Bold & Strong: Coffee Chats With Moms – Dawn Elliott

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by Melissa Face

When I decided I wanted to celebrate the upcoming release of my book, I Love You More Than Coffee, with a series of coffee chat blog posts, I knew Dawn had to be my first featured mom. If you’ve read my book, you already know that like coffee, she plays a vital role in my life. And if you haven’t read it yet, well, her quotes are another great reason to order your copy today!

Dawn and I both began our motherhood adventures about nine years ago. We have supported each other through pregnancies, attended kids’ birthday parties, and complained about sleepless nights and potty training. 

Our journeys toward womanhood, however, began in the mid-90s, when we sat cross-legged in cheerleading kilts on the sidelines of our school’s football field. That is important to note because something Dawn and I both value as moms is maintaining our identity as strong, intelligent, interesting women.

Identity is a major theme in my essay collection, and when I was narrowing down cover designs with my project editor, I asked Dawn to weigh in. “I think you need a lipstick stain on the lid of the to-go cup,” she said. “It would add a pop of color and a nod to womanhood.” 

I agreed.

There are many adjectives appropriate for my friend of nearly thirty-five years, but candid is probably the most suitable. Everyone needs a friend who will tell it like it is, whether it’s letting you know that your current camera angle is emphasizing your double chin or that a blouse you recently bought would serve better as a shower curtain. 

There’s no one more fun for a girls’ weekend, brunch date, or shopping trip. And obviously, there’s no one better to chat with over a cup of coffee. Today, I’m having a nonfat latte. It’s my go-to when I have the chance to enjoy coffee and conversation.

Me: What does your pandemic situation look like?

Dawn: Well, just before it began, I accepted a new job that I’m still learning. While I’m grateful for employment, the transition to working from home has not been an easy one. It’s tough being needed all day, you know? I mean, I’m needed at work, too. But not to wipe butts or get snacks. It’s a different level of need.

 

Me: So, I’m guessing you miss your morning trips to Wawa and Starbucks?

Dawn: Yes! A white mocha was my morning reward after getting two kids ready and dropping them off at two different schools. Now, coffee feels more like a habit than a treat.

 

Me: Did you always imagine you would become a mom?

Dawn: Not always. As a child, I did see myself as a mother one day. As a college student, that idea was abandoned. When I met my husband, I just assumed we would have a family at some point after marriage because “that’s what you do”, and I knew he would be a loving father. About five years into marriage, we decided to start trying, and I experienced infertility. Coming to the realization that I may never have a child of my own was devastating. I grieved not being able to give my husband his own child as well. In that year of infertility struggles, I emotionally and physically ached to be a mother.

 

Me: What advice do you have for new moms?

Dawn: 1. Let the baby sleep in the hospital’s nursery.  2. Be wary of having a grandparent stay with you the first few weeks. The help may be wonderful, but if Grandma is always rushing to pick up the crying baby or to change the diaper, then Dad may not feel the need to help as much. 3. Don’t ignore your own needs. Take a shower every day; paint your nails, etc. Whatever makes you feel better about yourself, do it.

 

Me: Do you have any mom hacks to share?

Dawn: Hack for moms with infants: Always have a flat, cloth diaper near. They are perfect for burping, cleaning spit up, and wiping up after nursing. Hack for moms with older kiddos: Have your child eat breakfast in the car on the way to school or daycare. Individual packs of mini muffins have saved us a lot of time in the morning. No shame in my mini muffin game.

 

Me: What makes you a great mom?

Dawn: As a mom of boys, it is important for me to raise them to be strong, yet sensitive and respectful of the value of a woman. I think showing love in multiple ways makes me a great mom. Physical touch like hugs and kisses, making up fun games to play with them, letting them help cook, encouraging their creativity with fun art projects, and even disciplining are ways I show my love for them. I also believe stability is comforting to children. My husband and I work well as a team to give them that.

 

Me: What part of motherhood is your biggest struggle?

Dawn: Is there just one part? All of the struggles are equally big because I’m raising humans! I think my struggle with guilt may give me the most grief. I have guilt that I cannot meet the needs of my family and my own desires in life. It is impossible to give 100% to everything and everyone.

 

Me: What song best describes your current motherhood situation?

Dawn: “All Mixed Up” by 311. My husband and I are both currently working from home due to Covid-19, and the boys are staying home from daycare as well. I’m “All Mixed Up” because at any moment I have to switch from being Mama, to Dawn the wife, to Dawn the employee. And when I manage to sneak outside and hide on the platform of the playset, I get to be just me.

“It’s funny,” Dawn said, post interview. “I had the hardest time answering the question about what makes me a good mom.”

She isn’t alone in that respect. Many of us are critical of ourselves and each other. I follow a few parenting sites, and it seems articles are frequently pitting moms against each other. Stay-at-home moms are on one side of the ring, and working moms are on the other. A recent headline on a popular site read, “Stay-at-Home Mom Hopes Others Will Now Finally Realize What It’s Like.” 

I read the headline. Then I unfollowed.

There are benefits and drawbacks of most every parenting situation. The best thing to do is surround yourself with a support system that lifts you up and makes you laugh. Hang out with moms who celebrate the hilarity of motherhood that connects us all. Spend time with mothers who allow you to vent without trying to “fix”. Look for a mom who acknowledges that you are doing fine even if your situation is different from hers. Find a mom who will tell you that your daughter’s Pusheen sticker is stuck to your boob when you meet virtually for coffee. 

Find a Dawn. 

 

***I Love You More Than Coffee is available for pre-order. Order your copy here!

 

Follow me on Facebook @MelissaFaceWrites for monthly giveaways!

 

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