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All of our journeys as mothers are entirely unique and complex. We come from all different backgrounds, which gives every one of us a unique perspective of what a successful mom looks like. What does that look like to us? What is a Mommaslayer exactly? A Mommaslayer is someone who pushes through adversity. Who picks themselves up, dusts their shoulders off, and continues moving forward despite the struggles that life brings. They use their struggles and life experiences to make them strong instead of using it as an excuse to be weak They take care of themselves mentally and physically because they know that when they are doing so- they are better mothers as a result. We wanted to shine a spotlight moms who we dub ‘Mommaslayers’ in hopes that you can get inspiration from their stories.
Leiah is a Crosfitter, Makeup Artist & Hairstylist, Military Wife, and most importantly- she has 2 children- one in their terrible 2’s (Odin Loch) and a tweenager (Rhiley, 13). She is happily married to Chad who is the calm to her storm while simultaneously plucking her nerves every day (ain’t that the truth!). Her life is full of laughs and adventures in her family of four as they love to camp and enjoy the outdoors every chance they get.
Not-so-fun-fact-about Leiah- She was pregnant at 18 and had Rhiley at 19 and was considered a ‘single mom’ until about 5 years ago when she met Chad. Leiah was in an extremely unhealthy, mentally and physically abusive relationship while pregnant with Rhiley and when she was just 3 months old- Leiah finally reached out to her parents who helped get her and her daughter out of that situation. Leiah suffered from extreme postpartum depression (PPD) after everything she had gone through and her parents helped raise Rhiely for the first few years of her life. Leiah is eternally grateful to her parents as they never gave up on their daughter, which allowed Leiah to freedom and support to get her shit together, recover and heal from her PPD, which in turn- allowed her to provide Rhiley the best life she could.
Another not-so-fun-fact-about Leiah- she gained 120 lbs while pregnant with her first child and gained 75 lbs with her second. She started training Crossfit again and combined with clean eating, was able to shed those 75 lbs in less than a year.
How do you take care of your mental health?
Working out and wine! It goes hand in hand right?
How do you practice self-care with the demands of motherhood being so high?
Honestly- I TRY to put myself first (notice the emphasis on try). It may sound selfish to most but you know that saying ‘if momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy’ and it couldn’t be more true. I mean- think about it, if you don’t take care of yourself and make yourself happy first- how are you going to make sure anyone else is happy? If I don’t get to the gym- I am a total grump and a grumpy mom isn’t good for anyone. Granted, I can’t and don’t always put my self care first because well- mommin’ ain’t easy! Happy wife equals happy life and I try to make the best of each day!
How do you manage stress?
Once again- the gym, wine, and camping! Getting outdoors with family makes all the little stressors of life seem so small and insignificant
How do you maintain your self-esteem & confidence?
This is a tough one because it is so much easier said than done. First- I try to say nice things about myself and I also post on my Instagram photos of my progress to continually remind myself just how far I have come from where I have been. I love following other women who are self-motivated because it motivates me and I want to be apart of that! I also try really hard to remember that this is MY journey, not hers, not yours, no theirs, MINE! The girl who just posted her photo 2 months after baby #3 who has her abs back already IS beautiful and sure, I would love to get my body back that quick- but- I am not her. We don’t have the same genes and I remind myself of this daily. I constantly tell myself how hard I have worked and have earned where I am today and that is what keeps me moving.
How do you keep your marriage/relationship strong?
This one is easy for me- I know it may sound cliche but it’s the damn truth for me. I went through a hell of a lot of heartbreak to finally discover who I was and to truly love myself before I found my soulmate. I love my husband and he loves me. I married a man who stands beside me and believes in me. Someone who makes me laugh and keeps me on my toes; someone who never clipped my wings and let me fly. We are total opposites- ask anyone when they meet my husband for the first time and vice versa. We keep our marriage alive by being adventurous because a lot of people lose sight of that once they have kids but definitely not us. Don’t get me wrong- we are human just like anyone else and we may get mad about dumb things and real things but the trick is- we never stay mad. We have passionate conversations about what we are pissed about that is where it is. After we have worked through it, we usually end up laughing about it later (usually at my expense). Bottom line- life doesn’t end when you have kids- be adventurous with them. Camping, hiking, cookouts, the beach, etc! Have date nights, hire a babysitter and keep it hot in the bedroom! Hell- dress up every once in a while not just for him, but for yourself. We all feel good when we’ve just gotten our hair done or even put on a little gloss and mascara. Also- this may be TMI but I believe in sexting! I send my husband at least a few selfies a month of myself that I feel damn good in and I caption it with a little something like ‘can’t wait for you to get home’. We also make-out a lot, if you don’t make-out with your man, you should start!
How do you deal with stressful relatives/friends/coworkers?
Weights, wine, girls night out, and calling my mom!
Where does your motivation/drive come from? What is your why?
My motivation and drive comes from wanting to help other women and moms like myself believe in themselves again. I love getting messages from friends, family, and complete strangers saying how much I have help motivate them into loving themselves again not only weight loss/strength wise- but with inner and outer beauty as well! I want to be confident enough to radiate confidence to other women. Also, it’s pretty nice to hear your husband brag about how badass his wife is to his friends!
Who are your role model(s) and why?
My mom and dad because they never gave up on me even during my darkest days. They always believed in me, supported me, and had my back. I want to give my children the same and to teach them to never give up.
My husband because he is a damn good human and strives to be the best he can be. He goes above and beyond for everyone before putting himself first. He is kind and and supportive while having such admiral strength and passion to be a better person not only as a husband or a father, but his job and in life period. If you’ve ever met my husband you would probably add him to your role model list too. Not to mention he is a complete badass!
Other moms: I have a whole list of ‘em. The moms who never gave up, who push to better themselves not just in the gym, but in all areas of their lives. The moms who have toddlers screaming through Target. The moms who are holding the fort down while their husbands are deployed for months on end. The moms who have kids that won’t take naps. The moms who are kissing boo-boos. The most who are taking all 3 kids to 3 different sports. The moms who make sure dinner is on the table and the moms who are feeding their kids GoGurts or Uncrustables! And most importantly- the moms who aren’t judging other moms! Y’all are my role models.
What is the hardest thing you have ever dealt with and how did you get through it?
Before you read this- I want to remind you all that it doesn’t always start at home. I had and still have very amazing parents. They were and still are very active in my life; I played so many sports growing up and even lettered in high school. I was an athlete armed with a very supportive family and great friends. But after I graduated high school, I got addicted. Cocaine, excessive drinking, and snorting pills to be exact. I moved out pretty much the day I graduated. I had gotten a job at Hooters of Kitty Hawk as a hostess and pack my shit in my friend Stephanie’s white Mustang and set out for the Outer Banks (OBX). My friend Ashley and I had found a house down there occupied by a stranger we just met on on the side of the highway along the coast. I guess at this age I thought I was free and wild and crazy and was just going wherever the wind was going to take me. The first time I did cocaine was with my Hooters coworkers. I had never seen or done cocaine before but for some reason tried it anyways because of peer pressure perhaps? I absolutely hated every minute of how I felt when I was high on cocaine but for some reason, every time I was exposed to it (which was often), I would partake. I remember writing in my journal about how awful the drug made me feel and asking myself why I continued doing it.
Once we moved into our new place, the four guys who lived upstairs were drug dealers and I ended up dating one of them. We will call this person ‘boy’ because that is what he was. He was roughly 8 years older than me and we hated each other at first and ended up dating (hello, red flag). Dating ‘boy’ only exposed me to more and more drugs. I would stay up for days on end and remember sitting on the beach watching the sun come up and go down. I would feel like complete shit while doing it but since everyone was doing it, I followed suit. I also had a fake ID saying I was 24 so I frequented the bar scene a lot. I would go to work with ‘boy’ cleaning pools and hot tubs and would do lines in the outside showers of the pools we cleaned. Fast forward— ‘boy’ and I got pregnant. I immediately stopped the drug use and drinking but ‘boy’ continued on. He would consume so much drugs and alcohol to the point of anger and blacking out. I was the designated driver and would still tag along to parties with him. Yes, I asked him to stop doing cocaine because we had a baby on the way but he never stopped, in fact, it just got worse. He stopped coming home after work, he would go out partying without letting me know where he was while I was home pregnant. I will never forget the first time he hit me. I was DD and took ‘boy’ and friends to a bar that I frequented. ‘Boy’ told me to stay in the car and that if I went in, he would tell security that I had a fake ID. I sat in the car pissed off and ripped up a picture he had of a professional cheerleader in his car (I was pregnant ok). He came out to the car and saw what I did and told me to get out of his car and that he was leaving. When I told him no, he poured his entire beer on my head. I called my friend to come pick me up which she did and we went home. I cleaned up and heard ‘boy’ and the guys downstairs as they followed us home, so I asked him if we could talk in his car which he obliged. We got into his car and he got upset with me and he headbutted me right in the face and my nose began pouring blood. Stephanie saw this happened and screamed and ‘boy’s’ friends came running out and starting screaming at me, banging on the window, calling me a ‘stupid bitch’ and ‘you made him hit you, didn’t you’. In the middle of all of this, ‘boy’ reaches over and opens my door and his friends pull me out of the car on to the cement and start punching me (did I mention I was 7+ months pregnant?). ‘Boy’ all of the sudden gets protective and upset that his friends were hitting me that he starting hitting his friends and it turned into an all out brawl. I called the cops on ‘boy’ multiple times, but nothing was ever done unless I pressed charges and being young and dumb, I never did.
After our daughter was born, we had my parents babysit so we could attend his work Christmas party. He was so drunk that he dropped a whole bottle of Jager behind the bar. He was also too busy hitting on another girl there to realize I was still there. I decided I wanted to leave, which pissed him off. We got in a cab and he called me horrible things the entire way home. The cab driver drove a few houses past ours and I asked him to backup closer to our house. Well, ‘boy’ was pissed that I asked the cab driver to do that so when we got out of the cab, he punched me square in the nose. I ran as fast as I could to our house and was going to call the police because he had taken my phone and broken it. He beat me inside of the house and took the house phone. He threw me against a door jam to door jam and choked me against the kitchen cabinets to the point that I knew I was going to die. I reached behind me and grabbed whatever I could out of the dish strainer and thankfully, it was a steak knife. I protected myself and I will leave the rest to your imagination. I ran to the closest gas station and used their phone to call my mom and she came to pick me up. Why didn’t I call the cops this time? Well, I elt that I had protected myself enough and I was afraid to call them. My mom said when she picked me up, I was covered in bruises around my throat, arms, legs, and my face was busted up. My dress was ripped halfway off my body. My mom got me out of this awful situation and got me back on my own two feet again. But things didn’t end there.
I let him see his daughter because I thought I had to and I thought it would be good for the both of them. It was my night out and I got a call that ‘boy’ was out at a party with our daughter and drugs were laid out on the table. I show up and my daughter is in someone’s lap with just a diaper on that was so full it was hanging down. Directly in front of her was a table covered in lines of cocaine. I grabbed my daughter and tried to leave and ‘boy’ got upset and snatched her back and chased me down the street while I tried to call 911. He snapped my phone in half, threw me in the cactus spurred sand but luckily, the call was placed and the cops showed up. They cuffed him and gave my daughter to me. These are stories are just a taste of what I went through that might help explain why I was the way I was for so long.
I moved back in with my parents and they practically raised my daughter. While I was there, I was battling severe PPD and I would go out and drink in party when my daughter went to bed because my parents were there to take care of her. There were times I wouldn’t come back for two days because I was just trying to drown and party away the pain and depression, which is no excuse. My parents having Rhiley was for the best and I look back at that situation and it hurt my heart. I wish I could have been a better mom to Rhiley when she was in her first few years of life. Granted- my daughter was never put in harm’s way- she was always cared for by my parents. I was struggling very hard and made some pretty terrible choices in my life but one of the best choices I made was letting my parents help Rhiley and I. I was officially diagnosed with PPD when I finally decided to talk to a professional about it. My PPD would get so bad sometimes that I would lock myself in my bedroom closet for hours and just cry. My daughter would call my name from outside the door and I would keep crying for how awful I felt that I couldn’t be the mother that Rhiley deserved and needed.
What was my turning point in life that got me from this dark place to where I am now? Waking up in jail Thanksgiving morning after being arrested for a DUI. I had absolutely no recollection of what happened the night before- I knew I went to work bartending and was supposed to get off at 8pm. Apparently I had been driving my car down with no headlights on, on my phone, trying to find my friend whom I was supposed to go to a concert with. My friends who saw me that night said that I was absolutely incoherent and didn’t even look like myself. Once I got out on bond, my friends helped me piece together what had happened. They asked if I had been tested for drugs which I asked them to do since I felt like I had been drugged but they couldn’t because it was a holiday and no one was available to test. I am fairly certain I was drugged that night but I am not saying that to excuse my behavior and not placing blame on anybody but myself. I should have been more aware, especially since one of the guys I worked with that same night had a history of being suspected of drugging women, especially at work. There was another night I worked with this man and woke up with a gashed chin and covered in bruises with no recollection about a month prior to this incident. I called this guy to ask him what his story of the night was and he told me I practically drank a whole bottle of tequila which is strange because I don’t drink tequila and we are not allowed to drink at the bar (a few weeks later I found out that this man no longer worked at the club anymore). I had called my work to help piece together my night and their story didn’t add up with mine. They said that I was angry and screaming at everyone so they made me leave and they put me i my friend’s car who then took me home. However- the friend they said I left with- wasn’t with me- she never picked me up, I was actually on the phone with her when trying to find her when I was pulled over. If they put me in my friend’s car, how was I pulled over driving mine?
I had to attend rehab and they wanted to put me in an outpatient rehab but the doctor evaluated me and told the judge that I didn’t have any signs of addiction or being a user and he felt like I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I had to attend AA meetings but most of all- I had to spend 46 days in jail. It was a horrible moment in my life. Again, there is nobody to blame but myself. I got behind the wheel of my car and drove it not only putting my life at risk, but everyone around me. I had NO idea I was doing it and there is where my rude awakening happened. Abuse and PPD led me to believe that I wasn’t worth it and I took myself down a horrible path. Hitting rock bottom is what made me figure it out. I put the bottle down and quit the bar jobs and found Crossfit which helped me overcome my past and my PPD.
And here I am today- Happily married, a business owner, a mom to two beautiful children. I am happy and I strive to be better every single day. PPD is so real- I would never wish it upon anyone. If anybody ever wants to talk about PPD, abuse, or addiction- I am here.
What are your strengths as a person and as a mom?
I am extremely patient when it comes to my children and I have the biggest heart. I am protective and love unconditionally. Also- I have a passion for building women up and helping them build their confidence and self-esteem.
Where can you improve as a person and as a mom?
Probably not be so snappy when people speed down the road- or to be brutally honest, as a mother- listen more.
Have you ever experienced ‘mom shaming’ or felt judgement from other moms regarding your parenting?
First off- when did mom shaming become a thing? Who made you the top mom who knows what’s best? Last time I checked- I am the one who carried my child, birthed them, not the complete stranger on social media or the checkout line at Target. Let’s start with breastfeeding. I tried so hard to push breastfeeding. I did and I was completely miserable. Odin wanted to stay latched every 15-30 minutes and I am not exaggerating. It had gotten to the point where I wasn’t able to sleep. I even talked to my doctor who mom shamed me! I wanted to quit, how could I parent if I was this exhausted? I brought up formula to my doctor and time and time again she made me feel like if I quit breastfeeding and started formula, that I was a failure as a mom- that I wasn’t giving my child all they deserve. I finally grew a pair and asked for a new doctor after leaving her office multiple time in tears. My new doctor believed that a mother getting ample amounts of sleep to be able to better care for her children and be there mentally is more important than trying to force breastfeeding on my son who obviously wasn’t getting enough milk from his mom. So, at 3 months- this mom didn’t give up- I gave more by providing my son with formula. He never slept better and the same for our whole household. Momma knows best- trust your gut when it comes to you and your babies!
What is your advice to a mom who is stuck in a motivational rut?
Find a friend and hold each other accountable! Motivation doesn’t come easy- especially if you just had a baby. Please give your body time to heal as it can take over a year to heal. Hormones play a big role in motivation so don’t start if you are not physically or emotionally ready. Don’t push yourself until you are ready. I started trying to get back in shape too soon and ended up pulling a stomach muscle. I was 75 lbs heavier and felt weak and worthless. Your body can’t lose weight if it isn’t ready. Be patient with yourself and your body- change takes time.
What was the hardest part about becoming a mom?
Weight. I gained lots of it. With both pregnancies- I just got BIG. When I got pregnant with my second son I was in the best shape of my life. I loved my body and felt good so the weight gain was tough on me emotionally and physically. After having Odin, I wanted to go straight back to working out but my body needed time to heal which was hard because I kept seeing women go straight back into working out and having abs again. This is where I had to teach myself that this is my journey, not theirs and I am going to earn my body back. I stopped comparing myself to other women because I am not them! About one year after Odin was born, I got back into Crossfit again and I haven’t stopped pushing myself since. I have met an amazing group of women through my gym and they have become my tribe that keeps me accountable and keeps me going. I have lost 75 lbs in one year and feel better than ever! Just find your tribe and never give up on yourself!
What was the best part about becoming a mom?
The unconditional love- the squishy cheeks and hugs and kisses. And to see what I might survive today 🙂