- Nicole Villalpando American-Statesman Staff
“I wanted other women to know they weren’t alone,” says Austin mom Catia Hernandez Holm on why she wrote the book “The Courage to Become: Stories of Hope for Navigating Love, Marriage and Motherhood.”
In the months leading up to motherhood, everyone tells you what kind of stroller to get, says Holm, 34. They don’t really prepare you how to be a mother and the mental gymnastics that come with it, she says.
“We don’t really prepare for the plunge that is going to be motherhood,” she says.
Her book is about the process she went through to become a mom. She went from being “a career girl” with two jobs — one doing the marketing for her parents’ South Texas orchard business and one managing the bar at ACL Live — to being at home with her daughter. “I was at home with no interaction to people on the outside,” she says. It was a real change in the rhythm of her day.
Her daughter Alexandra is 3 now. Daughter Luciana is 11 months. She had postpartum depression with both girls.
“I’m going through different changes this time, but I just kind of know how to roll with it more,” she says. It’s about finding something to grab onto when it gets bumpy. Even when you think you have your “mama legs,” it changes, Holm says.
Each chapter is about a period in her life before pregnancy, during pregnancy and once the baby was born. She tells her story in those periods of time, then includes a Just Between Us section that is the confessional of all the things that weren’t perfect; a Hope for Navigating section, which offers resources and thoughtful quotes from prominent thinkers; and the Trail Journal, which asks the reader three questions to create a personal journal. Some of the Trail Journal questions she had never asked herself before. “You stop and think, ‘Oh, I don’t know.’”
“I wanted to share my story,” she says, “but I wanted it to be about the reader’s story.”
She summarizes the message in her book in three words: worth, grace and hope. “We’re all worthy of the lives we seek, which can sound kind of hokey, but we really don’t believe that,” she says.
She wants to guide readers gently to be more intentional, to have more self-awareness about their lives. “Once we’re clear on our intentions, about where we’re going, what we’re thinking, where we’ve been, it’s much easier to determine our next step,” she says. “When we’re unclear is when our choices get garbled.”
She sees that women put pressure on themselves and feel the pressure to be something, not to just be. “What if we were just ourselves?” she says.
Holm wants readers to know that she’s here for them. She sees them. “I’m really for them enjoying life,” she says. “All the things we do are in an effort to enjoy life, but sometimes we lose the joy in it. We’re trying to raise children well, but we forget to enjoy them. We try to diet, but we forget to enjoy the food.”
For her, it’s about being intentional with her children and her decision to stay at home with them. “When I became a stay-at-home mom, I would have been bashful in admitting it,” she says. “Now I’m proud at admitting it.”
She says she would give herself an A in motherhood. “It’s not necessarily because the end result is the best but because I try really hard to be present,” she says. “I try to look after their emotional well-being.”
For her, that includes the way she talks to her daughters about their lives. “That she knows she’s valued and loved and that she’s special and has gifts to share,” she says of her daughters.
Getting an A in motherhood, she says, “is not because I make the best Pinterest recipe or have matching clothes.”
Being a good mom is also about taking care of yourself. “Is she cultivating her gifts, giving her time and space, feeding her body and her mind well, and taking girls’ nights?” she says. “All of that is part of being a good mom.”
She’d like her next book to be about confidence. For Holm, she found confidence after she became a mom. “It was really her,” she says of becoming a mom to her daughter Alexandra. “It was unbelievable. It really changed my life.”
“For so long, I was insecure,” she says. “It paints everything. Now that I’m comfortable in who I am, I can celebrate other women.”
“There are things I do now, say now, that I never would have before,” she says. “It’s a nice place to be.”