For this Mother’s Day, let me be the mom who gathers together other moms for a virtual playdate of sorts, to introduce you to four women whose unique journeys as mothers inspire me to keep on keeping on as a parent myself. May you find joy, encouragement, and please, dear God, a single moment of peace this Mother’s Day!
Rachel Barkley’s first year as a mom was all about survival.
In the weeks after Rachel delivered her son, Hudson, on May 21, 2019, doctors discovered a three-inch tumor inside her spinal cord. Rachel spent a month at Johns Hopkins recovering from a risky surgery and a pulmonary embolism that nearly killed her. From there, Rachel was transferred to the Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia for three months, working hard as a quadripalegic to learn how to be both a new mom and a mom in a wheelchair.
“That transition trying to learn how to live with a disability and be a mom was really tough.” The spinal cord is such a complex mystery that Rachel’s doctors didn’t know what movement she would be able to get back. “I learned a lot about being serious in praying for healing, trusting God, and showing up and working hard every single day. Those things are not mutually exclusive.”
It’s been almost two years since her son was born, and just a few weeks ago, Rachel learned that her six-month MRI scans are clear. She only needs to go for scans annually from now on.
“Sometimes I give myself a pity party for how hard it is to be in a wheelchair ‘momming’ – I want to be that fit mom running around with my toddler. I get a flash of sadness about not being able to do that. But everyone has that – mine is very obvious and very physical – everyone has a way they wish their lives turned out differently. There is always another side of the coin. Sometimes limitations are a gift. Had this not happened, I would be the run-myself-ragged type of mom. It makes me limit what I do.”
“I have had to stare my mortality in the face so many times that it has made me number my days, so that the beauty of my life is so rich. “Rachel Barkley
“Do I walk around with a glow about me all of the time? No. But then I remember how quickly things can turn south and I remember that God gave me today. He gave me story time at bedtime. And those moments are so beautiful.”
Reverend Sally Bingham
Sally Bingham’s children were raised in two different households—her oldest children grew up in the country, and her youngest child was raised in San Francisco. Regardless of the landscape in which her family found themselves, Sally was committed to giving her children ground to explore the wilderness and make the natural world a part of their lives.
“All three of my children understand the value of nature and the need to protect it, but they are very different in their approach to doing that. The older ones work protecting nature and the younger one gives money to protect nature, but works in finance.”
Now, Sally is a grandmother to two grandsons ages two and five. “I want them to love nature and to grow up knowing it is important to be conscious of every behavior. Instilling a love for nature and an appreciation for our natural resources are values that I smother them with. We don’t pick flowers or stomp on growing vegetables. There has to be an effort to be kind and gentle not just to the animals but also with the flora and fauna.”
“I can continually point out the beauty of what surrounds us and hope that they will grow to appreciate it, too.”Reverend Sally Bingham
Sally founded the Regeneration Project, the umbrella organization for Interfaith Power and Light. She’s an Episcopalian priest and environmental activist who has served on multiple think tanks and boards over the years. You can read more about her journey of faith and science in our earlier profile piece, “Reverend Sally Bingham Sees Creation Care as Loving Our Neighbors.”
Micha Boyett is an author, prayer nerd, poet, speaker, reader, mom of three boys, Down syndrome advocate, podcaster, believer, skeptic, kombucha fermenter, and sunset connoisseur (according to her website). Micha hosts the podcast The Lucky Few with her friends Heather Avis and Mercedes Lara as “Together, they take on conversations in the Down syndrome community that not only we want to hear, but need to hear and share as we shout the worth of our loved ones with Down syndrome.” Micha’s six-year-old son with Down syndrome, Ace, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder eighteen months ago. Micha recently shared about her journey with Ace since his dual diagnosis on The Lucky Few Podcast.
“Today, while he measured and poured and then undid his progress all over the table, there was this moment of connection, the kind we don’t always get with Ace, when he caught my eye and twinkled,” Micha shared. “It’s hard having a child who doesn’t speak. So often I wish and pray for a way into his mind so I can know all the parts of him that are still hidden to me. But, those moments when I see him, when I have the gift of coming closer to his spirit, everything lights up. And I know, his hands in the dough, that the mystery of who he is is simply part of the story, unfolding bit by bit as we learn how to be together.”
“What I’m trying to stay is that Ace reminds me of the God-mystery. The knowing and the not-knowing, the connection and and the magical moments that shimmer. The ache.”Micha Boyett
Dr. Melissa Burt
Dr. Melissa Burt is a research scientist in the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University and the mother of a young daughter. Her research focuses on arctic clouds, radiation, and sea ice. She also serves as the Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion in the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering at Colorado State University.
Dr. Burt is involved with the organization, Science Moms, a nonpartisan group of mothers and climate scientists who care deeply about the future of the planet and want to help other moms who share a similar passion but don’t feel as confident in their knowledge about the impact of the changing climate.
“When I became a mom myself, I feel like my whole world changed,” says Dr. Burt. “There’s some light within her that makes me continue to do the climate science work that I do.”Dr. Melissa Burt
Sarah M. Wells
(Kate Tucker here, interrupting Sarah’s story to talk about, Sarah. Because Sarah M. Wells is a mom we celebrate today and everyday.)
Sarah M. Wells is an author, poet, wife and mother of three beloved children, Lydia, Elvis, and Henry. If you’re a Root & Vine reader, you’ve no doubt encountered Sarah’s stories. From rousing reviews of movies that you’ll actually want to watch with the kids, to devotionals inviting inner faith adventures for young and old alike, to reflections on the great outdoors as a meeting place with God, to intimate profiles of real people making a real difference in the world, Sarah brings a mother’s voice to everything she writes, placing each word on the page with loving care.
Sarah’s heart is in her work and we couldn’t be more grateful to have her writing for us. Beyond what she brings to Root & Vine, Sarah has several books, including The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture, Between the Heron and the Moss, and Pruning Burning Bushes. The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others will be released in February 2022.
“The privilege of mothering my children means I get to partner with the Holy Spirit in the great work of helping my children realize who they are and what God is doing in their lives. It also means I get to take on the role of Christ daily as servant leader, washing feet and feeding ever-hungry bellies.”Sarah M. Wells
We Want to Meet the Moms You Love
Is there a mom in your life that inspires you to keep on keepin’ on? Share her story with us on Instagram @rootandvinenews and tag her in the comments!