There are amazing, devoted, wonderful, deliberate mothers out there, and each week we’ll spotlight one of them here at 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 Millie Killpack
How many children do you have and what are their ages?
Four kids—ages 9, 6, 5, 1.
What are some unique and interesting aspects of your family?
My two youngest children have spina bifida. Having children with special needs presents daily challenges. My 5-year-old son, Davey, uses a wheelchair, walker, and lightning fast crawling to get around. My 15-month-old daughter, Maggie, has many physical and cognitive delays. She wears adorably thick glasses and is just starting to give kisses…big, slimy kisses. Spina bifida creates more than just mobility problems. They both have a device in their brain called a shunt that drains excess cerebral fluid into their abdominal cavity. Bowel and bladder issues are ever constant. Cognitive delays are also a struggle. Life is filled with therapy and doctor appointments. My job as the momma of this family is to make sure those additional challenges don’t keep us from progressing and having fun along the way.
I am also realtor and really enjoy working. It’s a great outlet for me, and I love the satisfaction and challenge that comes with my job. I also write a blog to connect with other families with spina bifida. Matt, my husband, is a school psychologist for our local school district and is always working on my latest house projects. Right now we are working on a master bathroom remodel and will probably finish it in 2015. He is also the bishop for our local church congregation, which is a rewarding calling for our family.
What do you do that is a little different than what seems to be the “norm”?
I carry catheters, KY Jelly, and enemas with me. You don’t find that in a lady’s purse every day! My two youngest kiddos empty their bladders through a catheter multiple times a day, so I have to be prepared wherever I go. Target was having a sale on KY a year ago, so I stocked up with my coupons. My face got flushed as the cashier rang up ten boxes of jelly.
We also have music playing often in our house and car. When I get angry and want to explode at my children, it can sometimes come out opera style: “Do your homework right now…or else” definitely gets a child’s attention when dramatically sung and keeps me from yelling. I can’t believe I’m actually admitting this.
What have you decided to NOT prioritize in your mothering that many other moms seem to think is important and worthy?
I realize the limits of my time, dollar, and energy. Consequently, my kids are involved in very few extracurricular activities. I’m not trying to sacrifice their advancement, beauty queen titles, and college scholarships, but for now I need simplicity.
What have been your favorite parts of motherhood?
I love the serenity in our home after having a newborn. Watching my older children hold and caress their newborn sibling is a moment in time that fades too quickly. Another thrill for me is seeing my children find success. Whether it’s a learning to write their name, being chosen as a Mighty Mustang, tying their shoe, rolling over, or creating a beautiful necklace, it brings me joy to see their accomplishments.
What have been the biggest challenges of motherhood for you?
Grief. I feel sad at times that Davey and Maggie have spina bifida. Their daily struggles make my heart heavy. Last week I pulled out my bins of winter clothes and packed up the summer clothes. I saw a tupperware labeled, “Girl 18—2T”. I was thrilled to find this hidden treasure because I thought I’d gotten rid all my girls clothes since there is a five year gap between girls. As I tenderly lifted the items out, memories of my two oldest girls accompanied each sweater, dress, jammie, and shoe. I pictured Kate standing in front of a mirror posing in her new dress that grandma gave her. I remembered Josie running up the stairs bare bottomed in her yellow striped sweater. My eyes became misty as I held rain boots, still stained from jumps in the muddy puddles. Memories of Kate and Josie in these clothes were filled with walking, running, throwing, clapping, hiding, mimicking, singing, and dancing. All actions most mothers find typical and expected. Maggie has yet to roll over. Oh my heart. I’m so in love with my little darling that most days I forget how delayed she is. But then there are moments, like going through a bin of clothes, where I ache and ask my Heavenly Father, “How?” I don’t feel like I’ve ever questioned the “why”. But I do wonder, at times, “How can I do this? or “What do you want me to do?” On days like these, I work to find perspective and redefine the words, “perfect, miracle, and normal.”
What coping strategies do you have for getting through hard times and hard days?
My ideal coping strategy for getting through a hard day: cleaning my house, while talking to my sister or mom on the phone, while sipping a can of Dr. Pepper 10.
What have you learned about motherhood that you wished you’d known sooner and would like to pass along?
“And it came to pass”…rough times pass. Enjoy the present because it goes by quickly, and difficult times really do fade away.
Photo courtesy of Millie Killpack