Mama Spotlight: Paula

This week I’m sharing my interview with my friend Paula. I’ve known Paula for almost 5 years now. As our friendship has grown, I have come to appreciate several things about her. She is loyal, supportive, and resilient. She asks good questions and she always gives sound advice. I’m confident you will learn something from her thoughts on motherhood.

Tell me about yourself. Who are you? What do you do? How many children do you have?

I am a Christian, a wife, a mother of 3 living babies and 3 angel babies, a daughter, a sister, a home educator, and a friend.

How do you define motherhood?

Motherhood is the moment when your child realizes that they can reach the light switch on their own. You saw them jump, stretch, reach, step on a stool and finally the day came when both the light and their face was glowing. It is a gift, a responsibility, a privilege and humbling. It is purpose giving, life altering, sacrificial, joyful, frustrating and laughter. There can be dark days, but those smiles can truly light up a room.

Describe the stage of motherhood you are currently in.

I am in the beginning of the school age stage with a 5 year old. The “I’m not a baby” stage with an older toddler, 3 years old. I am in the “prep the house for safety” baby phase with an 8 month old. I have the big sister trying to balance between play and protect. The betweener trying not to cry when her little brother takes her toys and learning to share. And the baby exploring the world by putting everything in his mouth.

What do enjoy most about this stage?

I enjoy when they make connections and when simple things start to make sense. I enjoy the silly jokes and how they can laugh at the same thing over and over again. I enjoy watching them learn and discover new things and the pride they exude when they figure something out. I am able to witness how they care for each other and how they demonstrate love towards one another. I love to see the sibling relationship develop between the three. Even the baby smiles when his sisters walk into the room; it is so precious to witness such things.

What is most challenging about this stage?

It’s a challenge to remember that they are still learning. Yes, I have been telling them the same thing over and over, but I’ve been told that doesn’t change even when they become adults. I must remember that in my repetition, in my broken recordness, I am influencing their future. The things that I am repeating will replay in their minds for a lifetime. I am teaching them how to interact with others, the kind or considerate thing to do in spite of their personalities, but also considering their personalities. I am teaching them to respect, be selfless, help, serve, all the while building them up as individuals. I am just trying to teach them to be people who love the Lord. Knowing that how I treat them is their first model of God’s love is the challenge.

What does self-care look like for you right now?

Self-care for me is being self-aware. I am paying more attention to who I am, being okay with who I am, and taking care of me, whether that is taking a nap when I know I need it in spite of the dirty dishes or laundry that needs to be folded. Laundry can wait and so can those dishes, but I know if I do not rest, my temper becomes short and my voice takes on a different tone when talking to my children and husband. I prefer to be my best me rather than regret my response or lack of patience. I also take long showers, lotion up and wear comfy clothes. I am slowly letting go of the t-shirts and yoga pants. I am still wearing yoga pants, but with actual shirts, not just a t-shirt with a company logo on it.

What has had the greatest influence on you as a parent or your parenting style?

Tough question. My initial thought was the Bible coupled with my own upbringing.

Is there anything specific from your upbringing that has had a significant impact on how you interact with your children?

(I can’t really think of anything that won’t turn into an essay) I remember my mother making me meet with the different pastors at our church for check-ins, etc. I think she was trying to show me that as a single mother, her role was to be just mom, not mom and dad. She inadvertently taught me that in motherhood there is freedom in not doing it all and feeling like I have to do it all. There is freedom in not being enough because God will place people in our lives to fill gaps, but ultimately we need to lean on Him. 

I love that! It’s clear you mom passed on some important lessons. Tell me the most important thing(s) you hope to pass on to your child(ren).

My response to this question depends on what life has handed me in its many seasons. I do hope to pass on a legacy of sacrifice, forgiveness, love, compassion, financial freedom and the freedom to choose.

Most recently, my husband and I paid off our house. We are 100% debt free! I had no idea that this type of freedom existed. We had to make some really tough decisions in our marriage and make some sacrifices. We said no to some things, but not all things. We were able to travel, eat out, shop, etc. during our journey to be debt free, but that was only possible because of God. His grace, his mercy and us trusting him. I truly had to submit and allow my husband to lead this endeavor. So I would say to my girls, first trust God and second trust your spouse, submit to one another under God. To my son, I hope that he grows to be a man after God’s heart and sees his mother and father as examples of that. 

Where do you find support as a mom?

I find my support in my husband, my mom and a few of my friends. I am also a part of a few groups on Facebook that offer support for homeschooling moms, moms with autoimmune diseases, and moms who have experienced miscarriages and just general mom groups. I also have a Mom Squad and my ladies group. 

What’s one thing you have learned as a mom that you would tell your pre-kid self?

I like to travel and traveled a great deal with my mom when I was in my teens. Prior to having children, I did not realize all that it takes to travel with children. I was so excited to share the world with my children, but soon realized that vacationing with kids is an adventure within itself. So to my pre-kid self, don’t make too many assumptions (about kids), but even if you do, be prepared for the adventure. And it is okay to overplan with children. 

It sounds like you may have had your fair share of vacationing experiences with children. What has been one of the best family vacations you’ve taken? Any tips to share regarding vacationing with kids?

One of the best family vacations was our week to New Smyrna Beach. There was something for us to do with the kids all day, every day. We enjoyed all that the beach had to offer, experiencing something new the entire time we were there. It was a joy to see my children wake up in what they thought was paradise and be excited about sunrises, sunsets and high tides. 

I would advise any parent who is vacationing with children to bring their favorite snacks, take a busy bag for the departure and set aside something new for the return trip as well. It can be a dollar store toy, just something that is new and exciting for the kids. Also, if you can, have an intentional half day or full day of rest prior to the return home. I have found that any travel anxiety is handled much better when we aren’t still on the high of the vacation. 

What’s one piece of advice you want to share with other moms?

Seek community, we need it. You are not the only one dealing with “that child.” Googling advice is good, but remember, you are not getting the whole story. Take the advice, but make it work for you and your family. Pray for your kids and watch God work. 

God has given you EVERYTHING you need to parent each one of your children. He chose you to be their mother for a reason and they were given to you for a reason. And when we “mess up,” God can still use that for His glory. 

Missed past interviews? Check out more Mama Spotlights here!

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