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Saturday, November 21, 2015

STRONG MOMMAS - part 4 - Heather Steinback and Aryn Wintle

I am so happy featuring these STRONG MOMMAS on the blog this month! 

In our last part of this series, we have two DYNAMIC, inspiring, incredible mothers, who I consider friends and am so lucky to know personally! 

Thank you, moms, for participating in this month's #MommyStoriesKindnessChallenge by sending love and support to fellow moms. If you want to send a small treat $5-10 or a card in the mail to these awesome mommas, please email me for the address

Bringing moms together with kindness instead of divided by judgment. That's what it's all about. I thank you for letting me feature your stories! 

Images shared from Heather Steinback

Our first awesome mom is my dear friend Heather Steinback, who has two girls with serious allergies and health issues. She never gives up, always stays focused and positive, laughing off what she cannot understand. She is courageous, a hard worker - going into work super early just to pay the medical bills! She never wants any pity from others, and she's on a mission to help moms talk more about maternity leave, health insurance, reflux and how serious and life threatening allergies can be. I admire her perseverance, faith in things improving, and her girls are the sweetest girls around. They are lucky to have her as their STRONG MOMMA. Congratulations, Heather! Your girls learn to be fighters because of YOU. 

1. What do you think makes you a strong mom? 
This makes me laugh because I don't consider myself strong at all! I look at the moms battling cancer, single moms, moms who have lost their husbands, moms who work multiple jobs, moms who have children with long lasting severe needs or illness: those moms and so many others are the true and pure definition of strong. That said, the things in life that have made me strong are what I've considered my personal hardships with my children's health issues: a child in and out of hospital stays, constant testing and procedures, kidney surgeries, severe reflux babies one resulting in three categories of therapy to correct and learn how to eat from reflux damage, severe allergies in multiple categories: these are the things that have made me strong. Spending work nights at the hospital and getting up to start a new job while sleeping and spending the week with a child admitted to the hospital, seeing my newborn strapped with medical tape to a board for a three hour test on her organs : these are the things that have made me strong. 

Had someone told me four years ago about all the the small; yet "out of the norm" health challenges we would face with our kids constantly through their beginning years: I would have said there would be no way I'd ever make it. But each of these challenges has made me realize I can actually push myself farther than I ever would have thought was possible and I'm stronger for it. All those cheesy cliche sayings about how hard experiences shape and mold you and gives you greater strength: its true.

What would others say makes you a strong mother?
I hear all the time from other moms: "I don't know how you've done it...I don't think I could..," - but you know the thing is that they could do it. They would do it. 

Because that's what moms do: we sacrifice and push ourselves for those that are a part of us who needs us most. I think moms think I'm strong because they see that I've taken on hard health challenges with my children and I'm still fighting. 

What they haven't all seen are the breakdowns, tantrums, self pity, complaining and ranting that I've done! How many times I've given up ...and ...slowly...pulled myself back up. The thing is if other moms were pushed in this scenario: they would find they have the same strength, too.
2. What helps you get through the difficult moments as a mother? 
What helps me get through difficult time: Seeing others who have gone through an even greater fight. There are several blogs I follow. All of them are moms who have had huge battles to fight. When I see a mom battling something on a level much greater than my fight, I think if they can do that with such gratitude, Grace, and hope: then surely I can do this. If they are battling cancer and have no bitterness or grudge against God and keep their joy despite when they sometimes feel they are loosing, then I have a lot to be grateful for and it fuels my fight.
I hate to sound cliche but also my faith. I know God loves me despite the hard things I face. I know He is there for me regardless. I also have a very patient husband. The last three years haven't been easy and he is always there when I completely lose it. I also have an awesome mom and sister who constantly listen to me vent about how hard it has been, about crippling medical bill rants, medical advice and just basic support when I need an ear to spew off frustration! Which is never pretty lol.
3. What is your advice to another mom going through a tough time? 
Advice you ask? Tough question. Give yourself grace. When things get hard it isn't going to look like normalcy. Emotionally, physically, financially, mentally and then some ..get totally rocked during hard times. It won't look normal or feel normal. So cut yourself some slack.
Don't expect others to "get it." Just as you give yourself grace, give others the same. Until someone goes through something as you are: they rarely get it. They will say stupid things, they will do stupid things. Their meaningless social media posts will hurt, the article links they send will seem offensive, they mean well but don't take it personally. They truly mean well.
Allow yourself to grieve and don't compare. I made a mistake early on telling myself I couldn't grieve or admit my struggle was worth emotionally processing. I would convince myself that bc my child didn't end up needing a kidney transplant or worse from her illness, that I just had to be thankful it wasn't worse and my hardship wasn't worth grieving for. That I still had my child at the end of our medical fight, so I didn't have the right to say that my battle was hard too. But it was hard. And it wasn't typical. 
And we all face different challenges on different levels but it doesn't mean they aren't worth processing or admitting that is in fact difficult.
4. What are 5 of your favorite things in the world (color, food, drink, candy, store, song, flower, etc.)
Coffee and tea: I'm a huge fan and I can't help it. Small local coffee shop, dunks, Starbucks, panera, doesn't matter I will and can find a favorite legal addictive stimulant at any one of these. Some women relax with their wine at night but I relax with my fav decaf...
I'm a chocolate mint fan and a fruit and chocolate covered fruit fan.
I'm a holiday fan. Love anything cheerful and memorable, holiday music, I don't think you can overkill when it comes to it. My favorite color is white. I would have all white furniture if I didn't have kids. I love wild flowers and pine (I get homesick for Maine so bring on the pine!). Anything regarding the ocean or something nautical reminds me of my favorite place on earth.
I love target. Sometimes I go shopping on my days off at like 7am to grocery shop and then get a Starbucks and window shop at target. It's the little things right??!

Our second super momma is Aryn Wintle, owner of North Berwick's Bundle Children Resale Consignment Shop, my favorite!

Images shared from Aryn Wintle

1. What do you think makes you a strong mom? What would others say makes you a strong mother? Geez, I guess I don’t think of myself as a “strong” mom so I don’t know. I’m just a mom. I do what I need to do to make sure my kids eat, do well in school, and become contributing members of society. I love the compliment, but I feel like I have the days when I can’t take any more, yell at the kids or let them eat junk just to keep them from complaining. Overall I think I have great kids, but we aren’t without our challenges and faults- me most of all. 

I guess if anything makes me “strong” (and those who know me know I don’t shy from compliments) would just be the “Just Keep Going” attitude. Things are going to be great. Things are going to suck. That’s life, gotta suck it up buttercup. There’s always someone better off- give them props and strive for that! Goals are GOOD! There’s always someone worse off- raise them up! Raising up others raises YOU! Karma is real! 

Maybe it's because I raised my two older kiddos from when I was 17 with K (19 with T) until I was 27 alone, but I just think you do what you have to do?
Why would someone else think I’m strong? 
I think that when people realize I was so young with K and T, and that I was able to graduate, get my degree in business and eventually end up a small business owner, they respect that. Anyone who “Beats the odds”, if you will, can get that respect (they have mine). However, my experiences do make helping others fight back against bad circumstances – whether it be youth, poverty, domestic violence, addictions etc- my lifes priority. I was fortunate to have support telling me “you can do it”- that’s sometimes all it takes. I want to be that voice in just one person’s head on that one day that it makes the difference. (ok, selfishly I’d love to be that voice for thousands by the time im done) I can’t take all the credit though- I have amazing support. I have great friends that share my burdens, and hold my secrets. I have three kids who somehow turned out to be the types that sort and hang after school to keep the shop neat, and clean bathrooms to help with the house, and rub my feet because I made them their favorite dinner. Even my 5 year old knows he has to “earn” PJs he wants from my own store (Pjs cost him 3 laundry changes and 2 play area clean ups at the shop). I have a husband that does the dishes, folds laundry, mows the lawn and will stand in a little kids shop and look ridiculous just so I can be at the OM meet, the soccer game, or catch up on drop offs (he also gives me massages 2+ times a week (he does get a breakfast sandwich every morning and fresh Margaritas at night.) 
I wouldn’t say I’m STRONG, Id say I'm propped up.
2. What helps you get through the difficult moments as a mother? 
WINE. And sometimes copious amounts. And hearing my kids say “You can't quit mom, too many people rely on you” (true quote. Made me cry) And the support system listed above. And giving myself the right to lose it and fall down, then build myself back up. I don’t know if it's because I started having kids in another decade, but I see a LOT of moms going through h@!! when things aren’t perfect, and unable to recover- That’s just not a reasonable parenting expectation. That’s not a reasonable LIFE expectation! (IMHO). 
It's ok to lose it. It's ok to yell. It's ok to feel bad, and it's ok to feel good. It's ok for your kid (and you) to get hurt, to achieve amazing things, to eat dirt, to fail, to screw up, to win, to be cut from the team, to lose friends, to get the lead role, to swallow a bug, to be a star, to break the mold, to eat soap, to take a risk- It's all just what we are supposed to do. 
That’s what gets me through. Hope that this ER visit encourages him to become a surgeon. Or not making the team forces her into a new interest that she never would have tried. Theres a silver lining in there somewhere! (please? right? there has to be? Otherwise I just lost a perfectly good quarter and I think the doctor kept it)
3. What is your advice to another mom going through a tough time? 
WINE. And good friends/family to support you. The ability to ASK. I shouldn’t say ability- you should have the right people in your life that you CAN. (if you don’t, call me. I have lots and I share! took me years to rid myself of the people who made me feel I couldn’t, and find those I could)
But seriously- Reach out and ask- have the one person you can call just to vent and wont judge you or offer advice. (the sit and listen) (Robyn). Have the one person you can always call (and vice versus) for a favor, no matter how preoccupied you’ve been lately (the were-practically-sisters-so-i-treat-you-badly-but-still-love-you-lets-have-lobster) (Rebecca). Have the one person you can show up anytime in yoga pants or have over with a trashed house and know they just want to hang out and its all good (the don’t-ask-don’t-tell/if-you-sit-with-me-now-I’ll-help-you-make-it-look-like-you-did-something-before-your/my-husband-gets-home (Theresa). I frequently call them my sister wives.
Give yourself the leeway you give others (If you are the person that wont be friends with someone who hasn’t swept today- well, you deserve that kind of pressure- but most of us are more forgiving to our worst enemy than we are to ourselves). Have a Candy Crush Addiction (level 1104. no joke.) leave your kid in the bath for over ½ an hour because he's happy and you need to finish this blog for the Mommy Stories (true story). Read other people's FB pages and feel better about your life (its ok, They judged you last week- as long as you don’t say it out loud, you can still be friends). Don’t do it all day, but give yourself a break from time to time. IT'S OK TO BE NORMAL.
4. What are 5 of your favorite things in the world (color, food, drink, candy, store, song, flower, etc.) As much as I cant stand them, my 5 favorite “things” are my family. My daughter, K (16) is a mini me and causes my blood to boil- but I think shes going to turn out ok and when we are getting along, shes my favorite person to be with (shhh don’t tell her this until shes 24). My son Big T (14) is rude and sarcastic (no idea where he gets that from… oh yeah, totally me) and so incredibly smart that I’m constantly in awe of what he can do. Little t (5) is just a spoiled little daddy’s boy that never ever leaves the house with out a hug and kiss, tells me he loves me MORE every day, and just makes that extra 10 years before I’m kid free worth it. My husband EEEEEEE - I could strangle him some days and worship him others- he’s my perfect match made in heaven or h@ll- we haven’t decided yet- but we are perfectly paired to bring out the best in each other and compensate for the worst. And myself. and Maybe that’s the key to the whole thing- I like myself even though I know I’m far from perfect. That helps me overcome the bad parts and relish in the good.
(if you really wanted it- color, blue. food- wings (especially bubba fries in NB garlic Parm boneless-OMG) Drink – I think I mentioned this!. Candy- not a sweets fan, wings or nachos lol. Store- the grocery store- I’d rather chew gravel than shop. WAIT! NO! Bundle Children’s Boutique!! That’s my favorite store! LOL. Song- House at Pooh Corner. Flower – Daisy (It's a weed but sooo pretty!)
I’d like to stress that I did take this assignment seriously- I’m naturally a self deprecating and sarcastic person. I’m flattered and honored that Angela selected me (Steeve is a little concerned what this will do for my ego), but after dwelling on this for the past few days, I have come to realize that being a teen mom, divorced/ left twice, having lost several “best” friends, struggling to provide and get by- financially, emotionally and mentally- its seriously all in letting yourself be human. 

Strive to be better, don’t get me wrong. I have big goals and big ideas and a big heart- and that’s GOOD- but it means that I have big fails, big falls and big heartbreaks. Don’t let the latter get in the way of the former- BIG also applies to dreams that come true, the difference that you make, and the number of people you touch I’d rather be happily perfectly imperfect than spend my time trying not to be.

I could not think of a better way to end this series than that quote... Nice job, Aryn, thank you! :)

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