This week's #MamaNextDoor is Ericka Webb of Sinking Heels of Motherhood. She's a doctoral candidate, motherhood journalist, coach and a mama of five, with baby number six on the way! Ericka says about her work, "I am your voice of reason to give you the inspiration and motivation you need when you feel like your heels are SINKING IN MOTHERHOOD."
Ericka and I briefly met at a mom event in Chicago. I remember listening to her speech about her motherhood journey, blended family and her special needs son, and feeling nothing but awe and admiration. I thought to myself, this woman is a super-SHE-ro! Ericka shares her motherhood story in an honest, unfiltered, authentic way, and she doesn't shy away from difficult topics.
But no matter what I say, there are no words that fully capture Ericka's unparalleled strength, determination, optimism and her beautiful mission to inspire other moms with families that look like hers. She's a true mom-inspiration and I hope you'll love connecting with her in today's blog post!
Tell me a bit about yourself before you became a mother, and how did you change after becoming a mother?
Before I became a mother, I was truly a kid. I was 17 years old when I became pregnant and two month into being 18 when I delivered. After I became a mother, I became a woman-child, seemingly overnight. While I had the responsibilities of an adult, I had not yet fully matured, hence a child. Additionally I was a college student, so a lot of things changed in a small time frame but I truly do believe there was purpose built in that.
What does your absolute dream version of motherhood look like?
The absolute dream version of motherhood would look like, no sickness, sadness or hardships. However, to be honest, as a kid I wanted some of the very same things I have now, it's a blessing. I wanted to stay home to raise my children, be an entrepreneur and have a large family...And boy is the family growing! There are minor details about my family that I didn’t consider when I was younger such as having a blended family and having a child with special needs, however I believe that has made the experience more rewarding for me.
What societal or cultural messages about motherhood frustrate you and how would you like to see them changed?
Societal messages that are frustrating are the pressures that are placed on women to be super beings. I think in turn we feel we have to live up to being that super person and it wreaks havoc on our emotional health. I mean, we all think being a Superwoman is great but sometimes, the cards do not fall in that sequential order, but that's OKAY!
Cultural messages that are frustrating is all about how Black women care for our babies and our families. There has been this nagging assumption that we are not interested in the overall health and wellness of ourselves or babies hence, high rates of morbidity rates in Black moms. However, it's the maternal inequities that Black women face. I was a victim of it myself while in labor and had I not advocated for myself and I didn’t have the support of the nurse, I am not sure if my two year old or I would be around now to share the story. It's a scary thought.
What do you do well? What really works for you? Do you have a secret? Your mom super power?
What do I do well - this is a difficult question for me. I believe I do a lot of things well, however due to the dynamics and timing of life, bottlenecks happen, but I believe I do pivot well. I had to learn this when my bonus son would become hospitalized frequently.
What really works for me - staying in my lane. I know this sounds so cliche but social media has a way of influencing us to be more like others and negating the very essence of what makes us who we are. I believe we all have fallen guilty of that, I’ve had those moments as well.
My secret - controlling the things I have absolute power over and praying about what I don’t. As mama’s we want to fix IT ALL, its a normal biological reaction. But I have learned over the past 17 years of parenting, that it can create unrealistic expectations that I feel I have to live up to and it can deplete me, leaving me completely dehydrated from my ability to do anything else. I learned I had to bless and release certain things. I believe that is my super - power.
How do you take care of yourself? How do you deal with mom guilt?
Taking care of myself - I pray and meditate.This is something that I feel when I make space for it, it changes the way I react to the trajectory of my day and my actions.
Mom guilt - I give myself grace and remind myself of all the things I have done well. Although to be honest, mom guilt is just something I think we will have forever. I think my mom experiences it over silly things, to this day.
What’s a topic related to motherhood, or life after becoming a mother, that you wish we talked about more?
Social emotional health of moms. I think the conversation is saturated about taking staycations, momcations, massages and anxiety, however, there is a great deal of depression and challenges with the “keep up culture.” It is pretty grueling and I think we sweep it under the rug because it's just easier and can be embarrassing, but I believe it's something we should talk about more to alleviate the stress. It inevitably has a trifecta impact on you, your relationship and household. Its a tough conversation but I wish we talked about it more. I have heard moms feeling they have no place in a conversation because of this.