BEING A MOTHER is probably the most challenging thing I do. The responsibility of it is very heavy. But it’s the only thing that matters! If you don’t do it right, it’s going to have the most consequences.” – Gwen Stefani, superstar singer, successful designer, a devoted wife and mother of two. –David A. Keeps, INSTYLE, NOVEMBER 2011
I met Christy in 2007. We were both first time mothers working out together and we were pushing ourselves to sweat off all of our baby weight. We chatted a great deal and started having fun adventure play dates to the farm, pumpkin patch, beach, flying kites, tulip fields, holiday gingerbread houses and of course the park together with our two blonde active children.
Frankly, I have to say plainly that single parents are flat out heroes in my book! The last few years my husband has been traveling a great deal so I came to understand what is was like to be a single parent during his trips abroad. During that time I grew to have a great appreciation for single moms and dads. Christy is not only a dear friend, but she is one of my heroes. She is a great mom, super talented and a true inspiration.
MEET RUNAWAY MOMMA, CHRISTY COWAN
My name is Christy Cowan, mom to Asher who is at the age of 4. My passion is being a mother, pouring into my sons life with all that I have to give. I am a single mom and life is very busy, but I am so blessed to be doing things I love. I spend my days planning crafts and doing laundry, bike rides, park days and play dates. I re-charge my batteries as a lifestyle family photographer (www.christycowanphotography.com) and also work part time at Microsoft I spend the evenings editing photos, sewing or working on home decor projects. Family is key and friends are a blessing, I am thankful to have the amazing support of both.
What is your favorite part about being a mom?
There are so many things I love about being a mom. One of my favorites would be experiencing the wonder and beauty of the world through young and innocent eyes. I love to be creative with Asher, find beauty in unexpected places, and explore the outdoors. It is doing those things that as a grown adult I might not stop and enjoy on my own. The other day we saw a giant spider web glistening with dew and Asher exclaimed in an excited voice: “Mom, it is so BEAUTIFUL.” He is teaching me new things every day, and together we grow an appreciation for the little things and treat every moment as precious.
What is your favorite part of your typical day?
This may shock some of you who hear me grumble about bedtime, but I think that might be my favorite time of the day with Asher. When he was a baby, I had perfected the bounce and sway just right and savored the moments that I could rock with him and bounce him to sleep singing softly in his ear. Sometimes sitting there long after his eyes had closed and breathing eased. I loved to hold him in my arms. Now that he’s four, he’s a little big for the bounce and sway. But I still love connecting in his room as we bring down the pace of the day. Usually we talk about our day, and then read stories and sing songs and share lots of cuddles. Lately he’s wanted to sing with me, so he picks the songs or I sing a line and he repeats after me. Last night we went through “Tomorrow” from Annie about 10 times. Granted, not every night is a peaceful experience, as anyone with a young child knows; but enjoyable more often than not. I know these years of bedtime cuddling are fleeting, so I cherish every one.
What can you not go without in your everyday life?
Exercise. Well, I don’t actually exercise every day even though I would like too. But more so “activity” I guess. I have to get out of the house; go do something active so I don’t go stir crazy. When Asher was about 3 months old I joined Stroller Strides, a workout program designed for moms and babies. This completely fit the bill for me and whipped me right back into pre-baby shape (Thank you TRACY KING!). It got us out of the house every morning, brought me strength, and connected me with an awesome community of new moms. It also modeled health and fitness as a priority to Asher from day one. I loved Stroller Strides so much we stuck with it for almost 4 years. This summer I looked at my very big boy… legs dangling over the front of the stroller as he awkwardly tried to stay comfortable, and I knew it was time. These days I try and find active things for Asher and me to do together, a walk around the neighborhood pond, bike ride, hike, etc. We play soccer in the garage when it’s raining. We keep fitness a part of our daily lives and I love the balance it brings.
What is one life lesson that you want to teach your son?
Gratitude. Humility. There are so many lessons I hope to teach my son in his life, via both instruction and modeling with my own behavior. Gratitude and Humility were the first things that jumped into my head. He is a very loved and lucky little boy. Our lives are not perfect, but in the grand scheme of things he is a very blessed child. I hope he grows up with a sense of appreciation for this love and this life, rather than expectation.
When you are having a tough day as a mom what helps you through it?
Chocolate & Diet Cherry Coke. Kidding (not really). We all have those days when we reach our last nerve so much sooner that we would like. I don’t have a solution to that; I struggle with it as much as the next mom. As a single parent, there is also an exhaustion that comes with being the sole resource for your child on that particular day. But it is also a joy! Usually on days when I feel like I might snap, I have to walk away and have a “mom sanity moment.” Couple of deep breaths in a room by myself usually does the trick. I pray out loud for patience with my son. I sit and think about how thankful I am that God trusted me to raise up this little being, and how dare I let my emotional weakness get in the way of that. I try to identify what is draining me and REALLY stressing me out about that day that has nothing to do with him. A little re-focus works every time. And sometimes… just a good cry.
What made you decide to start a photography business?
Photography has always been something I enjoyed as a hobby, even as a young girl. However I never applied myself in that area or practiced much until after my son was born in 2007. I found myself at a cross-roads in life just after he turned 1, looking for an employment outlet that wouldn’t greatly hamper the role that was my strongest desire in life, stay-at-home-mom. Through the support of some very encouraging family and friends I decided to give it a go. Free at first to build my portfolio and take the pressure off because I really had NO IDEA what I was doing. The response was so positive; I knew I had found something I would be doing for the rest of my life. I love the art of candidly capturing families as they interact naturally with one another… seeing the love in their eyes and joy in their faces. My son is still my most frequent subject, and he’s known to pick up the camera himself now and then.
How do you make it work being a single mom and running your own small business?
For me, it’s all about boundaries. Especially as a single mom, my time is just limited. When I first began taking portraits I was so eager for business that I worked my schedule around what was most convenient for other people. It was exciting, but also very draining to feel like I was trying to grow a business without letting it affect my success in other life roles. After a year of stress over arranging child care or cramming more sessions than I should into a free afternoon, I decided it was time for some serious boundaries. Making the decision to craft my availability and work hours on a set schedule lifted an incredible weight off my shoulders. When it’s time to be mommy, I can just be mommy without the stress. And when it’s time to work, I can just be a photographer/business owner without the guilt. Everybody wins!!
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