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 Shani Whisonant
How many children do you have and what are their ages?
I have one daughter, Shae, who is two years old.
What are some unique and interesting aspects of your family or your approach to mothering? What do you do that is a little different than what seems to be the “norm”? What have you decided to prioritize in your mothering that you see as somewhat unusual?
I believe that God intends us to use our bodies in a way that demonstrates our love for Him. As the health and nutritional leader in my household, I place very special emphasis on what I feed my family. We grocery shop every week for fresh fruits and vegetables, and though it might be easier to stop through a drive through every once in a while (especially after a long day), we do not. I would rather spend that money shopping for organic fruits, vegetables, dairy and meats. At the end of the day, knowing that my family is eating healthy homemade meals means that I’m fulfilling my role as the nutritional leader in my household. That is an enormous part of my mission as a mother.
I also strongly believe in having a child who is very physically active. We make sure that my daughter spends the vast majority of her time engaged in active play and imagination games. Whether she’s gardening with her father (her favorite activity because it involves spraying him with a hose), riding her bicycle, singing at the top of her lungs on one of our neighborhood walks, or playing dress-up, it’s very important to us that she grows up realizing that there is more to life than what she can see on a screen. If she doesn’t leave a ring around the tub after her evening bath, I feel that I’ve failed her. I love putting a dirty, sticky little girl in the bathtub and taking out a clean angel that is ready for bed and the stickiness of the following day. The thickness of a bathtub ring will tell you a lot.
What have you decided to NOT prioritize in your mothering that many other moms seem to think is important and worthy?
I know there is a strong emphasis on encouraging and celebrating independence in young children. I made a decision from the time I first looked at my daughter to be her champion until she is ready to claim her independence. Though it’s not a priority for me to “push her from the nest,” she is still a very independent child! She is also a child who wants to snuggle with us and even (gasp!) sleep in our bed. When daddy’s out of town on business or she’s had a bad day and she wants snuggles, I’m happy to hold her as tight as I can, for as long as I can. I don’t have a long time to be her shield from the world, and I’m not rushing her to independence or pushing her away when she needs her mommy to be her champion. It is my personal policy to drop what I’m doing when my little girl needs a hug. Or some water.
What have been the biggest challenges of motherhood for you? What are the hardest parts of your typical day as a mom? What coping strategies do you have for getting through hard times and hard days?
The biggest challenge of motherhood for me, by far, has been working outside of my home. During the day, when I am away from my daughter, my heart just aches. There are days that I still cry when I drop her off at daycare; this is definitely the hardest part of my day. Every day.
Recently, I have been able to modify to a part-time schedule, but it is still extremely difficult to be away from her for long periods of the day, especially while she is so young.
To cope with this difficulty, I make sure that I contact her daycare at least once a day. I have been a positive and consistent presence at her daycare since the day that she started there. I keep her picture close to me during the day, and I always, always, always make sure that I am accessible in the event that she needs me, even if it is for a hangnail. These strategies help, but mother guilt never fully goes away.
What have you learned from motherhood? Please share a specific story or incident that really taught you something.
I have learned that God trusted each mother to be a mother in her own way. None of us was meant to mother our children as other mothers do. We are all unique as women, so it makes perfect sense that we would mother in a way that is consistent with our personality and core beliefs.
When I first had my daughter, I was destined to be the mother that listened to the best advice from amazing mothers. There were two problems with this philosophy. Problem one was that much of the advice was conflicting, so I didn’t get consistent advice from women in my circle who were outstanding moms. The other problem was that, frankly, I didn’t feel good about some of the advice. After about six months of being a return passenger on the anxiety bus to nowhere, I had to make a difficult decision to listen to some very good advice, to ignore some other very good advice, and, above all, to trust my mother’s instincts. I’m a work in progress but I’m a much happier mom now that I listen to my instincts. And I believe that’s led to my daughter being happier as well. We’re in a groove. At least for now.
Photo courtesy of Shani Whisonant