Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I’m a hand lettering and watercolor artist, and a wife to Cory and mom of four boys, Henry (5), Fulton (4), Pio (3) and Freddie (4 months). I’m originally from Michigan but now living in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Cory and I met at a small private college and dated for four years with two break-ups in between before we said “I do.”
How have you changed since becoming a mother?
I feel like motherhood has grounded me tremendously. I was the best mom before I had kids! Reality sets in a little more every day. It is truly humbling. I feel stronger than ever before as I’ve come to see that with grace and love anything is possible, and we can make it through so much more than we could’ve ever imagined.
At the same time, I’ve never been so anxious in my life. It’s a daily struggle, learning to release. You know how in the book “Of Mice and Men,” how Lenny accidentally kills his mice because he is holding and petting them too hard? This is how I feel like motherhood can feel at times. Sometimes I love them so much and am so afraid of anything happening to them that I am afraid of killing their spirits and it becomes more about possession than freedom.
I have to remind myself that they are not my own. They are a gift to me to love and help form and guide as they grow into whatever lovely human God has created them to be. Sometimes I am able to surrender and I get to see them flourish and it’s absolutely magical.
How did you start your business, Fawnly Prints?
I had a difficult pregnancy with my third child, with a condition where I itched my palms and feet nonstop. I couldn’t go out in public much because it was so bad, and I had two small boys in addition to being pregnant. I had lots of anxiety because of the itching, and it was a condition that risked stillbirth, so I needed an outlet and a distraction.
I took up watercolor and hand lettering. As I painted and lettered beautiful scripture verses or inspiring quotes, my itching would completely stop and peace would come over me. I was terrible at first, but I just did it every day, as often as I could as the boys slept. Eventually I got better and wanted to share this peace with others so I opened my shop.
My shop’s name, Fawnly Prints, is inspired by Psalm 42:1: “As a deer thirsts for flowing streams so my soul longs for you O Lord.” “Fawnly” means to be like a baby deer. While I was pregnant, I identified with that deer and saw myself as helpless, more like a little fawn, longing for satiation from the itching and anxiety.
So my shop is not as much about being peace-filled, as it is about being wherever you are and desiring that peace. I hope my work can inspire others wherever they are in life.
Being a small business owner can be difficult. How are you making that work for you as a mom?
Since the birth of my fourth boy, Fred, it’s gotten a lot trickier. My boys no longer nap, so I literally get zero alone or quiet time. That would be difficult for anyone, but as an introvert it can really affect my mental health.
I’m currently working on hiring a very part-time sitter to get 3-6 hours devoted to my work a week. Otherwise I work while they have quiet(ish) time (rare) or after they go to bed.
Making room for motherhood is important but can sometimes be a challenge. What advice do you have for other mothers balancing a job inside or outside the home too?
If you are working from home and finding it hard to be present to your children, hire someone who will love on them while you can work. Having that dedicated, carved-out time for work will improve your work, help with income to pay for childcare, and it will make you a better mama when you are with your kids because you will be healthier and more focused.
When you are with your children, be truly present with them. In the moment. Just as you are acutely focused when you work, be focused when you are with them. I fail at this almost daily, but when I am present, there are waves of grace that flow through it, just as there are when we create or innovate at work.
In your opinion, what are some of the values and qualities that a couple should strive to cultivate while balancing work, family, marriage, and everything in between? Do you have favorite prayers or devotions that have helped you?
One of our greatest qualities as a couple and family unit is honest, open communication. My husband is the primary financial provider for our family and also owns his own creative business, so it can be very tricky striking any balance in our home with work and life. Knots tend to arise often, but talking and working through it, instead of letting problems build and frustrations stew, keeps them from becoming a tangled mess.
If we notice a disconnect we try to bridge the gap with one another. We have to let go of the fear of how our feelings may affect the other and vice versa, and be willing to accept the feelings when they are shared, so that we can work through it and come out stronger on the other side.
Another thing that helps us is praying together. We pray together every single night and ask the saints and Mary to guide us. We both try to pray for a bit every day individually as well, to stay grounded in our faith. This is however, an area I would always love to grow more in.
With mom life being so busy, do you have any advice you’d like to offer for moms considering starting a small business, but are unsure about whether it’s the “right time”?
Sometimes we think we are not meant to do something because life is too busy and chaotic. It may be that God is calling you away from that thing, but it may also be that it is just a season.
When we do take a pause or a step back, I think that can be a good thing. I believe that He’s forming us more internally during that time, so when we go back to our work, it is much more rich and full of life and inspiration because it comes from a time of growth.
If we are supposed to wait, it’s never idly. Actively love your life. And be ready to respond when He calls.