Real Moms: Loren Mitchell
I am so excited to begin the new motherhood series here on HebrewDawn, and interview our first mom. Please allow me to introduce, one of my dearest friends, Loren Mitchell. She is a pastor in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a writer, and a dear friend. She and I met while in seminary together, and though miles may separate us, our friendship has remained strong. It has been a joy to be on this motherhood journey together, as our kids are 7 months apart. I hope you enjoy getting to know Loren and hearing about her life as a mom with her sweet boy K.
How many children do you have and how old are they? I have one child, a son, who will be 2 years old in May.
What is your greatest joy in being a mom? Seeing how much fun K has when he is doing the most basic things! He loves moving and sorting things from one box to another. He gets really excited now to go outside and play. While he is more of a picky eater now than he once was, he really enjoys eating applesauce and cookies. He is very adamant in asking for both. He also has this little monkey backpack and lunchbox that he loves to wear to school. My favorite part of the day is bedtime. Not the part where we keep trying to delay putting on pajamas or fighting brushing our teeth. But the part where we snuggle in the rocking chair and read stories before bed.
What has been your greatest struggle as a mom? Having my child be sick so frequently in the past year. For the first ten months of his life he went to work with me (I was serving as a solo pastor in a small congregation). When we moved to a bigger city and I began to serve a larger church a year ago, K who was becoming mobile, had to start daycare. He has had every virus under the sun, twice! To make matters worse, he has febrile seizures. This means that when his fever spikes from a virus or ear infection for example, he has seizures. These do not cause damage and don't last very long but they are so scary! So, as parents we have struggled a lot on whether or not to keep him in school or take him out. It is always hard to see your baby sick, but the fear of seizures has made us extra protective when he isn't feeling well. We've chosen to keep him in the Montessori school where he attends because he loves it so much and he is learning so many great skills. And finally, after a year, I believe his immune system is finally getting stronger!
What's something you wish you knew before you became a mom? I was so terrified to bring him home when he was born. How would I ever sleep? I knew it would be so tiring. I knew that we would become pros at feeding, changing, etc., but I don't think I was ever absolutely certain that I was ready to be a mother. I guess I wish I had been more confident in the fact that I didn't have to breastfeed my child. I had wanted to do that and was prepared for it. But, I was sick when he was born. Not only did we have latching issues, my milk never came in. After about 6 weeks of stressing over that every hour of every day I quit trying. And you know what? It is okay! My son is healthy. My son was thriving and I was not. I had to not only accept that fact but trust that we bonded just fine as mother and son without breastfeeding. It is great for some moms, but it didn't work for me and that doesn't make me any less of a mother.
Having a child changes you, so what do you hold onto and let go of as mother? Being in control of everything (P.S. this is ridiculously hard). I like to plan things out but I find that with a child things change in an instant so it is harder for me to commit to doing things professionally or socially. I actually had to give up serving on our Presbytery Youth Council because I just couldn't do everything. This was very sad for me to say that I couldn't participate in that ministry anymore. I've gotten very lax about keeping the house straight or even keeping my desk/bill pile organized. I hate this and It drives me crazy. If I have to choose between sitting on the floor with the kiddo or straightening up, I have learned to try to sit still in the moment (my husband will tell you he has to constantly remind me that it is ok to be this way)! I am also trying really hard to hold on to my friendships. Time is such a precious gift these days but I am often too tired to pick up the phone or plan a day with friends. I value those relationships and that support so much, as I have wonderful friends. I hope they know they are appreciated, even if we don't spend a lot of time together like we did before we all got married and had children.
How has your relationship with your significant other changed since having kids? My relationship with my husband is certainly different. In some ways we are stronger than ever, we are a team when it comes to parenting our son and I feel that we are intentional in quality time spent as a family. But there are days when we really struggle. There are days when all of my energy is spent being pastor and mother and I am just deflated at the end of the day with little energy to be a wife. Not that these roles should ever be divided up in this way as I am supposed to wear all these hats at once, but I think that my husband often gets the short end of the stick. Other life stresses can also contribute to that but I think that we strive to spend quality time together, but it is tough. This flows over into the next question
How do you make time for date night? Or how do you keep it saucy when life gets messy? Short answer: I am not very good at it! I let the stresses of life kill my mood more often than I should. We have tried, and will continue to strive to take date nights or spend time together on days I do not have to work. We are lucky we have family close by so we do try to take advantage and let K spend time with them!
What's the one thing you would tell yourself looking back on your journey thus far? They grow so fast. And Saturdays can be so hard! Just try to relax and enjoy the moments you have with your son and your spouse. Children change every day and I want to be able to remember what he was like at each stage of his childhood. Two things I have done to record those memories are to make Shutterfly Photo books every few months and write him a monthly blog on his birthday date with memories, milestones, and photos so that we can always look back. He'll either appreciate that when he is older or want to kill me. Thank You Loren for agreeing to be a part of the real moms series! I hope you have enjoyed hearing from this beautiful woman, and hearing that there are many similar struggles that we are all facing. If you enjoyed her writing style as much as I do, feel free to read more on her blog Preaching Thumbelina.
Would you like to be featured in the Real Moms Series or have someone you'd like to see? We are looking for moms with kids of all ages AND mothers of children all grown up to share their story. Make sure to send me a message to be featured or nominate someone!