The marvel of motherhood

me and pThe Friday just before Mother’s Day, I was going about my daily business and realized I hadn’t looked at my phone for awhile. As I went to grab it, I saw a screen filled with missed calls and text messages. I scanned it for any pertinent information, and my heart dropped as I saw the words: Your Mom is in the Emergency Room. Please call.

Editor’s note: As part of Attachment Parenting International‘s celebration of Mother’s Day, APtly Said published a special “Inspired Mothers” series May 11-17. Sandy was so excited to join in the project when she had a family emergency, as she explains in her post today. API is grateful for her belated contribution, and we hope you find it inspiring, too.

In that moment, every memory of my mom shuffled through my brain — everything she ever sacrificed for us, everything she never experienced, everything she justified living without to be our mom. In that moment, I realized once again how powerful and important the role of a Mother is in each of our lives.

My heart expands each day as I look around and witness the miraculous power of men and women raising little human beings. I consciously breathe in the significance of each person I pass by. I observe the Mothers, the Fathers, the Children.

I feel tenderness and empathy as I contemplate each of you. I thoughtfully consider the whole family cycle and everything in between: the extraordinary, undeniable love that either existed as we were created, or did not…the feelings each person had in making the decision to create another life or living with the fact that the decision wasn’t yours.

We are each the product of a mother and a father. We were born. We may be raised by a mother and a father, a mother and a mother, or a father and a father. However we came to be, however we were brought up and nurtured, we are here.

The process of conception to birth is unlike any miracle I’ve ever witnessed or experienced. Although we may not quite comprehend the marvel that a precious life is growing within our bodies, everything changes the moment we first see the eyes of our child. Everything changed for me. In that moment, I knew my purpose was much bigger than what I had ever known it to be. I knew this new role I was being given would fulfill me in ways no one could have prepared me for.

As I walk around and continue to ponder your depth — your soul — I question if you ever lost a life growing inside of you, at birth, soon after or ever. I am crying as I write this, because I have dear friends in my life who have. I cannot write about the beautiful, precious gift of motherhood and exclude the dear, courageous women who have lost a child. I know there are no words I can offer. I can only tell you that I’m sorry. I am so, so sorry. I truly embrace and cherish each and every moment I am given, and I know you do, too.

Although I may be emotionally and intellectually aware of how invaluable these moments are, this doesn’t mean I don’t question if I am doing all I can to live my true happiness, my true purpose. I am trying to find my way each day. I feel everything. I let the joy, the pain, the fear, the love, all of it, become a part of me…and I allow it to guide me as I continue to take each new step forward.

Within it all, we find ourselves. We lose ourselves. We grow. We change. We live. We love. We know the answers, yet we question so much. We want to do our best, be our best. We don’t want to make the same mistakes others did before us.

My mom is much better today. The emergency thankfully has passed. She has endured more than I can explain, and she is still here. As I spend time in hospitals and share my love with those who continue to suffer, I will continue to treasure every moment I have with her…with the ones I love deeply…with myself. Many lose the battle. Many are given more time. This is our time. I know this, and I want to live it.

I know loss. I know you do, too. My heart and love are with you. May the things that have caused us pain give us strength. This is my wish for each of us.

Wishing you a belated and Happy Mother’s Day, every day.


Transformed by their love

1386612_mom_and_kidEditor’s note: Attachment Parenting International (API) hopes every mom enjoyed her Mother’s Day on May 10 and every dad is looking forward to Father’s Day on June 21. This week, in honor of all mothers, API gives you a special “Inspired Mothers” celebration. We hope these posts inspire you in your parenting journey.

I am humbled by the love I see in my children’s eyes, by their desire to show me who they are again and again. “Look, Mom, look at me!” they say with their words and with their bright faces turned to catch my eyes.

I have been transformed by their love.

I have been softened by their unwavering sureness of our bond. I have learned to forgive myself so that I can be forgiving. I have learned to be patient with myself so that I can be patient with them. I have learned to value the process over the product because of them. I have learned to live in this moment right now — full of joy or tears or peals of laughter — because of them.

I have been transformed by their love.

I have worked to let go of old fears because of them. I have worked to resolve my anger because of them. I have learned to communicate my feelings because of them. I have delved into my creativity because of them. I have let myself be loved truly, deeply and without measure.

I have been transformed by their love.

Messy motherhood

1386612_mom_and_kidEditor’s note: Attachment Parenting International (API) hopes every mom enjoyed her Mother’s Day on May 10 and every dad is looking forward to Father’s Day on June 21. This week, in honor of all mothers, API gives you a special “Inspired Mothers” celebration. We hope these posts inspire you in your parenting journey.

Growing up, I was one of four kids. Three of us were triplets. My mom did home daycare, and at any given time, we could have up to eight other children in the house. We lived in a four-bedroom home — well, three bedrooms with a converted garage. Space was limited…

…Love was not.

With a house as full as ours, we generated a lot of clutter. I remember, when I was young, having a difficult time sleeping if my room was not in order. As long as I could see the floor, I felt like I had enough space and my room was clean enough that I could relax, thanks to my mom that always got help from  a Dubai’s Trusted Agency.

I was not the cleanest child, but I liked things to have their place. I never fully understood the trials my mom had to go through to keep our household simply functional — that is until grew up and had a home of my own. Now, my childhood home sure wouldn’t be winning a spot of the cover of Better Homes & Gardens, but you better believe my momma worked hard making sure we had clean clothes, comfy beds, good food and space to play.

When my husband and I bought our first home, we had been married for just over a year. I vowed to make that home shine. Every inch of my house was going to be perfectly planned, color-coordinated and sparkly clean.

I did OK, and by OK, I mean I vacuumed when company came over, I kept the bathrooms clean enough and I made sure our laundry basket never overflowed, or if it did, I just dumped it in the basement laundry room. One weekend a month, I would spend all-day Saturday scrubbing the floors and really giving the house a good, deep clean.

I expected to feel a sense of accomplishment or a blossoming sense of happiness. After all, wasn’t this what I always wanted — a clean house? What I really felt was fatigued and mildly irritated that even with all this hard work, the house was just going to be dirty again in a day or two. Dirt seems to follow me.

Life is messy! And so is motherhood.

When my husband and I had our first child, I felt overwhelmed with trying to keep the house clean and the baby content. My first baby was rather difficult. I was a nervous mom, and she was therefore a nervous baby. In time, I came to realize that a clean house wasn’t going to make me happy. It never really had. What did make me happy was caring for my family.

I had confused caring for my family with being their maid. It wasn’t doing any of us any favors.

I stopped caring if my house was showroom-ready and decided instead to be content with happily lived-in. I spent more time playing and less time worrying. Now, of course, I don’t want my family living in filth, so I keep up with the dishes and make sure laundry is regularly done even if it does sit waiting to be folded for half the week. I vacuum up the dog hair and am very well known for my far-reaching talent with a bottle of Febreeze and a can of Lysol.

Things have their place in our house, but if they sometimes have trouble finding their way back there, it’s not the end of the world.

I actually find it funny that often times when I suggest a play date with some friends of mine, they ask if we can have it at my house. “You don’t mind the mess,” they say. It’s true. I think nothing of giving the kids a bowl of dry ingredients like rice, beans and pasta and filling a pot with water so they can make soup. I don’t mind them baking cookies and decorating with sprinkles, even if the majority of them end up the floor. I don’t mind them painting the bathroom walls — tile, of course — with colored shaving cream. We love to make jewelry, paint pictures and play with play dough. We like to do all kinds of science experiments and pretty much do anything messy. Check out these argyle jewellers in Brisbane like this on this website.

My daughter and I went to a play date one time where each child could only have one toy out at a time. Snack had to be eaten quietly at the table and feet had to be thoroughly cleaned before walking on the carpet. We both left there feeling anxious and nervous. Kids are messy, not because they want to make life difficult, but because they are exploring all that life has to offer.

My home is lived in. My home is loved in. And my home is where memories are made.

So this year’s Mother’s Day, I thanked my momma for making life fun. Thank you for a happy childhood full of memories. And thank you for teaching me that a lived-in, and sometimes messy, home is a happy home.

Motherhood is a gift

1386612_mom_and_kidEditor’s note: Attachment Parenting International (API) hopes every mom enjoyed her Mother’s Day on May 10 and every dad is looking forward to Father’s Day on June 21. This week, in honor of all mothers, API gives you a special “Inspired Mothers” celebration. We hope these posts inspire you in your parenting journey.

The road to forming your family through adoption, and thus becoming a mother, can be long.

Various interviews, paperwork, letters of reference and physician referrals that are required before you are considered eligible can make the process of becoming a parent seem tedious. As you wait and yearn to care for a child, it can become difficult to see other couples and families receive referrals or become matched. At times, the wait may seem unbearable.

Yet, you still need to prepare physically and emotionally and be ready for your little one to arrive. So, like any parents anxious to build their family, you turn to blogs, books, anything that will give you a glimpse of what a family formed through adoption looks and feels like. You decide upon things like cosleeping or nursery, bottle-feeding or breastfeeding, open or closed adoption.

While waiting to grow our family, my husband and I researched it all. Yet, no matter how many books we read or blogs we followed, nothing could have prepared us for that moment: sitting across from this woman, seeing both the pain and joy in her eyes, watching her hold our son.

Up until this moment, preparing to meet our son, I had been focusing on how to care for a baby, not how to emotionally connect with my son and the woman who gave him life and love — his birth mother.

As I watched her and heard the palpable mix of loss and love in her voice, I learned more than a blog or book could ever teach me. My husband and I left this conversation with our son’s birth mother with a seemingly conflicting sense of sadness and loss but also joy. We renewed our determination to provide both of our sons with greater security, tangible love and a concrete sense of confidence in themselves, knowing they are loved beyond measure. I learned the love of a birth mother and how that love would transform our sons’ lives and ultimately encourage me to be a better mother myself.

The love of a birth mother is at times sacrificial and gives life and possibility, not only to the precious life brought into this world but also to the adopting mother and family. This love allowed me to experience motherhood, to see my children’s first smiles and hear their first laughs, to hold my boys close and dry away tears, and to receive unconditional love from two wonderful beings. It encourages me to seek everyday moments of connection through activities, such as light saber battles and family football games, strengthening the bonds that I have with my sons.

The knowledge of this first love sparks honest and empathetic conversation within our family. When my older son asks, “Where did my baby brother come from?” I am able to openly tell him a story of a woman who loved his baby brother and carried him in her belly, ultimately allowing us to grow our family, just like his own birth mother did before he was born. Responding sensitively with empathy and love as we talk about their birth mothers, or first families, allows me to build trust with my sons, sharing in their developing emotions.

On this year’s Mother’s Day, I celebrated more than being a mom myself and being blessed with a compassionate mother and caring grandmothers. I’m celebrating the courageous women — the other mothers — who granted me the amazing gift of becoming a mom.

Babies becoming big kids

1386612_mom_and_kidEditor’s note: Attachment Parenting International (API) hopes every mom enjoyed her Mother’s Day on May 10 and every dad is looking forward to Father’s Day on June 21. This week, in honor of all mothers, API gives you a special “Inspired Mothers” celebration. We hope these posts inspire you in your parenting journey.

Last week, my husband and I went out to dinner and a movie, while my mom put our toddler to bed.  To many families, this might not be a big deal, but no one other than me had ever put her to bed before. My mom let her stay up an hour past her usual bedtime, so my husband and I drove around until my mom texted us that our daughter was asleep and we could come in.

While we drove, I cried. Was my daughter upset? (She wasn’t.) Was she asking for me? (She did, and accepted my mom’s explanation that Mommy and Daddy would be there when she woke up.)  Did she still need me?

Of course she does, she’s 2 years old. But she certainly doesn’t need me as much as she used to.

That’s the paradox of mothering young children: When they need you relentlessly, you long for a break. But when they suddenly don’t need you for something, it leaves a void.

On our way home, my husband and I talked about our daughter starting preschool next fall. We’ll have a new baby by then, and I’m sure I will be thankful for the time to focus on just one kid. But I will miss her. And it bothers me that I won’t be there to see what she’s interested in that day or to kiss her better if she falls on the playground.

When I told my friends about my mom’s success getting our daughter to sleep, they all said how wonderful it is that I now have some extra freedom. They also empathized with my mixed feelings about it.

Truly, I love watching my daughter become more and more independent as she grows. If she wasn’t playing happily by herself right now, I couldn’t be writing this post. Now that she doesn’t need me to fall asleep, I can go out and not worry about being back by 7 p.m.

Freedom is wonderful, and I find it far preferable to being needed constantly. But as our children need us less, it’s hard not to imagine the day when they won’t need us at all. This, of course, is the goal of parenting, and our children’s separation from us is healthy. But that doesn’t mean it is easy. If I’m smart, like my parents, I will fill that stage of life with travel, hobbies and time with friends.

In the meantime, I will try to value the moments my children do need me, even when it leaves me exhausted and irritated — because mothering young children is relentless, but it is also temporary. One day in the future, I will sleep until noon and fill my day with activities of my own choosing. But for now I will read a book about Elmo making a pizza, for the 25th time, knowing that one day I won’t have to.

And while I probably won’t miss Elmo’s culinary adventures, I will miss cuddling on the couch while I read about them.

A mother’s love story

1386612_mom_and_kidEditor’s note: Attachment Parenting International (API) hopes every mom enjoyed her Mother’s Day on May 10 and every dad is looking forward to Father’s Day on June 21. This week, in honor of all mothers, API gives you a special “Inspired Mothers” celebration. We hope these posts inspire you in your parenting journey.

As this year’s Mother’s Day was approaching, I found that I was thrilled to spend time with my kids. I actively left the day free of scheduled activities so that we could be fully engaged together doing whatever came up that we enjoy. But with this excitement, there was also a touch of grief and sadness as I recognized that last year my mother passed away just a few days after Mother’s Day.

I didn’t always have the best relationship with my mother, as there were many challenges. My mother had a mental illness that kept her emotionally unavailable at times. Her symptoms often caused strain and hardships, and her ability to parent me was impacted.

When I found out I was pregnant with my first, I was terrified as I didn’t want to parent in the same way I had experienced from my childhood. A few months after giving birth to my oldest daughter, I found my way to API. I was tremendously relieved to find an organization that offered language around what I was doing instinctively. I knew I needed to know more about each of API’s Eight Principles of Parenting. I wanted to learn as much as possible, because I understood that I was stepping into unknown territory.

My parents did the best they could with the information they had at the time. My mother shared her love with me the only way she knew how and the only way her mind and body would allow her to.

Finding my way to API was a gift in that I was now given the opportunity to gather information that was not available to my parents. I could raise my children within an attached framework, while also sharing with my parents the knowledge I was absorbing. As I became more confident in my parenting skills, I was able to express to my mother the many reasons why I was doing what I was doing with my daughters. She began to understand and would often share how she wished she had this information when I was a baby.

She would comment to me on how lovely my daughters were and how they were growing up into beautiful, young ladies. She knew that I held a connection with my daughters that we did not share, and I could feel her sadness around this grief — her wishing things could have been different when she was a young mother.

lisa feiertag her motherMy mother’s death has allowed me insight into who she was as a person and why she did things the way she did. I have found that even the things I thought were unfair or done differently than I would have liked were also being held with as much love as she could offer in that moment. Her love was shown in many different ways.

As I sat with my mother in May of 2014, I asked her what she wanted her family to know after she passed. She began by telling me a brief story about each of her siblings, my father, my brothers, my sister and me, but she stopped herself before she could finish and she looked at me. She told me to forget all those stories and to forget everything she mentioned. She told me to tell everyone that the only thing that mattered was love and that, no matter what had happened in the past, she loved each and every one of us.

It was in that moment that I knew my mother loved me.

Finding balance through play

1386612_mom_and_kidEditor’s note: Attachment Parenting International (API) hopes every mom enjoyed her Mother’s Day on May 10 and every dad is looking forward to Father’s Day on June 21. This week, in honor of all mothers, API gives you a special “Inspired Mothers” celebration. We hope these posts inspire you in your parenting journey.

Earlier this year, I started taking time each evening to write down in a journal what my best moments of the day were. Sometimes it was time spent playing with or cuddling with my kids. And sometimes it was time without them, when I did my self-care or finally met up with a friend.

Never was it doing housework or time spent on Facebook.

I haven’t kept it up all year, but looking at it helps me to prioritize and make time for what is important and what really matters to me. Obviously the dishes have to be done and you can’t just ignore them, but making some extra time for lying down with my 3 year old each day has been manageable. So is — at times — saying “no” to cleaning and “yes” to play. My children enjoy playing more, and so do I.

Keeping this in mind helped me rediscover how much fun it could be to play outside in winter, something I hadn’t done willingly in nearly 20 years. Together, my boys and I climbed snow mountains, and they were excited to see me join in on the fun of rolling down snow hills.

Lately my best moments generally involve time spent outside watching my 5 year old run through the grass, full of pure joy, or having my 3 year old run into my arms and spinning him around until we fall down dizzy in the grass.

I recently attended a meeting on self-care where we were asked to write down three things that made us happy. The goal was to have more of that in your life. One thing I wrote was “my kids’ laughter.” I want to be a part of that every day at least once.

Of course, not every moment or every day is happy. Plenty are full of frustration or exhaustion, or both. But taking time to play, to enjoy my children and to just be happy helps me find balance and helps me to better enjoy being a mother.

Our purpose as mothers

1386612_mom_and_kidEditor’s note: Attachment Parenting International (API) hopes every mom enjoyed her Mother’s Day on May 10 and every dad is looking forward to Father’s Day on June 21. This week, in honor of all mothers, API gives you a special “Inspired Mothers” celebration. We hope these posts inspire you in your parenting journey.

The day I became a mother, I felt a sense of purpose I had never known before.

These little lives have been placed in my hands, and it is my responsibility to give them love and nourishment, all while giving them room to grow into the people they are meant to be. The responsibility can seem overwhelming, but from the beginning, I had such a strong sense of this is what I’m meant to do.

That feeling of purpose and responsibility has also led me to feel such a connection with other mothers — both past and present. Motherhood looks different for each person. So, where I followed my instincts and naturally fell into Attachment Parenting, others may take a different path. There is no one right answer, no quick-and-easy golden rules that will guarantee a perfect outcome. If there was, motherhood would be easy.

Motherhood is by far the most rewarding thing in my life, but it is not always easy — especially when it seems that everywhere I look these days, people are tearing each other down. More specifically, moms are tearing other moms down. People are so quick to pass judgment or offer “advice” on the proper way to do something: cosleeping or crib, breastfeeding or bottle feeding, homemade baby food or store-bought. It can seem like a competition, offering up your thriving baby as proof that you’re doing things right. It can also make moms feel inadequate or insecure.

While I try really hard to refrain from gossip or judgment, I’m not perfect either. It’s easy to get caught up in comparisons of who reached what milestone and when, or assigning blame when things don’t end up the way you planned. But at the end of the day, every mother is doing her very best to provide her children with the same thing: a safe and secure place to grow.

As we continue to celebrate Mother’s Day this week, I sincerely hope that we can all feel confident enough in our own parenting decisions not to knock each other down. Instead, try to remember that we are all carrying that same sense of responsibility, and we should be building each other up. The world, and our kids, will be better for it.