Passionate About the Community
and the Moms Who Live Here

Self-Love September: Embracing Motherhood (Part 3)

Embracing Motherhood 3

From sleepless nights to breastfeeding to being our kids educator and entertainer us moms seem to do it all!  Our personal stories of how being a mom has changed our lives continues in our Embracing Motherhood photo series.  Thank you to E. L. Hicks Photography for the beautiful images.

Photos by E. L. Hicks Photography

Photos by E. L. Hicks Photography

Kari Burghardt, 33 years old; 2 children; Mollie (6) and Rorie (4)

Why was it important to you to do this photo shoot? I wanted to be a part of this project because it is such an empowering message for moms to be proud of their bodies after having children. As someone who has struggled with body image and an eating disorder I feel it is important for me to share my story in hopes of helping others with similar issues. We work so hard to do our best to take care of everyone around us. I feel that it is just as important to take care of ourselves as well. I try to live a healthy lifestyle through feeding my body nutritious foods and staying active with exercise. I want to be a good role model for my children and lead by example.

I love my kids with all I have. I give them love and praise so that they feel valued and have a good self-esteem. On the other hand I know when to discipline them so that they know boundaries and treat people with respect.

What one word would you use to describe your body? STRONG! It’s amazing what your body can do. It carried me through a full marathon, it gave birth to two beautiful children, it manages to keep moving every day when sleep is lacking, it offers a warm hug to my children whenever they need it and the list goes on.

As a mom, I am most proud of what my kids do on a daily basis. It’s all the little things. The way they laugh. the way they find amazement in little things that adults overlook everyday, the way they love unconditionally and how quickly they learn. They amaze me every single day.


Jordan Whitlach, 31 years old; 2 children- Liam, 3 1/2 and Eliza, 1 month

Why was it important for you to do this photo shoot? I wanted to capture this moment of embracing motherhood in its young, raw state, just a month out from having my second child while chasing around my busy toddler.

I am a pretty laid-back mom, but I have set expectations for behavior and how my kids will act and treat others. I want my kids to enjoy the special, daily moments while learning how to be kind to others and themselves.

What one word would you use to describe your ‘mom bod?’  Comfortable. ‘m proud of how I can balance many plates and take care of three lives (which includes my own) and still be standing at the end of the day. Motherhood is hard and exhausting, but it always amazes me just how much us moms can really do.

The hardest transition for me was giving of my self – my time, my wants, my needs, and my body. Having to put these two little ones before me is sometimes challenging, but always worthwhile.



Tammy Gabel, 37 years old; 2 children-Pumpkin (4) and Peanut (2)

Why was it important to you do this photo shoot? I have insecurities about my body like anyone else. After having kids, my figure isn’t quite the same. I don’t currently weigh more than I did before I got pregnant, but I carry more weight around my middle. I have stretch marks. I have extra unwanted hair. But I want my girls to see confidence. I want them to love and respect their bodies and what they are capable off. I want them to treat their bodies kindly. I might not look the way I did at 18 or even at 28, but what could be perceived as flaws are also proof that my body has carried and nurtured and birthed two babies (without an epidural!) and nursed them beyond their first year.

I am a worrier. Am I too strict? Not strict enough? Am I spoiling them? Am I setting a good example? I definitely wish I had more patience at times. But on the positive side, I think I am also a thoughtful and a fun mom. Hopefully they think so, too.

What was your hardest transition into motherhood? I moved out on my own when I was 18 and became a mother at 32. For years until I became pregnant, I worked as a reporter. So, I changed careers and became a mom in the same year. My identity changed a bit – at least my perception of who I was. And the loss of independence was difficult as well. Where before I could take a spontaneous road trip, or run out of my house to cover a fire in the middle of the night, I now had this whole other person to consider. Now that my girls are getting a little older and travel a little lighter, we are able to do some more spontaneous activities together.

How would you describe your ‘mom bod?’ Capable (unless you are asking it to do a cartwheel)




Melissa Epps, 41 years old; 2 children-Meghann is 23 and Mallory is 16. I also have two grandchildren. Mia is 22 months and Marques is 8 months old.

This photo shoot was important to me because I want my daughters to be confident no matter what size they are. I am overweight and Meghann has been overweight since having her two kiddos. I want my girls to know they are beautiful no matter what.

I am a laid back, patient ,and thoughtful mom. My hardest transition into motherhood was doing it without my mom by my side. I had my mother in law but it was not the same as having my mom with me. I was 18, had just gotten married and left all of my family in GA. I moved to CA and met my husband’s family. Thankfully I am the oldest of my siblings and had some clue as to what to do.

What is one thing you are especially proud of as a mom? I doubt my parenting skills daily but the one thing I am proud of as a mom is the strength they show as young women. I would like to think they learned that from me.

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