Juliann Ingersoll - "Mama Jules"

Scotty and Juliann are some of the most intentional people I know - they both give so much to their family, their gifts and talents and to the community of Spokane in general. I love Juliann's story because she shares so many things that I think a lot of us as mom's have thought about - she touches on subjects of being fearful of being a mom, allowing new things to blossom in us and some old things to die, realizing our kids bring out the good and the bad in us plus so much more.

Please read Juliann's story and be blessed by it. Thanks Juliann for sharing!

"From an early age I had multiple friends who called me Momma Jules. This nickname stemmed from a couple of traits of mine: 1. I liked to be a caretaker 2. I was almost always prepared for any situation (think: band-aids, cough drops, post-its, snacks, kleenex, water, etc.) The first of these traits I soaked up from watching my single mom selflessly juggle working nights as a NICU nurse, beautifully solo-momming my older sister and I, & necessarily taking on the responsibility of caring for her parents in their declining health. The second of these traits- a proclivity towards preparedness- definitely stems from my innate desires to never be caught off guard & my love for being needed. I explain this because, having these traits and the monicker "Momma Jules", I felt as though I was created to be a mom.

Fast forward a decade & a half or so, I'm 25, married for 2 years, a teacher for 3, and I'm fearful of becoming a mom. Not afraid of the idea of being a mom, but more because I grappled with the question: "do I really want to bring a child into this world?" (By the way, I think that tenfold now). So naturally, 2 years later we got a puppy. I felt that raising a puppy would help ease me into the releasing of my "selfishness" & incite my maternal instincts. I wasn't completely wrong. Our dog Ruby really did help prepare me with getting up to a whining creature in the middle of the night, cleaning up all kinds of "bathroom messes", having to think about scheduling for help when work days would be long (we lived in an upstairs apartments & puppy "potty" training is a REAL thing too!), and the general need to think of another being that needs attention, care, love, food, walks, & bathroom breaks.

About one year into having Ruby my husband Scott(y) & I landed on the truth that it was our turn. We wanted to take on the task of adding some salt to the earth- in the sense of hoping to create a good, loving, God-honoring human. I was very sober to the fact that it could take us a long time to get pregnant, as I grew up with many mentors/friends who had experiences with infertility & miscarriages. Well, to my surprise it took all of 3 weeks (& I say this with great gratitude). In fact, I took my first pregnancy test on my 28th birthday & I was literally in shock! I opened the bathroom drawer of where the positive pee stick was and showed Scotty & said, "I'm not ready to talk about it." (That's one way to share big news. Not recommended for the general public, but Scotty is very patient with me and my gracelessness).

Anyhow, fast forward 5+ years, 2 successful pregnancies, a 1,900 mile move, a five-year-old, & 21-month-old later and I'm chin deep into momhood. Well, full-time working momhood. It all looks different that I had imagined. Especially because my husband is the stay at home parent, a fact for which I wade through issues of thick guilt and self-struggles. And you ask, what does motherhood mean to me...

Motherhood means something different at different stages...I think. I mean it's all from the same vein of consistent transition, & molding to the needs of the moment...but I think it's a layered thing for me. Motherhood helps me feel like parts of me that were budding from a young age are finally beginning to flourish. At the same time, it also feels like old, more carefree, parts of me that were flourishing are either dead or dormant for the time being.

I have most definitely experienced the fulfillment of being needed (I loved that in the newborn/infant stage, but it can feel kind of toxic at this stage). I definitely love that having a bag of preparedness (i.e. a diaper bag) is acceptable & expected. In fact, I may just be that mom that never returns to using a purse, but instead continues to wear an overstuffed "diaper backpack", looking like an over eager summer camper, as a way to continue fulfilling that "Momma Jules" name given to me in my youth.

Those other, more carefree parts of me, that enjoyed traveling, hanging out with friends, cooking, running..., those aspects of my personhood have become harder to get in touch with. Sometimes those things just feel like chores. I'm most saddened about, and almost feel like I shouldn't write that, in regards to hanging out with friends. But, being a full-time teacher & and interactive mom, I feel and have come to believe that my time away from my family is my time at work. Therefore, sadly any other time I make plans away from my kids causes me great inner turmoil both in the planning and carrying out of the plans. I'm working on that though.

Another facet of motherhood that comes to mind is something that I experienced first when Scotty and I got married. It can best be expressed by lyrics of Justin Timberlake's song "Mirrors". "It's like you're my mirror, whoa-oh, my mirror looking back at me." It's as if these little creatures we are raising know just how to reveal ALL of my traits, especially some really ugly ones: impatience, being quick to anger, worry, discomfort with lack of control, etc. This all may partially be due to the sleep deprivation and general exhaustion that these kiddos create with their lack of need for sleep, space, quiet time, independence, cleanliness/order, a moment without hearing a song from a children's movie soundtrack in the car, etc. These littles most definitely have the direct trigger to ALL of the buttons for bringing my ugly humanness into view.

On the contrary, and in a WAY more positive light, my sweet little nuggets also bring out some of the most visceral, pure joy that I've ever known. Both Benson and Brynlee consistently induce the deepest belly laughter, the silliest dance moves, the brightest smiles, the proudest of tears, and the most satisfied of feelings.

These kiddos are molding and stretching and challenging me into a different, more challenging level of both freedom and care. Their existence alone drives me more to the truth that I need -& need to more generously extend-God's grace and mercy, both to/for them, myself and others.

In conclusion, motherhood is a lot of things. It's the dichotomy of the continuation of becoming all God created me to be, while simultaneously being the stripping away of all I thought I was. It's hard, good, scary, fun, exhausting, life-giving, fulfilling, draining, maddening, joy-producing, work, play...& most of all, a gift & honor. I don't take lightly the fact that I get to play out the role of being mom to these two. I know many do not get to be mom that want to & that deeply saddens me. For others who don't desire to be a mom, I truly believe it's not for everyone. Our world needs women who don't feel forced into feeling like they aren't fully a woman without being a mom. For me, however, I know without a doubt, no matter what deep seeded insecurities I have about my purpose or work or self, God designed me to be Benson and Brynlee's mom. That, my friends, is something I will work to do better every damn day. It may rarely be pretty, but it is my call and for that I am abundantly thankful."

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