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Friday, October 2, 2009

Affiliate Friday: Heather of the EO on Being a Mama and Recreating the Dream

Happy Friday!

And it's a happy one indeed.... I am super psyched to kick-off MWOB's brand new feature called "Affiliate Friday" where we feature a blogger who is a devoted affiliate of Moms without Blogs and who supports our mission out here in the blogosphere. We're a virtual community of kindred spirits and in an effort to actually get to know each other a little more, "Affiliate Friday" was born.

Today's first affiliate voice comes from a woman and writer I simply adore. I totally remember when I first read her a few months after I started blogging and I thought "Wow, how come it took me this long to find her?" There is beauty in her writing, and the heart that is always interwoven in her words resonate so deeply within me that when I met her in July at BlogHer '09, I felt like she was an old friend the moment I first met her.

She's the real deal

Which is all that really matters to me. Being real.
I hope if you don't already read her, you will start doing so right after you read her today.

And so here's Heather of The Extraordinary Ordinary - aka Heather of the EO.

The Foundation of a Dream
by Heather of the EO

I'm starting to think there can be more of an ease to my life, coming from a place of contentment. I've never been that good at content, but I'm learning there's an acceptance and perspective that can free my mind of a whole lot of clutter that weighs me down.

This is probably something more seasoned Mamas have known a long time. I'm a bit of a slow learner, so bear with me.

I'm starting to realize that maybe nothing I once thought I needed has to happen in order for me to be content. I'm letting the truth fall fresh on my ears. You are a mother. It's enough. It's huge. It's everything you think you want and more.

I do love being a mother, more than I ever imagined I would. I've been thinking I should let myself really fall into it, to allow myself to change in the biggest way...learning to fully find joy in the selflessness of motherhood. There is joy there. Moving slowly from habits that are focused on serving myself to habits that are more focused on others is a beautiful thing. It took motherhood to start that movement in my life.

There's been a part of me that's been hesitating, trying to grasp at other things, other freedoms, thinking about what I want out of life and worrying that I might be letting something amazing pass me by...writing, traveling, changing lives, making a difference, maybe even famously! I've been trying to figure out how I can do the mom gig and so much more at the same time.

But ever so slowly, a change has been happening in me. As I've taken tiny steps at adjusting to motherhood, I've learned that it's not just a season to weather. It's not just something that covers my path for a time and then clears away and frees me to get back to me.

Motherhood is me. I'm Mom. I don't have to run from that, terrified that I might lose myself. I have been found here. And if other beautiful things fall in my path as I travel this road, that's just icing on the cake. I won't stop allowing other things to fill our lives, but I don't want to be so desperate to make sure I'm not ordinary.

I'm on a journey that has turned me upside-down and inside out. Having babies didn't mean I created a cookie-cutter existence for myself, one that looks the same as all the other families on my street, in my neighborhood, or in our city. We have our own story here, and it holds all the joy and excitement I've been looking for. I knew this, but I didn't really know this, not to the very core of who I am. I was secretly harboring a strange tension, a fight to continue to focus more on myself and anything I might be missing.

Because on this motherhood path I will travel and write, I will change lives and I will make a difference.

If I don't truly see motherhood for what it is, I have lost the chance to show up for my own life.


Notes on Heather:

The above post is one from her archives that I simply adore because
wow. Those are my thoughts written way more eloquently than I could ever even think them. After much back and forth about a topic for her guest appearance, these were the words that found their way here today.

And here is a picture taken probably one hour after we met on the first night at BlogHer in July. Just so you can put a happy face with those beautiful words.

Deb, Lee, and Heather


  1. that post is right-on! being a mom can be like weathering a storm, but having a sisterhood to vent to/with is like knowing their is a life jacket to cling to...
    (my use of similies is kinda weak this a.m. as i have not had my customary 3 cups of tea- forgive me)
    storms or not, you pegged it.

  2. Oh Lee, thank you for YOUR words here. Seriously, I got all weepy. I just love you to pieces.

    Thank you for putting up my post, and for putting up with ME :)

    Looking at that picture makes me want to carry you and Deb around in my big ol' bag!

  3. What a wonderful perspective. I find myself worrying that I will "lose myself" in mothering, when really it's about redefining who I am. Thanks, Heather. That was great.

  4. You know, I substituted "father" for "mother" in that post, and I realized you've just said what most men think but just can't seem to put into words. That's a fantastic piece of writing, Heather.

  5. "I'm starting to realize that maybe nothing I once thought I needed has to happen in order for me to be content."

    When my first baby was a few months old (six years ago now!) I had a similar realization. I realized that being happy was a choice, and that I could choose to be happy no matter the circumstances, no matter if I could go through my checklist of goals or wants or needs. And it was really freeing -- to realize that I can pursue my ambitions but not let my happiness depend on their attainment.

    It is a struggle to reconcile the many facets of ourselves - especially as parents - and you captured it beautifully here. I love this.

  6. wait, i thought you already were famous. you were in all those movies and stuff...

    oh, and why am i the only one wearing a nametag? this post is about me, right?

    okay, so listen, i am just mad at all of us right now. i think we are too consumed with ideals and definitions and guilt and are missing the point. we think we are the most important things in our kids lives, and we are, to a point. but we are only part of their lives, and as callous and crazy as this sounds, they are only part of ours. yes, yes, we love them and they are the entirety of our souls, but in the big picture, they are only one part (an important one, of course. i think it is natural for us to want more or be more. i think that is okay. in fact, i think it is probably in our genetic makeup. and when your kids get older, you don't want to be left empty handed. and i am telling you, if you sink the whole load into your kids, you do, in fact, end up empty handed. and then what? so, there is a definite balance that we need to all figure out. we need to be present with an unending supply of love and acceptance, but i think we should try to give that to everyone.

    my other thing that i am obsessing about is our definition of a perfect parent vs. our kids'. i know that we, here at mwob, try to accept ourselves, warts and all, as imperfect but imperfect compared to what? really? if we don't do art projects with our kids when they get home, we aren't perfect? if we feed our kids fast food, we're not perfect? why not? my kids think it's pretty perfect to eat mcdonald's every once in a while. they think it is pretty perfect to veg out in front of 30 minutes of mindless tv (after they do their homework, of course). why are we imperfect if we allow that? why can't we perfectly love them as they are jumping on the bed while we paint our toenails and listen to them talk about their day? i think we need to all take a deep breath and focus on the love. tune in to what our kids REALLY want. i think it may be as simple as someone to tell them they are a-ok. just like we are.

    are you ready to break up with me now? my words and my big butt may not fit in that awesome red bag of yours.

  7. Wow ... you girls inspire me more than you know.

    Em - incredible post. Incredible writing and absolutely beautiful message. There is so much to be said for acceptance of what is. I'm guilty of fighting what's in my mind and know that my world would be a lot lighter if I could just accept. just. accept.

    Deb - absolutely LOVED your perspective too. Whose perfect are we trying to live up to? And I wholeheartedly agree that sometimes a Happy Meal IS the perfect dinner. Really.

    Thank you for opening my mind and my heart today.

  8. Here Here!

    Love you gals. Love your words. You calm me and inspire me with your grounding and honesty.

    You are all "the real deal" and rare gems.

  9. Deb, I'd never break up with you. Your butt is just the right size for my bag. :)

    i will let you know that I agree with you totally. In my post, I was mostly trying to say that I admit that I had been fighting motherhood more than I needed to. There was a very big part of me that felt in a way that I had to just get through it and then get back to myself. I do think that I have to still keep those things I care about as a part of my life outside of being a mom too, and my kids will definitely have a life outside of me, Mom. I agree.

    I think you've been thinking a lot about what you said, and it may have colored how you perceived my post. I don't want to be perfect, I don't want to only be a mom...I just want to stop thinking having kids is somehow sidetracking me from some great big dream. Because they're not doing that.

    The End. :)

  10. Oh, how I love coming over here. There are few places that get me thinking like MWOB and Extraordinary Ordinary.

    I do feel like motherhood has redefined me, but I also think aging and learning from life's experiences have redefined who I am a bit as well.

    I worry about letting myself fall completely into motherhood, because I don't loose myself in any other title I have either. I am not all friend or all wife. I am always ALL Catherine and although a big portion of me is mom I am not quite ready to let those other pieces of ME take a backseat.

    So in other words I guess I am still fighting the complete fall into motherhood, but I am okay with that, because I feel like I am a better mom when I have things outside of motherhood.

  11. I too adore Heather of the EO
    Beautiful post heather you write with such poise and elegance

  12. While I was busy writing my comment you were also commenting, Heather, it seems as though we are on the same page as usual. ;)

  13. What a beautiful post. This is SO where I am right now. Things like never sleeping in or never sleeping well or never 'truly' having a complete day off with no work to do just don't matter anymore, I've been realizing. Thank you for putting into words what I've been feeling. :)

  14. Oh and Deb, I love what you said about perfection. Why do those things mean we're not perfect? Or bad? I don't get that whole idea. There are so many things I do or allow that maybe aren't perfectly healthy, but they aren't BAD, especially in moderation. Even having these feelings of kind of a push-pull regarding motherhood in general does not make me bad...I wasn't bad/am not bad for struggling with resentful feelings sometimes. I love that.

  15. Sorry I'm late to the party!!

    Oh gosh Heather, your clarity is always so striking. How many times have I read one of your posts and slammed my hand on the desk - "exactly!"

    Well, you can't see me at my desk, but I do it, a great deal.

    And I love Deb's perspective as well, being the voice of the Mom to Older kiddos. I'm afraid one day I will look back on this potty training disaster currently happening here with desire because that is an "easy" problem.

    Being happy is totally overrated. Happiness is fleeting. Being a content soul is a lifelong gift you give your spirit and your loved ones. It's actually why I started my blog - to shake off the preconceived notions of motherhood and embrace the wonderful reality. Most days I'm 95% there.

    So glad you have discovered it!! Em

    P.S. I love that picture. I'm going to Photoshop myself in, if that's cool?

  16. Yes, this post is one of my favorites of yours Heather. I remember it. :)

  17. OK - Heather - I owe you an apology for not using your correct name above. I'm so sorry. I hate when people do that and then I go and do it. For some reason, I had EM on the brain and was thinking it was her post (even though your name is everywere. Obviously I am lame).

    So sorry. Love the post and love the comments it has inspired!

  18. What's really interesting is that we feel like we have to choose. Why does embracing your identity as a mother displace your identity as a person? You'll always have your personal identity - but now motherhood is an important facet. It's so simple - but so easy to forget. VERY well said Heather.

  19. Amy, it's totally fine. I have Em on the brain a lot too :)

    Kate-EXACTLY. It took me a long time to figure out I could be both. I'm Heather, who's a mom. For some reason, my subconscious was telling me I had to forgo one or the other. I don't have to pull away from motherhood to be me, and I don't have to pull away from my other dreams and aspects of my life to mother.


  20. I remember this post. I love it as much now as I did then. You're simply wonderful, Heather. *hugs*

  21. Can I tell you ladies, I LOVE being on your brains - excellent place to reside :-)

    Happy weekend all.

  22. What a wonderful kick-off post!
    This was such a great post...and I'm kicking myself that I didn't meet you great moms at BlogHer Chicago :(

  23. The comments have been awesome and have got me thinking as always....but what I get out of Heather's post is not the choosing that I have to be a mom or the other non-mom part of me because I am always both. And in that I feel content.

    What I struggle with is the balance word that has come up. Striking the balance where I allow myself to surrender to the daily time demands of motherhood (and if I had to pick a one-word theme to my current state of mothering it would definitely be "surrender") while still having some time and space in my heart and brain to be just me. Sometimes the time just does not allow it. Pure and simple.

    I feel content with my life. My life is full of many blessings and I know that always. For some reason though I sometimes think that I need to be doing something MORE than being a mom. In order for me to look back at my life when I'm old and gray that I want to not only have been a mom but MORE than that. Whatever that is. A stamp on the world that is me. Just me and my voice and my expression of some sort. And I think for me I am constantly working on realizing that being a mom does and can fulfill that need. It IS my stamp. It IS my expression.

    But yet I want more. And why? Even though I know if I HAD to choose to leave only one "mark" in this life, I would choose being a mother. No doubt. Hands down.

    I think it's a product of our generation in a way where we were taught and raised in our education and culture that "we can do anything." And we can. But we can't do everything. That is impossible. I think so. And yes I do think we sacrifice one thing for another sometimes. I do.

    SO the quest continues for finding the perfect balance and trying to find all the joy in the quest...instead of just the end result. Because I think I know the perfect balance doesn't really exist.

    Okay I have rambled long enough...thanks for the thoughts. Like I have any more space in my brain for more thoughts..... :-)

  24. Talk about late to the party....that's me for sure chicas. Heather, all I can say is WOW--what an absolutely beautiful post. Your words were so incredibly touching. I truly love the visualization of motherhood as this path we walk (no finite "end" just a journey).

    I agree with so many of the comments, it's easy to lose ourselves (and our minds!) along the way. Lee and I just had a huge discussion about this very topic on the phone this evening.

    My one comment comes from the perspective of not having my own mother on this earth any more. As amazingly painful as that is for me, I take comfort thinking about how pieces of my mom are inside of me and I pass those pieces to my children. It's not tangible. The "rewards" aren't always obvious. But when I look for it, the thread of my mom is woven delicately through me to my children. It connects us all. And that, for me, is one of the best gifts of motherhood.

    Have a wonderful weekend all you terrific moms! :-)

  25. constantly blow me away. THIS has been my favorite post you have written. xoxo~The Rambler

  26. so yes, i have been thinking about a lot of other things that sort of semi-relate and my original comment probably had very little to do with heather's actual awesome post. but i do have a somewhat relevant point. i think.

    i think we are all confusing "motherhood" with "caretaking'. i truly do not believe that surrendering to motherhood conflicts with a woman's dreams for herself, and solely herself.

    now... i DO believe that the constant caretaking that small children require and the mindless, rote tasks we have to engage in with them can build up a lot of resentment and boredom. especially in smart, thinking women. BUT THAT PART OF MOTHERHOOD IS TEMPORARY. very temporary. sadly, probably too temporary.

    believe it or not, i still consider myself a mother. right? i am still a mother, aren't i? well, i have more time on my hands now than i ever have (except when i am peddling magazines for the middle school fundraiser). there are no mouths to wipe, no questions to answer for the 1,000 time, no conversations about alligators vs. crocodiles while i try to run through the shower before one of the kids sticks his fingers in the light socket. that's all OVER, and that's the part that i hated. the part that drained my brain and hounded my soul. the part that i resented. the part that i guess we are all supposed to love or be more present in.

    does that make any more sense? am i still off track?

  27. I hate to break it to you Deb, but I'm pretty sure once a mother, always a mother :-)

    MY mother is quick to point out how she laments that as she drifts off to sleep, she has to remind herself that my brother and I are not tucked safely under her own roof. For the record, I left home 20 years ago.

    And with every grandchild (6 in total) brings more love, but more worry.

    I LOVE your caretaker vs. mother thoughts - right on. And I would like to go more indepth with my response to your awesome point about this time being fleeting, but I have to go change Youngest's diaper since he decided he couldn't poop on the potty totday, and the last thing I need, as I tend to Oldest and his Swine Flu, is a constipated 3-year-old.

    Temporary, right!? I'm holding you to that dear friend.

  28. Now I'm formulating another post. All of you wonderful people have me thinking A LOT. Like I had nothing else to do, thanks a lot :)

    No's good. I LOVE this conversation.

    And Deb, I think it's hilarious that I didn't know you'd updated your Dirty Socks blog on Thursday with your incredibly good post about what matters. The combination of that post and the comments here are what really have me thinking. I love how YOU think. (and the rest of you too)

  29. Okay, I spend THREE DAYS in Zion National Park and I come back to one of the best virtual conversations we've ever had on MWOB! The sad part is that everyone is now on to today's post and my words here will only be read by Lee and Heather! :) (Not to belittle you two wonderful ladies!)
    So, Heather, you are amazing and your words are completely mine as well. I could have struggled, hemmed and hawed, re-wrote one hundred times and developed a migraine and STILL couldn't have put it so perfectly and simply and you did.
    Thank you - I needed the perspective after a wonderful family camping trip that ended last night with much tension in trying to unload our trailer in POURING & FREEZING rain. (Example: one of our kids actually got sent to her room - which NEVER happens in our house, really!)
    ...I love being a mom, I love it, I love it, I love it, I love it...
    Still working on contentment here in SLC...

  30. Every time I go to Heather's blog I know I am in for a feast for the mind. I often find myself relating in so many ways; but unable to express myself as well as she does. The interesting thing is that I would be considered an "old' mom; my children range in age from 24 to 8... The things Heather writes about and shares with us are so personal and so universal. Which is absolutely one of the best things I have found in blogging-feeling like you belong to group you weren't even aware of before. I don't know if I will ever truly wrap my head around blogging...and I think the fact that I am trying to NOT figure it out so much anymore is a good sign! MWOB bloggers are some of my most favorite people-so many words that you have written have helped me in ways you'll never know. Whoa...I am just getting way too sappy now...
    Round of Applause for Heather!


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