"I am a single mom by choice, meaning that I made a decision to become pregnant and have a baby without a partner and that brought me Hadley!"
I love photographing families, but I especially love getting the chance to share the story of the woman behind the family. I do so because I hope that other mamas will find solace and inspiration in knowing they aren't alone.
Erika's journey into motherhood is a unique and one to be heard as many women understand the challenges of being a single mom. Check out her story below and leave me a comment below letting me know your biggest take away from her story!
A Single Mom by Choice, Erika's Story
What's your favorite part about being a mom?
I have wanted to be a mom for quite some time and enjoy so many things about finally having this experience. I think my favorite part is watching the changes as Hadley develops. I have worked with kids for many years and even train families in child development. While I have a lot of professional knowledge of the developmental process that all children go through, I find it amazing to see this play out with Hadley and to watch her learn new things each day and to begin to explore and find amazement with our world.
I think the social- emotional development captivates me the most at the moment; watching her start to recognize and react to familiar people, model my emotional expressions, interact with other children, find amusement in things- she has a great sense of humor that is emerging, find non-verbal ways to communicate her needs to me- this piece is so fun to see!
20 years now what do you hope you'll remember? What do you want your children to remember?
I have moments every day as a parent in which I think to myself that I wish I could freeze this so that I can remember it fully in the future. While I know that isn't possible, I hope that I will remember some of the small moments that make up each phase of time. Things seem to change so very quickly and I want to hold on to the little things like the way that Hadley pats my shoulder when I pick her up, the sweetness in watching her sleep, and the sounds that she makes to show excitement. While she won't remember this particular period of time, my hope in 20 years is that she can look back and know fully how much she is loved by so many people and to realize that I gave her everything that I can. I also hope she will remember a very fun childhood filled with many adventures as that is what I intend to give her!
What are some challenges you've faced as a mom, how did you work through them?
I am a single mom by choice, meaning that I made a decision to become pregnant and have a baby without a partner and that brought me Hadley! As a new mom who is also a single mom, there have been plenty of day to day challenges that have come up.
I've had to figure out how to juggle a career I love and dedicate a lot of time to with solo parenting, how to manage to still pay the bills, clean the house, and cook dinner while being the only parent at home, how to navigate the lack of sleep and exhaustion that comes when there isn't a second person to take a shift, how to budget to support another human being on one salary, and how to feel confident making parenting decisions when the decision falls solely on me.
I would say though that I have navigated this journey as well as I have only with the help of a huge support system. My immediate family and best friends have been by my side from minute one helping me figure out how to be a mom to a newborn, offering guidance and a second opinion, and helping care for Hadley. My extended family, close family friends, larger friend circle, co-workers and a surprising number of others I only know casually have shown such interest in Hadley and provided encouragement, support, and baby-sitting services. It was and is a wonderful and humbling thing to see how supported we are by so many in this journey and that has made all of the difference! I also utilize several Single Mom by Choice Facebook groups, read books by other single parents by choice, and listened to podcasts. I have even connected one-on-one with a few people which I find really helpful. While the people closest to me can listen to my experiences, it helps talking to others who are experiencing the same things as a result of our unique circumstances
If you knew then what you know now what advice would you give yourself about being a mother?
I am only 8 months in, but if I could talk to myself prior to giving birth to Hadley, I certainly would tell myself to hold on for the ride!
These past 8 months have been a whirlwind, and while I thought I was prepared to parent a newborn, looking back, I don't think there was any way to prepare for the actual emotional experience of becoming a mother and being responsible for another life that you love more than you ever could have imagined.
I think I would want my former self to know how intense the early days are and realize that is a normal part of becoming a mother and to embrace the experience and each fleeting moment as much as possible. I've learned that now and I have never been happier!
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