tell us about your darling kid(s):
Vander is our only boy, the ultimate big brother, age 9. He is a stereotypical firstborn (“Watch me, check this out, look at what I did!”) He is a typical boy with his testosterone “power surges”, and is extremely kind, empathetic and curious. He is more of an arts kid than sports kid but tries it all. He plays the cello, Irish dances, enjoys basketball, golf, swimming and tennis. He is super creative and makes some pretty impressive creations.
Calista, age 6, is our mother hen. Calista is always worried more about others than herself. She’s a little bossy and stubborn, very confident and competitive. She Irish dances and plays violin and tennis but enjoys gymnastics, soccer and swimming the most. She shows promise as the possible athlete of the family. She has been an easy, delightful kid from the beginning. She’s a little prissy and girly like mom – all sunshine, rainbows and butterflies!
Fiona, age 4, is our hippie chick who will probably move away to Colorado someday. She is always looking up – to the sun, the moon and the stars. She loves nature and is spiritual, loves to talk and sing about God. She has the sweetest little singing voice! She’s a little shy and timid. She Irish dances and does gymnastics—but only when she feels like it!
Keller, age 2, is an outgoing, spunky little ray of sunshine. She is determined to be a big girl most of the time wanting to keep up with her big sibs. But she still has some baby left in her, because she still loves to “nursh” (breastfeed.) She loves to pretend to be a little mommy herself with her baby dolls and purses.
How do you feel your style of mothering is like others?
Like all moms, I work hard at balancing providing entertainment and opportunities for my children with managing the household and family responsibilities. I love my children more than anything in the world and will go to any lengths to protect them and keep them safe. I do the best I can but I’m certainly not the perfect mom! I worry a lot: Am I playing with them enough? Am I being too lenient? Too strict? Do I have them involved in too much? Not enough? Am I giving them enough? Too much? Am I pushing them too hard? Not hard enough? Am I leaving enough time for fun? Am I doing enough to teach them to be kind and well-mannered? Should I read to them more? Should we do more to help them grown academically? Always worrying!
Since we’re focusing on judgment that moms experience, what have you felt judged for?
I’ve felt judged by others for extended breastfeeding of my children and breastfeeding in public. Cumulatively, I’ve breastfed for 7+ years. I breastfed all of my children at least one year, with my second child continuing for 2-1/2 years and my fourth child for over 2-1/2 years and counting. Once I became comfortable with nursing in public, I’ve confidently and comfortably nursed out and about discreetly but without feeling the need to “cover up.”
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)?
It has made me feel hurt and angry when judged. When comments have been made, I have tried to take the emotion out of my response and respond by sharing my beliefs and educating the person making the comment. As far as nursing in public goes, I believe that the more we see moms breastfeeding their babies, the more ordinary it becomes. And the more moms see it, the more comfortable they are doing it. I believe breastfeeding is a natural, beautiful thing and shouldn’t be shamed or covered up. In terms of extended breastfeeding, I believe breastfeeding is a gift for as long as a mom decides to give it. I respect mom’s decision to feed baby how she chooses and for as long as she chooses and I desire that same respect.
What would you like to tell the world about moms and why it’s important not to judge our choices?
Most of us moms strive to do the best we can! None of us are perfect. It goes back to the basic principle of “treat others how you would like to be treated.” I would love for us to listen to each other, teach each other, learn from each other and support each other.
Tell us your biggest joy about raising your kid(s).
It is such a joy as they grow to see them develop their own little personalities and preferences. I love seeing their differences and dreaming about what each will become and what great things they will do! Just like in the children’s book we read to the kids, “If I Could Keep You Little…” while I love babies so much and I’m sad to see them grow, if they didn’t grow up, then I would miss out on all the amazing little things they do at each stage. It’s those little things. That’s the joy.
Thank you so much, Vanessa, for sharing your time and your beautiful family with us! I am completely smitten with your name choices for your kiddos, so darling. I also love your story of reinventing yourself and doing something that means so much to you. That is easier said than done so hats off to you!
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!