Author and diplomat Washington Irving once said: “A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.” Irving said this over 100 years ago, but it still remains true of mothers today.
In honor of Mother’s Day, we are sharing stories of women who are incredible and inspirational mothers. These are women who embody the mother that Irving described, who have opened their heart despite obstacles and hardships, and who have made the tight-rope-walking-while-juggling-fireballs-with-plates-on-your-head act of motherhood look as effortless as a walk in the park. Every mother carries her own magic. Every mother has strength beyond what she imagined possible, and through these women we hope that you will recognize that you are inspirational too.
The Lazzara Family- Melissa
Former Miss Florida Melissa Lazzara is a mother of six and has dedicated her life to not only being a wonderful mom to her biological children, but to being an amazing adoptive mother as well. She also is able to keep her marriage healthy and has found a balance in life that most of us strive for. Here is this inspirational mom’s story:
I love being a mom because it’s not something I thought I would be good at, but God has shown me differently. I didn’t grow up thinking, “I can’t wait to be a mom.” I never baby-sat, I don’t gush over babies, and I didn’t even change a diaper until my first child was born. I knew I wanted children someday, but I didn’t think about it that much. When our twin girls were born, I was 22 and thought, this is hard and they will probably be all we have. I suffered a miscarriage a few years later and that is the moment when I realized how much I wanted to be a mother. Isn’t that funny? I already had two perfect healthy babies, but a loss is what triggered me to want to be a mother.
We now have six children. Haley and Lorin are our 14 year old twins, Avery is 11, Zariah is 7, Santana is 6 and Damarcus is 3. Haley, Lorin and Avery are our biological children. Zariah, Santana and Damarcus are half biological siblings who joined our family through adoption.
We covet family time. Something I am committed to, that I LOVE, is orphan care, adoption and foster care. We sponsor two children in orphanages in Uganda. I love hearing updates on them and how they are doing in school. Our adoptions have brought people into our lives who have helped us tremendously.
I’m deeply passionate about adoption and foster care. Our children also love adoption. They love our friend’s foster babies. We have planted a seed in them that reminds them that God calls us to care for the orphan, in some capacity. What that will look like for them in the future? I don’t know. All I know is that we try our best to teach them to love others well.
Each time we have an issue with an older child having a hard time being accepting of one of the younger children, we listen, we talk it out, and we pray. Listening is probably the hardest, but most effective way of helping the children navigate through a hard time. They need to be heard. After we listen, we talk about how each thing makes us feel, how we can better handle the situation next time, and we pray. Huge amounts of healing have come to our family through prayer and asking the Lord to help us love one another.
I feel like I am pretty laid back in my parenting style as far as letting my children learn who they are and who they want to become. We let them try new things, but also teach them to make a commitment to follow through once they’ve signed up for something, even if it’s not something they like. We aren’t super strict with grades. We want them to be successful, but with six children, you realize quickly how different they all are and what their strengths and weaknesses are. We never compare them, because they are their own unique selves and each of them has different learning styles. We allow them to try new things, explore different activities until they find their “Thing.”
My biggest challenge in being a mother is setting my priorities in the correct order. I should be, God first, my husband second and my children third, but I’m so guilty of making my children first. This is something I work on daily. I am so proud of my 15 years of marriage! My husband and I got married after four months of dating and children came quickly after. Maintaining a healthy relationship is really hard when you have the demands that I have. Managing our home, my calendar and the children is exhausting. We try to have regular date nights, and we cut the children off at 9 p.m. After 9 p.m., it’s mommy and daddy time.
My advice to other moms? Enjoy it. Days are long and some are downright overwhelming. Stop. Be present. They grow up way too fast. Encourage them to find something they love. Cultivate their hearts for the Lord. Help them to want to serve others.
The Mallan Family- Jennifer
Jennifer Mallan is a pastor of Christian Family Church, the dean of Bible College at the church, the leader of the women’s ministry called Significance, and is a life coach. But her most beloved role? Mother. This inspirational mom wears many hats throughout her day, and this is how she does it:
I have five boys and I always say that two I birthed from my heart and three I birthed from my womb. I got my oldest boys, Alvin and Dewayne, when I was 23. I met them when they were 7 and 8 and they came to live with me when they were 9 and 10. Now they are 31 and 32 and my oldest is Dewayne and my second son is Alvin. My first biological son is Zachary. He is 19, then Josiah is 17, and Jonathan is 12. Dewayne, my oldest, has two sons, and we have had 11 foster sons. We are a multicultural family and we have had quite an adventure with boys.
I love being able to cultivate and influence and just pour into their lives as they develop and grow through the different seasons. A lot of the ways that I parent are grounded and based in my beliefs and my interpretation of the Bible and what I think would be pleasing to God.
I am very hands on with my kids. I am kind of in your face and up front. I text my children, I call them a lot, I try to engage them. It’s challenging with boys and I know sometimes they probably wish I wasn’t so engaging. I really try to survey their hearts, find out what’s going on, gauge them, and get them to weigh in on things. I don’t like TVs in the bedroom or things that distract you away from communicating and connecting.
Every season I think children change and it is one of the joys of a mom’s heart, but it’s one of our greatest challenges as parents—knowing how to transition through the seasons of their lives and to become who they need us to become at that season.
There’s many times that I feel like I’ve been in a rut because they’re growing and I wanted them to stay at a certain place.
Because we’re in ministry, our lives are in a fishbowl and there have been challenges where my boys get over scrutinized sometimes and I have had to work really hard on not holding them to an unfair or unrealistic standard because others in the congregation project that the pastor’s kids should be perfect so they can tell their children to be perfect. I tend to have perfectionistic tendencies anyway that I have to be prayerful about so I don’t put them on my boys.
My husband has been great about helping keep me balanced, and there’s lessons they have to learn and times they have to fail under our roof so that they can learn and become and it isn’t a reflection on how they were raised or if we have done something right or wrong. We have to learn how to let them fail forward without taking it personally or feeling like our abilities as pastors are being questioned. That has been a challenge for me and one that I am learning to give myself and them grace in.
The times I feel most proud of my children, the times I feel I must be doing something right, is when they want to go on mission’s trips every year and they are so alive and engaged on the mission’s field. Just helping others, being selfless, and being all in—those are the times I have been most proud of them.
When people ask me how will you gauge or grade or rate yourself that you are a good parent or that you did your job as a parent: I feel like my number one responsibility as a parent is to, before they leave my home, to connect their hearts to Christ so that when they’re out of my home going through anything, that they know how to find Christ in the midst of their storm or struggle or trial. Because God’s the greatest parent. Anything I do pales in comparison to his parenting skills.
To other moms, I want to say: Enjoy the journey and realize that your children are only in your home a very small percentage of life. If we all live to be 100, then my children are only in my home 18 percent of my life, which is so small, and it’s not even 20 percent! Enjoy the journey, realize they’re there for such a short time, and to raise the kind of child that you would like to be friends with when they turn 18.
The Hord Family- Regina
Owner of FIT4MOM and organizer of the Tampa Bay Kids Market, Regina Hord is a busy woman. Add in the fact that she is a mother of two boys, and you might wonder just how she does it all. Here is this inspirational mom’s story:
I love being a mom because every day is an adventure. There’s always something to do and it’s definitely never boring. I have two boys, Jeffrey, 4 and Jacob, 20 months. It’s really fun to see the kids learning new things every day and even cooler that I’m also learning something new from them each day.
I am very lucky to have a husband who is supportive of my choice to stay at home and work on building new businesses while spending time with our kids. Without his support I would probably have to put the kids in daycare and work a job with traditional work hours, but he tolerates my crazy work hours and schedule because he understands that it is important to me to have the kids home with me during the day.
I am passionate about helping other people. Through my fitness company, FIT4MOM Tampa Bay, I am able to help other moms by providing fitness classes that are focused on motherhood and a support group through Our Village. The best way to teach is to lead by example and when the kids get to see mom working out in class, they mimic this behavior and start living a healthy lifestyle from toddlerhood. I get texts and emails all the time from moms who have babies who randomly bust out doing burpees at the grocery store or tricep dips in the bathtub. The friendship and playdates are just an added bonus!
While my boys will always be my number one pride and joy, I currently am most proud of my work. My business partner, Andrea Bowe, and I have worked so hard building our FIT4MOM business (tampabay.fit4mom.com) and growing the Tampa Kids Market (www.tampakidsmarket.com) the past couple of years while managing to keep our families happy and growing. We have created two jobs for ourselves that allow us to spend time with our kids while working to provide two services that enrich the community and help the kids grow into better people. While life is crazy at times, the fact that we have jobs that we have built in a way that allows us to take our kids to the zoo in the middle of the day is pretty awesome and I’m proud of the life we are building for our children.
I have a very go-with-the-flow parenting style. I’m not very big into reading parenting books, relying on Dr. Google, or sticking to a set schedule. It makes for a lot of learning as we go.
When asked what is challenging about being a mom, I say, what’s not challenging about being a mom? Motherhood in itself is a challenge. If I had to pick one right now, I would say the most challenging part for me as a work-at-home mother would be learning to say “NO” (a skill that I’m still currently mastering). I’m not talking about saying “NO” to my kids, because that happens multiple times a day regardless, but I’m talking about saying “NO” to other parts of life that take me away from my family.
Kids in themselves are also a challenge! I would say my biggest challenge with my kids is finding a work-life balance. Both of my businesses require me to work both from home and outside the home and my kids are not school-aged, yet. Because my kids are with me most of the time, it takes a lot of adapting from all sides to bring them along to meetings, classes and markets, plus finding quiet time to work at home in between being a wife and mother.
The best advice I ever got was from my Grandma, so that’s the same advice I like to give other moms. At my first baby shower, my stepmom had everyone write down a piece of advice for me. My Grandma’s piece of advice was “Listen to everybody’s advice, smile and nod, then do whatever you want.” As a mom, especially a new mom, you will be on information overload from parenting books, parenting classes, the internet, and solicited and unsolicited advice from friends and family. Heck, you’ll even get breastfeeding tips from the cashier at the grocery store and maybe even be shamed into thinking you’re holding your baby wrong from the little old lady down the street. SMILE, NOD, MOVE ON.
If we all did everything the same, life would be totally boring!
The Wildes Family- Carrie
Carrie Wildes is a wife, photographer and business owner, and founder of the Promise Love Foundation. Most importantly, she is a mother to two beautiful baby girls. Find out how she does it all:
We have two little girls, Madeline Joy and Everly Hope and they are 14 months and 10 months old, so they’re only four months apart. They were both born last year and we were able to adopt basically back to back.It was basically a pretty cool situation that occurred. My husband David and I were foster parents first and we always wanted to adopt.
Both of our adoptions are open and the girls will know from the beginning that they’re adopted and what their background is.
I own a photography company and we have three teams of photographers.We do about 70 weddings a year, so it’s more than a full time job. We don’t have family here, so over the last six years, I’ve been working to set up my business so that when we did have kids it would allow me to have some more flexibility with my schedule.
I know for some people, mom guilt is a big thing for people who work, but for me I have always known that this is what it’s going to be. I am a career oriented person. Kids are a huge priority but I don’t feel guilty for working or anything like that because if I didn’t, we wouldn’t be able to have the life that we do and give them the life that they’re going to have.
I am really proud of being able to run a successful business and keep it going and having built it so that when things in life do happen that it’s able to still keep going and sustain what we’re doing. We moved here 8 years ago and I actually have an engineering background—I don’t have a background in photography or sales or anything like that—so when we moved here I didn’t know anybody or anything about the wedding industry so we were starting from scratch.
I set goals for how many clients I wanted to have and how much saved up before I would quit my full time job, and I was able to meet those goals in one year.
The situation that we had when we were fostering was really difficult and the most painful thing we have experienced in our lives. We had a little baby from newborn to 6 months and she was put in what we felt wasn’t the best situation for her and her siblings.
Through that hard time, I started a foundation that helps families raise money for adoption and we also give advice and counseling on foster and adoption, whether you want to sign up to adopt with an agency or become a foster parent or a guardian ad litem. It’s become my social passion that these kids, especially in the foster system and kids that need to be adopted, are so important and they are kids that don’t have a voice.
I love a lot of things about being a mother. Every morning the time that I get to spend with them, watching every little step of their development and their little personalities is just the most fun thing ever. I am 36;we had the girls when we were 35, and I feel like when you’re a little bit older, you’re in a different stage in lifeYou’re not so worried about every little thing that happens and reading every single book, so we just really try to enjoy the moment and I don’t really worry about all those crazy things that I know a lot of parents and moms do. We are here to enjoy it and I love every minute we get to spend with them. It is interesting to see how they develop and their personalities and it is something new every day.
Savor every moment. Don’t sweat the small stuff or compare yourself to other people or worry about the little things in life that probably won’t ever happen. Because, especially with a newborn, time goes so quickly and they’re that tiny little squishy baby for just a couple of weeks. So if you’re worrying about everything you can’t really just take time and enjoy the moment. Prioritize that because it goes so fast and you won’t have it for very long.
I feel like when you experience a hard situation, it opens up a new world to allowing you to help others. I always challenge people to think about where they can help people or how they can volunteer, or what they find to be socially passionate about. In the whole scheme of life, there are so many other things that are so important.
The Kindle Family- Kim
Kim Kindle works for a nationally syndicated radio show that can be heard in 150 cities, Rise Up Country. She is a hard working wife and mother, and no matter what life has thrown her way, she has kept going in a way that makes her an incredibly inspirational mom. Here is Kim’s story:
I have three boys and my oldest is David, 15. Logan is 8 and is my special needs little buddy. And Nathan is 6.
It’s never-ending excitement, especially having boys. They keep me on my toes for sure. I was meant to be a mother of sons because they love dirt and I am not afraid to get dirty. I love seeing life through their eyes—they each have a different perspective and they each bring something awesome to our family. We wouldn’t be complete without any of them.
When Logan was born I went to my pediatrician and I said “I don’t think this baby likes me!” Every time I would pick him up he would cry. I would lift him out of his carrier and he would scream because we were holding him. So we knew early on there were some things going on but we weren’t sure what yet.
We went through acid reflux testing and we found out he has severe acid reflux and GERD so we got him on medication for that and it got a little bit better, but every time I would pick him up he would just scream. So from the beginning it was an undertaking.
When Nathan was a baby I wasn’t even paying attention because during that time Logan was 17 months, and I thought, “wow I can do this; I can have three boys and get one to school and take care of the other two!” And we never realized that he was missing important milestones.
Nathan was born with a neck disorder called torticollis. He was getting physical therapy for his neck, and the therapist there had said, “your other son isn’t talking; all he is doing is screaming. Maybe you should have him evaluated for speech,” and I thought, “Nah! He is going to talk when he is ready!”
Then he became 2 and he was still nonverbal, and then he was 2 and a half and he was still nonverbal, and then right before his third birthday he was diagnosed with autism. He was treated when he was 18 months old but when he was 3, he was diagnosed. And because of that diagnosis we learned that he has epilepsy as well.
We didn’t realize that he was having a rare type of seizure—Epson seizures—and basically he would stare off into space. It’s a seizure that the naked eye can’t see. So when he was diagnosed, we were fortunate in the fact that our psychiatrist recommended a scan because it sometimes goes hand in hand with autism. In our case, it went hand in hand. So he was put on medication because he was having frequent seizures without us even being able to see them.
In 2011 he had his first grand mal seizure. We had to call 911 and had to be transported by ambulance. It was really hard but thank goodness we knew that that could happen. Without [the] autism [diagnosis] we would’ve never known that that’s what went on. When I walked in the room, I thought he was dead. Which was horrible. It’s an experience we will never forget. We are so grateful to have a great team of doctors and life with Logan is never easy but it is always worth it.
We had to declare bankruptcy because of the medical bills, my husband lost his job, and we are facing a foreclosure on our home. You can meet somebody on the street and never know what they are facing.
I was a stay at home mom for seven years and I went back to work two years ago. Being a stay at home mom, every day was therapy, therapy, therapy; go, go, go; Most of my life was devoted to Logan. Now that I am back at work, I get to work from home sometimes and go to the office, so I have a great schedule. I am able to manage work—which I never thought I would be able to throw into the mix. When I am home I try to give them the attention and focus that they need.
I am just so thankful that I have my kids. I know a lot of people out there struggle to have children and I feel grateful and blessed to be their mom.
Life is so short. You have to take whatever it throws at you and keep going. There is a reason that you are still going. Life has never set us back—yes, life with Logan is different, but it has never stopped us from trying to give him the best life that we can. We know that somewhere along the way there is a purpose and a meaning for why we’re going through this. So we just do- we keep going.
Share your story even if it’s hard. People are willing to listen and there’s got to be something going on in your life that you can help someone else with. Don’t be embarrassed even if it’s hard times because someone else has been there and either they can help you or you can help someone else behind you.
Motherhood is like a sisterhood and you should try to build people up instead of tear them down.
My family’s story gets better. We are moving to a new home in Tennessee and we are getting a fresh start—so there is hope after terrible situations. You will come through it.