When I first launched Devoted, Autumn submitted the idea of doing a feature about single parenthood. Having watched Autumn’s girls grow up at Rhythm and Motion Dance Center, I was immediately intrigued and wanted to learn more about her amazing family. The respect and compassion this family shows towards each other is beautiful and I was honored to create family portraits for these beautiful souls!
Please start by telling us, how has motherhood changed you?: I've been a mother for 17 years now, so it's kind of hard to remember what life was like before. But I do know this: left to my nature, I can be a selfish person. I like comfort and I like to do things my way. I'm a typical "type A" personality, and I like things as I like them. To an extent, motherhood forces you to exist, live, and thrive outside of yourself. It challenges you to put others above yourself, to put your own comfort last, to make sure everyone else is ok first. And the crazy thing is, most days, you love it.
Who inspires you as a mother?: As a single mom, naturally I get inspiration from other single moms (and single dads... there are some single dads out there rocking it!). I believe at its inception, parenting was meant for two people to tackle together. It's a tough job, even for two, even under the best circumstances. So, when you take an ideal situation that's already hard and make the situation less than ideal, things get exponentially more difficult. I'm also inspired by single moms who are able to co-parent with their children's dad. I only had to do it for a couple years before my ex passed away, however, it was the hardest thing I've ever had to do as a mom. Hands down. And I freely admit I wasn't very good at it (though I believe we would have done better over time...). So, I absolutely find those moms (and dads) who are able to truly put their own wounds aside for the sake of their children to be an inspiration.
If someone wants to know more about your experience, what's the best way to ask/learn about it? : I'm a pretty open book, and have no issues talking about my successes and my failures (a significantly longer list!) in my single mom journey. I think the best way to ask is just to ask. And the best way to learn is to listen. I think that's one of the reasons we go through crap in life - so that we can be a help to others when they step in similar piles! I've learned a ton from women who have been in my shoes. And hopefully, I've helped others a little along the way as well.
Who has been your biggest support in your journey?: I often talk about my "village". I've been blessed to have a huge support system of friends and family. I am surrounded by "hold my hoops" women who would thrown down for me in a heartbeat, if I needed them to. I couldn't have survived the last almost four years without them. My church has been more supportive than I could ever describe. God knew what He was doing surrounding me with the people He did. And my family has been nothing but pillars of strength. I've had to check my pride and ask for help more in the last four years than in my life to date, and my village has surrounded me 100%. These people have seen me at my absolute worst, and they've loved me unconditionally. It's no small thing.
What’s your favorite memory of being a mom?: I know a lot of moms will say that their favorite memories are when their kids are little. All those "firsts", and they're just so cute. And while I do look back at those days and those memories with an unbelievably full heart, one thing I've learned about favorite memories is that they rarely come in the moments where we plan them to be. I find when I look back that my favorite memories usually happen when I least expect that what we're doing will end up being a memory. I've been privileged to be able to have a front row seat to some of the bravest conversations and moments in recent years with my kids. When my kids spontaneously comfort each other in hard times, when they choose to have a difficult conversation with friends because it's the right thing to do, when they share with me something God is teaching them, when they show me forgiveness and grace - I'm finding those are the memories that take up the most space in my head and in my heart. Second only to that is the moments when we're just silly and laugh. We do that a ton too. My kids are hilarious!
What do you love the most about being a single mom?: the thing I love most about being a single mom (which still seems strange to say...) is that my relationship with my kids is tight. We were close before, but we're unbreakable now. Shared trauma and life experiences have fused us together in ways that "normal" life never would have. Parenting kids though divorce and the loss of a parent is never something I thought we'd survive. But we are surviving it. I put this in the present tense on purpose, because I don't think it's in the past yet - or that it will ever be. But we are currently surviving it. And we're growing, and learning, and doing the best with what we've been given.
Thank you Autumn for sharing your heart and your family with us! If you want to share your motherhood story for a chance to be featured on devoted you can do so here -> https://nakupendaphotography.com/devoted