A time I felt successful as a mother:
It almost feels like I can’t answer that question because I’m still watching my children’s lives unfold. When my children were little, just hearing them breathe at night in their beds, knowing they were warm and safe and at peace made me feel content. Seeing them grow into teenagers dealing with their own gut wrenching issues, I felt heartache as they went through it and joy when they came out on the other side battered a bit (sometimes a lot), but able to continue in forward motion. Now as adults they are lighting their own paths and sometimes it seriously seems they choose paths laden with land mines. Of course, there were first steps, first words, first everything, graduations, all the stuff that brings simultaneous tears and smiles. Maybe I cried the day I saw my grandson born because everything came together in that moment; my son a proud new father, his younger sister a doting auntie. They were united in that magical moment and, perhaps, one of the emotions contained in those gammy tears was a feeling of success.
Strengths as a mother:
My strength as a mom (like all moms, I think) is knowing that within each child is light, intelligence, imagination, creativity, kindness, love, beauty, truth, goodness, and innumerable unique talents and characteristics. Only through white knuckling practice am I gaining strength to focus always on that understanding rather than on what are perceived faults or weaknesses. And I always remember they, too, are the author of their own story. I can only hope to provide insight and a constant, unwavering belief in them.
Keeping my identity:
I am not a woman who thought much of getting married or having children. My identity was never intertwined with that thought. I was an athlete, a scholar, an adventurer, a writer, a coach long before I was a mom. When my children were born, an incredible transformation took place. I didn’t lose my identity. My identity expanded. Initially, I was terrified to be a mom because I did NOT want to continue behaviors that I learned as a child from countless generations of women in my family. I made some mistakes, but I broke the chains of abuse and became a mama grizz, ferocious in protecting my kids even against the male grizz. That became part of my identity that I never expected would exist inside me. Motherhood did not swallow my identity. Rather, it enriched it.
A moment I felt joy as a mother:
Oh! My goodness! So many moments!! Every giggle, all the growing up moments of rolling over, first steps, first words and phrases spoken incorrectly and sweetly, first everythings (except the teen year first everything stuff), graduations, wedding, gammyhood, all the laughter shared on road trips with music pounding out every genre imaginable (even some I had to plug my ears for), every hug, every kiss, every kindness, every homemade card and homemade gift, every everything. But let me share something that happened not too long ago that filled my heart with a different kind of joy. My children stood side-by-side with me when their grandmother was laboring for her last breath. My son sang to her. My daughter cried with her. They were, fortunately, out of the room when the last breath escaped, but they showed incredible love and compassion for their grandma and for me because without them, I would have shouldered that experience alone.
How my mothering differs from child to child:
My children were nearly six years apart (we lost a child in between). My mothering was different because my children were different. They were both really easy going in their young years, but some things happened and my youngest child suffered a major loss. From that point on parenting became completely different, very, very difficult. In fact, I think I have PTSD from it and I’m not kidding. My mothering style became more detective work and social work and grin and bear it or cry and bear it work. My oldest child also gave me some bone chilling experiences after suffering the same loss, but not nearly to the degree (months compared to years and a few occurrences compared to too many to count) as the youngest. Again, it’s so important to maintain hope and project light throughout the entire adventure and NEVER give up on them!
Greatest triumphs/greatest regrets:
Triumphs: (1) Got them both raised; (2) We went on a lot of adventures together, just the three of us. We went to concerts and plays, to wild outdoors places and science places, and all kinds of places. We fixed meals together and ate together (one time we ate at the only open restaurant in town for Christmas dinner…it was a Chinese restaurant) and sometimes watched TV all snuggled up together. We hug and we dream. I know my kids can survive AND succeed: (3) Standing up to protect my kids against someone from whom there should never have been a threat.
Regrets: (1) Those times when I was too harsh or too lenient. Parenting is on the job training. We either learn to be better or not. I’m thankful I learned quickly I wanted to do better.
An event that altered my life path:
My path was bush whacking through a jungle with no trails, which may be easier than thinking there’s a golden path of sorts. As far as parenting goes, no doubt, divorce was the hungry panther in the jungle. It ripped me apart, but like my friend, Pat Benatar, sings, “the deepest cuts are healed by faith.”
Significant part of my story that is important to me:
I taught my children that no matter how heavy life’s events can be, seek the positive, breathe moment to moment until the difficulties pass, find ways to laugh, find someone to help, hug a tree and a puppy, whatever it takes (that is healthy) to realize life IS good!!
Personality traits that have been a blessing or a curse:
If I could shout something from the rooftops and everyone would hear, I would shout, “Spend your life making beautiful memories, treating people kindly, loving friends, family, and strangers, doing what you love and loving what you do, and making love with your soul mate.” Why would I shout that? Because nothing else matters.
‘And I Did Eat’
When I was asked to write an article about my life I was touched. I then wondered if it was really understood who they had asked and whether they truly knew of the condition of the tapestry of my life and the much needed repair work that had occurred on so many occasions! Realising we are all on different journeys to the same destination and with very different experiences but with the same divine heritage, a prayer was offered up to my Heavenly Father requesting the assistance of The Holy Ghost so that I might be able to write with authenticity the things that my
Father in Heaven would have me share and that these words would reach the people they were intended to lift. I have entitled it ‘And I Did Eat’ because like Eve that’s the choice we all made in the [before life] willingly.
My name is Julia Marie, I loved to introduce myself as this as a child, it made me smile for some reason. My maiden name is Gray and I was born in the United Kingdom. I am a spirited passionate girl who is a wife, mother, grandmother and so much more, still working it all out and trying to see myself with all the lights on as it were. Always wanting to throw myself into the experiences of life with gusto that allow me to flourish and grow on this wonderfully colourful planet. Continue reading
I’m an advocate for making sure every person knows they are special and worthwhile. Despite their flaws, insecurities failures and all. If I had a theme to the story of my life that would be it.
Motherhood felt especially hard when I knew it was healthier to be divorced rather then married. The process was life-changing. I had held on to the marriage not wanting to hurt my boys, but I was grateful for the strength I found inside of myself to move forward. I love family. I think holding tightly together is the best, but sometimes it doesn’t work out. Continue reading
When I was young I pictured my life pretty much as it is now, maybe not with four children but certainly a couple. I didn’t picture what work I would be doing, which is building, but knew I loved doing it with my dad. I loved watching my dad building and always joined in. Was nice to spend father daughter time. I found once I got married when my husband was away, I always started building jobs at home, but never knew it would be such a large part of my life now.
Was strange when I found out was pregnant for the first time as my nan had passed away six months before and I was having counselling try to understand her death. In a strange way felt my nan had sent a baby for me. I was so close to my nan as my mum was so hard working.