Real-World Moms Who Empower and Inspire Us
MOM TAKES PICTURE OF TUMMY, REMINDS MAMAS THEY'RE SUPERHEROES
Tired of being told she had a "perfect body" after having four kids, Kimberly Henderson decided to open up about her struggles with body image issues by posting a selfie to Facebook that showed off her stretch marks. "Even though I work out I know it's not going to make my loose skin tight … Or my stretch marks disappear ever lol and I'm ok with that because everyday I get to wake up to 4 beautiful smiling faces," she wrote in the caption. "BECAUSE we ARE moms and we ARE superheroes and we freakin ROCK." Clearly, her message of self-love resonated – her post has been shared more than 10,000 times.a
RACHEL HOLLIS SAYS 'SO WHAT?' TO STRETCH MARKS
Snapping a picture in a bikini may not be revolutionary, but it's incredibly empowering – especially for moms struggling with body image issues. While on vacation in Cancun, the mother of three had no idea her impromptu beach photo would go viral in a matter of hours. "I wear a bikini because I'm proud of this body and every mark on it. Those marks prove that I was blessed enough to carry my babies and that flabby tummy means I worked hard to lose what weight I could," she wrote in the photo's caption. "Flaunt that body with pride!"
MISSOURI MOM TAKES IN FIVE ORPHANED SIBLINGS
As if we needed more proof that moms are the most selfless people on the planet: Lauren Sterling and her husband Scott received an email from a small orphanage in Pacasmayo, Peru, about five orphaned siblings who were looking for a safe home (and didn't want to be split up). "Our first thought was, someone rich ought to adopt these beautiful kids," said Lauren, who already had a young daughter and step-daughter. "But over the next few months, we realized, why not us?" A year later, when the kids were finally able to come to the States, the meeting was emotional. "The girls came running to us from a distance and jumped into Scott's arms," she recalled.
INDIANA MOM LOSES LEGS PROTECTING CHILDREN
In 2012, Stephanie Decker lost both of her legs while saving her children from a 175-m.p.h. tornado that ended up killing 35 people. Debris fell down on the Indiana mom as she shielded her kids, 8 and 5, keeping them safe while she nearly bled to death. Despite a lengthy recovery period and the loss of her legs, Decker was overcome with gratitude. "I have a second chance at life," she said. "We survived something that was pretty traumatic [but] I'm here, so I get to raise my kids."
MOM SAVES TWIN GIRLS FROM CAR ACCIDENT
When her Honda started rolling backwards out of her driveway toward the busy street, with her twins buckled in the back seat, Massachusetts mom Mindy Tran threw herself in front of the vehicle to act as a human speed bump, slowing the car until neighbors saw what was happening and could jump in the car to stop it. Her brave actions in 2014 left her with a crushed left knee and dislocated right leg, but she knew that she'd had no choice. "My daughters are my everything, my everything, and I don't want to see them in the hospital, and I knew at that time it was either mine or theirs," she said.
MOM SENDS TEDDY BEARS AND SCHOLARSHIPS TO GRIEVING SIBLINGS
When her only son, Matthew, 29, died serving in Afghanistan after just nine days – in which time he'd already started a project that provided Afghan children with school supplies – Lisa Freeman knew she had to carry on her son's legacy of caring. She noticed how difficult his death was on her two daughters, so in 2014 she founded the Matthew Freeman Project, which creates teddy bears sewn from uniforms of fallen soldiers to send to grieving siblings, as well as provides scholarships.a
40-YEAR-OLD MOM TRIES OUT FOR NEW ORLEANS SAINTSATIONS
Seriously – moms can do anything. In 2014, when friends joked that Kriste Lewis, mother of two, wasn't doing anything exciting for her 40th birthday, and that she should try out to be a New Orleans Saints' cheerleader, she thought: Why not? Though Lewis has polycystic kidney disease and was significantly older than other contenders, she trained, tried out and made the team in a unanimous decision.
CAMDEN WOMAN IS MOM TO THOUSANDS
"She is like my second mother," said Shaquille Gurley, then 20, of her drill team coach Tawanda Jones. "When I was going through any issue, I would show up at the drill team and all my problems would go away for a little." Jones has taught thousands of children dance and drums through Camden Sophisticated Sisters, a nonprofit that helps keep kids off the streets and build a brighter future for themselves. "The drill team is what lures them in," she said in 2013 of her efforts to keep kids in high school. "Once I have them in my possession, that's where the real work begins."