Erin Blair: A Mother by the Grace of God
Erin Blair had a dream to become a successful businesswoman, to own her own company, to bear a well-respected title. It wasn’t until after years of destructive behavior and rebellion and, later, therapy and healing, that Erin recognized her true purpose in life: to be a mother.
Mom — a title that would be respected most by those who wear diapers instead of dress suits, a title that would offer her more satisfaction than any corner office or company car.
From depression to discovery
Erin grew up in a supportive and healthy home, her father a business owner and her mother a teacher. It was a family life that many would relish.
But at the age of 12, Erin’s life took a turn that no one could have anticipated.
“From the age of 12 to 21, I lived a life of drugs and alcohol,” explains Erin. “I was in abusive relationships, even tried to take my own life for years. I tried everything that the world offered and it only left me more depressed. I tried to keep it all together on the outside but on the inside I was falling apart. I was scared of myself, I lived in darkness and a lot of fear.”
By age 21, Erin had already attended several rehabilitation centers. Receiving her second Driving Under the Influence (DUI) offense, however, is the event that she claims as her “rock bottom.”
“I went into that treatment center and said, ‘Who I am going into this is not who I am going to be coming out.’ It was there where I learned who I really was. When the alcohol and drugs were taken away, I felt real emotions. It was intense therapy for me. I took the mask off and the walls came down and I said, ‘This is my time to get healthy’. It was in here that I rededicated my life to Christ.”
Erin had accepted Christ into her life when she was 16 years old, but soon thereafter she went back to the parties and the drugs and the destruction.
“I didn’t know any better then,” she says. “But that night in treatment after my second DUI, I had a peace that I was going to be OK.”
Bringing light to others’ darkness
As Erin found success in treatment and transformed her hurt into hope, she decided that she wanted to help others who experience similar destructive behavior. She became a substance abuse counselor for Wilmington Treatment Center, meeting with women one-on-one and attending outings with the group. She eventually began speaking at schools, churches and detention centers, sharing her story with others in order to give hope to the hopeless.
Aside from her volunteer work with the treatment center and speaking engagements, Erin also re-enrolled at UNC-W as a psychology major. She also began attending church at Port City Community Church (PC3) in Wilmington.
“I was learning about psychology but I was also learning about my faith,” she says.
Erin was led to join a women’s ministry group through PC3 and, eventually, to launch a Christian-based, 12-step course at the church with her now-husband, Matt. Today, the 12-step program, “Refuge,” is an extremely successful program at PC3 that helps those struggling with different addictions from pornography to drugs to alcohol.
“I remember feeling like I was doing everything that I needed to be doing, but there was still a void,” Erin says. “That’s when I knew I needed to dive into church.”
Blessed with babies … lots of them
“I was taking communion one Sunday and I remember feeling more maternal on the inside,” Erin says. “I was looking at kids differently. It was then that knew I wanted to be a mom. I just didn’t know what that would look like.”
Soon thereafter Matt and Erin welcomed their daughter Kaylee to the world. Erin quit her job at a local roofing company to stay home with their daughter.
Matt, who was working in PC3’s music ministry at the time, began to feel a calling to pursue his music further. The family packed their belongings and headed to Tennessee. They weren’t there long before they found out that they were pregnant with their second daughter, Abi.
“That was hard,” recalls Erin. “Being in Tennessee for 18 months with hardships and dreams that didn’t turn out to be what we thought they would be. We traveled a lot and we didn’t have any money coming in. We had people volunteering to pay our mortgage, anonymous checks arriving in the mail, people buying groceries for us. Our marriage was stressed but we grew more in those 18 months than I think we had previously. We went there to chase a dream, doors were opened a crack then they’d slam shut.”
After 18 difficult months in Tennessee, the Blair family returned to Wilmington for a visit. During their trip they attended service at PC3, a service that left Erin and Matt clear on their next steps.
“After church, I got in the car and took a huge breath,” Erin says with a smile. “I knew we were being called back here.”
Once again, the Blairs packed up everything and moved their family. And they soon found out that they were pregnant with their third daughter, Zoe.
“We mark change, big steps of faith, with a baby,” laughs Erin.
It was then that the Blair family began to prosper. From living with family members in one-room apartments to being unemployed and unable to buy their groceries to a life that began to flow flawlessly.
“We were low and God began to rebuild,” Erin says confidently. “Matt got a great job with a new church in town, our children were more behaved and respectful, Matt and I were communicating better. We began to see more things in our life that were dead come alive.”
The next blessing in store? You guessed it: daughter number four. Eliana was born in the spring of 2011, making Erin and Matt the proud parents of four girls under the age of five.
The perfection of imperfection
As you can imagine, life is hectic for this family. But Erin is laid back, and she’s always quick to offer help to others even when you know her plate is already slammed full. She’s joyful, she’s perpetually positive and she’s continuously genuine in her desire to be the best mother, the best wife and the best Christian.
“Yes there are days that are crazy!” says Erin. “I had to call Matt home early the other day because I just needed to go to Walmart to get away! I wouldn’t wish for anything else, but this is work. It’s a lot to figure out how to be engaged with my children and have dinner ready. There are times I just go into the bathroom, I close the door and say a prayer, and I ask Him to help me get through this day.”
Erin is quick to admit the stress involved with being a full-time mother, but her most inspiring traits are her transparency and her ability to transform any struggle into a positive learning experience.
“I always want to be an encourager to my girls,” she says. “When I lose my rest, I am not good with that. I do have my ups and downs but I never get angry without apologizing. Asking for forgiveness is so important. That’s where the grace comes in. Knowing that I am forgiven when I ask for it from Kaylee, there is no guilt. We can start over and keep going. Yes I mess up again; none of us are perfect and that’s the reality of it. It’s not as pretty and easy as it looks from the outside but there is a joy that comes with it that I would not have with anything else.”
What makes Erin so perfect is her admission of imperfection. She messes up, sure. Her house isn’t always spotless (in her opinion), she gets overwhelmed, and her girl’s socks don’t always match. But these details aren’t important to her.
“This is life being lived out,” Erin says.
And Erin and Matt are a good team.
“At the end of the day, our real job title is, and always will be, Mom and Dad,” says Erin. “And we want to be the best at that. Meals may not always be prepared, but is the home joyful? Is there laughter, forgiveness and grace? That’s what I’m striving for. That’s the fruit of my labor.”