LoveBabyFood is honored that Ashley Eastin is willing to share her journey of motherhood and healthy living with us. Ashley’s powerful story shines a light on the many labels women find themselves living within, while revealing the beauty of the complexities that make up our lives. I am humbled and inspired by this beautiful momma and woman.
My Best Friend is Me, by Ashley Eastin
The last few weeks after I was asked to write something about my views on parenting and life, I couldn’t quite pin down what I wanted to say and what topic I would focus on. I feel like I have lived so many different lives that picking just one of them to talk about would do the others an injustice. As my kids would say, “that’t not fair”. So I decided that instead of talking about my experience as a step-mom, mom of a sick child, adopted mom, single mom, or blended family mom; I would talk about ME.
I am a 34 year old mother of two beautiful girls (Natalie age 9, Jerzie age 6), one born to me and one adopted. I am in a relationship with a great man who also has a wonderful son. We live in our house with three dogs, two finches, about fifteen fish, one crayfish, and five chickens in the backyard. Our house isn’t perfect, but it is the home that I have come to appreciate more in the past year than any other place that I have lived so far. It is full of life and love and craziness on most days, but getting to this point in my life didn’t come easy.
In my last life, I had everything that I thought that I wanted; a big house, a nice car, and three great girls. My ex-husband had a daughter from his first marriage that I helped raise from the age of eight. I was the girl scout troop leader, helped out at Jerzie’s preschool and Natalie’s kindergarten every week and took care of the house as best I could. I sewed dresses for my girls, I patched up skinned knees, I enrolled them in spanish classes and gymnastics; soccer games and play dates were my life. At the end of the day there was not much time for me but that was ok, I was a parent and that’s what parenting is about.
At some point in this life, I decided I needed to get healthy and lose some weight. I was a member at the local YMCA and had taken the girls there for swim lessons and activities, but I needed to step up my game for myself. I decided that I was going to start running. It seemed like all of the runners I saw were skinny and happy, and I wanted that too. I had never really run in my life except for a few times in high school or college, but this was my big plan.
As I started to run, I realized that this gave me the opportunity to spend some time with me and get to know this person that I was becoming. I really began to think about my life and what it was about, and what I was teaching my girls. Taking the time to focus on myself gave me the opportunity to deal with things that needed to be dealt with, and gave me the strength to make the changes that needed to be made. It also made me see that parenting is not all about what you can do for your kids, but what you can do for yourself that will help you grow and become a better person, and in turn a better parent.
I just finished my fourth half-marathon this weekend in Nashville, and it was my toughest race yet. I didn’t make the time that I wanted, and it was hot and hilly, but I finished and I did it for me. Finding the balance between raising your kids and yourself is probably the most important thing I have learned in life so far. Realizing that you are as important as your children, and taking the time to be your own best friend is the best advice I can give.