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MOMentity: Embracing the AND in motherhood
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As mothers, we have an amazing influence on our children, but do we practice what we preach? We teach our children they can be anything they want to be, but we have stopped dreaming big outside our role as mother. - photo by Nicole Carpenter
You can be anything you want to be if you put your mind to it, wise words from my mother.

Its probable your mother told you something similar. And we say the same thing to our children. As mothers, we tell our children to dream big and work hard. And we mean it. But the reality is we often dont believe it because we have little evidence of it in our lives.

Sure, we became mothers, and we always wanted to be a mother. Motherhood is a dream come true. But then after we reached motherhood so many of us stopped following our other dreams and passions. Our role as mom does not disqualify us from following our other dreams. We can do both. There doesn't have to be an "or" we can be a great mother AND anything else we want, we can thrive at both.

Deciding you can be a mother AND...

We artificially limit ourselves as mothers, often afraid to do anything else other than motherhood. Holly Richardson is a political blogger and busy mom of 24 children. She is a great example of blending our passions and parenthood. Richardson has regularly made time for her children and herself, even serving in the Utah State Legislature in 2011.

It seems there are things that are culturally OK for us to do as mothers. Among that list are book clubbing, scrapbooking, blogging, gardening and even photography. Richardson points out in an interview, Other choices are less OK. But if that is the direction your heart is pulling you toward, you dont have to ignore it.

Richardson continued, as moms we are so busy we cant even find time to shave our legs in the shower, right? But even with a house full of lots and lots of kids, I still had things I did outside the home that I loved. I noticed other women fitting other things in their lives too, and its totally possible. Even healthy and good.

We can be great moms AND great at other things too. I loved some advice Richardson gave, stop judging other moms when their and doesnt match yours.

Thriving as a person and a mother

This week I was moved by images in a Huffington Post article of three prima ballerinas balancing both their professional dancing careers and motherhood.

I slowly scrolled down the page, carefully looking at each candid black and white image taken by photographer mom Lucy Gray over the course of 15 years. The series of images have been published as a book called "Balancing Acts: Three Prima Ballerinas Becoming Mothers." Looking at an image of a ballerina mom balancing a toddler on her tutu, I felt both the passion and the love that these women portray. Dedicated passion for their trade and deep love for their babies. But mostly I loved that they were mothers AND ballerinas.

How could these women have both? How could they be both mothers and ballerinas? In the article Gray said, It was the fact of doing both simultaneously that made them better at both occupations work and child-rearing. This was possible because of supportive husbands who were also working but doing the lion's share of child caring. They all brought the children to the ballet which kept the mother's connected through dancing seasons until they were off and could spend more intense time with their children."

I loved Grays insight when she said, (the ballerinas) became better dancers after they had children and were better mothers because they kept dancing. They needed to work to support their children, but they also knew that having careers kept them more interested at home. Both sides to their lives fed the other."

Setting an example for our children

Pastor Charles R. Swindoll said, Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.

Last December, I knelt with my 10-year-old daughter on the family room floor with a rectangle box between us. The box was from my publisher and inside were the first 20 copies of my new book. Though I was screaming with excitement inside, I opened the box ever so carefully.

It had always been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember to be a nonfiction author, and there I was with my book in my hands. I could hardly believe it. I flipped through the pages and showed my daughter her name in the acknowledgements. Then I held the book with confidence in front of her and asked, do you know what this means?

That youre famous? she answered.

I laughed at the thought. No, not at all. Ive always dreamed of writing a book and here it is! This book means that you can follow your dreams too. Baby, you really can do anything you want to do, if you put your mind to it.

Our children watch us and they learn. They watch us dream and fail. They watch us dream and succeed. And they learn from it all.

In her book "Dare, Dream, Do," Whitney Johnson writes, Attending to multiple dreams at the same time is certainly harder than attending to one or the other. But if by multitasking our dreams we can enable our children to keep theirs, isnt it worth doing?