So I’m taking this opportunity to introduce myself a little bit, to share my story, and hopefully inspire others to join me in this cause to strengthen families.
This story begins when I was in my late teens, living in Long Beach, California. After feeling pretty insecure in middle school (as most people do), I really found my niche in high school–particularly my senior year.
I’d learned to set goals and to work hard, and I discovered that I could almost always achieve those things that were most important to me. I felt valued and successful as I got involved with student council, cheerleading, clubs, our church youth group, drama, and community leadership organizations. I also took advantage of opportunities to organize a social club for girls, plan tons of group dates and activities, and build lots of meaningful friendships. The world seemed full of opportunities ripe for the picking.
In spite of all I achieved during that time, there was something seriously lacking in my understanding of the world. I didn’t understand the value of motherhood.
I loved my mom and appreciated her, but I vividly remember a conversation we had one afternoon when she was asking me what I wanted for my future. I told her I wasn’t sure, but I mentioned I might want to go into aerospace engineering. She wisely told me it might be a good idea if I chose a career that would work with raising a family.
I remember I got really upset at that point and said something like, “What’s the point of being a mother? You spend all your time taking care of your children, only to raise your daughters to ‘just be mothers’ and then the cycle keeps on going. None of us will ever BE anything!” I was so confused . . . thinking that motherhood was a step backwards for women. My mom put her head in her hands and just sat there quietly whispering “What did I not teach you?” She tried to explain how the family is central to everything, but I didn’t want to listen.
One of the biggest turning points for me was when I went away to college and had the chance to see a bigger snapshot of the world. It was there, amidst great professors, inspired role models, and solid peers, that I learned how essential, noble, and wonderful it is to have the opportunity to be a mother.
I studied hard, majoring in communications and minoring in family sciences, and I could hardly wait until I could start a family of my own. Eric and I met in the spring of 1998, and we knew instantly that we were meant for each other.
We married that December, and 13 months later, our first daughter, Alia,entered our family. I was fortunate to graduate just two weeks before giving birth, and then my adventure into mothering began.
The next year was one of the hardest of my entire life. I pictured motherhood as being fulfilling and fun, but with a new community (Northern California), a tight budget, an apartment complex void of life between 9 and 5, no car, no TV, and one baby who was either sleeping or crying, I was sinking fast. I kept asking my relatives, friends, and husband for guidance, but the only suggestions I got were to get involved in some hobbies to keep my mind off my loneliness.
Even though I loved my baby and knew I was doing important work, I think I cried to Eric at least twice a week. I had been so used to feeling cute, fun, smart, “in-the-know”, and part of a motivated, talented social group. Sitting at home trying to work on my non-existent scrap-booking and decorating skills was the LAST thing I wanted to do. I was insecure about the excess baby weight, I felt so poor financially compared to the established families, and I could feel my brain slipping away. My apartment felt like a prison, and I seriously considered getting a job or finding some way to escape the life I was living. That’s the closest to depression I’ve ever been.
As I’ve spoken with a variety of moms over the years, I’ve realized that my experience is one of the most common stories ever told. SO many mothers (but not all) feel frustrated, depressed, insignificant, and/or grumpy, but even though my situation was not unique, what got me out of it was. Because this website is for all mothers (religious or not), I hesitate to describe this process in detail, so I’ll try to give you the general picture, and hopefully you’ll get the idea.
I’d heard my whole life that the answers to all of our problems are in the scriptures. As I confided in a new-found friend, a mother of three who clearly knew God, she encouraged me to start “feasting” on my scriptures . . . at least an hour a day. I took the challenge, and I had a spiritual experience that changed the course of my life.
As I was reading one day, I felt the Lord say, “Come unto Me.” The solution to my problem wasn’t in the world. It wasn’t in a new job or a sewing lesson or a recipe book or a scrap booking store. It was in Him. I didn’t know all that would entail, but I decided that day to do everything I could to draw closer to God. I listened to beautiful music and thought-provoking lectures on CDs, really studied my scriptures each morning for an hour, took copious notes about what I was learning, read every single uplifting article I could get my hands on, became the best friend I possibly could to those in my circle, and prayed each day for help to know what on earth I was supposed to do with my life.
I think back on those months with such sweetness. I was able to see my role as completely vital to the world, and I started to receive inklings as to what I would do in the future to strengthen families and motherhood. The walls of my home no longer felt like a prison. They were glowing. I remember sitting on my couch reading my scriptures during Alia’s morning nap and wondering, “Is it possible that angels are right here with me? Because I feel as close to heaven as I ever have.”From that point, I just kept learning, writing in my journal, interviewing moms, reading every book at the library I could find about motherhood, studying motherhood issues on the Internet, and trying to figure out what I could contribute. Our move to Boston gave me more great opportunities to learn, more mothers to interview, and more great examples to follow. It was there I first met Saren Eyre Loosli, and her parents, Richard and Linda Eyre.
When we moved to California, now parents of three preschoolers, I started writing every Wednesday night, working on a book I still haven’t published. Even though I was investing serious time pursuing my mission, discouragement crept in because I felt like “just a mom” who no one was ever going to take seriously. After submitting three or four different things for publication or review, and getting rejected on all fronts, I wondered if I should just give it all up. Whenever Eric and I went out to company dinners or big social settings, everyone wanted to talk about his Harvard degree, his time serving as our college student body president, his two-year service mission for our church, or his job in real estate (all GREAT accomplishments!).
Eric would always try to turn conversations to me, but motherhood just isn’t that notable or exciting in the business world. “Anyone want to know what we had for snack today? How about an update on our latest potty experiences?”
It wasn’t even that I wanted attention. I was secure enough in who I was and what I was doing that I didn’t need a paycheck or kudos from the general public, but I felt frustrated that motherhood was so undervalued in general. Eric has always been my biggest cheerleader. He kept telling me I needed to use my voice to strengthen other moms, and if I couldn’t find the example I was looking for, then I needed to BE that example. He’s always helped me to see my value. I adore him.
One morning, back in 2005, I was trying to figure out the next step I should take. A very strong feeling came that I needed to start a website. I didn’t need to wait for someone else to “publish me.” I would publish myself, and I would make publishing easy for any other mother who wanted to write for the cause. I dragged my feet a bit getting the site up because I had some health problems (ovarian cysts and a miscarriage, among other things) and I didn’t have a clue how to make a website or run an organization, but then about a year and a half later, I had a powerful thought that if I didn’t do what needed to be done right then, the time would pass, and the opportunity would no longer be there. I would miss the window. So I hunkered down and worked on The Power of Moms the whole time I was pregnant with Spencer (my fourth child). I’d be painfully contracting and counting the minutes between–and simultaneously typing out website copy. I invested some of our savings in website design and Internet hosting, and I sent out our first monthly email in August of 2007, just a few weeks before Spencer was born.
Looking back on that decision, I can see that the reason I needed to start the website was so Saren that could find me.
She had been working on similar projects to strengthen mothers, and when her mother forwarded the link to my site, Saren asked if I would like to work with her. I was so excited! For months, we redesigned the site, added new content, and established our organization together. I can’t even express my gratitude to this amazing woman! Now we are working to reach as many mothers as possible and to build a network of happy, purpose-driven mothers who “grow themselves, build each other, and shape the future.” Each month, I “meet” more and more strong, talented, wonderful mothers through The Power of Moms, and they inspire me to be better and happier each day. Even my hardest days are less hard because I know there are millions of women out there who are doing the same things…and doing them well.
Everything I have been able to do or will be able to do is because of God. That is no question. However, I’ve purposely tried to create a website that is non-denominational and respectful of all those who believe in strong families. I know there is nothing more important than the work I’m doing within my own home, but I also feel a heavy (but exciting) responsibility to move forward with all the ideas swirling around in my head. There are more stories to write, conferences to organize, programs to create, and ideas to put into action–all for the purpose of making mothers happier, families stronger, and nations better. That’s the potential I see for The Power of Moms.
I know that good, strong mothers are vital to the world. We have an important work to do as we raise our children and love our husbands, but even though we are willing to sacrifice for our families, we still need to take care of ourselves. Mothers have the capacity to change the world because we are everywhere. Even though we are isolated in our own homes, the Internet is a way for us to join together, to strengthen each other, and to inspire one another to become the best we can possibly be.
Images provided by April Perry.