Mama Strong

Four Local Women Reflect on the Lessons and Joys of Motherhood

Erin Cuseo

Mom to Ayla, Archer, and Wekta | Carbondale

What's the most important lesson you've learned in motherhood?

"Motherhood has taught me that empathy is the most valuable tool we all have but often forget to use. By removing judgment and supporting children, we empower them and encourage better communication. I bring my kids with me to work on the farm [Erin's Acres] and rely on good communication."

Michaela Fulk

Mom to Joshua, Janaya, Samuel, Carter, Malachi, Eliana, Azariah, Isabella, and Javier | Silt

If you could go back and give a younger you advice about motherhood, what would it be?

"Take a deep breath. Motherhood will be a journey of self-sacrificing. This is especially true when the kids are little and need you constantly. No matter how much you prepare yourself, there are just some things you have to experience to fully understand. Try not to fight it, just embrace it, and make sure you find friends, family, and mentors who encourage you in this arduous journey and watch your kids when you need a nap!  

Motherhood is a lot of work and patience, and can feel like a farmer who plants seeds, waters, and waits. Sometimes the harvest feels sparse.  Furthermore, each child development stage comes with its own challenges: When you feel confident handling the toddler years, they grow out of this stage into the next, which brings new challenges. You must know that your next child may experience each stage much differently, so prepare yourself for not being an expert.

Anticipate distance from your teens, but do not take it personally; they will come back around. Let them learn from their mistakes. If they make bad choices this is not a reflection of you as a mom or person. When your kids go off to college or leave the house, your job with parenting changes, but it will still be demanding in different ways. Most of all, do not compare yourself to other moms, or to the unachievable standards displayed on social media. Love yourself and keep growing as a parent. Keep your faith and hope while holding tightly to God. Take time to care for yourself, and do not forget to ask for help."

Estela Lopez

Mom to Ximena and Joel | Basalt

What do you love most about being a mom?

"I like being a mother because I feel love around me each and every day. This love gives me the internal strength to move mountains that present themselves in life. I believe my children to be the best form of self growth as they teach me to be more patient, tolerant, sensible, and brave. I like being a mother because they have made me an empowered woman who reaches out of her comfort zone. My children bring out a youthful side of me everyday with their never-ending  jokes, games, and questions. I like being a mother because children unite families, but what I love the most is that through listening to them, I have realized and learned that they are teachers of life. Because of this, I consider being a mother to be an authentic gift that I appreciate wholeheartedly."

Gina D'Orazio Stryker

Mom to Jaden, Asha, Theo, and Atreya | Carbondale

What has motherhood taught you about yourself?

"It has taught me to slow down, to realize that we are raising adults—that we need to give them the tools to be adults, while giving them the freedom to be children. That I learn more from them on any given day than what I teach them. That the unexpected will always happen and how you roll with it is what builds resilience. That a smile goes a long way. That being right is never the best answer—but leaning into love is. Watching each of my children grow, I realize that they have everything inside them to be complete, whole, perfect. I am blessed."

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