We’re so grateful and humbled to end our week of new baby, new mama stories with Ashley’s. Ashley is the founder of the Shine Project, a blog, a shop, and a charity set up to benefit at-risk youth. They do service projects every other week with inner-city kids, and any money they raise goes back to fund those future leaders’ college funds. On top of that, Ashley is a new mother, in a very special way. We hope Ashley’s words serve as a reminder of all the wonderful ways we find ourselves as mothers in this life.
“Our story is different than most. We didn’t go through the pregnancy, birth, or even the first few years of life. Our new babies came to us, at the same time, at ages 4 and 6. My sleepless nights haven’t come from crying babies and feedings, they’ve come from weeping and praying for strength and guidance and trying to learn how to become this instant parent to two special people who need to be held tight. I remember texting my friend with kids around their age frantically wondering “What do they eat, how much do they sleep, are they supposed to be reading yet, what do kids DO?!” I was thrown into this magical and unknown world of childhood, and suddenly feeling the responsibility that I have over two human beings was the most overwhelming yet wonderful thing I had ever felt.
I often get asked, “When are you going to have your own children?” While the process we’ve taken is not the normal step to raising kids, the love and feelings that come along with it is all the same. Zoe and Shiloh have filled emptiness in my heart that I didn’t even know was there. I’ve only been a mom for 10 months, and have no clue in the whole wide world what I’m doing. But I know how to love them, so if I put that first, the other stuff just trickles in to place and it all works out okay. There was no preparation for us, no baby showers, no real “advice” that could be given as we ventured into a completely different scenario. Someone told me to create boundaries with consequences, not just rules that have to be followed. Doing that has helped us SO, so much. We’ve worked through and overcome a lot these past 10 months, and what a blessing it has been in our lives. For months I was called “Ashley” and my husband was called “daddy” almost immediately.
We do things at their pace, when and if they want. I’ve learned how to sacrifice and be less selfish than I’ve ever had to be. Sometimes the things that hurt me most are what is best for them. Even though they’re older, we still have a lot of “firsts” with them. Taking them to the zoo or teaching them songs, how to read, etc, and seeing their confidence grow and their little eyes shine with excitement is what I live for. I may not ever know what I’m doing, but I do know one thing; being called “mommy” for the first time was the best thing that has ever happened to me.