This is the last post in our series A Month of Moms. We really hope that you’ve enjoyed these real moms sharing their stories…their struggles and their joys. I know that I feel so fortunate to call all of these ladies my friends and have become a better mom because of the wisdom I’ve gained from them. And trust me…there have been a lot of coffees, talks and tears helping each other through some tough parenting times. Today, Laurel and I are asking each other questions about being moms and we wrap it up with our very own Mom.
/ LAUREL /
1. Tell us a bit about your kids.
Lexi is 17…she is my sensitive girl who balances that spirit with being super fun. She loves playing volleyball and will be playing for the UFV Cascades next year. She loves sport and can talk hockey stats all day long with her dad. She is my right hand girl in the kitchen and in so many other areas. I love spending time with her!
Melina is 15 and just brings laughter to our family. She is notorious for her long winded stories which are laced with random thoughts..she loves to make people laugh! She also loves kids and they seem to flock to her. Nina is super independent and I know that if she were dropped in a foreign city she’d figure things out with her resourcefulness and take charge attitude. She has a love of dance and I admire how she makes everyone around her feel like they’re part of her family. She is a gem!
Lincoln is almost 13. He loves hockey and golf and really has to be one of the happiest kids around. He loves to spend time with friends, and his dog. He is our “bull in a china shop” but don’t let that fool you…he is also kind-hearted and gentle. I love that he is still ok with hugs and kisses from me!
2. A few years ago, you battled breast cancer and were an amazing mom to your kids throughout the process. How did you find the energy to mother them when you were so physically exhausted?
I don’t know if I was an amazing mother..that’s super kind! I am so grateful that the kids were at ages where they didn’t require my physical help to get them dressed, etc. I think the only way that I could still be engaged with my kids during that season in my life was the help that I got from everyone around me! I remember someone telling me that I needed to accept the help of meals, laundry, driving etc. so that the energy that I had could be totally devoted to my family. That advice was so pivotal in giving me the freedom accept help with less guilt. I had an army of people helping me so that I didn’t have to miss out on any of the kids sports games, dance shows, etc. That was a GIFT!
I also have to credit my kids and Scott. They found ways for us to spend more time together…whether it was coming with me to my treatments or chilling in the evening on the couch watching the Bachelor. They kind of catered to what I was capable of doing and just made it work. So…I guess the short answer is that I was able to mother because of everyone around me. They made it happen!
3. What differences have you found parenting boys and girls?
So different. Both of the girls talk so much more! Lexi probably shares the most with me and because she is so open, I find that we know where she’s at and so we don’t waste a lot of time getting to the issue. Melina is maybe a bit more private (like I was growing up!) and so it might take her a little longer to open up..but she still does! This communication is golden.
Lincoln is much slower to talk about things that are bothering him. We often can see in his countenance if something is weighing on him…but have to wait until he is ready to talk about it. It usually happens in the car…we have learned that if we want to have meaningful discussion, the worst thing we can do it “sit him down”.
On the other hand, Lincoln will bounce back quickly and be back to his cheerful self in short order. The girls require more patience from us in working through things. We often talk about feelings versus facts with them…Scott sometimes needs to be reminded that feelings count too ha! I think Scott’s input for the girls is so huge though. Because males often do have different perspective, it helps the girls see things in a different light often.
4. How has your parenting changed or shifted as your kids are getting ready to leave the nest?
I’ve noticed that as Lexi gets closer to graduating, our job as her parents has taken on a new slant. We no longer can tell her what to do, who to be friends with, what she should want to take in school. Well, I guess we’ve never been parents that have been super hard nosed. But, I guess I’m saying that we feel like we have needed to shift to more of an advisory role. Lexi knows that we aren’t throwing her out to the wolves…we are always there for her. But there are some decisions that she has to make. There have been times she would prefer us just lay things out for her…but we really feel that our job is to help guide her but allow the decisions to be hers.
The cool thing about this stage is that the friendship part of our relationship is growing.I really truly love that kid…and hanging out with her is one of my favourite things to do. Not because I’m her mom but because I just think she’s a wonderful human being.
While Melina is two years behind Lexi, I am seeing this friendship begin as well. Because she is just that bit younger, I suppose there is still more boundaries in place, but everything at age appropriate times, right? As she is so different than her sister, I’m so curious to see how she will transition to the next chapter when the time comes. And I look forward to seeing our friendship grow!
I’m not sure if this is a positive or a negative, but with Lincoln, things are much more relaxed. Youngest child syndrome?? I suppose we might have gotten better at picking which battles are worth pursuing (many aren’t!). Just one example is bed times. I remember we didn’t deviate a minute with the girls!! I guess we’ve loosened up a bit with Link!
5. What is your favorite thing about being a mom?
Oh wow. That’s a hard question. I think maybe the incredible heart bursting feeling when you see your child do something they love, when they overcome something they have been struggling with, when you see them do the “right thing” when no ones looking. I feel it’s a huge responsibility that God has given us: to entrust us with these children and when you see them growing, through both challenges and successes, it’s just such a thrill!
/ PAM /
1. Tell us a bit about each of your kids.
Berkeley is 18. She graduated early from high school and has been continuing her dance training, auditioning and also working for a dance competition. She is extremely loyal, independent, a rule follower and very maternal. She is excited to fly the coop and will be training in LA for a few months in the fall.
Dylan is 16. She is also a dancer and is extremely driven in her school work. She is very disciplined and goal oriented. When she sets her mind on something, she goes for it. She’s also a perfectionist. A dance show called The Next Step
that she worked on last summer actually premieres today.
Mac is 13. He loves to play hockey and has a big heart for missions and helping those less fortunate. He tends to emerge as a leader, is a ton of fun, and is known to chirp a lot on the ice.
2. Each of your three kids is very driven and goal oriented. As are you and Jason. Besides “paper, rock, scissors” how do you manage to balance and keep harmony while still allowing everyone to pursue their goals? (and find the time to help your sissy out too!)
This is still a work in progress. Sometimes I feel like we are winning and other times we are failing. Jason and I are both fairly driven ourselves so if an opportunity comes up and the schedule is nut bar, we always say, “We will make it happen”. It’s kind of a motto around our house. Berkeley driving this year has been a tremendous help and the fact that Jason has a flexible job and can work from most anywhere is really the only way we’ve been able to do it. I usually take the lead with dance stuff with the girls and Jason takes the lead with hockey stuff, often managing Mac’s teams. However, whenever there is a dance competition or a hockey game, we try to attend the event as a family. And if the kids’ activities involve travel, we try to go as a family and work a vacation around it. We’ve also tried to teach the kids that there is some give and take. You want to go to an audition? Ok, you may have to wait there a half an hour until Dad is done his meeting. I will admit that at times Jason and I have felt more like roommates getting ‘er done…so we’ve had to make conscious efforts to take time to date and go away as a couple. I still feel we have more work to do in this area…and we need to get on it as the kids are starting to leave the nest!
3. Two of your kids have opted out of the traditional school system. Can you talk a bit about it and how it has worked for your family?
When Dylan was in grade 7, I felt like she was starting to drown. Going straight from school to dance, and then not getting home some nights until 10pm and starting homework was not working. Her grades are very important to her and she was stressed all of the time. Her school didn’t accommodate a half day programme, so home schooling was the only option. My friend Julie had home schooled her son and talked me through the process…it had been such a great fit for him and had given him breathing room. She also reminded me that this might be the right decision for NOW…not necessarily forever. You have to make decisions for your kids that help them in the present and it was ok if she decided at some point to go back to school (although I now know that won’t happen!). So, we found a very structured online programme. I am by no means a teacher and I do lack a bit in patience, so I knew that a self-directed programme was a must. I took a bit of convincing Jason, but we agreed to try it with Dylan for the rest of the grade 7 year and then reassess that summer. I can say that for Dylan it was a great decision. She was like a different kid, less stressed and felt in control of her schedule. The following fall, Berkeley followed suit in grade 10. For Berkeley the adjustment was a little bit more difficult. She got a little bit behind the first semester, but once we figured out that we needed to be more involved with her scheduling it worked out very well. She finished grade 12 this year in February, ahead of schedule! I’m going to be very clear to say that home schooling isn’t for everyone! The girls knew it was a means to an end, allowing them to dance and train more, and reduced the stress of missing school for travel, etc. They have had a ton of social interaction through dance. I am glad that they did go through traditional school for a number of years. It was a great base for them, learning to work with groups and take instruction from teachers. I think that those early years in school are super important.
4. What has been your biggest challenge in parenting?
I think that the biggest challenge is trying to figure out the best way to guide and nurture each child. Berkeley was a very compliant, pleasing first born. We thought we had it all figured out by the time Dylan came. But Dylan was a fire ball, determined and not as willing to listen and obey. What had worked with Berkeley definitely didn’t work with Dylan. We had to figure out how to channel all of that fire in a positive direction. So once again, we thought we were fairly well equipped by the time Mac came along, and again, the whole game changed. Boys are different than girls…that’s for sure! The energy level is off the charts, there’s wrestling and not being able to sit still. I remember church being torture when Mac was a toddler. Again, we had to figure it all out again and see what would work better in raising him. Moms can never stop learning about their kids.
5. How do you feel your role as a mom has evolved as the kids have grown from babies/toddlers all the way to adolescents/teens?
My role has changed from looking after the kids physical needs to now helping them with their emotional needs. All three kids are quite independent, so now it’s about helping them deal with relationships, career decisions and stuff that really goes beyond the “now”. Being a mom right now is less physically demanding but more emotional. And sometimes…well, often…I don’t feel like I have enough wisdom to help the kids with their decisions. So, there’s LOTS of praying going on!
6. What is your favourite thing about being a mom?
There are a few things! One for sure is seeing my kids do what they love and are passionate about! I’ve been known to cry watching the girls dance or scream as Mac scores a goal…yup, I’m that mom! I also love when something great happens to them and they call me to tell me! Hearing their excitement and joy is the best! I do love our dinners around the table…there is a lot of lively conversation and a lot of chirping too…we definitely keep each other on our toes. And I love seeing them grow in their faith and put what they believe into practice…those are the proudest moments.
/ ELMA /
1. You still have your mom who is 89 years old, which is quite remarkable. What are some things that you still want to ask her?
We are actually having a lot of talks lately about her past, like up until the time that I start to remember things. I feel very blessed that we’ve had so much time together in the past few years, so I don’t feel like there are many things that we haven’t discussed. She and I both regret not having spent more time on her genealogy in the past. She can no longer remember things she knew a few years ago.
2. What are some of the best things you have learned from your mom?
She ALWAYS supported Opa (her husband) publicly, no matter if she agreed with him or not. I wish I had learned a bit more of that. Also, outwardly she was always gracious and calm. Again, I wish I’d learned those traits better. And she was a very kind and patient woman.
3. How have you seen parenting change when you remember back to your parents and then look at young parents today?
I think the biggest change is that they were totally into parenting using authoritarian methods. The concept of parents being friends with their children was pretty much unheard of. I believe that now the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction. It’s wonderful to be friends with your children but there are certainly times when the parents must “lay down the law”.
4. How do you make the transition from having your kids at home to them leaving,getting married and having their own family?
It’s not an easy transition to become empty nesters after having 3 children and their friends in the house. However, time does help you to make this transition eventually. There were times of tears and sadness (there still are), but it is so rewarding to see your children have families of their own and become upstanding members of society. Another benefit of being empty nesters is that one’s family grows and there’s way more love to spread around.
5. What is the best thing about being a grandma?
It’s that you can love your grandchildren unconditionally without having to worry about training and disciplining them. Also, you can soak up all the love they give back so freely.
6. If you could tell your younger self (new mom) something, what would it be?
It would most definitely be to take more time to enjoy my children and play with them instead of worrying about having a spotless house and a well balanced meal on the table at 6pm.