There are amazing, devoted, wonderful, deliberate mothers out there, and each week we’ll spotlight one of them here at The Power of Moms. Do you know a mom who deserves a little time in the spotlight? Email rachelle.price (at) powerofmoms.com. We can’t wait to meet her.
Introducing Lisa Barlow
How many children do you have and what are their ages?
Isabelle (10), Maxwell (8), Simon (5), Harrison (3) and Beckett (3)
What are some of the unique and interesting aspects of your family or your approach to mothering?
We want our family to be:
Available to serve
We talk about these traits and what it means to be a Barlow. We want our family to have a strong foundation of values. We hope our family culture will help our kids to stay close to each other forever.
Every night, during dinner, we talk about our high points and low points and then record them in our family journal. The kids love to share with each other and it gives us a chance to celebrate and learn together. This is one way that we keep a record of our family story.
What do you do that is a little different than what seems to be the “norm”?
When I was a child, we moved every few years. I lived in 6 states. Who I am as an adult was shaped by my moving experiences. I always assumed my children would have the same opportunity to move and experience new people and places. Befriending new kids at school is important to me. And, since we will live in one area for their entire childhood, I want to show my kids the country through travel.
What have you decided to prioritize in your mothering that you see as somewhat unusual?
“Begin with the end in mind.” I often think about the kind of adults I hope to raise. I hope that as adults, my children are independent, hard working, faithful, kind, loving, responsible, and service-oriented. In our family, as part of their “Daily Duties” (which are chores and habits we hope they form), our kids are expected to ask me, “What can I do to help?” We talk about the magic that those words can bring into our lives when we search beyond ourselves to help others. We also started a daily “Surprise Service” where we do something unexpected every day to help someone else and then write about it in our individual journals.
I believe we don’t celebrate people enough so my kids have a birthday party every year. Our birthday parties are simple, inexpensive and usually occur at home. The parties won’t ever be pinned on Pinterest or featured in a blog, but I love to celebrate my kids for a day with their closest friends and cousins.
What have been your favorite parts of motherhood?
I love when my kids learn new things. Our son, Harrison, has Sensory Processing Disorder. Learning to speak, interact with others, and engage with the world around him has been a challenge for him. Watching Harrison’s progress has helped me appreciate growth in all of my kids.
I love when my kids make good choices. The other day, Beckett said, “Mom, I used my nice words! I said, ‘Excuse me’ and they let me through.” He was so thrilled and I was happy that he learned to that being kind and polite is important.
When my kids make good choices and learn new skills, I know it will help them become productive, independent, confident adults.
My personal motherhood motto is: Be present. Focus on family. Be positive. When I keep the right perspective about what matters most, joy in motherhood follows.
One of my favorite sayings is “It’s the little moments that make life big.” I love standing at the front door with the little kids and yelling, “Have fun stormin’ the castle” to the big kids as they walk to school. I love their excitement when I tell them we’re having macaroni and cheese for lunch. I love playing kickball in the backyard. I love reading with my kids. Finding joy in life’s ordinary moments makes me happiest.
Sometimes I have a day where I feel like I didn’t accomplish anything. But, when I focus on the little moments like cute conversations in the car or laughing over a joke, I realize that the precious moments were more important than what I didn’t accomplish.
What have been your biggest challenges of motherhood for you?
You can have it all… just not all at the same time. There’s just not enough time in the day! Sometimes I wish I could freeze time and then have a few days to catch up with life! And, then I’d “unfreeze” time and we could continue with life.
Finding balance between structure and spontaneity is important to me. I often review my priorities and then eliminate the unnecessary. When I say “No” to something, I remind myself that I’m not saying “Never”, I’m just saying “Not now.” Every time I say “No” to something, I’m essentially saying “Yes” to something more important.
I’ve learned to advocate for my children. Having a child with special needs has taught me that I’m solely responsible to find opportunities to help Harrison. By talking to people and asking hard questions, Harrison has received help that has changed his life forever. Our kids came to us for a reason. We’re here to help them.
What have you learned from motherhood? Please share a specific story or incident that really taught you something.
When we found out we were having twins, we were ecstatic. Although we knew having 5 kids under the age of 6 would be difficult, we were confident that we could manage it. I went into pre-term labor at 29 weeks and was on bed rest for the duration of the pregnancy. I was hospitalized twice before their birth at 37 weeks gestation.
After our twins were born, I suffered from postpartum depression and debilitating back pain from the delivery. There were many difficult, dark days when I didn’t how to be the mom my kids needed. I felt so inadequate. But, I thought, “God sent these children to me because he knew I could do this. If he has faith in me, I can have faith in myself. I know I can do hard things.” My faith, my husband, medical professionals, and help from family and friends carried me through.
We eliminated unnecessary things. No elaborate dinners (or any homemade dinner for that matter!). No fancy DIY projects. No PTA assignments. Those are all good things but not at that time. We needed love, time, help from others and lots of prayer. We struggled through entire year and have carefully chosen what “extras” to add back into our lives. I learned that most things in life are not essential. Faith, family, and friends can get us through anything.
Watching other mothers wait and worry through high-risk pregnancies motivated us to start an annual project called The Hope Project, which gives “Bags of Hope” to hospitalized bed rest moms every December. Our friends, family and neighbors sew tote bags and we fill the bags with books, toiletries, a necklace that says, “I can.” and other items that may lift a woman’s spirit. The bags are distributed to women in hospitals throughout Utah. We want these women to know that someone cares about them and that they can endure this adversity.
What have you learned about motherhood that you wished you’d known sooner and would like to pass along?
“This too shall pass.” My kids are growing up too fast! The memorable moments will pass quickly so “be present” for your children and create memories. The hard times will pass too so be faithful and courageous to deal with life’s challenges.
A few weeks ago, my father-in-law was diagnosed with terminal cancer. My in-laws have been a good example of bravely managing this crisis. I realize that at any age, my kids may look to me for guidance on how to deal with problems. If I am optimistic, faithful, and have a good attitude, hopefully my kids will face their own challenges with that same attitude.
Keep an open mind and build on the ideas of others. I have a few women (mom, mother-in-law, a few friends) in my life that I consider to be “Mentor Moms.” When I encounter a difficult situation, I think about how they might solve the problem. Sometimes I’ll call them for advice but more often than not, when I think about how they would react, I know what to do.
I hope my children feel my love every day and that when they’re adults, they’ll say, “I’m glad my mom…” rather than “I wish my mom would’ve…” In the end, motherhood is: My job. My role. My responsibility. My joy. My blessing.
Photos courtesy of Lisa Barlow