photo courtesy of Emily Ballard

There are amazing, devoted, wonderful, deliberate mothers out there, and each week we’ll spotlight one of them here at The Power of Moms. Do you know a mom who deserves a little time in the spotlight? Email rachelle.price (at) powerofmoms.com. We can’t wait to meet her.

Introducing Emily Ballard

How many children do you have and what are their ages?

I have four children: Rachel (9), Lucy (7), Adam (4), and Derrick (22). My husband and I met Derrick when he was 12. Steve and I were young newlyweds in South Africa, completing internships for our degrees from Utah State University. We brought Derrick to the United States and adopted him when he was 15. Derrick has a daughter, Kaleigh (3), who we raise along with our other children.

What have been your favorite parts of motherhood?

My favorite parts of motherhood are teaching my children, being taught by my children, and above all, I really like the person I’m becoming. Motherhood has allowed me the opportunity (and the motivation) to turn weaknesses into strengths.

What have been the hardest parts of motherhood for you?

The hardest parts of motherhood have been unique to different stages. When I envisioned being a mother, I didn’t give much thought to the severe physical and emotional pain that would accompany my journey into motherhood. Difficult pregnancies, miscarriages, and other medical problems certainly weren’t what I pictured.

With newborns and toddlers, the hardest part has been loss of freedom and personal space. As someone who is always on the go, it was an overwhelming adjustment.

As kids grow older, the hardest part of motherhood is balance. There are so many important things that need to be done and so many wonderful activities worthy of our attention. Continually deciding and reevaluating what to focus on and trying to balance everything is challenging.

When kids turn into teenagers and young adults, the hardest part is loving them unconditionally as you watch them make poor decisions and face consequences. Being a mother is even more demanding when you get to face multiple stages of motherhood at once!

What has surprised you about motherhood?

There are lots of things about motherhood that have surprised me. I’ve done things that I never thought possible. I’ve loved like I’ve never thought possible. And along with that, I’ve hurt like I never thought possible.

What have you learned from motherhood? Please share a specific story or incident that really taught  you something.

Motherhood has taught me (and continues to teach me) patience. There are so many aspects of motherhood that are completely out of my control, so I try not to dwell on things when they don’t go as planned. When we found out that Derrick was going to have a baby, I was devastated. Becoming a twenty-six year old grandma certainly wasn’t part of my plan. After Kaleigh was born, I spent fifteen months completely immersed in the legal process to make sure she would be raised in a safe environment. There were plenty of aspects of those proceedings that weren’t fair and there were plenty of times when I wondered if my efforts would make a difference. But I had to be patient, whether I wanted to or not. I still get a lot of questions about Kaleigh and her future. What will happen when Derrick gets married? Will she always call you Mommy? Would you ever adopt her? Some of those things are out of our hands, and we don’t know all the answers right now, so I try to focus on doing what’s best for her now. Each day brings me more selflessness, more understanding, and more patience.

What would you say are the most important things a mom can do? What would you say are the most important things for a mom NOT to do?

There are lots of important things for a mom to do:

Keep your children close, even when they make bad decisions.

Create stability in your children’s lives.

When you make a mistake, apologize to your children and admit that you were wrong.

Tell and show your children that you love them.

Avoid arguing or criticizing in front of your children.

Be willing to try new things.

Empower your children.

Don’t expect more of your children than they are capable of.

What are some unique and interesting aspects of your family or your approach to mothering?

My husband owns and operates a busy independent restaurant. Eighteen-hour days are not uncommon, and he often has to work on holidays. His church assignments and responsibilities occupy most of his time on Sundays. If I was stuck at home all day with four kids, I would lose my mind. Complaining about his long hours doesn’t get me anywhere (believe me, I’ve tried). So I get out and do things. Lots of things. If your husband spends a lot of time elsewhere (or you don’t have a husband) take your kids to play, explore, learn, and serve without him. (Sometimes it can be really hard, but sometimes it’s actually easier because I get to make all of the decisions by myself!) And then, be sure to make the most of the time that you do have together. I try to get housework and other errands done while Steve is at work, so when he is home, we can spend our family time playing together. (I am thankful that my husband has chosen family-friendly hobbies: hiking, camping, skiing, and I am lucky that he saves some precious time for me.)

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