Leslie Edgell | Another Mother Her Way
Written with Betsy Parton in partnership with Adopt Together to raise awareness for World Adoption Day.
This past week was an education for us, being able to celebrate adoption and the journey unique to adoptive mothers. We wanted to close out the week with a particularly strong and loving woman who bridges the Mother Untitled and Adopt Together communities. Leslie has gone through the adoption process three times over the last five years to bring home her daughters from China. She chose to part with a career in accounting to stay home with her kids and ease each of their transitions into their family and new home. Below, Leslie shares her experience with planning for a career shift, the devastating loss of her middle child, and embracing the frazzle that comes with “this season” of her life.
Q HOW DID YOU CHANGE AFTER BECOMING A MOTHER?
When we brought our first daughter home from China, we hit the ground running at a fast pace, as she was 26 months old at the time and quite the busy body! I went from working full-time as a tax accountant (during busy season, no less) to staying at home with a toddler. It took me a while to get my bearings as my days went from being filled with calculations, spreadsheets, and paperwork to Play-Doh, board books, and floor work. Copy room conversations gave way to learning letters with Elmo. Evenings where I could meet friends for dinner and a drink shifted to family dinners, bath time and bedtime snuggles. Looking back, I loved the changes that took place in my life. Yes, there were times when I was exhausted and the change was hard, but the sweet moments with my girl made those hard moments bearable. Our days were full of laughter and joy as everything was fascinating and new for our daughter. It was so much fun to explore the world through her eyes. My life has been forever changed by the greatest blessings that have come to us through adoption.
Q WHAT CHOICES DID YOU MAKE TO ACCOMMODATE MOTHERHOOD? WOULD YOU MAKE THEM AGAIN?
Before children even entered the picture, my husband and I discussed the possibility of me staying at home with our children. We began to set aside my income in a savings account and attempted to live on one income as we prepared for this life change. I was a CPA with a local accounting firm and was right in the middle of tax season when we boarded a plane for China to adopt our first daughter. Realizing that my daughter didn’t have a consistent caregiver for her first 26 months of life and that we had many doctors’ appointments and a surgery in our immediate future, I made the decision not to return to work. My husband worked from home, and that allowed both of us to be very involved in those early days with our daughter. I have no regrets about leaving a full-time job to spend my time at home with her. I’m thankful I could be with her and give her the security she needed as she transitioned to life in our family.
Q DESCRIBE YOURSELF AS A MOTHER IN 3 WORDS. WHAT KIND OF MOTHER WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE?
Frazzled. It’s true. I’ll be honest. I want other moms to know that it is okay to feel this way in certain seasons of life. Adjusting to life with a new toddler in the mix,
homeschooling our oldest daughter, continuing to grieve the loss of our middle daughter and fitting in the general craziness of life often leaves me feeling this way. I’m
realizing life is about seasons and they quickly change. I’d like to be more free-spirited, but realize that will never happen. Since that isn’t how I’m wired, I’ll work on being more relaxed, present and balanced.
Q HOW DO YOU TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF OUTSIDE OF MOTHERHOOD?
This is a tricky question! Ha! The last five years have brought a lot of changes to our family: completing three international adoptions, losing a child to complications from heart surgery, my husband leaving his job of many years and becoming a freelancer, navigating the world of doctors appointments and insurance issues that come with parenting children with special needs, etc. There were many times when self-care seemed non-existent. It’s something I must continually work towards improving. For me, that means making time to exercise, getting outside for some fresh air, putting aside the parenting books to read a book for pleasure, and listening to podcasts.
Q EVERY MOTHER NEEDS HELP TO FIND BALANCE. WHAT DOES YOUR VILLAGE LOOK LIKE?
Oh wow! I could talk your ear off about my village. My husband is my balance in this crazy journey of life and parenting. I’m thankful to be walking alongside him. I consider myself lucky in that I’m close – in proximity and relationally – to my siblings and my parents. They all have been big supporters of me throughout life, but especially in the last 5 years through our adoption journeys. In fact, my sister and her husband accompanied us to China on our first adoption trip and my brother met us there on our last two!
Also, we are fortunate to be surrounded by an amazing village that has carried us through the ups and downs of life over the last several years. When our middle
daughter had heart surgery, spent 75 days in the hospital and later passed away from complications related to the surgery, friends and family from both near and far provided dinners for that entire period. They sent care packages to our older daughter and cards to our family, delivered coffee to me at the hospital, and left words of encouragement through texts, emails, voicemails, and Facebook messages. It’s hard to imagine how we would have made it through such a difficult time without the love and support of so many.
Q WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON IMPROVING ABOUT YOURSELF AS A WOMAN & A MOTHER?
Balance! My tragic flaw is that I desire to be all things to all people. Not only is that dream exhausting, it isn’t attainable. It’s easy to look around and believe that I am failing at so many things in life. I continually need to reexamine the things that are most important to me and focus on them while letting go of the things that don’t really matter and are just filling up empty space.