The Known Mama is about empowering moms by supporting the woman within, and a part of that is through conversations in community. Hearing fellow mamas' stories gives us connection points to one another, and makes for a stronger mama community. Because of this, I’ll be sharing such stories—stories of bravery, challenge, pursuit, and heart. Stories about mamas. Stories that help us know them, and allow them to be known.
After sitting down with this mama, I’m inspired. Amber’s a creative—an artist by hobby, a designer and personal trainer by trade, and she’s a single mom to preteen daughter, Aylee. She brings to our conversations utter honesty about where she’s been and where she’s heading. This dear friend is proof that self-discovery and action make for a soul’s deepest enrichment. She leads with vulnerability and offers room for others to do the same. Amber's energy is willfully strong in the most beautiful way—a mama of fierce conviction and advocation for self and daughter, Aylee. Here’s a glimpse into her world, sharing a bit of her mamahood with me. Now read on, and get inspired, too.
THE KNOWN MAMA: Amber, thanks for taking the time. So first thing’s first: Right now in this moment, how are you doing in two words?
AMBER: Right now, I’m feeling grateful and also frustrated. And yes, I do believe those feelings can co-exist. I feel like the pandemic surely taught us that as moms.
I’m grateful that I get to spend more time with my daughter--spending more time observing, loving, emphasizing, understanding, caring… I wouldn’t have this opportunity to get to know her as much as I have now being home all the time.
I’m frustrated because I’m having to balance everything myself. Balance is the biggest struggle. Now everything bleeds together--work, parenting, cooking, teaching, etc. We’re literally learning how to re-do life and adapt to the uncertainty of it ever going back to normal. The weight of my family’s happiness seems so heavy on me. I feel like most moms can relate to that.
TKM: Yes, a lot of moms can relate to that, but definitely doesn’t diminish your experience. I’m hearing you say it’s overwhelming at times, which it is. With or without this new normal. Being a mom is so hard.
I’m glad you said that, though, about you carrying the weight regarding happiness. It’s so natural to operate in the mindset “If I just do more… do things this way, or that way, I would be happier, and my little(s) would be happier…" And we can feel stuck in this works-based mentality, but we can’t handle it all perfectly. And we can't forget about ourselves.
TKM: Do you think your experiences formed you to put pressure on yourself in carrying the weight of happiness and to juggle so much? Could you share a bit of your story?
AMBER: My story as a mom is so messy, but also the most beautiful aspect of my life. I got pregnant when I was 19. I was a full-time student and working my way through art school, so Aylee was completely unexpected. But I was determined to follow my dream. I knew God had a creative path for me, but gifting me this pregnancy shifted my perception of what my path was truly meant to be. God kept trying to shape me as a mom and as a creative.
When I was 21, I got married to Aylee’s father. What started as a hopeful family turned into a nightmare. For three years I endured extreme abuse. It’s crazy to think of the woman that I was during this time. I knew in my soul that’s not the woman or mother God designed me to be. I wanted my daughter to grow up in a home of love. A home where her mother stood strong for herself and her family. After filing for divorce, the freedom I felt to embrace who I truly was… is a feeling I can’t even describe.
TKM: Thanks for being so open about that. It’s so beautiful what you said about knowing in your soul things weren’t supposed to be that way, and you weren’t supposed to be that way. That little hint, that inner voice kept you alive in more ways than one. In mind, body and spirit you understood it wasn’t your path. I hope mamas who read this pay attention to their inner self as you’re an example of how important it is.
AMBER: It’s really important—my identity was more than the way I was being treated. Throughout the mess, I didn’t want to abandon my creative passion. I still got my degree in art, worked my butt off, to prove to myself and my daughter simply that… I can. Even though now doing everything by myself is infinitely harder, now I get to model to my daughter what it’s like to go after your dreams, never give up on living, and chase after everything that puts life in your bones.
TKM: Such an amazing gift to give Aylee—the confidence that she can go after her life in fullness. How’s your relationship with her now, as a preteen?
AMBER: Aylee is my best friend. We do everything together. We love going to concerts, playing fortnite, baking, cleaning, getting our hair and nails done, making Tik Tok videos, literally everything. Life with her is so much fun. I know as moms there should be a fine balance. We need to show up still as the authority figure but also be vulnerable enough to make them feel safe. Having a preteen requires a lot more vulnerability. And that’s so hard, but it builds a bond with her I’m grateful for.
TKM: What's the best piece of advice you've received from another mom?
AMBER: I don’t think the best advice I’ve received was given, but rather shown. My determination to never give up and stand strong really came from my own mother raising 4 daughters on her own. To see that modeled gave me the courage to believe that I could do anything.
TKM: Four girls?! Yeah, after that you can do anything, haha.
TKM: What's the hardest part of your mothering?
AMBER: The hardest part of mothering, especially as a single, creative is finding time for yourself. I’m still trying to figure out what’s selfish and what’s not. Being creative requires time, space, and a solid mental state (haha). Trying to find that time is difficult. While in school, I remember being a mom from 7am-9pm and then 9-3am was my time. To be creative also means being creative with finding creative time. But hey, it’s a super power that moms just have.
TKM: What do you want to be "known" for as a mama?
AMBER: I want to be known as a mama that--despite everything she went through--still loves wholeheartedly and does not give up on the beauty of humanity. I want to be known as someone who sees beauty in messes and can teach her children that. I want to be known as a mom who strives to pursue her own dream even though so many obstacles tried to tell her otherwise. I want to be known as a mom who does not self abandon or lose passion! I may be successful, but I don’t want to be known for that. I want to be known for the drive it takes to get there. And I believe love fuels that drive.
Amber is an Art Director and Designer based in Atlanta, Georgia. Follow her creative expression and upcoming projects at www.amberworrell.com and @amberyoko.