Whether a first-time mommy or a weathered veteran, we believe every mother has some valuable wisdom that she’s gleaned along this crazy journey we call parenting. Mommy Spotlight highlights a mom who is striving to create a thriving home in her own unique way. Today, we introduce you to Erika, Rachel’s best friend since third grade.
Tell us a little about you and your family…
I’ve been married to Matt for 8 1/2 years. We have two daughters: Audrey is 5 and Claire is 2. We currently reside in Arizona but have lived all over the world, because my husband is a pilot in the Air Force. Before kids, I was a high school Social Studies teacher and then became a lawyer. Now I stay home full-time with the girls.
What are some things you love about being a mom?
I love watching my girls grow and learn. Curiosity, wonder, and excitement come so naturally for them, and it is infectious! Their laughter can make me smile, even on my most tired days. I’m constantly challenged by these little people, and when I look at them and listen to them, I love all that I can learn about God. I feel so honored to be a mom, and I don’t want to take it for granted.
I’m learning to love some of the hard stuff, too. For example, I’m realizing that when I’m tired and impatient and the girls are not so kind, I can lean deeper into Jesus and let him help me parent. The rest and freedom I’ve gained from realizing I cannot do it on my own is invaluable. So, even though it isn’t always easy, I’m trying to recognize the hard moments as gifts, too!
What is one of the hardest things about being a mom?
I think one of the hardest things for me is to be “in the moment” with my kids. Even when I am playing with them, I often find myself thinking about the next thing or project on my mental “to do” list. I unintentionally rush the girls through play time so I can keep things moving. It’s been hard for me to just stop and enjoy the moment for exactly what it is.
I’ve also struggled with “mommy guilt”. God wired me to need some down time. Time to myself. Even before kids, I’ve always needed this. For some reason, after having kids, I thought that I shouldn’t need this any more (or couldn’t have it). When I do take time for just me, I have to fight against feelings of guilt. It’s been hard to learn and remember that it is ok to recharge. It’s ok to be myself as a mom. I’m constantly asking God to speak truth to me in this area!
As a mom, how do you keep yourself spiritually healthy?
Time with God is a MUST for my spiritual health. I’ve been intentional about getting up even half an hour before my kids so I can have a cup of coffee, read my bible, and pray. This has taken some effort because I LOVE sleep! I find myself praying for strength to get up out of bed, and God never fails to bless this quiet moment. Honestly, it doesn’t happen every day. But on the days I do get up and spend time with God, my whole person is at rest and the day goes much smoother!
I also listen to beautiful music throughout the day. Praise music, classical music, jazz, bluegrass, you name it. I fill our house with music that moves me and reminds me of the beauty of God. Whenever possible, we spend time outside and notice the beauty of God’s creation. I try to find reasons to thank God as often as I can in my day.
What is some advice you would give new moms or mommys-to-be out there?
When my first daughter was born, I remember calling my mom completely overwhelmed and stressed about all of the stuff I didn’t know. She listened and then simply said, “Erika, trust your instincts. God has equipped you to with everything you need to be a great mom.” This helped me immensely. As new moms, we often doubt our ability to care for our little ones. The truth is, we know our babies better than anyone else. If we can quiet our own anxieties, say a little prayer, and take a few deep breaths, we can usually give the babies exactly what they need! I also think it’s important to find ways to stay positive. Even if that’s listing one thing we’re thankful for on that horrible day, it can completely change our attitude and perspective. Focusing on the hard stuff won’t make it any better.
What are a few of your favorite baby/kid products?
My favorite baby/toddler carrier is the Ergo Baby Carrier. Amazon carries these in a wide variety of colors. It’s super comfy for me, and my girls liked it, too. We used it on errand running and hikes in the mountains!
If you can afford it, the BOB Revolution Stroller has been worth it’s weight in gold. I have one, and I’ve taken it around the world. Whether on the streets of Korea, in a Wal-Mart in South Carolina, or on the trails in Arizona, this stroller gets the job done. I’ve had mine 5 years, and we still use it weekly.
What are some of the most helpful books you’ve read on motherhood and parenting?
1) Grace-Based Parenting: I’ve read this twice and will read it again! Dr. Kimmel’s words are encouraging, refreshing, and direct.
2) Spiritual Parenting: An Awakening for Today’s Families: A great read that helps me remember that God is working on transforming my kids’ hearts, I just have to help create the environment for that to occur. (Note: You can read Rachel’s review here.)
3) Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches: I laughed through this book and loved her ideas and anecdotes. It’s also short enough to read in a few hours! (Note: You can read Rachel’s review here.)
4) The Ministry of Motherhood: Following Christ’s Example in Reaching the Hearts of Our Children: Clarkson uses the ministry of Jesus to help me see how to relate to and reach my own children.
5) Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child: Practical and necessary, this book has been my go-to book for helping create good sleep habits in our kids. I give it or recommend it to all expecting moms.
6) One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are: It’s not a parenting book, per se, but the book is a great read and has really helped me cultivate a heart of thankfulness!
What is one of your favorite kid-friendly snacks or meals?
Fresh fruit, cheese, and crackers!
Any verses or scripture that have encouraged you or shaped you as a mom?
Galatians 6:9 – Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Psalm 32:8 – I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.
These are constantly changing, as God continues to lead me to his words that speak to where I am at the moment.