My best friend growing up, Keri, was supposed to be the “Mother-Figure” with a gazillion kids, living the dream life of a stay at home mom. Not me, my idea of a ‘successful’ mother-figure is being part of a high-performing career with 3 kids.
Hi, I’m Coach Andi, and I was asked by Love Really Matters to share my journey of motherhood, becoming the mother-figure that I am today. You’ll see my abridged story there – the full monty, though, is right here. I was pleasantly surprised at how I busted out 9+ pages of content within 2 short hours. My journey on becoming a mother-figure to 10 human beings is long overdue, to say the least.
Becoming a mother-figure…let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
I share the transparent, raw, and real truth behind motherhood that most moms are too scared to express and share with loved ones for fear of rejection, judgment, and shame (I SEE you, darlin’). Here – you’re safe and you ARE enough and you are NOT alone!
Before Becoming Coach Andi…A Mother-Figure I Was Not
My soon-to-be best friend, for the entirety of my childhood, Keri, moved in next door to me and we were pretty much inseparable since the age of 5. When we parted ways during our college years, I thought for sure, SHE will be the one to settle down (which she did) and pop out babies till her heart’s content. I always saw her as the potential *perfect* mother-figure because she was so darn nice!
I, on the other hand, nope, notta. I was blunt and to the point. Maybe I’ll have three kids since I had a pretty mundane existence growing up with my older brother, who, by the way, seemed to not like me much. I mean, that’s what I thought when he hung me over the backyard deck by my ankles, dangling me like a worn-out ragdoll 10 feet off the ground and my mom’s only reaction…don’t drop her.
Yeah, three would be good.
No Fairy-Tale Love Story… Yet
Truth be told… I didn’t have the fairy tale, boy meets girl, they fall in love, get married, and have their first child with a complete nursey set all ready to go. Plain and simple, I got knocked up by a boy I had known for only six (very short) months. He was cute and he was planning to finish up his senior year in college aboard. So, I figured, hey, dude… go live your planned-out life and I’ll be fine on my own (well, with my mommy’s help, of course, SHE could be the mother-figure I needed, because I had no clue about what to do with a newborn baby).
Well, that wasn’t his plan anymore. He actually didn’t want to be a pay-check daddy and I didn’t want to be with someone I barely knew. Insert eye roll. Seems pretty hypocritical to me, right? The naivety of my youth clouded by lustful desires thinking opening my legs for someone is okay, but not to build a real sustainable relationship with them now that we share a child together. Yup, young and dumb, I think, as I reminisce on my ignorant life decisions.
You May Want To Pin This for Later
Despite all that, I wasn’t going to abort.Soon-to-be-Mom, Andi
My dear friend (yes, Keri) taught me at a young age the truth behind fetal development and what happens during abortions. I remember riding along with her mom (another amazing mother-figure of mine) passing out information flyers at clinics to educate and inform potential “un-mothers” that they weren’t, in fact, carrying a “blob of cells”. So, knowing that life, God-given life was inside me, it’s a keeper. Jeff (the dad) supported that and offered me a ring of marriage.
OK, sounds like fun, the ring WAS gorgeous!!
Just 10 fast and furious months after our first son was born, we were expecting baby #2.
I felt trapped. I felt like my son was sucking the life from me when he needed to nurse. It was a conflicting feeling for sure – I was so confused. I knew I needed to nourish him and enjoyed it, so much so, I quit my job to stay home with him thinking I should be there for his milestones in his life; however, I didn’t like it that he seems so demanding.
I wasn’t a happy mother, let along a decent mother-figure.
I was 20 years old when I had my first child and on my 21st birthday, conceived our daughter. By this time I had moved out of my parent’s house for only a year before I was tied down to a husband, a newborn son, and now I had another child on the way.
Can A Mother-Figure Truly Feel Motherly?
I didn’t have heart-warming moments as a young mom. Instead, I had anger…the cold, unsaid, bitter anger that I DARE not tell anyone.
I had a resentful heart that was beating contempt for this life that was supposed to be my best friend’s.
SHE wanted kids right away, not me. I had no career to start, no life to begin on my own – only life taken from me.
No… motherhood was not heart-warming…it was suffocating.Coach Andi
After my daughter was born, it became a little easier, as this new child in my life gave me another perspective into motherhood and becoming a true mother-figure to them. I now had a boy and a girl.
They were close in age and really, that’s what I wanted… at least one more, like I had “planned” and then I can get ‘my life back’ outside of this mother-figure lifestyle. Though at the time, I wasn’t sure what that really meant, because all I knew and felt was that my current situation wasn’t what I truly wanted.
Then, 33 months later, baby #3 came along. Another boy! I was starting to feel like life was piecing itself together until my husband and I had a destructive event that nearly cost us our marriage. In our weak-ass reconciliation attempts, we conceived baby #4 (a boy)… just 10 months after baby boy #3.
Four children; I’m 26 years old with 4 children ages 6 and under.
Not only do I consume the sour cocktail mix of anger and bitterness, shaken, not stirred but my husband also lends ZERO support to my needs; granted, I had failed to communicate on numerous occasions what exactly I needed from him.
Looking hindsight, I definitely see that my communication was more about nagging and blaming, rather than openness and vulnerability. I communicated nothing about my internal anguish over motherhood and trying to be a decent mother-figure to these kids – I just nagged about it.Coach Andi
I’m not only feeling trapped with four kids… deep down, I’m finding it extremely harder and harder to like them. You read that correctly… I was a bitter, lonely mother who didn’t like her kids. I took care of them, nourished them, and resented them all in a day’s work and my Spirit was crying out in agony because of it.
The Struggle Was Beyond Real, Until I Surrendered
I was crying in anguish and torment so bad that I had to surrender my ‘suffering’ somehow, someway. So, what did I do? I volunteered as a Game Director for Awanas.
Yeah, surprised I’m not in jail for going all postal on the kids, aren’t you? It’s horrible enough I was struggling to like my kids, now I’m in charge of other children – and to have FUN with them!?!
Talk about the oxymoron of my life.
But that’s what God and His Spirit told me to do and I was desperate to find myself, so I did it, doubting it would actually “work” to change anything.
God Made Me A Mother-Figure Through Surrendered Obedience
Picture this… The exterior, solid core wall, impenetrable, surrounding my bitter heart, liquefying like silver mercury in old-time thermometers the moment a little girl ran back to me (they were leaving for Bible class), hugged my leg, and looked up and said, “Auntie Andi, you’re the best, I love you.”
She had me at “Auntie…”
Never again after that moment did I look at my children quite the same.
I SAW them.
I saw their long, lush curly eyelashes.
I smelled their hair for fun. I held them for their comfort and my connection to them.
I talked with them and not at them.
I held my first-born son and shared life with him for the first time when he was 7 years old.
I not only liked them… I finally WANTED them.
It took the love of someone else’s child to teach me how to fully love, like, and unselfishly be a mom to my own.
Once we discovered we were having baby #5 (and I’ll explain in a moment why we were at this stage in our life and haven’t yet “cut the tubes” despite all our marital issues going on simultaneously), and I wanted him, we decided on a home-birth. I was having my child, my way.
Our 5th child and 4th son were born into my arms, in my home, in a water-birthing pool and I wanted him! The euphoria of his birth and the connection I had with my husband, profoundly changed how I began to mother and how I was finding myself in the midst of motherhood.
My husband and I began “talking”, like for reals, and he has, in a way, ‘confessed’ that he robbed me of my youth and felt somewhat responsible (though I certainly can’t blame him 100%, I am still my own person after all) for the internal struggles I was silently battling all on my own.
Our situation was not ideal, not in the least, and even though, while dating, we mentioned having kids and I wanted three, I once said to him (after baby #4), I will probably resent you if you have a vasectomy because I don’t know if I want to be done.
Now, you’re thinking… wait. WHY would you want more if you didn’t even like your kids? Well, I didn’t KNOW I didn’t like them at that time I made the comment… I was having many internal issues and struggles – I discovered later, after some self-reflection and healing, that that was my primary issue (see how I said MY issue…not my kids’ issue).
So, at the time I made that horrible comment to my husband, my identity was exclusively being a mother-figure. That’s all I had known from the moment I could call myself an adult. In reality, I do believe it’s all I felt good enough to do in my life – spread ’em and have babies. So, if he even dared to take that from me… what would I become, who would I be??
After that, my husband (and he’s not an aggressive person) passively gave up trying to talk to me (which was really a feat in and of itself – I did NOT talk or share my feelings at all). So, we’d have unprotected sex (he hated condoms, I hated artificial hormones that may cause a spontaneous abortion) and what happens, happens.
After baby #5, get this… Jeff and I DID plan baby #6. Looking back, unplanned, our first 5 children are as follows:
Baby 1 & 2 – 19 months apart
33 – Month Gap
Baby 3 & 4 – 19 months apart
33 – Month Gap
Hello! Gotta complete the cycle – thus baby #6 was born…you got it, 19 months after his brother, a baby boy. We now have 1 girl and 5 boys. We were a family of 8 in 2009.
We Thought We Were Done
I no longer hung the “I’ll resent you” claim over my husband and conceded (in a way, because now I like my kids, remember?) to be done at 6. We had a Suburban and it fits 8 comfortably – why change it? Though, despite following the NFPM (natural family planning method) to a T, baby number 7 was conceived on a “safe day” and Jeff was NOT happy.
If he faked being happy or at least, ‘whatever’ about the other pregnancies, this one was clearly upsetting. He wanted to be done, everything “fit” and now it wasn’t going to. He’d have to find another car, he’d have to get more baby stuff when we were planning on getting rid of everything. All his plans, his “I’m done” plans were insignificant now.
After 10 years and on Christmas Day… our 2nd baby girl was born in our German home with a German midwife.
He changed his mind.
It wasn’t coincident, in our spirit, that she was born exactly when she was. She was 11 days “late” which… my babes were never late and she came FAST… 3 hours, the fastest yet. Jeff began re-thinking God’s plan for our marriage, our kids, and our family as a whole.
Get this…Before her birth, we were offered a 15-passenger van for, literally, pennies on the dollar. We ‘upgraded” our family and Jeff’s response…Now we can fit more kids in here… we still fit. And he said it with a smile.
Coming to Peace As a (real) Mother-Figure
True peace about having children came when #8 was born. Jeff and I were closer than ever to having a failed marriage/relationship, but when we reconciled with one another… completely, intimately, and without any strife between us, we conceived #8. We coined her our “Marital Bliss Baby”.
The moment he found out I was pregnant, he had tears in his eyes, told ‘us’ congratulations, and held me tight. He had never …ever been so at peace about having a baby.
To this day, that little bean (who is a girl, our 3rd one) is his heart and joy. Of course, all his kids are, but no doubt, she captivated his heart and he is the first person she runs to when he comes home. She’s also our first co-sleeping baby (and still does) who has shown us that our babes develop and grow emotionally stronger (and independent) the closer they are with us intimately during those first few critical years.
Without restraint, without resentment, anger, bitterness, or worry, we had babies number 9 and 10, another girl and a boy who tipped the scales in the testosterone’s favor.
The Mother-Figure Breaks
I broke my ankle when I was 3 months pregnant with baby number 10 and going from active gym-rat to bed-ridden gimp wreaked havoc on my body. His birth was the hardest, and my pubis symphysis dysfunction was at it’s worst. I was weak, tired, and took a full 2 weeks before fully being mobile again.
That scared my hubby a bit. And… he said he’s tired, haha! Seriously, though, it was the hardest and most painful birth. Yes, I may be over 40, but I had ZERO complications with the pregnancy (even while on pain-killers) or during his birth. It was more physical and physiologically demanding more than anything. I was still recovering and going through physical therapy for my ankle AND battling pubis symphysis dysfunction beginning 4 months into the pregnancy till about 6 months postpartum.
Just say, ouch!
Be A Mother-Figure, but Like This…
Our 10th baby is coming up on 2 years old at the time of this article. I have adult children and everyone in between.
Throughout the years since our first was born, I’ve been ridiculed for breastfeeding too long (only by family members), not doing enough for them (a lot of: you should make all meals, you should sit with them when they are awake, you shouldn’t be working on the computer, why did she get a job with all the kids??), and some have blatantly said… Stop having kids, it’s too much.
It hurts like a mutha, y’all. And it’s unnecessary. Sometimes, I think people project onto me, what they would do or couldn’t handle with so many kids and somehow, that’s my problem and they should voice their concerns or suggestions.
During my struggles as a young mom and hearing that I wasn’t good enough, doing what I was doing and how I was doing it, (and I knew something was wrong when discovering I didn’t even like them), as a natural introvert whose love language is Words of Affirmation, it ruined my resolve and confidence like tissue paper in the rain. I had ZERO structure and strength to handle all the ridicule and judgments.
People think they’re helping and offering some advice to “help you become a better mom-figure”, but it really doesn’t help at all. Offering up unsolicited advice never seems to help, it usually only offends and insults to the point of self-damnation and a mindset of failures.
So much judgment over the years manifested a mindset of insecurity that expanded beyond motherhood. I became afraid to take leaps and bounds, putting myself out there, for fear of… you guessed it… judgment and ridicule and trusting bad business partnerships. Many business ventures of mine tanked.
I allowed those comments to sink into my soul and begin to define to me and dedicate my course of action in order to avoid unwarranted criticism. I spent more time figuring out “how to be there with them or sit with them more” like people told me I should do, rather than to just be their mom as myself and to do what I intuitively knew to do in order to create blessed chaos that works raising so many children.
You see, people don’t understand that families of four DO NOT operate like families of 12. A lot of criticism came about because I was ‘not doing enough’ because I would have the kids do dishes on certain days or I’d have older kids watch the younger ones so I could nap during a migraine. My family is unlike any *typical” American family, so telling me that I should raise them as such (or how your mother-figure raised you is how I should do it too) is non-sense!
The ones who had the most to say about how I should be a better mother-figure or to tell me how I should raise them in a different way than they observed, didn’t have more than 2 or 3 kids themselves (some didn’t even HAVE kids!! ?).
I often felt that these “mom-judgers” didn’t think that I was responsible enough because I would have older kids change diapers or ‘babysit’ so I could do other activities, especially if these other *activities* were self-pleasing (I.e. building a website, writing a book, experimenting with other business ventures, etc.). Basically, some would go so far as to say (behind my back), “If she can’t do it herself, then why does she have all these kids?” Somehow, I became asexual and impregnated myself… imagine that. I don’t know about Jeff but I highly doubt he got ‘dad judgment” comments.
No one has been so rude as to comment as if I was a welfare mom; having kids for the money, but some comments seemed to have equated our family to that in a very subtle way (but my perception could’ve been off too).
Most of the time, though, people are just curious.
I’m a petite woman, I’ve never been overweight, so curious people, I don’t mind. They ask if they are all mine… like coming out of my body, and that’s pretty hilarious – I pretty much expect the big-eyed, disbelief, deer-in-headlights look upon hearing how many kids I have. I truly have fun with it. One lady (okay a few people actually) absolutely did not believe me until I showed her a photo of all the kids!
It’s especially flattering when I am mistaken for my husband’s daughter (yes, it’s actually happened… twice)!
Then they ask… how do you do it.
Well, I don’t do it… WE do it together. We’re a unit and we are individuals within the family-unit who have their own part and their own person to be responsible for. I physically cannot do everything myself. That’d be stupid. Think about it, there’s never ONE villager who does the communities’ dishes, so, why, in my mini-village home, would I do it all myself? If it takes a village to raise ONE child, it takes a community to raise a family – we are, our own community.
Exemplifying Being a Happy Mother-Figure
I want to be happy. I want my children to be happy. It’s a state of mind, not necessarily a feeling. As their mother-figure, I (and Jeff of course) need to teach them to control their circumstances by the choices they make in life. And it starts with a foundation. We live life around Jesus Christ, integrity, and selflessness, but NOT to the point of violating our personal boundaries (ie. Mom and dad time alone – kids can watch a movie by themselves, we don’t have to be with them 24/7).
BOUNDARIES, in and of themselves are the stepping stones to success and progressions in life – we set them according to our unique Love Languages® and experiences in their life.
If one family member is overwhelmed, first, we look at their choices/actions and determine if it’s of their own accord (reaping what you sow) or if it’s due to uncontrollable circumstances (like stress over studying driving materials but it’s too confusing and causing a surplus of undesirable stress). Then we take the necessary action to come together to rectify and harmonize the situation – if they choose – and some of my children choose not to, and I’m OK with that.
They have to experience life for themselves, I am NOT a *helicopter* mom that will prevent them from failing when they intelligently know right from wrong (we’re talking adult children here).
If I am to be a better version of myself and a mother-figure they can look up to, I’ll let them fail, numerous times if need be. I’m not an empath and I’m not a helicopter momma who will prevent her children from experiencing reality.
The Self-Discovery: I AM Enough
I may not have been 24 years old when I discovered who I was without kids or Jeff, but I did do it. I was 34 years old and it took a mom-to-be-years-later, to tell me, “You don’t have to hide behind your kids, they don’t define you.” Thanks, Arielle ?.
It didn’t fully register in that moment, but her words were the “permission” statement to who I would later become….me.
There are no perfect mothers, that I know for a fact. It doesn’t make it any easier to not feel guilty if we feel like we have failed our children. I’ve come to love the fact that I yell, cry, use waaay too much sarcasm, and “screw-up” more often than I realize.
The beauty of it is not only recognizing my imperfections and embracing them, but I also love that my children SEE me messing up, owning my actions, apologizing if necessary, and experiencing that there’s no perfect parent – like ever! I never want my kids to beat themselves up for not being a *good* mom. What the actual does that mean anyway?
They love me, they laugh, play, hug, and hang out with me every day. They tell me when I mess up and I thank them! Because owning my own shit is the most ‘perfect’ mom-moment I could ever do for them.
By modeling humbleness and unconditional love for self with a side of humor, teach your kids how to be human… not perfect.Coach Andi
I love my large family – even though I’m an introvert and become mentally exhausted after 6+ hours with people, these kids make me laugh every. Single. Day. There are literally, 10 unique personalities, 10 human beings I get to be intimately connected to. It’s been interesting, to say the least. When they try to guess my “favorite” kid (because I once told them (somewhat jokingly) I had a favorite – meaning, their personality was incredibly unique and interesting) the conversations and instant quips that come out of their little face-holes are priceless! So, now’s there’s the “joke” of who it is and if someone happens to get an extra treat or privilege they yell… “HA! See, YOU’RE the favorite kid!”
It’s freakin’ hilarious, haha! I can’t say enough that I’m simply…. blessed. I love feeling alive with my husband and children. I wasn’t ‘planning’ on 10 kids, but Someone else was, even if I thought someone else was more worthy than I. Oh, and my best friend, has 3 amazing daughters! Go figure, y’all!
It’s not easy going through motherhood alone, so let’s stop being alone, shall we?Coach Andi – Mother-Figure of 10
Let’s get even more transparent about motherhood and being the *perfect* mother-figure (no such thing by the way)… My struggles go even deeper – the anger and aggression I took out on my oldest son and how I have ZERO guilt about it. Would you love to hear that story? Comment below ⬇️