With Mother’s Day set for this Sunday, May 10, the Echo Press reached out to moms on its Facebook page and asked two simple questions:

  • How has becoming a mom changed you?

  • Do you have any tips to share for new moms?

Here are just some of the replies the newspaper received:

Saraah Sellers Ries

I’m more relaxed about plans. Raising a child will quickly teach you that things do not go as planned and you have to learn to roll with it when changes happen. I’m more gracious toward others. Mothering is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I realize every mother (including your own) is doing the best she can even (especially) when she’s doing it differently than you.

I’m stronger/more independent. After losing myself to being “just a mom,” I’ve learned to revive and explore those hobbies, skills and interests that have nothing to do with the kids and take pride in those parts of me as well.

Be patient with yourself and your child. You’re both learning how to do this. Don’t expect perfection from either one of you. Do what’s best for you and your child even if that’s different from what’s best for your friend and her child. Remember that it’s just a phase in your life. You won’t always have to wake up in the middle of the night, always have to change diapers, always help with homework, always drive to practice, etc. They will grow bigger and more independent (and so will you), so don’t despair in the “hard” phases.

Finally, congratulations! Being a mom is the greatest privilege of my life and I hope you find it to be as much of a blessing as I have.

Tina Rice

Being adopted, I knew I was loved but yet never felt connected to my adopted family – they even all look alike. When I was pregnant with my son, Sean, we lived in Iowa City, Iowa. We were dirt poor and I didn't really have close friends there yet, so was doing this really on my own. I went into labor three weeks early. It was an adventure getting to the hospital (car issues, etc.) but we were ready and the delivery was fairly quick and easy.

When they brought that vernix-covered baby up to my chest, I thought my heart was going to burst. I felt for the first time in my life that I belonged and someone belonged to me. It changed how I felt about myself and my new family of three. Of course I felt that way two years later when we added our daughter, Olivia, and with her even more because she looks like me a bit and has similar mannerisms.

Don't be afraid to ask for help. I suffered horrible from postpartum depression. Let someone know you need attention, too. Let people do things for you. People truly want to help you so accept it. Don't let anyone get in your head. Everyone has a way of doing things. None are better than others, just different. Accept the differences and move on.

Tina Rice is pictured with her husband, John, and their two children, Sean, and Olivia. (Photo courtesy of Rebecca Lynne Photography)
Tina Rice is pictured with her husband, John, and their two children, Sean, and Olivia. (Photo courtesy of Rebecca Lynne Photography)

Trena Eller

How has becoming a mom changed me? There are so many things, it’s hard to know where to start? First and foremost I'd say it has made me want to be a better person. It makes me want to strive for the best version of myself. I quickly realized I no longer live just for me. Every decision I make now doesn't only affect me, it affects my child, too.

Some moms were able to carry their own babies, but that wasn’t the case for me as I had to go through the adoption process, which is both enjoyable and lonely. No one asks when the baby is due or if it’s a boy or girl. Adoption is months of paperwork, social worker visits, questions and waiting. You have no idea when motherhood will happen for you. Then, the call comes in and it’s time. I’m quite sure the feeling of holding that precious little gift feels the same. The moment my daughter was placed in my arms, my heart leaped. I knew my life was never going to be the same – it was as much terrifying as it was happy. I had no idea how to be a mom, but after waiting years and longing to have a baby, I knew it would all be perfect.

Being a mom is the best job in the world.

Trena Eller is pictured with her daughter, Iz, who has cerebral palsy. (Contributed)
Trena Eller is pictured with her daughter, Iz, who has cerebral palsy. (Contributed)

Even after finding out at 16 months she had cerebral palsy and that being a mother would be even more challenging, it is still the best job. I love being my daughter’s mom more than anything – even with all its challenges, mountains we’ve climbed and the physical and emotional challenges.

Being a special needs mom is a gift. You are put to different challenges and you experience different milestones and your life goes down a path you never knew possible. But the joy in heart is so much more intense.

My advice to any new special needs mom, which is something I continue to think about even after being a special needs mom for 15 years, is that when you find out your child is special news, it is devastating. You have this idea of who your child is even before they are born and it is hard to not feel sorry for your child and yourself.

But the thing is, your child doesn’t know any other way to live. Their disability is just normal life for them. So you can mourn the loss of what you once thought life for your child would be like, but you will soon realize that your child’s disability is a gift. It will bring people into your life you’d never otherwise get a chance to meet. It will make your life better. Special needs moms are incredible and I guarantee you will find strength you didn’t even know you had.

Beth Leipholtz

I wasn't prepared to be a mom. I know, I know, no one ever is. But when we found out we were expecting, we'd gotten engaged two days earlier. It wasn't in our plan to have a child right away, and I was scared. I had so much life I wanted to live with just me and soon-to-be husband, Brandon, and I knew having a baby would change how that looked. I was scared there wasn't room.

I don't think I was changed the second our son, Cooper, was placed in my arms, but in the 8 months since, I have been. Being a parent in itself changes you. But Cooper was born deaf, and I think that's only made my love stronger for him. I've had to learn quickly what it means to be an advocate for your child and why it's important. I've learned I would put his life and safety above my own. I've learned you can feel love through just eye contact. I've learned that "I love you" doesn't need to be heard or voiced, it's just known. And what I've learned above all else is that there is always, always room for another person to love.

Beth Leipholtz and her son, Cooper, 8 months. (Photo courtesy of Spirit and Soul Photography)
Beth Leipholtz and her son, Cooper, 8 months. (Photo courtesy of Spirit and Soul Photography)

Elizabeth Paul

My life has changed so much after becoming a mom, the fact that you would do literally anything for them is a feeling like none other. You protect them from harm. The rewards are endless. You love them unconditionally. And my advice for new moms is to not let them grow up too fast, hold them as much as you can.

Patty Anderson

Being a mom is great but it's even better when you become a grandma. You get to not only love your children but also your grandchildren.

Kate Hoffart

Having a child is like walking around with your heart on the outside of your chest and that changes everything about you. My advice is to just be present.

Cheryl Graham

The moment I looked at my oldest daughter after she was born, my reality shifted. Life wasn't about me any longer, it was about her. My needs, feelings, existence, were backseat to ensuring that this beautiful, fragile, new life was given what it needed to thrive. Eleven years and two siblings later, that is still basically my reality, only it’s now times three. There is very little I do throughout the day that isn't for them in some way, either directly or indirectly. There is no way to remove them from the equation when I make a decision, and I'm OK with that. When they wrap themselves around me in a hug or offer up a prized possession as a “gift” for me, I feel loved completely. Motherhood is the hardest, best part of my life.

My advice to new mothers is to give yourself grace. As much love as you have, effort you put in, and preparation you do, mistakes will be made. Tempers and sanity will eventually be lost. I spent years putting undue pressure on myself trying to be a perfect parent. Really, there is no such thing. Oh, and ECFE is amazing.

Karen Tolkkinen

I have become much more patient since becoming a mom. I was 40 when my first and only child was born, and you'd think I would have had endless amounts of patience but that wasn't true. It was difficult to give up many of the activities I enjoyed, like reading, gardening and changing people's minds on Facebook (hah!). It sorely tried my patience to wipe up the constant spills at dinnertime and change dirty diapers while he was kicking his strong legs. Then I realized everything was more difficult because I wanted my life to be how it was before Sammy was born. I wanted him AND I wanted everything else, too. This realization helped me accept the changes in my life instead of fighting them. After that, my heart expanded and my patience deepened in ways I never knew possible.

Babies and toddlers want to copy you, but they don't have the motor skills to do it right. So they might whack at your device instead of handling it gently, or uproot plants you have just set into the soil. Don't yell at them. Teach them gently how to do it the right way.

Karen Tolkkinen is pictured with her son, Sammy. (Contributed)
Karen Tolkkinen is pictured with her son, Sammy. (Contributed)

Shelly Beaulieu

My advice to moms would be to cherish all the moments you have with your children. The time goes by way too fast and then they become parents and have families of their own. Even the frustrating times can be learning tools for the future, but it all depends on how you handle them. The way you react can affect your child for the rest of their life; both for the good or the bad. Have patience with them; they don’t always understand what is asked of them. You are the adult, so act like it. Remember they are children learning about life. When they are all grown up and have a family, you get to become a grandma and that is the best thing of all. You have no idea how proud you can be of your child and now your grandchildren. Your grandchildren love you no matter what. Also as a parent please remember to include your grandparents in your child’s life.Your children can learn alot from them and grandparents are a huge part of the family circle.

Shelly and Tom Beaulieu (middle) are pictured with their children and grandchildren. (Contributed)
Shelly and Tom Beaulieu (middle) are pictured with their children and grandchildren. (Contributed)