Scotland’s Love Walk in Scotland, from Heartache to Healing

We planned to name him Scotland. Even though I had never been to this country, my Scotch Irish heritage drew me to this name. We’d call him “Scotty” for short. “Barbara, Tommy & Scotty, how cute is that?” I thought.

That was until the ultrasound screen which once fluttered like a butterfly was now still.

It was early evening and the contractions were picking up. The pain was similar to my other pregnancies, although the outcome was different… I would soon be delivering my stillborn son. For once, I welcomed the physical pain. It was a distraction from the emotional pain I had endured for 3 days since that dreaded ultrasound appointment. The emotional torment a mother carries after such a loss is far greater than any labor contraction… so yes, I welcomed the physical pain on that rainy February night.

During labor, a great deal of fear started to sink in, I was afraid. So in an attempt to escape the panic, my husband pulled out his laptop and started showing me images of Scotland. The green, rocky hills that stretched for miles until they were met with rainbows and clouds. I used this as a form of imagery meditation. I pictured a young boy running through those hills of green and climbing on those rocks. He was free and happy and safe and loved. It’s all that I wanted for my son, Scotland.

Soon it was time to deliver him. The fear and sadness were unbearable. I was so very afraid.

But then something truly divine happened.  The moment Scotland came out, that fear was gone…  all of it.  Even though his precious body was lifeless, I felt tremendous love and adoration for my boy. I’d felt this before with each of my children but never did I expect love to besiege all the fear and sadness and pain.

So just like his brother and sisters, my son was born into love.

That day, my husband and I made some promises to our beloved son…

We promised we’d show him the world.

We promised him we’d visit Scotland one day.

We promised we’d take him with us.

Now it’s summer of 2018, 4 ½ years after the loss of our son and also the year of our 10 year wedding anniversary… which also happens to be the day after what would have been Scotland’s due date.

It was time to fulfill some promises.

So on July 25th, Tom and I took our precious son’s ashes to Scotland. To the rocky hills of green where I always envisioned him being. We decided to hike Arthur’s Seat full of stunning views overlooking the entire city of Edinburgh. We expected this year’s “Love Walk for Scotland” to be a memorable one… what we didn’t expect were all these profound signs reminding us that we were not alone on this journey…

Within the first 15 minutes of our Love Walk, we were joined by this little boy, maybe 5yrs old, hiking alongside us. While his family did not stray from the path, he did. The explorer within him climbed the rocky boulders, eager to see a view unlike the rest. At one point, I was feeling a bit winded from the steep hike to the summit ahead so I stopped. And there he was, this blonde, blue-eyed little boy sitting upon a rock nearby… as if he was waiting for me.

As we approached the summit, I looked down to find this heart shaped pond. Love was all around.

And as if hiking the hills of Scotland wasn’t enough to fill my soul, off in the distance were bagpipes playing. Seriously though, how awesome is that?! The native melody acted as a soundtrack as we embarked on this path up ahead. Bagpipes that also played as we exited the church for the first time as a married couple 10 short years ago.

Just a few more steps to go before reaching the tippy top. Upon doing so, this massive gust of wind took over. It wasn’t cold or startling, but felt more like a massive hug from Heaven congratulating us on making it, both literally and figuratively.

Then there, like The Giving Tree’s stump, was this collection of rocks, almost forming a seat to say “come sit awhile and be happy.” Tom and I nestled in. It was then I knew it was time… this is where he was meant to be. As I took out Scotland’s ashes, I felt a deep sense of panic set in “what if I immediately regret letting him go?!” But with the encouragement of the love of my life, Scotland’s father, we spread his ashes upon this summit. And just like his delivery, the fear was immediately replaced with love. He was home.

Now what happened next makes more sense to my immediate family but hear me out. My mom passed away 9 ½ years ago. She always joked that when she died, she’d come back as a seagull. So whenever my sisters and I see a seagull, we scream out “HI MOM!” and our kids think we’re nuts. Well, no more than a few seconds after releasing my boy, this seagull stopped by for a visit just a few feet away. Before that, there hadn’t been a seagull in sight, especially not as high up as we were. Many tears were shed in that MOMent in time. 

Now the symbolism of that seagull touching down just as I released my son’s ashes was a gentle reminder of my mom’s unconditional love I have felt throughout my life. That a mother’s love is infinite. Even after her death, I feel the unconditional love my mom had for me. And it is my hope and belief that my son feels the unconditional love I have for him. These signs help to remind me of just that. Maybe it’s in the life of a thriving young boy climbing freely or a pond shaped like a heart or a song or yes, even a seagull… but let these life winks act as a sign, a reminder that you are loved.

The entire experience was so therapeutic and healing on both mine and Tom’s souls. Promises were fulfilled that day. We showed him the world, we visited Scotland and we brought him home.

Now there are a few reasons I’m sharing such an intimate experience with you:

First, many of you joined us in the Love Walk for Scotland in 2014. This post is for you. To thank you for all the support and love you have given us through these years of heartache and healing.

And secondly, this is for anyone who has suffered a devastating loss of a parent or child. It serves as a gentle reminder to have hope. It may not be today or next month or next year… but you can heal from a broken heart.  Remember, a parent/child’s love is infinite that cannot be broken, even in death. In the meantime, be patient and kind to yourself.

And always remember, you are loved.

Lucy Riles

Life of Mom Founder

As You Start Back to School, Remember Mom’s Love is With You!

Mom’s love is with you as you start back at school,

Once you walk off, mommy might cry like a fool.

Hugs might be extended when it’s time for goodbye,

But I know to let go, it’s time for you to fly.

 

Mom’s love is with you when your teacher asks

“Please stand up and say your name.”

Remember, YOU ARE WONDERFUL, mom loves you,

Be proud of who you are, no shame.

 

Mom’s love is with you when you hang up your backpack,

When you take a sip of water or sit down for a snack.

And if you need a little reminder of my constant love for you,

Here’s a message from mom to say I’m thinking about you too.

 

Mom’s love is with you when you’re learning math,

During writing, reading and spelling words too.

When you’re running laps in P.E.

And painting art green and blue.

 

Mom’s love is with you when it’s time to eat lunch,

You may eat your snacks first, mom has a hunch.

But that’s okay,

You are free to be you!

Mom’s love is with you when you’re meeting someone new

Some kids may not be very nice and some may adore you,

But be kind to everyone anyways is the key thing to do,

You are already loved by so many… if only you knew.

 

Mom’s love is with you at pick-up,

The day may have had a few hiccups,

But you did it!

We did it!

We made it through!

 

Mom’s love is with you back home when you play,

Drawing, building, games is how we spend the rest of the day.

No homework for now, no sir, no way.

Time to unwind from your big, busy day.

 

Mom’s Love is with you as you fall asleep tonight,

Feeling pride for my child; their will and their might.

There may have been tears shed, perhaps just from me,

But we made it through the first day of school… yippee!

By Lucy Riles

Life of Mom Founder

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a sponsored campaign on behalf of Stuck on You, however the content and opinions are all mine. All products pictured here are Stuck on You. For more information on Stuck on You, check them out HERE, on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

FAMILY PHOTO GETS FIXED

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a sponsored campaign on behalf of Stitch Fix, however the family fun is all ours. For more information on Stitch Fix, check them out HERE, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Oh, family photos… just the mere sight of seeing those two words put together can cause any mom to feel pressure and stress while simultaneously causing immense determination to achieve that one frame-worthy photo that will be treasured for decades to come. Just throw some outfits together and grab someone to take your photo. Sounds simple, right?!? Not so much.

Now, I’m fairly capable of throwing an outfit together. But throwing together five coordinating outfits is another story. Mom feels required to find outfits that make them feel confident and comfortable, something that fits each of their personalities; from my budget-conscious husband to my fiercely strong-willed first-born to my preppy, traditional boy to my sassy, diva toddler…  

…don’t let her cuteness fool you – this balloon is going straight to mommy’s face!

Needless to say, the pressure seems to be on for this mom when it comes to family photos!

Like many moms before me, I find myself scrolling through social media and hashtags looking for a style, color scheme or something that catches my eye. All the while, wishing I could either A) channel an inner-stylist from within or B) afford a stylist.

Well today, my wish is coming true! A company that I have used for my own personal styling needs, Stitch Fix, has launched a service for kids! From graphic tees and leggings to dresses and jeans, Stitch Fix Kids offers a diverse range of styles that are comfortable for playing, climbing and creating…something my kids are always doing!

My littles are 3, 6 and 8 with very different personalities, so when I went to set up each of their Stitch Fix Kids profiles, I absolutely LOVED the time they spent making each box unique to them, even including a super sweet, personalized note!

When the kids opened their adorable Fixes full of fun, as a mom, I was thrilled to see several interchangeable wardrobe pieces that were stylish, practical and affordable. Depending on your comfort level, Stitch Fix Kids pieces will range in price from $10-$35 per item depending on your preferences.

For example, when filling out my toddler’s profile, Stitch Fix asked if I had any notes for the stylist. I wrote how much my toddler loved the color red. So in her box, was this gorgeous Kate Spade red dress for $34.

My tot immediately wanted to put it on as she marched through the house waiting for each family member to sing her praises! While she felt beautiful and confident, my mom-brain was thinking “this dress will be great for the holiday season, for an upcoming family wedding and for class photos… well worth the money spent!”

Now it was time for our family photo…I laid out all of our Stitch Fix boxes and went to work coordinating looks based on our stylist’s suggestions until I came up with a winning combo. Yes, they have Stitch Fix for men too! There is nothing that gives me more joy than to ditch his cargo pants circa 2005 for some fine, upgraded quality pieces!

And anything that didn’t quite fit right, I simply returned in their pre-labeled return bags and shipped back. I love that moms can rest assured knowing all shipping, returns and exchanges are always free. And as an added bonus, if you choose to keep everything that Stitch Fix sends, you receive a 25% off discount. Sign up for automatic deliveries or schedule anytime… and there is no subscription required!

Moral of the story? Mom’s mad pressure to find that frame-worthy photo is now FIXED! Thanks to Stitch Fix!

by Lucy Riles, Life of Mom Founder

A Picture Within A Picture

I’ve yet to even start my youngest child’s baby book BUT I did manage to do this every year on her birthday! (thank you pinterest for the idea) And well I must say, it’s the sweetest thing ever!

Every Birthday since the day she was born, I’ve done a picture within a picture… birth day, 1st Birthday, 2nd Birthday and now this week on her 3rd Birthday!

So yeah, some days we might have cookies for lunch and I may not even have time to start her baby book until she’s in college, but I’m counting this as a mom win!

Lucy Riles, Life of Mom Founder

World Peace Please

Woke up to this little one in bed with me rocking her big sister’s World Peace Please shirt as pajamas… hair a mess, sprawled out like a starfish in my bed sleeping like an angel.
Daddy rocked bedtime last night while I worked late, waking up to this shirt on this symbol of innocence inspired me to speak my truth…

Social media is absolutely crushing this mama’s soul lately… so much hurt, so much hate… and it’s impossible to avoid when your job involves being on just about every social outlet.

I’m not here to tell anyone how to think or what to do. I believe Moms are incredibly intelligent, insightful people who make decisions on what is best for their families. I don’t expect anyone to know what it’s like to walk in my shoes nor do I expect to know what it’s like to walk in theirs… we feel how we feel based on what has impacted our own personal life experiences.

I just keep going back to this quote from Mother Teresa “Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” So that’s always been my hope to do…

I have experienced love and loss, depression and joy, anxiety and peace, despair and hope. Many of you have too… these emotions impact every race, religion, gender, political party, economic status.. no one is immune to these emotions. There is enough pain and isolation in the world that my hope is to use this platform to unite moms, support one another and to help us feel less alone on this tumultuous ride called motherhood❤

Using Life of Mom to point out how our similarities as Mothers far outweigh our differences.

This mom isn’t waiting for leaders; I’m focused on raising 3 little lives to be kind, compassionate, loving citizens of the world.

Lucy Riles, Life of Mom Founder

No Matter What Age, You Always Need Your Dad

For the first 29 years of my life, my dad and I pretty much talked about the same 4 things; the volatile Chicago weather, updates on our family’s dogs, important dates like December 7th, 1941 and the latest charges on the Visa bill.
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Then he would hand the phone over to my mom so we could talk and talk for hours while I sat stuck in LA traffic. My mom was my best friend and I shared everything with her. I still miss her every day.
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After my mom passed away 9 yrs ago, something shifted in my weekly calls with my dad… see in the past when he’d be eager to hand me off to mom, he now lingered… My dad started asking me about work and my husband, giving me updates on my older siblings and their families. We started discussing current affairs, elections, marriage and eventually parenthood. He was there for B’s delivery and open heart surgery. I’d often ask my dad for advice when it came to the challenges of parenting.
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Years passed and so did some devastating losses in my life, I started questioning my faith in God… something that was the foundation to his 54yr marriage and being a father of 12 kids. The man still to this day goes to church every morning, says the rosary and gets on his knees to pray every night. Our talks now have depth as we reflect on life, faith and unconditional love.
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Now, I’m not sure if my mom told him before she died that he needed to now be there for me more or if he just knew… regardless, I am forever grateful for our time spent together.
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Here’s this man who doesn’t fear death because his faith is rock solid like his hugs. A man so happy and content in life because he raised his kids to be hard-working, to always stay humble and to take the shirt off your own back if someone needed it. I do not take a day for granted that this incredible man is here with us… I often say that he was ready to go the day his high school sweetheart passed and if there was room in my mom’s coffin, he would have jumped right in with her. I feel like he’s here on borrowed time because us kids are not quite ready to be without our dad. Proving that no matter the age, you always need your mom and Dad

Happy Father’s Day Dad!
Love Always,
#12
p.s. For the record, Dad and I still talk weather, dogs and important dates (I call him every December 7th) but I’m happy to say, I pay my own Visa bills these days😉

Lucy Riles, Life of Mom Founder

Self Care and Sleeping Like a Starfish

This photo may not look like much but it is everything!

My husband took this photo of my kids playing in the ocean. Yes they are in their pajamas and not the bathing suits I packed for them but I’m not even mad! My husband absolutely rocks and took all the kids down to visit my in-laws this weekend. This was the first time in 8yrs that I was home alone! For the past 30hrs, I conquered my to-do list, ran errands, worked out, watched trashy tv and slept like a starfish in my bed for 12 hours!!!! It was absolutely glorious!

Last week was filled with cleaning up vomit and diarrhea, entirely too much whining for any sane person, caring for fevers until I got one myself… I had a million things to do but everything got postponed because well, my babies were sick. By Friday, I was feeling mucho overwhelmed… until my hubs swept in to save my sanity.

Part of me was like, wait I will miss them and what will I do with myself?!

But it was wonderful and the best part… my overwhelmed self has been replaced with overwhelmingly excited to see my babe and babies in a few! 


So when given the opportunity Moms to take a minute for yourself, please do it. Self care is SO very important for us to be the best Moms we can be! 

Oh and I highly recommend sleeping like a starfish!

Lucy Riles, Life of Mom Founder

Beautiful Mess

There is nothing glamorous about what I do…
I’d say motherhood in general is the antithesis of glamorous. Most days are messy in more ways than one, like really really messy. You have the obvious mess of dirty clothes draped on every piece of furniture, you have the dishes full of food that 3 out of 3 children refused to eat, and let’s not forget the laundry. The piles upon piles of pent up resentment as you wash, fold and put away clothes, along with your feelings of distaste for those 90s cargo shorts collection your husband can’t part from…

Motherhood also has a whole other level of messy that (dare I say) can actually be worse than all of the above I just described… being a mom is messy with emotions, lots and lots of volatile emotions. Sometimes it’s the exhaustion you feel after battling it out with your toddler over the color straw of her sippy cup, knowing giving in the slightest bit will offset all you’ve worked towards. Or the messy emotions of sibling rivalries after one child is deservingly rewarded which only results in an inevitable meltdown by the sibling not rewarded. Or the mess of pressure you find yourself in to be the advocate mom that is constantly fighting for your kid when all you want to do is cry.

All this messy emotional pressure we put on ourselves to be this all star mom, domestic diva and goddess in the bedroom for your partner…
the. struggle. is. real.
and 100% impossible to achieve all of it.
Why do we do it to ourselves?!?

So when I was getting ready for this Life of Mom photo shoot, I thought…

“I want a reason to dress up and look glamorous because I never do!”

“I want to be real and not take myself too seriously because I always do!”

“I want to play make believe and be silly because life never affords me that chance!”

You see, I wanted to reign as the Queen that I know I am… It may just be Queen of the Laundry but mama’s gonna drape herself in that resentment and take some fun back!

This is my beautiful mess?

Lucy Riles, Life of Mom Founder
 by Schuh Box Photos

The Decisions We Make As Moms Postpartum.

Here’s the thing and I might catch some slack for saying it but here goes…

There are a lot of Moms (and memes) calling out Princess Kate for showing up flawless hours after birth.

Here’s what I know, I was not that flawless… far from it!
With my 1st, I was discharged hours later only because my daughter was being transferred to another hospital to undergo open heart surgery. With my 2nd and 4th child, I was in the hospital a few days postpartum dealing with jaundice, breastfeeding, you name it.
With my 3rd child, I stayed in the hospital an extra day so I could mentally prepare to see my kids after delivering my stillborn son. 


With all of that said, I have zero issue with Kate primped and primed to go hours post delivery. I say you are not alone.


To the mothers that stay a few extra days to recover birth and enjoy the quiet, I say you are not alone.


To the mothers in the NICU nervously, anxiously awaiting the news that they can bring their baby home, I say you are not alone.


To the mothers who’ve had c-sections with a challenging road to recovery, you are not alone.


To the mothers who’ve had to leave the hospital after giving birth to a child that didn’t make it, I say you are not alone.

I’ve had sisters who’ve had flawless, rockstar pregnancies, labor and deliveries. I’ve watched my sister apply blush and lipgloss for photos minutes before delivering her 4th child. My labor and delivery experiences were NOT that… but I also know in my heart that some of us need more time to recover and that’s okay. And some of us don’t, like Princess Kate and my sister and that’s okay too!!

So let’s celebrate and support all of us moms and all the unique, special gifts we each possessWith that said, cheers to Duchess Kate on your 3rd child, wishing you a life full of good health and happiness❤️

Lucy Riles, Life of Mom Founder

We Made It Through…

In February 2011, something unimaginable happened in Southern California, it began to pour pellets of hail… what are the odds of that?!

But for my family, this was a day of victory, a day to celebrate something we weren’t sure would happen. We had made it through the first year… we made it through countless doctors appointments, open heart surgery, panic attacks, sleepless nights, sleepless days, anxiety, worry, despair… we made it though. We being Mom, Dad and our first born child. That first year left a lot of questions unanswered, uncertainty… yet we made it though.

We were told 17months prior to this day very grim odds… one might even go so far to say our odds of celebrating our baby’s first birthday were as unimaginable as a hail storm in Southern California?

by Life of Mom Co-Founder, Lucy Riles