Hey friends! I’m really excited about this Mama Spotlight. Today you get to hear from my neighbor, Amber.
After the murder of George Floyd, our church hosted an outdoor prayer gathering. I extended an invitation to my Facebook friends and Amber showed up with her daughter. Although we lived in the same neighborhood, that day was the first time we officially met in person, through masks. Since that day, we have had dinner together and several play dates. Amber has been through a lot in the last year, but in the midst of the challenges she has faced she continues to persevere and thrive in role as mom. I know you will be inspired by this mama!
Tell me about yourself. Who are you? What do you do? How many children do you have?
My name is Amber Holmes, I am 29 years old and single mom to Kinsleigh, who just turned 1! Outside of being a mom, I am a mental health therapist. I work in a residential treatment facility with adolescent girls, aged 12-17. These girls are either in the DCS system or on juvenile probation. All of them come from some really rough and sad backgrounds and have experienced a lot of trauma. So it’s a tough job, but absolutely rewarding.
How do you define motherhood?
Oh that’s a tough question! Motherhood is a journey. And the most sacred one at that. Motherhood is the journey of creating life, supporting the growth and development of a tiny human, and molding them into a person who will make the world a better place. Motherhood is beautiful yet gritty, rewarding yet exhausting.
Describe the stage of motherhood you are currently in.
I am currently in the toddler stage, which is crazy to say! It feels like Kinsleigh was just born yesterday. Kinsleigh has always been a super active baby, even since she was still in my belly – I swear she was practicing her flips and tumbles. I can still remember watching in amazement as her body rolled across my belly. She started walking at 10 months old and has not slowed down since. She is so curious and silly and is always trying to figure things out.
What do you enjoy most about this stage?
I love watching her little brain work! Sometimes she will become absorbed in a random item or toy and will spend 5-10 minutes sitting quietly, turning it over in her hands, feeling it, squinting at it, babbling away while she explores it. It’s so fun to watch her figure new things out. For example, one time I gave her some colorful puffs and an empty bottle, and within a few minutes she figured out how to put the puffs into the water bottle. She loved it and was so proud of herself when the bottle filled up!
What is most challenging about this stage?
While I love how active she is, it is also exhausting! Especially as a single mom. She gets into everything. The funniest part is she has a whole playroom full of toys, yet she’ll beeline straight to the dog’s toys, or the dog’s food, or the bathroom to unroll a brand new roll of toilet paper.
What does self-care look like for you right now?
Most evenings after bedtime you can find me curled up in a blanket on the couch scrolling through social media or mindlessly watching Netflix (sometimes with a glass of wine in hand). But I have also been super fortunate to have a tribe of friends surround me during this really difficult year. So sometimes self-care is an evening with friends or face-timing with friends/family who are far away.
What has had the greatest influence on you as a parent or your parenting style?
Definitely my dad! My parents divorced when I was 11 and we lived primarily with my dad, as my mom struggled with some mental health issues. My mom passed away when I was 16 and he took me and my two siblings on full-time by himself, while working and completing a PhD program. He wasn’t a perfect parent, but he got us through some really tough times and made sure that most importantly his kids knew that we were loved unconditionally. He also always encouraged us to use our voices to stand up for ourselves and those with less privilege than us. These are things I hope shine through in my own parenting.
Tell me the most important thing(s) you hope to pass on to your child(ren).
As I’m writing this answer, I am realizing it’s hard to put into words what I hope to pass on to my daughter. There are so many things. The responsibility of raising a kind, smart, compassionate, strong, brave girl in today’s world can feel daunting.
I hope that she always knows and believes that she is enough, she is worthy, and she is loved. That she deserves to surround herself with people who treat her with respect, and that when that doesn’t happen, she knows she can use her voice to stand up for herself and demand that respect.
I hope to pass on the idea that there is a whole world of people out there who come from different backgrounds, different cultures, different lives, but that they all deserve equal rights and respect. I hope she uses her voice to stand up for others.
Where do you find support as a mom?
Other moms. The first year of my motherhood journey has been incredibly difficult. My daughter’s father very unexpectedly filed for divorce in January when Kinsleigh was 3 months old, and then 2 months later the world shut down because of the pandemic. I felt like I was still figuring out motherhood when all of a sudden I had to figure out being a single mom in isolation. I am a part of several Facebook groups of local moms and have made some amazing connections with women, including some who have been through similar situations as my own. Sometimes I cry thinking about how wonderful and supportive these women have been, many of whom I have never met in real life. Many women have reached out to offer words of support and wisdom, some have offered more tangible support like offering to bring meals or help financially if I needed it. One woman reached out and offered to take professional photos of me and my daughter for free. I have been floored at the kindness and strength of my mama tribe.
What’s one thing you have learned as a mom that you would tell your pre-kid self?
I have learned that I am capable of more than I ever thought possible. I remember being pregnant and my biggest worry was how I would function on little sleep after Kinsleigh was born. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine surviving an ugly divorce and global pandemic while being a single mother to an infant and working full time. Whew. I would tell (really remind) my pre-kid self that I can do hard things!
What’s one piece of advice you want to share with other moms?
My biggest piece of advice would be find your support group and don’t feel ashamed to ask for help! We all need it at times. I think our culture has ingrained this idea that moms always have it together and we’re these indestructible superheroes. And ya, we are superheroes! But it’s still ok for superheroes to ask for help and take some time away to take care of themselves. You can’t pour from an empty cup.
Photograph included in this post is courtesy of Sarah Jean Hoke