The Mom Diaries
Local women share the ups and downs of being mothers
The stories below reflect that, despite life’s difficulties, mothers provide comfort, security and, most of all, love.
Reason to Fight
My dad used to visit me once a week for lunch while I was in college. I remember it was during this time when I first told him, ‘Dad, I think I want to be a stay-at-home mom.’ Looking back, I’m not sure it’s what he wanted to hear after shelling out thousands of dollars to further my education. But to this day, it’s still one of his favorite memories of me.
A couple years after getting married, my husband and I felt ready for children. Instead, I was thrown a curveball that I never expected –– breast cancer. Doctors began preparing me for the possibility of never having children. But I knew I was meant to be a mother.
Finally, after a few years of remission, the time was right. We got pregnant right away and starting preparing for our new baby. But midway through the pregnancy, things started to go very wrong. Subsequent tests confirmed that, despite having a healthy baby, my cancer had returned to a most advanced stage.
Annaliese Hope was born soon after I was diagnosed, nine weeks before her due date. Being a mother with cancer is harder than I ever could have imagined. But it makes me a better mom. I don’t worry about the little things and instead enjoy every minute with her. Every morning that I get to wake up and give her a kiss is a gift. She is the reason I continue to fight. –– Sara Carpenter
Fostering a Unique Style
By the time my daughter was in kindergarten, she had figured out how to draw correct prismatic progressions of color. They showed up on almost every drawing she produced. ‘Mommy,’ Hannah once told me, ‘I see rainbows in my head.’
My daughter is also a self-dresser. If you’ve seen a Pippi-esque ragamuffin at the playground or the mall or a slightly disheveled fairy princess at a restaurant, you have not seen an ill-kept child; you have spotted a self-dresser. Other moms have looked at me, puzzled. ‘I just lay their outfits out on the bed and my girls put them on,’ one said. Me? I get to fold and refold all the castoffs that didn’t make it into the carefully constructed ‘mitch-matched’ (as Hannah called it) heap designated as tomorrow’s outfit.
Mitch-matched and Hannah-vetted means a different sock on each foot. It means purple-flowered arm-warmers that in a previous life served as knee socks. It means skirts of every color worn over pants of every color; stripes and polka dots with plaids, and hoodies over T-shirts over pajama tops.
It means fashion equations coordinated per the beautiful logic of a little girl who has not yet been burdened with the idea of fitting in. –– KimAnn Schultz
One Lucky Mom
Ahh, motherhood. Just saying the word brings to mind joys, fears, peace, total anxiety, answers and challenges. Motherhood means something different to me than most. I was adopted in 1976. Our generation grew high achievers –– high education and high careers. I had mentors for these areas. This left me deficient in just one little area –– motherhood.
I quickly realized when my first-known blood relatives (two beautiful daughters) were born, I knew little about motherhood. Despite the volumes written, there is no handbook. I can only speak to what has worked for us for eight years. Moms’ ways are best –– mothering instincts far outweigh the majority of societal research. Children mirror qualities. Our goal is to give them the gift of self-worth, love, confidence and compassion. Celebrate the best and be forgiving of the worst.
I often share with other mothers, ‘Hey, if we can just make one major decision better than the generation before us, then we’ve done good work.’ It is the mothers I’ve met along the way, the educators, the nurturers and the spouses that learn alongside these beautiful women who have inspired me to continue to embrace my gifts as a mother.
Our daughters, born in 2003 and 2007, are simple, beautiful and connected to me and each other in a way I never knew possible. Truly.
Growing up, I was told how lucky I was to have been adopted. I know now that’s not true, for it is because of motherhood that I am truly lucky. –– Carrie Abbott
Three Times the Love
I became a mother at 21 and again at 28 and 31. Three beautiful, perfect and wonderful little girls. My first daughter was the only one for a long time. After my divorce from her father, we were inseparable, and I couldn’t fathom loving anyone more than I loved her. Being an only child myself, I thought one was enough for me.
Life changed, and I fell in love with a man who loved my daughter as his own. Along came another perfect little angel, and I realized I loved her just as much as I loved my oldest daughter. How could this be possible? I felt naive and humbled because I never experienced love like that before. Life just couldn’t get any better. Then it did –– another gorgeous baby girl. My heart expanded to a capacity I never knew was possible.
With each birth, panic set in. I was responsible for these little lives and molding them to be good to people, save the world and bring equality to all humankind. It was my responsibility to teach them to be strong, independent women, yet be feminine and ladylike. Oh, the pressure!
Then one day I watched all three of them sleep together in one spot. I had given them something I never consciously planned –– I gave them each other. They will never be alone in life no matter what. –– Julia Rutland
Mother’s Day is around the corner and most often this is the time of year when moms like me give ourselves an annual evaluation. All too often you begin with all of the things you did not do, and you begin to question yourself: Did I volunteer? Did we review enough for the ISTEP and IREAD? Were they engaged enough in extracurricular activities? Did I miss soccer sign-up?
Question by question, we deflate ourselves by thinking that we’ve failed them as parents, but what we fail to realize is that, if the children were to do the assessing, we would hear things like: ‘My mom works really hard for me and my brothers to have all that we ask for.’ ‘When there’s a storm coming, my mom lets me stay close to her until it passes.’ ‘When I played football, my mom attended every game, and she was my No. 1 cheerleader even when I didn’t play so well.’ ‘My mom makes the best lasagna in the world.’ ‘Everyone at my school knows my mom because she works at Girls Inc.’ ‘My mom loves me because I always do my best.’ ‘I love you Mom, because you are the greatest!’
As the saying goes, ‘the good always outweighs the bad,’ so this Mother’s Day, I will not judge myself by the number of things I did not do, but will take pride in the things my three sons remember I did. –– LaTasha Hudson
Inspiration to Help
I have been a ‘mother’ for many years, but it wasn’t until last June that my son arrived. After my husband and I were married, we immediately began trying to start our family, a journey that proved to be much more difficult than simply stopping birth control and lighting some candles. After months of trying to conceive on our own, we enlisted the services of a fertility specialist and endured countless procedures, tests, medications and heartaches before finally conceiving Charlie via in vitro fertilization.
Every single obstacle and heartache was worth it because they all led to Charlie. He is the most breathtaking, awe-inspiring, funny, adorable and loving baby I could have ever imagined. I never could have anticipated how perfectly and amazingly rewarding it is to be a mother. My worst days are still my happiest because, at the end of the day, I get to kiss his plump cheeks and receive the sloppiest, wettest kisses imaginable.
Charlie is also my inspiration. While in the midst of our struggle with infertility, my husband and I founded a nonprofit here in Indiana to support families struggling with infertility and to help them along their paths toward building their families –– whatever that might end up entailing. Every day that I get to spend with Charlie is a reminder of the parents who do not yet have their children and why we work to assist them. –– Macara Aloi
The Teacher as Student
I never could have imagined how many new directions my life would take 13 years ago when I became a mother. Going from an executive to a stay-at-home mom in one year seemed to give me emotional whiplash. But once I held that tiny baby boy in my hands, I knew I was hooked for life, and there was no looking back.
I tried for several years to conceive another child and rejoiced with the birth of my second son five years after the birth of my first. They both have brought more tears, love, heartache and joy to my life than I ever could have imagined. I have had to draw upon patience that I never knew existed within me and have had to learn to just throw up my hands and enjoy the ride of motherhood. I wouldn’t trade a minute of it.
Finding out three years ago that I had breast cancer put all of my hopes, dreams and desires for my sons’ futures in perspective. I went from worrying about how I was going to put them through college to worrying that I wouldn’t see them graduate high school. I had so much to teach them and share with them, and I wasn’t ready to fast-forward through that.
I have been cancer-free for one year, and it has been one year of counting my blessings. I never could have gotten through it like I did without the unflinching love and support of my sons. For all that I have taught them over the years, I am now the one learning from them –– learning how to live. –– Heather Tallman