This year we’ve become friends with the founder of Blessings in a Basket Ashley Mitchell. Ashley spends her days loving on her children, leaning on her husband and reaching out to women who, like herself, found themselves at a crossroad and chose adoption. She is the founder of a non-profit birth mom community called Blessings in a Basket. She is a die-hard college football fan, covets anything from Tiffany and thinks that snow is the most magical and sparkly thing in the world! Without further adieu, here’s Ashley:
People ask me all the time what BTG means and I simply tell them "BIG TOUGH GIRL" and then they stare at me blankly waiting for more….so the story begins!
Growing up and through my young adult life my mother, my sister and I have survived many things, individually and together. We have always been a cheer-leader for one another. Movies are our thing and so any time we can throw in a movie quote to help with the words of comfort we will. It became tradition that we used the term “I’m a big tough girl, I can tie my own sandals and everything.” quoting the Disney movie Hercules. It was then shortened to “I am a Big Tough Girl.” Implying that things are hard and it looks bleak now but we will be ok, we will survive because we are big tough girls. (I know it seems cheesy but that phrase rocks my world these days!)
I am a birth mom and I placed a son for adoption when I was 26 years old. He will be 7 this year. I heard many times from my mother and sister after placement that I was a ‘Big Tough Girl’ and so the phrase was adopted by the BIB community, and we have self-proclaimed all our birth moms with the title of BTG.
I have learned 5 major things that qualify you to be a BTG-whether you are a birth mom, a single parent, an adoptive mom, a woman….it doesn’t matter…in my book you are a BIG TOUGH GIRL if:
1. You own your story.
We all have a story, one that is unique to us and to who we are! The choices that we make, the path that we travel, the good the bad and the ugly! There are many things in my life that I have done that I am not proud of. I know that we ALL have those skeletons in our closet. Covering up my dirty red light with a pretty blue lamp shade from Tiffany isn’t going to hide or change the journey that I have been on. A BTG owns who she is. She has learned from her choices, she embraces what she has learned and she lives her story, shares, loves, laughs and cries over her story! Surviving the adoption process and owning who you are as a birth mom is no easy task and that is why BIB is HOME TO THE BIG TOUGH GIRLS!
I am grateful for those things from my past, they are incredible blessings, they have become a great part of my soul, and a great teaching tool. I have come to love them and understand them and appreciate them for what they were at the time that they were. I love my story, I own my story, it is who I am and I am a beautiful soul…That is a BTG.
2. You do it anyway.
In our private birth mom group on Facebook we had an incredible BTG post this statement: “Not all good decisions are easy and without pain, but they’re still good decisions. That’s why we’re called Big Tough Girls.” A BTG is someone that can DO IT ANYWAY! Even when it is hard, even when it hurts, even when it is soul crushing and life changing….a BTG can do it anyway. She has what it takes to step up to the plate, to take a swing, to be in the game. As a birth mom you are told about all your options, you are informed and encouraged, you have support and understanding, you are instructed on how it will be…but until you are in the delivery room and they hand you that tiny, precious baby you have no idea what you are getting yourself into. When you look that those eyes…and you are instantly a mother…nothing can prepare you for the next steps of the adoption process. Think of a time that you have ever been faced with a decision, one that will change the course of your life forever…one that will no doubt be a part of your soul, connected to you…you had people around you that didn’t understand, agree or support you, you were scared and hated and doubted yourself every other second…think of that time that you DID IT ANYWAY. A time that you got in the game and followed through with a plan, a decision of your own heart…and then you picked yourself up and went at it again…That is a BTG.