Trigger warning: this story contains depictions of abuse. If you need help, please call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline: 800-799-7233.
Leslie heard about the I Am Mother of the Year Facebook group on KTIS radio station in Minneapolis, where I have the pleasure of chatting with Andy from the morning show every Wednesday. And what she heard was that we weren’t judgmental. That we were FOR ALL MOMS. That we root each other on no matter our differences. Turns out, we were exactly what she needed at the exact right time. I love when God works stuff like that out.
Here’s what she said, “I'm hoping that this group truly isn't judgmental because I could really use a great group of women for support. I'm 35, separated almost 2 years and going through the divorce process, going through bankruptcy, just started a new job, 10 1/2 weeks pregnant, and going through the pregnancy alone as the father flipped a switch and decided it was best if I terminated the pregnancy. I ended the relationship and am now a bit overwhelmed by everything that's been going on. I recently started attending church services again, which helps, but I'm terrified and struggling with guilt and shame over how this has all come about. Can't say that I would qualify as mom if the year at this point but maybe someday.”
Oh my goodness. If Leslie was looking for support, she got it. More than 60 moms commented to give their shout of encouragement, hope, and prayers to this mama. And she was grateful.
When I reached out to her to get permission to share her story, she was willing, but doubtful that her story could be used to help anyone. And Leslie, friend, this is where you’re wrong!
Here are the two things that stuck out to me about your story that are a lesson for us all:
You are hopeful. Your story is evidence that there is hope for us all. No matter our circumstances, no matter our choices or the poor choices of others that impact our lives, no matter if we’re feeling like we deserve it or not, there is hope for us. You, Leslie, have made it your mission to look for hope in all of the right places. You sought community in a local church and online in our Facebook group. You found hope in and for the sweet, unborn baby growing in your belly. You found hope that was strong enough to end what sounds like a relationship not worth investing in. You found hope that maybe someday you would feel like Mother of the Year. (Of course, as many moms mentioned to you, you are already Mother of the Year because you are a really great mom who shows up for her kids!) From where I sit (several states over and a computer screen away), you are staging an amazing comeback! I’m so confident that you will look back on this hard road and smile because God brought you through it step by step. It won’t be easy. Comebacks rarely are. But it will be so worth it and you are well on your way!
You are vulnerable. Of course, part of being hopeful is being vulnerable. Author Ann Voskamp has this incredible quote that says, “Joy and pain. They are but two arteries of the one heart that pumps through all those who don’t numb themselves to really living.” I am a firm believer that our stories are the greatest gifts we can give to those around us. None of us have it all together, but few of us are brave enough to be the first one to admit that. When we are honest with ourselves and others, we are able to free ourselves from the lies that would keep us lonely, shameful, and hopeless. And we get the great joy of freeing others who will speak up second, third, or fourth. Leslie, you are one of the brave that has gone first, and for that, we are all grateful. God is in the midst of redeeming your story, and we all need to see that because it expands our imaginations to see how God might redeem our stories as well. All the hurt, the pain, the good and the bad…my prayer is that as your story continues to unfold, you keep living with the knowledge that your life matters, that fear is your enemy, and when you know your worth, you will change your world. Keep taking that next tiny step, and watch God show up big time!
There’s not much more I can say than that. Thank you, Leslie, for inspiring us with your story. Thank you to all of the amazing moms who did exactly what we have promised to do – encourage, celebrate, and support. I’ve got one overflowing heart over here!
Listen, if you’re lacking hope and not sure what the next step in your comeback story might be, make sure you join the Facebook group, download your free Self-Care guide, and register for the Spiritual DNA online course and live workshop. You will find so much clarity, peace, and hope! One step at a time, mama. And, as always, if you need anything, email me or drop a comment below! You are loved, friend!
“I just want to have a good night.”
That’s what I think EVERY. SINGLE. AFTERNOON. on my way to pick up the kids from daycare. That’s not too much to ask, right?! A few hours of family bliss. Hugs and snuggles. Sure, the occasional time-out when necessary, but let’s just all get along.
Well, that wasn’t tonight. I knew we were off to a bad start when Josie wouldn’t let me look at her when I picked her up from daycare. Yes, you read that right. She wouldn’t even allow me to watch her get into her car seat and buckle up. And, of course, as the parent, I don’t follow her rules because she doesn’t get to make the rules.
But I was able to channel something that felt a lot like confidence. I was peaceful, even as she was losing her mind. And I think I know where that came from.
Last night, I stood in front of a hundred people – spotlight shining, mic booming, and cameras rolling – to share my story of creating this whole Mother of the Year movement. I was scared to death. (So nervous, in fact, that the day before, I was so full of self-doubt about speaking that I had myself convinced I was so inadequate that I couldn’t even buy a shirt at the mall. It’s quite the leap, but I’m sure you’ve been there with something equally as ridiculous!) But once I hit that stage, that sweet peaceful confidence took over. I stepped right through that fear to tell the crowd the same truth that I try to tell myself every day.
I told every single person there that their best is enough for their families. That they didn’t have to love every minute of motherhood to love their kids well. That they are great mothers (or fathers, grandparents, sisters, etc.).
Tonight, I believed that for myself.
And that’s what made a difference in my parenting. Maybe I was still riding that high, but I figured if I could push through fear last night and experience something life-giving and amazing in front of a crowd, then I could push through the fear of not having a good night with my kids to be the confident, tough, loving mother that my firecracker daughter needed tonight.
It’s not about perfection. I flubbed and ad-libbed a few times in my 10-minutes on stage last night. And I waffled a bit tonight, too. Perfection is not what ushers in the peace.
Replace the lies with the truth. The gremlins in our heads will give a pretty powerful performance, convincing us that the mean and horrible things only we would think of ourselves are actually true. They aren’t. And the sooner we can spot the lies and replace them with the truth, the more peaceful we will be.
Get to know yourself. Seriously, as soon as I started on my journey of discovering and naming the unique parts of my personality, my passions, my drive, I truly believe God kept calling me step by step into my future. I started a blog, got back on the radio, and launched the Mother of the Year movement. But more than those “accomplishments”, I was able to see that how God put me together wasn’t an accident. That my empathy is more blessing than curse. That my gift of storytelling has actually been one of my strengths my entire life. And the list goes on. THE BEST PART: the more I know about myself, the better mother I am! (If this sounds interesting to you, and you want to know more about starting this journey, I’d love to invite you to an event that could seriously change your life!)