5 things I appreciate about my mom

5 things I appreciate about my mom 1My mom had me when she was 33. The year was 1982. I was the third child. They didn't know it then, but there would be three more after me too.

In no particular order, here are 5 things I appreciate about my mom:

1. She gave birth to me at home. In fact, my mom had five of her six babies at home. It was uncommon then. It is uncommon now. I really appreciate that she is a bit of a renegade like that. Now that I've gone through two natural childbirths myself, I am so grateful for her sacrifice. Unmedicated childbirth is hard to describe. It's painful, powerful, and...worth it.

2. She breastfed me. Despite the fact that it was not necessarily the norm in the early 80's, my mom breastfed me. She doesn't remember exactly how long, but she knows she breastfed all of us for 1-2+ years (that's 6-12 years of breastfeeding altogether!). I attribute my good health in part to her decision so many years ago.

3. She taught me to love to read. My mom always had a book in her hands. Sometimes my siblings and I would actually get upset about it, "No more reading, mom!" We went to the library every single week. I looked forward to it. I had my own library card from a young age and I checked out huge stacks of books. So did she.

5 things I appreciate about my mom 24. She homeschooled me. I just realized when I wrote this line that I need to write a post about all of the ways homeschooling made me who I am today. For now, I'll simply say that being schooled at home impacted me in profound and wonderful ways. It prepared me socially, emotionally, mentally, even physically...for life.

5. She (and my dad) let me go halfway around the world for a month when I was 15. When I had my 15th birthday, I requested a bunch of brochures from youth mission organizations. I announced to my parents that I wanted to go on a month-long trip with Teen Missions. They said, "yes" (if I raised the money). I did. The organization asked me to list my top 3 country preferences. Instead of choosing safe and stable places like France or England, I chose Bangladesh and Mount Kilimanjaro. I ended up in Bangladesh and Pakistan - spending long days building a school out of bamboo and tar, walking past men with machine guns (really).

It was my mom's birthday on Wednesday. My girls and I called to wish her a happy day. Tomorrow we are meeting her for lunch at Chipotle (Did you know they sell organic chocolate milk there?).

I'm curious: Did your mom breastfeed you (and did that affect your breastfeeding decision)? Also - Can I get a shout-out from any of my readers who were homeschooled?

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40 comments on “5 things I appreciate about my mom”

  1. I love this post Stephanie! What a loving tribute to your mom.

    I was not home schooled. I am the daughter of a career teacher who went to high school in a really unique environment. I am the wife of a home schooled husband and we will be home schooling if our lives are graced with children.

    I have a lot of respect for the families that home schooled before it was more accepted than it is becoming today. Give your mom a high five for me for having the courage to teach you!

  2. My Mom did breastfeed both myself and my younger sister for 2+ years each. I was born in 1978, and my sister was born in 1982 as you were, and it definitely wasn't the "in" thing to breastfeed back then. My Mom was actually a Le Leche League leader for her local group. I know that the support I received from my Mom played an intricate part in the breastfeeding my children, and I look forward to nursing my 5th baby!

    My sister and I were homeschooled for one year, and then sent to private school. Sometimes I think my Mom wishes she had continued with the homeschooling, and I know that I'd have had a different outcome in school if she had've, but I truly feel blessed with the Mom that God gave me!
    Great post, and Happy Birthday to your Mom!!

  3. This one I keep marking "unread" in my reader hoping to have time to leave a comment... :)
    My mother still had a small piece of leather that she bit on when she was nursing me up until we moved when I was 12... I remember seeing it on the kitchen window sill! Kind gross now that I think about it... but it helped me when the first few weeks nursing my first son were so incredibly painful. The second time around I was pro-active with the lanolin and that helped, but I also knew what to expect.
    I don't really think I ever thought of not nursing. I certainly knew it would be cheaper and healthier and I just wasn't a fan of formula. Son #1 had to have some formula when I had surgery, but son #2 has never had any. In fact we don't even have a bottle in the house (which some people have been trying to tell me to use since he's almost 8 months old and would rather just nurse exclusively - they suggest baby cereal in a bottle, yet everything I've ever read says that is a horrible idea - I'm a bit crazy at the moment, but I know we will survive).
    Oh, and yes, I was homeschooled until 2nd grade and then again in 4th grade. I think it really helped me be ahead of the curve academically - but who knows, with my mom being a teacher I know she always would have helped me stay on task!

    1. My youngest hasn't ever had a bottle either! She nursed exclusively through about 6 months and we slowly started introducing whole foods at that point.

  4. My mom did breastfeed me and both of my brothers. She had no problems with it at all...she says it was so easy. It definitely affected my decision to breastfeed and I have breastfed both of my girls. Not without my struggles though...I have been stubborn and pushed through. I really enjoy it and it is some much better and cheaper than formula.

  5. My mom breastfed me and my 2 sisters for 1+ years, and was a big reason why I chose to do the same with my girls. But my grandmother was also a huge reason for the decision, because she breastfed her two kiddos in the 50s when none of her friends were- because HER mother was determined that it was best for babies. For reasons I'm not totally clear on, my great-grandmother didn't breastfeed, and always regretted it, so she was determined that my grandmother would. She read everything she could find, and even got my grandmother through two mastitis infections (they lived in a teeny tiny town in Kansas at the time, so there wasn't the same kind of support for lactating moms that I'm so fortunate to enjoy.) I named my oldest after my great-grandmother (who passed away at age 103 just before I got married), and every time I sit down to nurse my babies, I think of how proud she would be.

    Although I attended public schools from kindergarten through, well, my doctorate, I think its fair to say that my parents also homeschooled me. The most important lessons I've learned in life- loving God, loving others, being honest, respectful, and trustworthy- all came from direct examples and lessons from my parents. And until I started college, they were more involved in my education than any of my teachers and supported my sisters and I in all our education pursuits. It paid off too- I've got a doctorate in history, my middle sister just earned a doctorate in physical therapy, and the youngest is on the way to an architecture degree from U of A.

    1. Your great-grandmother sounds like a real gem. You obviously come from a line of very strong women...and you are continuing that legacy!

      Also - I love that your parents were so involved in your education, all the way through college. What a wonderful gift they gave you.

  6. She sounds like an incredible mom!
    I was breastfed and homeschooled (through high school). Of course that impacted my decisions to breastfeed and homeschool. In fact, the first three months of breastfeeding Levi were so difficult that I couldn't have gotten through them if it hadn't been for my mom's support. Hopefully homeschooling will be a little easier than breastfeeding was!

  7. What a lovely post! I am the youngest of six kiddos too and five out of the six were also born at home. (One of my brothers came two weeks early and my mom's doctor was on vacation). We were all breastfed as well. While we weren't homeschooled, I sort of feel like I was to some degree. Being the youngest of six, I was always around older siblings and other people...learning so many things, reading and writing at an early age. Many of my friends homeschool their little ones now. We haven't entered that territory yet, aside from what little things I am doing at home to teach letters, numbers, writing, etc.

    I love that you have such a great relationship with your mother and she with your girls...and you with your girls. You are in the midst of creating a fantastic legacy!

  8. She sounds like an amazing woman! My Mom did not breast feed me and I went to public school. This did affect my breastfeeding decision - I knew that I always wanted to breast feed our girls - it's been a wonderful experiance.

  9. You're mother sounds like an amazing woman! I'm especially blown away that she birthed you and most of your siblings at home, and breastfed you all for so long -- that was just about unheard of during that era!

    I wasn't breastfed, and that's actually caused a great deal of tension between my own mother and I since I became a mother. It's horrible and sad, but somehow she has got the idea that the very fact that I breastfed my son is a direct criticism of how she chose to parent me. I've talked with her so many times, tried to explain that I just making my own parenting decisions based on the best information that I have available to me now, just like she did when she was raising me...but it hasn't helped.

    I'm very intrigued by homeschooling, and the older my son gets the more I find myself contemplating it. I would love to read a post about your own experiences with homeschooling and how it has shaped you as a person. I'm assuming that you very well may be homeschooling your own girls (please forgive me if I'm off base on that). If you are, I'd also be really interested in hearing more about your thoughts on that. I've brought up the possibility of homeschooling with my husband, and he's admittedly uncomfortable with the idea, plus I know that I need to do more research myself before we made any major decisions one way or another. hearing about other families' experiences could be so helpful for both of us in this process.

    1. I'm sorry to hear about the breastfeeding tension between you and your mom. That must be hard. Kudos to you for staying true to your heart in spite of the pressure.

      I hope to publish a post or two about homeschooling soon... :)

  10. This explains SO much! What a woman! I loved this post, and gives me such an insight into you- and all I had to know about your mom was that YOU were her daughter- and I knew she was awesome!

  11. This post is such a great gift for your mom! I love the picture of young Stephanie as well!

    My mom did breast feed me but for only 6 months. She did not have the benefit of a lactation consultant and didn't have a lot of resources for help. She was a SAHM and I think if she had been employed outside the home, she probably wouldn't have been able to breast feed at all. I'm a pretty healthy person but I also try to eat well and sleep well too. I breastfed our son until he self-weaned at just over a year old. It didn't really have anything to do with my mom; it was more that my husband and I believed it was the best choice for our family. My mom has said that she wishes she had the same positive breastfeeding experience with my sister and me as I had with my son.

    My mom's degree is in elementary and middle school education and my dad was an elementary school principal. I asked why they didn't homeschool my sister and me. My mom said that they had always wanted to pay for my sister's and my college educations, so when my sister started school, my mom went back to work. Her salary was what allowed us to go on trips and pay for college. Additionally, she felt that God called her into education. She worked in a rougher public school, and she felt that educating disadvantaged children was her mission work.

  12. What fun to see the picture of your folks!
    My mom had drug free (hospital) births for all of us, except for the last, baby number 10! She had an epidural the last time around.
    My mom breastfed all of us, past the age of 12 months. I was breastfed for about 2 years. My mom is very pro breastfeeding & gave me great books when I had Gillian & was very helpful when I was crying & not knowing if these were going alright or not. I thought it was scary, painful & intimidating the first time. I am very thankful to have had my mom's support.
    I was homeschooled all the way through the end of High School & I have never been sad about that. I loved it. Being in a family of 10 kids, I was never lonely. I was also involved in music lessons, sports at the local Christian Jr/Sr High school, & had tons of friends from church. I never felt deprived. I loved it.
    And, now we are homeschooling our munchkins!

    1. I was going to write my own long comment, but since my sister already did all I have to say is ditto! My mom obviously is a great help when it comes to questions about breastfeeding (or anything really!).

      So here is another shout out from one of your readers who was homeschooled and loved it!

        1. Whoops! I recently had to change my blog address, and forgot to update the auto-fill.


          My oldest sister blogs about Crossfit, my Mom was blogging for a bit but unfortunately she stopped for the time being. My 12 yr old sister just started a blog too! Hopefully more of them will start blogging soon!

    2. Your mom sounds like a wonderful lady! It helps so much to have a support person like that in those initial weeks of breastfeeding (especially the 1st time around).

      I'd love to hear more about your homeschooling experience as a child. Have you written any posts about it?

  13. I love the pics of your parents and of you as a child. You are so cute--and so happy!!! Adorable.
    My mom did breastfeed me for about 18 months or so. My older siblings were not breastfed because my mom had problems and the medical community discouraged her from continuing to breastfeed, which is so, so sad. I have been very healthy all my life, but so are my siblings. Still, I'm thankful I was breastfed. I don't know if my mom's decision to breastfeed me had any bearing on my decision really. I never even considered another option. I did have problems early on too. We hired a lactation consultant and within days the problems were gone and I am still nursing going on three years. It is so worth it on every level.
    I was not homeschooled but wish I had been. I was always very involved in extracurricular activities, mostly music, and I felt spread too thin. I was a good student but felt I would have had a richer experience being schooled at home. Since one of my degrees is in music, it would have made more sense to me to have less classroom time and more practice time during high school, so that I could concentrate more fully on the thing I loved and excelled at--and one of the things that now helps pay our bills. I was always practicing at ridiculous hours in the morning or night and never, ever got enough sleep. I hope to homeschool.

    1. Kudos to you for hiring a lactation consultant! Breastfeeding can be intimidating and painful at first so it's good to have people around who can provide knowledge, guidance, and encouragement.

  14. I was not breastfed. My mom tried to nurse my oldest sibling, but her equipment "just didn't work," though I wonder if it was just a struggle at first and nurses didn't help her make it happen. I struggled at first with baby 1 too, but after about a week of relentless trying, pumping, and tears, we got things going. I was a sickly child with sinus infections all the time. Every winter I lived with mentholatum on my nose! When I got pregnant with #1, I knew I wanted to nurse, but researching the benefits solidified it. I was bound and determined to nurse as long as possible and did so with both babies. I am beyond grateful I did as I love every minute of it - even those first few days that were rough. The connection is so worth it!

    I'd honestly never heard of homeschooling until after HS graduation. In our small town community, no one did it.

    1. The first few weeks were rough for me too (lots of pain and plenty of tears). I'm so glad that I had a strong support system to help me stick to it. Breastfeeding is a wonderful thing - for both mom and baby.

  15. My Mom did not breastfeed me or my 3 other brothers and sister. It was the 70s and just not done. Still, she is supportive of my choice to breastfeed both my girls. We were not home schooled, however we went to the library all the time and I know this has something to do with me becoming a librarian. What an amazing trip you had and so wonderful that your parents supported your decision to do it.

  16. My mom had three kids counting fee. She breast fed all of us while she was on maternity leave for 6 weeks but after that is was formula. We have a very small library here and I once found a book about breastfeeding that was WAY out of date but looking it it I realized if a mom breast fed and worked a full time job and pumped in the 70's and 80's they really would have been a super mom!

  17. I love this post, and the sweet pictures of your parents & you. What a neat way to celebrate the special lady your mom is. My mom did breastfeed us & read to us a ton. She didn't homeschool - said she couldn't have handled it! (and I don't think it would have been a good fit with her personality either) But she & my Dad did enroll us in small christian schools all the way through highschool, so I felt like we recieved many similar benefits - small class sizes, lots of one-on-one time with teachers, and a godly worldview.

    It's encouraging (& sobering) to read these things you appreciate about your mom, and remember that some of the seemingly "small" decisions I make today in regards to my kids, are really BIG things that will have a lifelong impact on them.

  18. Awww what a sweet post my mother did not breastfeed me nor homeschool, she was a working mom, so for me staying home, breastfeeding and homeschooling is a total new territory for me and my mother is ashamed of it, maybe because she does not understand how a blessing all of this can be???

  19. Being a missionary kid, I was homeschooled my English subjects, and then when I was in 3rd grade, I was taken out of the local school (it was a private school) because my English was not up to par. My mom and dad both homeschooled us and frankly, I did not like it. I liked being in a class with other people. For a year, they had my dad's little sister come down and live with us (she's a teacher) and she taught us. That wasn't as bad, as we actually went to a different location for school and Mom created these "uniforms"...I had a little jumper with a little house on the front pocket for "Home Sweet Home Christian School". It was a cute idea, but it only lasted a year. After our year of furlough, we moved to a different city where we could go to a bilingual school. I truly LOVED that school. But unfortunately, it was really expensive and after 3 years, we moved up to the states so that my brother and I could finish school.
    And No, my mom did not breastfeed me. When she had my brother, they were in and out of churches a lot and my mom, being only 21, was very shy and was uncomfortable with the idea. So, when I came along, she went with what she knew. I think being raised in a foreign country I was exposed to a lot of "germs" or what have you and have always been a very healthy person. To this day, it's rare that I get sick. And I have nursed all my children and will nurse my last one and I am grateful that I can pass on my immunities to them. I think breastfeeding is important and the absolute best for your child, but being that I wasn't and am fine, I think if a person can't or really is uncomfortable with it, it's not the end of the world.

  20. I'd definitely be interested on a homeschooling post from an adult perspective. I'm very interested in homeschooling my son once he's old enough (and any future children.) I was not home schooled and was a good student, but looking back I have very mixed feelings about my schooling experience.

    I was breast fed for about 6 months or so (born in 1986 to a working mother.) I am the oldest child and saw my three younger siblings breast fed for the first 6 months or so of their life too. While I grew up giving my dolls bottles and even helped feed siblings bottles, I always took it for granted that I would breastfeed my children. My resolve strengthened during pregnancy when I learned more about the benefits of breastfeeding and found so many pro breastfeeding bloggers.

  21. Love, love this look into your childhood and your Mother. She sounds so much like you. Explains why you are such a wonderful Mother.

    Your oldest looks so much like you!

    My Mother breastfed me only for 6 weeks or so. She's also had a life long eating disorder, so we didn't learn to eat right. She did homeschool us and taught us to care about others, though. We'd often visit the elderly in nursing homes in the heart of the city, where most people never go, and sang to them, read to them and just loved on them. We also volunteered at homeless shelters.

    How awesome you went to Bangladesh as a teen! I heart that.

    I bet your Mom is so proud of you! I know I would be.


  22. Stephanie,
    I did not realize you were homeschooled. Would you ever consider doing a post about you feelings towards homeschooling as an adult? I withdrew both my girls from public school during the last year and am always curious about the adult perspective.


    1. I'm not Stephanie, but I was homeschooled all my young life. I see my experience as mostly positive but there were a few things I wished would have been different, and should I homeschool I would do differently with my children.

      1. More effort to get us into social events.
      2. More effort to get us into sports or music.
      3. Being more hands on in teaching us. We were mostly self taught, meaning we'd have our assignments handed to us, we'd read/do them, but she wouldn't be "leading the class" like a public school teacher. There needed to have been much more hands on interaction.
      4. Tutors when she just couldn't help us learn something that we needed to learn.
      5. More structure.

      Seems like a lot but over all homeschooling was a great experience. Those are the five top things I wish would have been done differently, though.


      1. Nell,

        Thank you. I keep those things in mind with my girls. I was a public school teacher and I know there are things that school can provide that I simply cannot. My girls are involved in a homeschool Brownie and Girl Scout Troop, they ice skate on Tuesdays with their friends, they play basketball on the town rec team, they are involved in music lessons and ensembles, and take cooking and sewing classes. Every day is something. When we are home we focus on lessons. Taking them out of school was a huge decision but one I am grateful for every day. Part of me wonders if they will look back on this experience as positively as I will. I enjoy feedback from adults who had experiences with homeschooling as I am the first in my family to take this journey. I appreciate your thoughts!

    2. I actually have a post on homeschooling that is waiting in my queue. I'll probably publish it in the upcoming week...

  23. I too went on a Teen Missions trip when I was 15. I actually asked my parents when I was 14 but they said to wait a year. I patiently waited, filled out the paperwork, and delivered it to my parents the following year (in case they'd forgotten!) I went to Nepal that summer. I'm ever grateful for the experience.

  24. Oh my, you look just as gorgeous as you were years ago. And your parents look so full of life, I can see how you grew up to be so loving and confident. Happy birthday to your mom, I bet she is very proud of you.

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