A New Season of Motherhood: Part 2

Question for you: What does “going back to normal” mean for you and who defines what our normal even looks like?

Going back to normal for me means conforming to what people want me to be. It means allowing my people-pleasing days to continue. It means suppressing how I feel because it might offend someone I don’t even know or worse someone I care about. It means putting what others think about me over what I know about myself. Going back to normal sounds great on the outside, but it sure does kill who I want to be on the inside.

I have been asked a great deal lately how I managed to publish my first book while also having a baby, and then how I managed to lose the baby weight.

First, I must add a disclaimer here that all my baby weight is not gone, and second — you are only seeing what I allow you to see. For the sake of full transparency, I have to be 100 percent with you and let you know that in order to lose my baby weight (which is not all gone,) I have been working my butt off since my son Lucas was barely even 1 week old. Always staying with what the doctors approve, of course, I started with walks in my neighborhood and gradually moved up to a light jog here and a strength training workout there. What surprised me the most was the amount of strength I’d lost over the months. I felt weaker and was hard on myself. I forgot to give my self GRACE, and my frustration in the gym trickled to being frustrated with the new me. I wanted normal—and my normal was what I was pre-pregnancy. 

During this time, I wrote a blog post on my breaking point ( if you haven’t read it yet, please do!). While crying in my closet, I realized something very important: I was stretching myself in order to get validation from other people, which would in return validated how I felt about myself. Sounds silly when I type it but that was my truth! I cared so much about what other people thought that I forgot to give myself what I needed the most — GRACE! 

I thank the Lord daily now for that breaking point, and honestly since then, so many more revelations have been coming up for me. One being that we are all so busy trying to be normal and fit in that we settle for less than what God intended for our lives. Why are we allowing society and social media to determine how we live our lives? Why are we allowing the world to tell us what we can and cannot do? God will not bless who we pretend to be! He will only bless who we really are! The minute we let go of the expectations from other people that we allow to hold weight on our lives is the minute we will become free! That freedom will in return give us the one thing we are lacking — CREATVITY to dream!

You see, when we are running on what others expect of us, we become stressed and try to control things that honestly we have no business controlling. This leads to us comparing our lives with the lives of others we see on social media. We start to compete for attention instead of embracing and empowering other people.

However, the second we let go of the expectations, we tend to see things in a different light. With me for example, when I decided to give myself GRACE and to stop working out to lose the weight for others but instead for myself, God placed two extraordinary women I am beyond fortunate to call friends on my path, and together we began holding one another accountable. Eating habits changed, daily walks became jogs for fun, and my workout routine—even though it felt as though I was a beginner again—started to feel more like a lifestyle rather than a chore.

The biggest lesson here is that life is always better when you do things as a collective with the right people. God placed these two women in my life at a time when He saw how alone I was on my journey and that I needed help. Not professional help, but friendship! A friend who says, “It’s okay girl, you got this! We’re in this together!” But remember: God can only bless who you really are, not who you pretend to be! Had I not woken up and realized that my intentions were wrong, I wouldn’t have been opened to this blessing! 

Now that the stress of expectation is gone, I stopped thinking about what I once was! No, why would I want to go back to the past! I’m dreaming for an even better tomorrow! A stronger version of myself. A wiser version! A better version!

Stay tuned for the next part of this series where I’ll dive into how I managed to get Between Two Worlds published during maternity leave. Hint, hint: it deals with community! BIG TIME!


A New Season of Motherhood: Reflections

It seems like a lifetime ago when I last posted on the blog.

So much has changed since then. I wrote this blog and sent it to my subscribers in an email a few weeks ago. I felt it should also be shared as a series on the blog, because so many women are experiencing the same feelings I had and still have.

I recently had a baby – a son named Lucas, who is the cutest, sweetest little bundle of joy (except when he poops, I honestly do not remember my other kids having such nasty poop, but that’s a different story). LOL

Anyway, in addition to having a new baby, I also wrote a book, which believe me when I tell you is just like having a baby (without the physical pain of childbirth).

Between Two Worlds by Luwam Tesfaye book cover

One thing I am noticing at home more and more these days is how everyone is entering a new season of life. Bini and I, in this new season of our lives are still waking up in awe to the fact that we are now parents to 4 children. In this new season we are both dealing with our ever growing businesses, our family and most importantly trying to work on ourselves so that we can be better partners for each other as well.

Luwam and Bini sitting together

Our children’s new seasons are all quite different. My oldest child Bella is a freshman in high school and is dealing with the drama of being 14 – trust me, it’s a lot. My son, who was once my calm and collected kid, is now in 5th grade and somehow realized he has a voice and therefore it should be used. Too bad he is using it to argue and complain about his sisters instead of useful things!

And my princess Novena is now 5 and shares her time between pre-k and kindergarten. In this season she has become an activist for every child on the playground who needs someone to stand up for them. I know I know, sounds pretty crazy right? Trust me though, I couldn’t make this stuff up even if you paid me. All this to say that our house can sometimes feel like a zoo, and honestly I wouldn’t have it any other way, but boy oh boy, is it tiring.

When we had Lucas, I thought I handle everything that was coming my way. I honestly thought I could have Lucas, publish my book, be an amazing mom to my other kids, show up for Bini, show up for Rahwa (my little sister who is getting married in a few months), lose all the baby weight in time for her wedding (more on this later too), show up for my friends, family, clients and IG family, and still be mentally, physically, and emotional sane. YUP, I THOUGHT I COULD DO IT ALL AND I WAS SO VERY WRONG.

During these last few weeks, I learned the hard way just how impossible it was – to do it all. I remember my breaking point, and honestly even thinking about that day makes me cringe. I won’t share the entire story, but let’s just say that I found myself hiding in my closet crying while I could hear my children – ALL FOUR OF THEM – either crying or screaming for me and at each other. It was not a pretty sight to say the least.

Have you ever done that? Hid from your children and just prayed that somehow the noise would just stop, or that you could get a minute to just breathe? Just a simple inhale and exhale means everything to a mother that is on the verge of a break down.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my children, but is it wrong to also want to love myself as well? Is it wrong to want space to breath and simply just be? That’s when I knew I could not do it all without losing my mind, or worse – losing myself! I had been down this path before and knew the signs all too well, so I was lucky to get out of it before the post-partum depression (yup I said it – DEPRESSION) hit.

In the weeks that followed that ugly yet important self- realization day, I started to reflect on different aspects of my life. Doing this exercise has always helped me prioritize and scale back on what’s not important at the moment. As I kept reflecting, one scripture in particular kept showing up for me.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

I’ve loved this scripture since the first day I read it years ago, and every time I come across it, I honestly learn something new. This time around I got to STOP! Stop and see what is happening around me. Stop and breathe and trust that God has my back. Stop trying to be everything for everyone. Stop breaking myself to please others. Stop mentally abusing myself because I don’t look a certain way. And the most important one… STOP TRYING TO GO BACK TO WHAT I ONCE WAS AND MAKING THAT MY NORMAL.

Stay tuned for part two of this blog, where I will talk about these feelings in depth.


Why Your Immigrant Story is so Important to Know

“Hi, what’s your name?” I asked her in Amharic, thinking she was from Ethiopia. The little girl looked at me, confused, and smiled. I’m sure she wanted to befriend Isabella and not me (LOL), but Bella was too busy reading a book to talk to this sweet little child.

When she didn’t answer, I smiled and said, “you want to see her book” again in Amharic, and also she looked at me, confused, then her father turned around and told me she didn’t speak Amharic. There we were in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, sitting together in Immigrations, both of us waiting to get some kind of visa, and staring at each other. I later learned that the little girl was from Asmara, Eritrea, and was moving to the United States with her father for a better life.

The minute I knew they were Eritrean, I started speaking to her in Tigrinya (the native language in Eritrea) and found out that she was in 1st grade and while she was excited to be going on a new adventure, she was scared at the same time. She missed her friends, her family, her neighborhood, her bed, and all the things that come with the beauty of being home.

That day replays in my mind quite often, I don’t know if it was because she looked and acted just like Novena or if I saw myself in her, but my heart ached for all that she would be losing by moving to the States. I think, often, we are so consumed with the gains of moving to the Western World from Africa that we forget all the beauty we are leaving behind.

My story is flipped. I was 8 when my parents moved to Ethiopia from Maryland, USA, and just like that little girl, I had to leave behind my friends, my family, my life, and all I knew. I moved to a country where I didn’t speak the language (only spoke Tigrinya and English at the time) and knew no one. I was scared, homesick, and angry at my parents for making life decisions without talking to me first (LOL). It took years and me becoming a mother myself, for me to appreciate my time in Ethiopia fully, and while I’m sure that little girl will start to love her new life here in the United States, I’m sure a part of her will always miss home. A part of her will ponder at the idea of what would have happened to her had she stayed in Asmara.

That little girl is in us somehow or another. While most first-generation American children get their families’ immigration story ingrained in their upbringing, which then keeps them exceptionally close to their native countries, other generations do not. Moms, that’s where we come in. I firmly believe that it is our responsibility to raise our children deeply rooted in our culture.  I talked about this subject briefly some time ago on my blog (Raising 2nd Generation American Children Rooted in Culture); it’s something that concerns me as a mother because often I don’t see myself doing the things my mother and father did to ensure I knew where I was from and quite frankly, I don’t do them because they don’t come naturally for me. The best thing my parents did for my sister and I moved us to Ethiopia in 1991 and then years later, in 1999, move us to Eritrea. We learned our culture, perfected our language skills, and became deeply rooted in our heritage during those years. I want this for my children!

While I know it’s not feasible for us to take our children every year or move to our native countries, I think the least we can do as parents is teach them every day about where they come from. Tell them the stories you heard as a child about how/why your parents came, or if you are an immigrant yourself, tell them your story. Let them live through your words. Share it openly and educate them on the struggles you had to endure when you first arrived and maybe even while you lived in your home country.

If you take away anything from today’s post, please let it be that your story is your power! It’s what made you into the person you are today. Your kids need to know your power!!

As always, I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to share your immigrant story with us on the blog.