Mothergood Feature: Lauren McKinley, Author
Tell us about your background and a little bit about who you are?
Hi, I’m Lauren! I am a wife, mama of two, and writer. I am part of a blended family and am passionate about sharing our story to encourage other folks in their co-parenting venture. I also run an online community, Her Soul Repair, for women who are healing from divorce. Wondering why I am qualified to offer advice in all things divorce and co-parenting? Well, long story short, five years back, I went through a crazy divorce. It’s a big part of my story because I came out of it a much stronger version of myself. My first marriage brought me my beautiful, creative, and passionate daughter. And, it paved the way for me to meet my now husband, my forever love. Present day, my husband and I spend our days rockin’ the blended family for our daughter and gushing over our nine-month-old son.
What do you find most fulfilling about motherhood? The most challenging?
The layers that make up motherhood are as thick as they come. It brings out my best and my worst. It is full of oxymorons, the highest highs to the lowest lows. I am both killing it and failing miserably within moments of each other. This makes it hard to pinpoint the most fulfilling part of motherhood. For me, growing those babes in my very own body, physically bringing them into this world, and knowing that God gave me each one to hold, teach, and guide is where I find most fulfillment. I truly believe, God made my babies and me for each other. This is both a huge gift and a frightening responsibility. But, you know what, I trust He will make up for my shortcomings. This helps me when I find my voice raised over my daughter’s outfit choices or how much she despises brushing her teeth or the baby’s witching hour. I see how God is refining me through how I parent and filling in the gaps of my mom fails.
In a practical sense, fulfillment comes when you see the fruits of your labor. Discipline, re-direction, consequences, minor progress, setbacks ... then, all of a sudden, weeks go by without (fill in the blank) being an issue. The work and consistency have paid off. Whether it’s sleep training or tantrums, when you put exhausting work in and the end result is a good one, that’s the fulfillment. And, the entire process of getting there is the challenge. The two work together beautifully.
What does motherhood look like for your right now? What do you love about where you are? what would you change?
Right now, motherhood looks like balancing my time, showing up for what matters, and accepting help everywhere in between. In the day to day, I work from home with my active nine-month-old while my daughter is either at school or with her dad and bonus mom. I have accepted that the household stuff must come second to my work and taking care of our baby. I want so bad to both financially provide for my family and devote all my time to our babies, a clean house, and those picture-perfect organic dinners night after night, but I can’t do it all. I have a partner who helps with ALL the things and this is a shift I have had to accept about my current season. The traditional roles I had ingrained in my mind of what makes up a “good” marriage/mom have changed. With my plate this full, I need the help of my partner, and that doesn’t make me less of a mom or wife.
As a “semi-seasoned” mom, I will say my favorite realization is that the very things that are most challenging about our children are the exact parts that make them so freaking incredible. The hardest parts of my daughter to parent are the parts of her that I love so much it hurts. She is fiery, passionate, and creative. When this is channeled in ways that disobey me as her parent, it all feels impossible. But, when I see this same passion take over another endeavor of hers, I beam with pride over this amazing little human I have been entrusted with. So, take the good with the bad and accept that often times the two go hand in hand.
How have you incorporated motherhood into your identity without losing your own individuality?
There’s a six year age gap between my two babies. A lifetime of happenings took place in that six years, so I have a unique perspective on my identity as a mom and how it’s shifted. When I had my daughter, all I wanted was to be a stay at home mom. It felt as if I was made for it and that role was more than enough. And, I did stay home with her until life’s circumstances (that crazy divorce mentioned earlier) forced me to go back to work. I must say that during this entire time I did write a book, start a blog, and started to fully own these accomplishments.
I was a working mom until I had my son. I, then, took six months off of the salary job. Six months passed by and our family needed that salary once again, so I went back to work (but, from home. yay!). As much as when I first became a mom all I saw in my future was the stay at home mom gig, I love showing my daughter how mommy does both and not to mention, teaching her the reality that all of the extra things she enjoys doing, in fact, requires money.
And, on the other side, as an author, I hope my children one day see that I wrote my story down to bring peace to others. I hope they are encouraged to share their own pain for a greater purpose. Owning your individuality as a mom is everything. I pray that when my babies are old enough to look back on it all, they’ll be real proud of all my accomplishments and above all feel like I loved the heck out of them with every single fiber in me.
What advice would you give women who are considering/desiring motherhood?
Having kids is the best! If you are fearful of how life may change once kids enter the picture, let me tell you, it’ll change in all of the best possible ways. Not to say, it’ll be easy. It won’t be easy, but it’ll be so darn worth it.
Also, God’s time is always perfect. I realize this is a tough pill to swallow if you’re still waiting or have experienced loss. We had our first loss a couple months back and it was devastating. The little peanut only lived in me for seven weeks, but we had already welcomed that baby into our world. The whys aren’t important, but God refining our character to trust in His timing during the times we don’t understand, that’s what it’s all about. Whatever route God takes to bless you with a babe, it’ll be amazing. And you’ll be ready to fulfill that role in ways you never knew existed. You and your littles were made for each other.