Updated: May 11, 2020
Motherhood can be so rewarding, but also so incredibly lonely. The comparison trap will isolate you and leave you wondering if you are doing it right, if your kids are going to make it and why anyone let you leave the hospital with a little human. It's easy to think that there's a secret society of perfect mamas that exists that we haven't gotten invited to, but the truth is for a lot of us, we are all bumping our heads along the way trying to figure it out.
When I first became a mother, the learning curve was steep. Growing up in foster care without a mom, didn't make that any easier. Although my needs were met, I realized that I was never mothered. I didn't get the nurture and care I needed that would make it easy for me to model after someone for my own maternal instincts, so when it was time for me to step into my own motherhood, the shoes were WAY to big.
I had to learn to become a mother.
Every day I had to put those oversized shoes on and make them fit until one day I could walk and not trip over my own feet. Looking around, watching other mamas I admired, some mentors, some friends, some family members, helped me see the kind of mother I wanted to be. I would borrow from their experience, take the meat that made sense for my table and throw out the bones that didn't. I would listen to and interview kids who loved and adored their parents and ask what made them admire them so, and then I would adopt those ideas and principles into my own mothering style.
It takes a village.
They say, to raise children, but I am willing to argue it takes that same village to birth a strong and confident mama. That it requires us coming together as women and encouraging, building together and gleaning from one another on this journey we call "motherhood."
"When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child." - Sophia Loren
I recently got the opportunity to connect with a few mamas I respect and admire in prep for this blog post. Some of which I have known for years and years, while others I have just encountered recently, but the one thing that they have in common is that they are phenomenal, real, authentic mothers who are raising real children and doing it with class and grace. When I compiled a list of mamas I admired, it was long, but each of the women featured in this blog came to mind for the way they commit to not only raising brilliant children, but also the way they serve their community, follow their dreams and keep it real along the way.
I hope that their answers to my questions provide both insight, encouragement and inspiration for your own motherhood journey.
Practical Advice For The Every Day Mom
I took the time to ask each of these mamas some of their best advice about motherhood, questions I had for them and things I am sure as mamas are always sitting at the depths of our heart. As I read their responses, I let out the biggest sigh of relief to know that I am right on track and the things I have learned about motherhood are exactly "right." I hope as you read their answers you will find a little bit of yourself in each of their responses.
Define "motherhood" in your own words?
To become a mother truly is a conscious decision to watch your heart grow outside of your body. It challenges you, changes you, grows you, and molds you. It brings self-introspection, requires intentionality, and XX accountability. Motherhood is a commitment that doesn't require you to be the best, but to give your best. It is a selflessly giving, constantly evolving, and endless act of love. - Shay
Motherhood, in my opinion, cannot be defined. It can only be described. For me, it’s the wildest, craziest, most rewarding, challenging, most beautiful job I have ever had to do. One that I won’t be able to actually know if I’ve done my job correctly for many years to come. Hopefully, I’ll look back and pat myself on the back for giving it my all :) - Melinda
When I entered into Motherhood, I put in a request for the “Motherhood Manual,” only to find out that there wasn’t one. I quickly realized that I would have to create my own unique recipe of Motherhood, which meant that I would have to add a cup of my Mother and Grandmother’s teachings, blended with instilling my culture and pride into my children so that they could establish a strong sense of self and feel empowered by the legacy and resilience of their African ancestry. I would sprinkle a little of this, add a dash of that and make the main ingredient love! Love would conquer everything! - Tracy
I met Tracy through her teenage daughter, Trinity who I found on Instagram. Meeting and getting to know Trinity (a brilliant entrepreneur and owner of Black Vibe Tribe), listening to her vision and dreams made me want to know who her mother was. When you meet a young person as well-spoken, driven and smart as her, you want to know the stock she comes from. Tracy is an incredible mother, who has raised self-assured, cultured, and incredibly talented kids. She is committed to supporting her children in any way she can and has rooted them in a way that I admire and aspire for. Tracy is one of the most brilliant mothers I have watched and if I raise children half as amazing as hers, I will feel successful.
Connect with Tracy
Being a mother is so many things. It is at the core having your heart exist outside of your body and needing to protect it with your entire being. It’s loving unconditionally, it’s feeling pain as you equally feel love. It’s hard and repetitive but the most rewarding work of any lifetime. Motherhood is community, because it takes a village to raise a child. It is organization and mess, happy and sad, loud and quiet but THE BEST DAMN HOOD I’d ever want to be a part of. -Melissa
Motherhood for me is a partnership between God and women. Our purpose in this divine partnership is to nurture and perpetuate life. What a privilege to realize that there is NO OTHER MEANS for bringing or sustaining human life to our planet (since Creation) except through a woman! God made us to carry, birth, nurture, educate, empower, and then unleash those we've raised up.
Motherhood is a series of hard-won victories. Motherhood is resilience and strength and compassion in motion. And motherhood is not just reserved for the child-bearers, it is a purpose far greater. If you are nurturing a budding relationship, career/business, mentoring a young mind, unlocking potential in up-and-comers, pioneering for those coming behind you, you are mothering. Motherhood is my highest calling, a fulfillment of God's greatest intention for me--to nurture, love, and champion all my children (natural and supernatural), so they are able to do the same for themselves and others. - Jamila
Pastor Jamila lived in my city for several years, but our relationship developed online via Instagram. Jamila is one of the most God-fearing, caring thoughtful women I know. She is raising spiritually sound and grounded young women and I love her heart for serving the Lord and the example she instills in her girls. She is tinder and wise and committed to following the Lord and raising children who do too. She does this by leading by example and its a joy to watch her steward the call of God on her life and that of her children.
Connect with Jamila
What was the best advice on motherhood you have ever received?
God designed you specifically for YOUR CHILDREN. There is no other mother on the planet that can be a better mother than you to your kids. Where you are insufficient God fills in the gaps...but you as their mother lacks nothing IN HIM. This was told to me by a sweet mentor of mine...I have carried this advice with me...kept it on my heart and top of mind. I remind mamas of this every chance I get! - Rachael
The best advice that I received is it takes a village to raise a child. I didn’t fully grasp this until after I had my second child in 2018. I became more vulnerable and I realized it was okay to ask for help when it comes to motherhood. I found my village of amazing friends that were completely supportive. Something as simple as being able to call my friend to vent about having a rough day with the kids or having one of my friends pick the kids up from gymnastics class was so helpful. The moment I was able to release and become more vulnerable as a mother, things started to get easier because I welcomed my village of friends to come support me and of course I did the same with their kids. - Ashley
The best advice I ever received as a mother was that we are all different. We all parent differently. We all have different kinds of stories that are woven into the way we parent our children and raise our families. We have different rules. All of our kids are different. Everything about “her” journey will be different from “mine”. Just because another Mom does something different than you doesn’t mean that she’s wrong, that is just what works for her and her family. A little love and acceptance for different things go a long way! However, the one thing that we all have in common is that we are moms who love our kids and we are doing the best we can do! - Melinda
Melinda is both my sister and my best friend. I have had a front row seat to her motherhood journey and there isn't a mother I admire more than her. She parents with enthusiasm and joy. She is the "cool mom" who is both fun to be around, but also firm in her approach. Much of my motherhood style has been impacted by watching her and she is one of the most brilliant women in my life. A mother of four, she has managed to both commit to be a present hands on mom, while also pursuing her passion and dreams and she does it all so effortlessly.
Connect with Melinda
What is your mantra, scripture or quote or reminder that grounds you?
That has to be John 15:16
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you, so that you might go and bear fruit- fruit that will last. And so that whatever you ask in my Name the Father will give to you.”
This scripture helps me so much as a mom. I used to have it taped on my mirror, but now it is etched on my heart. God chose and appointed me for this thing called motherhood, so I would bear lasting fruit through my children. AND he told me I can ask him for any help that I need to accomplish the task. If he chose me, and I have the help of the Creator of Heaven, I KNOW it can be done! - Anna
My mantra/affirmation that keeps me grounded is “I am Joyful in Hope, Patient in Affliction and Faithful in Prayer.” This is my favorite because it covers a wide range of situations and emotions. When I’m feeling a little hopeless, when things seem to be unsettled or even when I’m having moments of Happy; I’m reminded to have gratitude for the good and bad and to pray when things are great and not so good. -Melissa
Motherhood for me has been selfless, and it wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized that I had to start putting my oxygen mask on first, because I can’t continue to pour from an empty cup. My children are my biggest accomplishments and they have been the reason that I have invested heavily into them. I am filthy rich because of them and love them beyond measure.
I was folding the "umpteenth" load of laundry one day and was feeling just worn down...not appreciated...not seen. God gave me this little mantra, "What I do, Matters to You." There is so much a mother does that is unseen. But be encouraged...GOD SEES IT ALL! Even the little things or monotonous things we do can be an act of worship to our heavenly Father if it is unto him. He loves us dearly and he loves how we serve our families. That mantra has stuck with me...it gives me that extra "umph" on those blah days and I'm brought back to God's truth & how he feels about me. I say it out loud when I get going down a path of lies like"I don't matter" or "what I'm doing as a mother isn't good enough." That mantra reminds me that I am a DAUGHTER of the KING...I am most definitely cared for...seen...and so are you Woman/Wife/Mama/Auntie/Sista out there reading this! - Rachael
Rachael's heart for her family & community are what I admire most. She does life in community and is raising her kids to do so as well. She is attuned to the needs of others and practices that in everything that she does. I can't imagine that she isn't raising generous, servant hearted children because she leads with that in everything she does. I admire her commitment to her community and her willingness to serve to bridge the gap and create space for women and mother's around her.
Connect with Rachael
How do you measure success as a parent?
One way I measure my success as a mother by the way my kids treat one another, especially as they get older. It absolutely floors me and melts my heart every time I see my kids FaceTime their older brother who is in the Air Force. They actually enjoy talking every day, and after witnessing them all bicker back and forth for years, I can see that all is well. We made it through and they like each other!!! I must have done something right! - Anna
I have known Anna for a very long time and it's been fun to watch her parent over the decade, raising small children into adulthood, and four boys at that. What I love most is the way that her boys both love and respect her. The way that she brings honesty and authenticity to everything she does, sharing her wins, but also her losses. She is a giver and wants everyone around her to win, so if you have a problem, you can count on Anna to know the answer. She is committed to being the best mom to her children and is constantly seeking to improve and be the best woman she can be and that is an example of grace anyone can follow.
Connect with Anna
What has been the most unexpected thing about motherhood?
That kids don’t ruminate on your faults as much as you do. I learned this from my own experience as a child, in that my mother always expressed her guilt in her failures as a parent. It struck me- I was not thinking about all that. I was focused more on what she did right. Especially after she left this earth, it wasn’t how she fell short that filled my memories. It was all that she did well. And now as a mother of four young men, when I fail, I tend to spiral, thinking that I have ruined my kids. But then when I apologize, my children are so quick to not only forgive, but they’re like “Mom, seriously. It’s OK. You’re a good mom.” And now as I have two adult children, I am hearing from them more and more what a great job they think I’ve done. - Anna
I really didn't expect to keep growing and learning. And I didn't expect that my children would become my greatest teachers. There are so many truths about God and life that I was only able to receive through motherhood. My children have taught me the most about love and it's layers and complexities. They have taught me about my own tenacity and resilience. Watching them grow, their wonder and curiosity, has made me more attentive and curious. Every question they asked that I couldn't answer has made me into a student. And as they grow, so do the lessons. It is a beautiful and challenging gift to realize that the young were also designed to grow the elders. - Jamila
Sometimes women are caught off guard by Motherhood. Too often we discuss the joys and laughter of Motherhood, but we don’t have honest, open conversations about the physical, mental and emotionally challenging parts of the journey. We need to talk more about what motherhood truly encompasses. We’re doing a disservice to women to only shine light on the beauty of it. On most days, Mothers are chefs, drivers, teachers, therapists, confidants, housekeepers, accountants, food sources, patient, strong, intuitive, compassionate, wise, loving, and the long list goes on...even on days when we don’t want to do anything at all. There are unlimited sacrifices that mothers make, there are tough decisions that we make, we give unconditional love, and we even spread ourselves out amongst all of the children when you have more than one. Motherhood is not for the weak. - Tracy
The most unexpected thing about motherhood is that it's caused me to confront my inner child. When I speak to my kid's about self-love, forgiveness, patience, etc. -- I often wish someone would have had those conversations with me as a child. I walk away with insight, understanding, and healing that could only be gained through interactions with my own children. - Shay
Shay is bold. She is an example of honest and committed motherhood. Her transparency has earned her a following online of people who trust the advice she gives and they look to her as a leader. Her children have grown up in the spotlight and she has done a great job keeping them grounded, maintaining both balance and perspective. I have so much respect for Shay as a mother and admire all that she brings to the table.
Connect with Shay
What do you want your kids to say about you when they reflect back on their childhood?
When my kids look back on their childhood, I hope they speak about how intentional I was in my efforts. From our conversations, to celebrating their milestones and successes, to being a safe space for them to share their thoughts, feelings, and emotions -- I hope they recall all I've poured into them and apply it throughout their lives. - Shay
I would be so humbled & honored if my kids would say that they observed and experienced my humanness, imperfection, deep love for them, presence in their life...and ALL OF IT pointed to Jesus, and was the catalyst toward them loving Jesus and centering their entire lives around him. I would die one happy mom if they said this as adults. - Rachael
When my kids reflect back on their childhood I want them to say that they knew I loved them and that I was their friend. - Melinda
I want my kids to say I was a fun and loving mother that taught them so many life lessons. I want my kids to look back on their childhood and have so many amazing fun memories that we created! I also want my kids to say I was an entrepreneur that worked hard to have a successful business! - Ashley
This is a great question and something that I’ve given much thought to over the years as I worked on my parenting style . It’s important for me to not just provide a childhood experience that I yearned for growing up, but one that is deeply rooted in who my child is at her core. I want her to say that I allowed her to be an individual, that I challenged her and encouraged her to think. I want her to say that I was kind but firm, that I loved her unconditionally but held her accountable. I would also like her to say that I was vulnerable and never afraid to share my feelings and in turn allowed her to feel every bit of her emotions. Lastly, I would like her to say that I was a champion for culture and provided her with all the avenues to explore and experience the world. - Melissa
Melissa and I share a common love for adventure and travel and both come from rich Caribbean cultures. I love her connection to the earth, finding ways to bring the best that life has to offer in the most natural ways into her mothering and to her community. She is thoughtful about maintaining balance in her life and shares her journey in such an inspiring way. Anyone who gets to watch her will be blessed by the way she walks out parenting.
Connect with Melissa
Who do you admire most as a mother and what have they taught you?
My mother, Florencia Fenton, has been my GREATEST inspiration in motherhood. She has a kind, tender, and constant strength. She is elegant, eloquent, smart, sassy, and unmovable. She has her own mind and does not need to prove her position or capabilities which manifests in her generosity and selflessness. Because she has nothing to prove, nothing shakes her. She walks in peace and gentle authority. She can nurture you while getting you ALL-THE-WAY-together!
One of my favorite things to do when I was little was to talk to her while she got dressed. Despite whatever she was doing, she would let me watch intently and even listen as I rambled on and on about random news. Now, as a mother myself and the demands of getting things done and time-management, I realize the gift she was giving me in those moments. She was sacrificing peace for the higher purpose of building our relationship. Whether she was in a rush or otherwise mentally occupied, I cannot say. All I knew was I felt welcomed and invited to her sacred space. We all know our moms love us, but I felt that Mommy genuinely liked me and wanted my company. She always seemed to be full of peace as she went through every step of her routine, and when she was done, I thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world. I wanted (and still want) to be just like her.
As I got older, no matter what I was dealing with, I could talk to her. We developed a special code. If I had to tell her something that might get me in trouble or would ordinarily be taboo, all I had to say is, "Mommy, I need to talk to my Friend Mommy." She knew that meant that I needed her counsel, not her correction, and she never failed to be just that--my Friend Mommy. She is still my best friend to this day. Now she calls me her Daughter-Sister. I know she believes in me, and I know I can get the unbiased truth from her. Above all, I know I am deeply and eternally loved by her. In everything I do, as a mother and now a pastor, Mommy's generosity, tender strength, and gentle authority are what I aim to emulate. - Jamila
I admire my friend Ginger. She has been through hell and back and juggles several businesses but still always makes sure that she sits down for dinner every night over a home cooked meal with her children so she can connect with them, laugh with them, and share her heart with them intentionally, while listening to theirs. - Anna
I admire my own mother the most! It’s amazing how I see so many similarities between my mother and myself as I get older. My mother taught me how to be loving. She always gave me lots of hugs and kisses growing up and she always told me I was beautiful! My mother taught me the importance of embracing your children with lots of love. - Ashley
Ashley is such a fun mom. Committed to providing the best experiences that life has to offer, Ashley homeschool's and is constantly providing enrichment activities, hands-on experiences for her children. She is intentional about the way she mothers and providing the best possible life for her children, full of learning, adventure and loaded with joy.
Connect with Ashley
Motherhood is the biggest gamble int he world. It is the glorious life force. It's huge and scary - its an act of infinite optimism. - Gilda Radner
Additional resources & advice from our mamas to you to check out:
A few of Rachael's favorite motherhood resources are:
The Mama Well on Instagram
Books to Read:
Maybe you are like I was and have no idea what you are doing as a mother, or maybe you have been in this motherhood game for a minute but need some reminders that you are doing JUST fine, I hope you found that by reading this blog today.
Motherhood is a journey of tiny little steps, one after another and it never ends, and there are no right or wrong ways to get to the destination, only rule is not to quit. If you made it this far, I pray that you find yourself knocking at the door of the club that holds no secrets, only love and support.
There is no greater privilege than stewarding the lives of children, whether you are a mother, a grandmother, auntie, sister, god-mother or friend, it is a joy to love our children and to love them well, and you are doing an AMAZING job! Keep going and growing.
Happy Mother's Day!
With strength, courage and wisdom,