LIFE IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE’RE MAKING OTHER PLANS
Abbey’s podcast, Mimosas With Moms, is a must listen for mommas looking to bond and learn new ideas in a judgement free zone. Abbey knows a lot about judgement, as a young, single mom, she faced more than her fair share. And yet, even though life worked out so much different than she ever imagined, she got exactly what she didn’t know she needed. Abbey’s commitment to her own dreams, to pushing past obstacles, excuses, and other’s opinions got her where she is today. Abbey’s story is a powerful reminder that life is what happens when we’re making other plans. We can choose to be victims of our circumstances or thrive in the face of them.
Hey Abbey! I love your podcast, thank you so much for being here today. I’d love for you to tell me a little bit more about you and where your story took an unexpected turn.
I was halfway through my bachelors degree, I was 20 years when I found out I was expecting Oliver, my first. I was just a very typical 20 year kid in college. I went to the doctor, I thought I was dying and they were like “nope, you’re pregnant.”
I thought “how could this happen, I took my birth control every day” but of course, it happens. It was a really hard thing to go through at 20 years because one, you have no idea who you are or what you’re doing, your direction is all over the place, two, there’s kind of still this stigma around being a young parent. Which I find really interesting because we live in a culture that is very sexual, that is very accepting of premarital sex, it isn’t viewed negatively but the consequences of it still very much are.
So I come home, tell my family I’m pregnant, and it was not received well. I come from a very big, Catholic family. That was hard but also, all of my peers were about to be turning 21, so they were like “oh that sucks you’re about to become a mom, we’re gonna go to the bars, see ya!”
It was a very isolating time.
I moved in with my son’s father the first year of Oliver’s life, it was never anything ugly, but we just turned into roommates so we decided after his first birthday I would move out. I never took a day off school having him. I returned to school in the fall, I made Dean’s list every quarter, I was interning, I was a research assistant, I was working, going to school and figuring out this mom thing.
I graduated with a Bachelor’s in Psychology, I worked for a year and determined, surprise surprise, you don’t earn squat with a Bachelor’s in Psych so when he was 4, I decided I needed to go back and get my Master’s.
I was doing community based work with kids with mental health issues, living pay check to pay check in a really bad apartment. I applied to graduate school and was accepted. I met my husband halfway through my graduate program, we got married and I welcomed our first daughter at the end of my final year of graduate school.
I crawled to the finish line. I had a newborn, a 6 year old, I was working full time, I was interning, I was finishing all my research and doing my presentation of that. I was exhausted and missed so much of her first couple months of life. I graduated #1 in my class with a whole bunch of fancy awards, that don’t really mean anything but was still pretty cool. We had another 15 months after that and now I’m pregnant with #4.
What do you attribute your focus to during that time, to go back to school and continue pushing yourself to achieve more?
I think that for me, I never lost the momentum. What’s the next thing to do, we have to keep going. But I was also in survival mode, how am I going to make it. I was also afraid of becoming a statistic as a young mom. That was so beaten into me that I should not have this baby because of where I would end up. So I had to prove everybody wrong, but also that this was where I wanted to be in my life regardless.
I’m still going to go do what I want to do. Was it way harder to getting there with a baby, yeah! It would have been a lot easier if I wasn’t on my motherhood journey at such a young age, of course. But I think that when life throws these things at you, you can either sit down or stand up and say no, I’m going to power through this.
How much did the experience of being told that you can’t do it affect you?
It’s something I still struggle with honestly. I’ve been in and out of therapy to change my thinking and my self worth. I don’t think our self worth should come from other people, which is something I still struggle with. We need to let go of seeking approval from others and at the end of the day, who are you really trying to prove this stuff to? You! It should be you. And as a result, you are creating strong children who look at their mother and see she believes in herself so they can believe in themselves. I want this to be their self talk. I want them to know they can go out and do anything and it might not be easy, but ask themselves how are you going to pick yourself up, keep going, or change your path?
Did you ever consider giving up or run into a point where it felt too hard?
No. Not with any of my schooling. At the end of my graduate program I just had way too much on my plate. I was working a very big case load at work, interning, doing research, going to classes and not seeing my daughter as much as I wanted, that was the hardest time of my life. I felt like I was literally waving my white flag for help. I went to my employer and asked for 3 months of a lighter case load to get through graduation and they said no. Sorry Charlie. This is the case load you got.
That really discouraged me. It completely changed the direction of my career. I was very loyal to the agency I was with. I had gotten a promotion early and was very vocal on my intentions to stay on after graduation, but after not being supported, it completely changed what I wanted to do with my therapist hat and mental health career. Now I work in a completely different setting.
I think things happen to you for a reason.
Did you ever doubt yourself?
I wouldn’t say I doubted myself. It’s always clear for me what I need to do, but that doesn’t make it easy. I know what I need to do, change is hard, it’s uncomfortable, it doesn’t feel good. And that’s where we get hung up all the time. We think “I don’t like feeling not good” or “I don’t like the pain” but growth and change requires growing pangs and transitions. You’ll be in limbo between different things, that’s normal. But staying authentic to who you are and what you want for you and your family and your life is how you’ll get there.
How different did your life look from what you thought it would be?
I never thought I’d get married or have children…and now I’m married with baby #4 on the way. I love my tiny people. It’s so hard and time consuming. I’m in the thick of the hard, tiny years when they are so consuming of your energy. I can’t imagine my life not being right here. I look at my husband and am so grateful, he’s an amazing man. Those things all happened to me for a reason. I needed these people.
I come from a background of not being loved and now here I have this beautiful life of love. My home is warm. It is loving.
So would you say life gives you what you need, even if it’s not what you think you need?
Yeah I think so. I think even the hard stuff it throws at you is to challenge you, to grow you. I think changing your mindset of “why is this happening to me, this isn’t fair” to “what can I learn from this?” Why is this happening, but not in a woe is me way. “Where is this taking me? How can I grow from this?”
So what advice would you give to someone who facing something that is not what they thought, and they’re not really sure what to do next?
Remember, this too shall pass. I generally believe things happen to you for a reason. Even though we might not have a clear answer, but when life knocks you down and you get back up, you grow. And you will be okay. You have to believe in you. You are worthy of continuing on. You are worthy of love. You are worth of success. I think everybody has their internal greatness, go spread it on the world!
That’s what you’re doing in you podcast and in your social media. Will you tell me a little bit more about that?
Mimosas With Moms was born because just landing on these different seasons of my motherhood journey, I wanted a places for all moms to feel connected, understood, empowered and not feel judged. Just a place to be a cheerleader for moms. It’s so hard, it’s draining. These kids don’t come with a manual. Each one is different. Each one needs you in a different way. It’s literally the hardest job you’re ever going to have, but how cool it is that we have this tribe where we all have this common thing. Our stories might all be different, we might all be doing it differently, but we’re all in it together. How cool it can be when we’re not judging or putting each other down. It really can be this uplifting community.
On the podcast you interview all different kinds of people giving all different kinds of advice, so what would you say the mission is of Mimosas With Moms.
To connect, support and empower moms.
And that’s something we all need. Thank you so much Abbey!