Today I’m featuring another inspirational mom, Michele. I’ve known Michele and her family for a very long time, practically my entire life. She is someone I have always admired from a distance because of the joy and positive energy she radiates. As I was reading her interview responses, I could literally feel that positive energy in her words. I know you will be inspired by her thoughts on motherhood!
Tell me about yourself. Who are you? What do you do? How many children do you have?
First, I’m a child of God. Next, a wife, then mother, daughter and friend. I am happy to say that I am self-employed! It took me 14 years to get here, but it allows me to be a “slay at home mom” (my version of a SAHM) because I make my own schedule. I am AFAA certified in group fitness and I teach dance fitness, Zumba and HIIT. I teach a minimum of 8 times a week. In between teaching and parenting I have been choreographing routines under a brand new exercise that just hit the virtual space called HIITZHOP. Under its creator, Liz Davis based out of Ohio, I get the honor of rolling out the format here in Indianapolis. If you visit www.HIITZHOP.com you will catch a glimpse of me in a couple videos. I’m even more excited to be working with my husband to launch a blended family ministry to help bring resources and guidance to other blended families/stepfamilies.
I have 3 children. I said above that we are creating a ministry for blended families and this is because we ARE a ‘blended family’. A blended family is a couple with children from a previous relationship. I have a 10 year old stepdaughter, Shalom, a 7 year old son, Eli, and a 4 year old daughter, Micah.
How do you define motherhood?
I would define motherhood as “emotional tithing.” You give hugs, provide comfort, nurture, nourish, correct behaviors, answer why why why and more. If you think you’re going to get instantaneous gratitude you’re as wrong as two left feet. You may not see where all this leads for many many years – maybe not until your kids have their own kids. But you just keep on giving because you love those little stinkers!
Describe the stage of motherhood you are currently in.
Well…I’m in a hybrid phase if you can call it that. Our 10 year old is able to handle more responsibility and a little independence, but I am still very hands on with our toddler. My husband and I are handling preschool work with her at home and she enjoys having us to herself when our son and daughter are at school.
What do you enjoy most about this stage?
The best part – I’m still the cool mom that can make them laugh/smile. I’m not THAT embarrassing…yet. My husband is equally fun and funny in our household. At any moment there could be a ‘dance off’ in our kitchen, a family workout happening in our garage or even a rap battle before bedtime. There is never a dull moment!
What is most challenging about this stage?
Our kids are in 3 completely different phases of development. One tween, one school age and then a preschooler. I remember being thankful that we never had two kids in diapers at the same time. Nowadays, I’m starring in the Sopranos; I could be negotiating, bribing, investigating and plotting all in one day.
What does self-care look like for you right now?
I’ve gotten so much better with self-care since the COVID stay home order occurred. I’m sure it’s because privacy was non-existent when we couldn’t go out. I learned to be more intentional and proactive with my self-care. Self-care could be letting my afro fly free, not wearing a bra (around the house), watching “The Holiday” in bed and/or painting my toes in my favorite bright colors. It can be taking a hot bath and listening to music. Lately, it’s taking 45 minute walks with my husband and making each other laugh.
What has had the greatest influence on you as a parent or your parenting style?
My marriage. My husband and I started attending our church marriage ministry a little over a year ago. Prior to that our schedule never aligned with the meetings and events but we really wanted to go. When we started we were studying from Tony Evans’ Kingdom Marriage. Through those teachings I learned that healthy parenting comes from a healthy marriage.
Tell me the most important thing(s) you hope to pass on to your child(ren).
“You’re never alone.” This was a hard lesson for me to learn for many years. I struggled with asking for help. I would keep things bottled up and hide my problems from the most important people in my life who loved me and wanted nothing but good things for me. It was because of fear, guilt and shame. My husband and I have very candid conversations with our kids about our past mistakes, lessons learned and struggles. My hope is that through our transparency they feel safe being open in their prayer life, with us as their parents and others who care about them.
Where do you find support as a mom?
During the COVID Stay Home Order I started a group on Marco Polo called Closet Conversations. We even had a jingle. We would post videos from our closets which eventually changed to wherever we could find quiet (walking the neighborhood or while kids were napping). We laughed a lot together and we encouraged each other. We even had a dance party in the closet. Yes, I was the DJ. So I have my ‘mom squad’ I still talk to weekly. I’m very close with my mom and my mother-in-law. They’re both amazing women and both named Dorothy! Funny coincidence. I can even find support from other mom fitness instructors; Zumba instructors are like family and when we get together it’s always a good time.
What’s one thing you have learned as a mom that you would tell your pre-kid self?
Learn to ask yourself first, “Is it a hill to die on?”
In my first few years as a parent I would get up in arms about little things. When our son was 2 years old I didn’t want him to have drinks with added sugar; just natural/organic juice, milk or water. I wrote it on our preference paperwork at his preschool. No medical reason. One day I picked him up and his mouth was stained with bright red Kool-Aid. I was livid! I complained to my husband for what he would describe as “several days off and on.” I even wanted to pull him out of a preschool where he was happy and learning…all because of a single cup of Kool-Aid. I was kind of over the top. I think we all ease up as moms over time.
What’s one piece of advice you want to share with other moms?
Celebrate as much as possible. And I don’t mean the usual birthdays and holidays or even little Annie’s student of the week award (although still important). We often get caught up in what’s happening in 5 days, “When can I find time to put away that laundry I folded 2 days ago?”, “Who is picking up Mikey from baseball practice?” and “WilI I have time to go grocery shopping this afternoon?” Just stop what you’re doing right now, thank God for today and then celebrate today with your family. Turn on that Baby Shark remix we all hate-love and dance it out in the living room with your kids just because you are alive. Have pancakes for dinner tonight-YES I’m giving you permission. Very simple, take time to celebrate.
I am my mom and I have a blended family my kids are grown now and I am blessed to have seven grandchildren however when I read this all I could do was cry as I thought about raising our kids how hectic it was at times so I thought l was crazy . We made it and I have wonderful children but it was a humbling experience. Wish I knew sooner what I know now .Michelle to be this young and have so much zeal and energy I am so moved and excited I have been motivated and free. I cannot even express how moved l am. So I will just say thank you so much young woman of God.