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My Motherhood: Kelly Howland

For the My Motherhood series, we ask different women the same series questions about mindfulness and motherhood to see what works for other women, but also to show how even though we may be different, we are all in this together.

Today we are featuring Kelly Howland, a mindful mama that enjoys slow living in the Midwest. She is a wife and mama of 3. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook!

What does your perfect day look like?

The smell of slow roasted coffee climbing the stairs to accompany streaks of light pouring over my bed from an opportunity to sleep in until I naturally awake.  Slow mornings of shuffling around the kitchen, local Michigan maple syrup over pancakes, and children who contentedly read books without arguing while I enjoy birds and my wind chimes on the front porch.  A nature walk with my children while my sons get to run and explore and I follow behind with my baby wrapped up in a sling. Conversations that have substance and deepens a friendship with someone who continually challenges me to evaluate and reach for my highest potential and dreams. Snuggles on the couch with my lover, shopping for groceries at the local farmer’s market, and successfully baking a homemade pie cuss-word free.

Do you have any daily rituals you use to center yourself?

The one thing that I can take anywhere with me is my breath.  It may seem cliche because everyone talks about breath work, but that is because the centering power of your own breath is of vital importance.  Between mothering three children, all age three and under, running my own business full time out of my home, and being the wife of an extrovert while I’m an introvert calls for a lot of necessity to keep my grounding and centering practice.  I try to be very mindful of my breath - to not let it get too shallow or too rapid, to not hold it or let it hiss through my teeth.  I also hum and sing old church hymns.  It brings back the familiarity of my childhood, the melodies are soothing, and there is something grounding about going back to old familiarities deeply rooted within your memories.  

How do you make time for the different facets of your life?

I have worked intentionally on this for the last year and two words that come to mind are “boundaries” and “choices.”  It’s important to remember with our jobs and responsibilities that there’s a difference between what we really must accomplish and what we perceive we must accomplish.  Often, we are the ones that put the most burdens and restraints upon our own schedules and we have much more freedom to lift those burdens with discernment over what we really need to do and our power to say “no.”

Something that has helped me is continually checking in with myself and evaluating the different parts of my life that matter to me - being a mom, a businesswoman, a friend, a lover etc - and I ask myself, “Is there an area that feels like it’s taking over my life and overwhelming me to the point where it’s no longer enjoyable? Is there an area of my life that I miss, that I long for, and feel like I haven’t nurtured in a while?” When I get my answers, I reevaluate my boundaries in what may be tipping the scales too far and I consciously make choices that allow me to invest in parts of my life that may be running dry.

Do you have any special family rituals?

We have a beautiful, thriving farmer’s market just a mile away that is open year round. My husband and I regularly take our children to the market to wander the booths and buy as many of our groceries as we can from the local farmers.  It’s a simple ritual that means a lot to me.  I want my children to grow up knowing the names and faces of the people who grew their food and remember being taught to say thank you to the farmers for their hard work.  It’s my hope that they learn to value the privilege of eating locally and take their own children to the farmers market someday too.  

What is the best advice you have ever given or received about motherhood?

I’m not sure that this is advice so much as it is a reassurance.  I went to a conference last year and heard Glennon Doyle speak and she said, “There is a big difference between loving your children and loving parenting your children.”  Those words both hit me profoundly while simultaneously lifted a self imposed burden that had been suffocating my heart.  Until that point, I was stuck in this self deprecating cycle of questioning both my love for my children and my sanity from constantly swinging back and forth between being enamored with love for my children one moment and then questioning why I ever had any the next.  My eyes were opened to the reality that there is a world of difference between loving my children for who they are as people in my life and having to grit my teeth through the difficult days of navigating tantrums, breaking up sibling fights, negotiating vegetable consumption, and surviving the Battle of Bedtime.  Not only am I allowed to not love these parts of my parenting responsibilities, not loving these scenarios has no bearing on the love I have for my actual children and who they are.  The freedom to compartmentalize these concepts and the freedom to admit I don’t always like being a parent gave me a lot more room to express and embrace my love for my children without the baggage of self doubt.

What is your favorite part of motherhood?

The twinkle in my children’s eye when they run up to me with pure excitement to show me a discovery or treasure that they’re proud of.  Wild blonde hair and dirty hands from exploring the world I put them in.  Little bodies accordioned up onto my lap and whispers of “I love you” before they finally fall asleep.

 

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