Being a mom is tough work. Being a single mom — well, that can be downright draining at times. But I’ve learned to embrace single momhood. For me, it’s empowering to know I CAN do it on my own.
I’m a big fan of hardworking, strong women who do it all. I’m especially thankful for all the mamas out there who push me to keep going when I’m running on empty. A simple text, an uplifting meme or a positive Facebook update can sure ignite a feel-good fire in me.
Erica Brown-Zamudio’s life update did just that for me. She’s a 37-year-old Bellevue mom of three boys who I’ve known since junior high school. Though I don’t see her often, I’m constantly in awe of her journey and strength, thanks to social media.
The Omaha World-Herald first wrote about Erica and her battle with drug addiction back in 2016. She opened up about losing custody of her children due to a 16-year on-and-off battle with meth, and shared how she fought for her life back. She was two years sober then.
Even though Erica had to deal with her father passing away unexpectedly this year and she’s raising her three sons on her own – two are teenagers – she is still getting it done and celebrated five years of sobriety. She even recently received a promotion to manager at her job.
My hope for this blog is to not only share my own life as a mother but also introduce you to other women who inspire me.
Erica is a fighter and her story is proof that you can go through difficult times in life and still find a way to succeed.
Momaha: Wow! Five years sober? That’s incredible. How are you feeling about that?
Erica: It’s crazy when I think about the life I used to live. I missed most of my oldest boys’ childhood because I was high, and then I lost custody of them and had to go to treatment. I sit back in awe sometimes and think about the strides I’ve made. I rent my own house, I’m paying my bills and I don’t worry about shut-off notices anymore. I even saved enough money to take my boys on a vacation, and now we are planning our next one. I’m living the life that I always should have been. The most rewarding part about it all is that I’m getting a second chance at motherhood with my 3-year-old son. I WILL go through all of his milestones with him and I know my older boys are so proud of me for that. They trust me and there is no better feeling.
Momaha: What do you love most about being a mom?
Erica: It’s challenging, but so rewarding. I love seeing a smile on their faces. I love being able to work hard for what we have and now I’m able to provide for my family. I don’t have to say, “No, we can’t afford it.” There’s nothing that makes me happier than watching my boys grow and seeing them active in sports. I want them to know they can come to me with anything. Just being present with them makes me feel amazing.
Momaha: How do unwind or relax after a stressful workday?
Erica: I love to cuddle on the couch with my kids and watch movies. I also plan to crochet again to have a hobby that can ease my mind and bring a sense of calm to me when I need it.
Momaha: What is your favorite meal to cook for your family?
Erica: I enjoy cooking a big breakfast for my kids on Saturday mornings. During the week, we are so busy so they love it when they wake up on Saturday mornings to the smell of pancakes and French toast.
Momaha: How do you stay strong with when life throws curveballs?
Erica: When my dad died this year, I had to step up and make some decisions for my family. I know people rely on me, so I have to stay strong for my family no matter what happens. I put a lot of trust in God and ask Him to keep me strong.
Momaha: I remember seeing your Facebook post about providing a Thanksgiving meal to a family in need last year. What motivated you to do that?
Erica: There have been so many people who have been there for me with nothing but love in their hearts. Growing up, I never really loved myself, but so many people still showed me love. I knew once I was financially OK, I wanted to return the favors.
Momaha: How do you stay motivated?
Erica: I always have to remember who’s watching me. My kids are looking up to me and I never want to lose their trust again. I’ve worked so hard to get where I am. I’ve have already gone through so much in life that there’s not a lot that can break me.
Momaha: What advice do you have for other moms who might be struggling with addiction or going through a hard time in life?
Erica: I want them to remember that no matter how many times you fall, you can never give up. It’s never too late to find happiness within yourself, to love yourself and be a good mom. Get a supportive foundation and whatever comes your way, hold on. If I can get through it, so can you.
Leia Baez is an Omaha native who works in government communications. She’s divorced and has one daughter, who she considers her mini-me. Leia loves spending time with family, being a mentor, cheering on the Huskers and doing anything fitness-related. You can follow her on Twitter @LeiaBaez or email her at email@example.com.