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 Dana Sanders
What have been the parts of motherhood that have surprised you the most?
At first, I was thrown for the biggest loop ever in trying to figure out mom-time, that weird non-linear time that no longer allows you to get anything done in a straight line from point A to point B. I also felt like it took me forever to adjust to no longer having ANY alone time unless I orchestrated it with major planning. I certainly didn’t want to resent all of the needs of my newborns, but sheesh, could I just go to the bathroom on my own and not have to rush?
One of the biggest and best surprises of motherhood for me was to see how incredibly unique each child was—from in the womb to adulthood. Well, only one is an adult right now, but another is close on her heels. I laugh when I think about how I was truly worried for child number two. How was this poor unfortunate thing ever going to be able to compare with fantastic child number one?
My husband and I promised ourselves that we would bravely parent number two as if he/she were just as wonderful, as it was the Christian thing to do and we would cleverly avoid costly therapy down the road. But, crazy reality: number two was just as fantastic, just in different ways. And so were number three and number four and number five. They do have names—Victoria, Christian (previous pun intended), Spencer, Joshua and Emily—and they remain as wonderful as ever. That they are such great kids is also another huge surprise to me. I am constantly in amazement at the depth of their thoughts, their humor, their spiritual insights and desires, their talents and their kindness.
What have been the hardest parts of motherhood for you?
The hardest parts of motherhood for me have been the times when I felt inadequate, inadequate to inspire or to give something to a child–usually my time (when is there enough?) or my patience. Or when no matter how great the plan of the day was in my mind, in reality, it was as effective as teaching a three-year-old calculus. Motherhood is the hardest for me when no one wants to change the status quo and it is my job to try to inspire everyone as to why a change needs to happen. Perhaps it is a bad habit that the family has gotten into and which for some reason only the mom seems to recognize. Why is that? Moms can see things that others can’t, I think. But for me it is very frustrating when that happens, and I feel like a Cassandra, the prophetess to whom no one listens.
You might be surprised to find out that the death of one of our daughters has not been the hardest part of motherhood for me. I don’t completely understand that myself, other than I was given a mercy that surpasses my ability to cope. Of course the indescribable pain is still very much present and time does not diminish the sadness surrounding that event. I miss her terribly and wish she were still with us. But, I have the strong belief that I have not truly lost her in a permanent way, only in a temporary way. She has left home and is in a good place right now, doing good, being her funny, darling self whom I hope to recognize when I see her again someday. Knowing that has been my strongest anchor in getting through it.
This hit me the strongest, this sense of her just being away from us for many years, when my oldest daughter left home for college a couple of years ago. It did not feel like she was the first child to leave home. The huge difference was that with our oldest, we would be able to e-mail, write, call and get her back in the summer and at Christmas. I think that is the hardest part of losing anyone. Death does not leave a forwarding address. But then neither do children who run away or are taken or decide they no longer want to participate in the family, or become very ill or disabled. The only way I have been able to be at peace about Emily’s death is to truly know that her spirit lives and that she is happy.
Five years before she died, a dear friend of mine had a son who was killed in a motorcycle accident. Watching her and trying to help her during that grieving process for the first year afterwards really gave me insight as to how to grieve once our family was in the same situation. Everyone grieves as individually as they experience joy. A wise mom will allow each family member to grieve in his or her own way and not rush that process or place her own expectations on how it should be done. A wise mom will also find ways to help each family member express and remember the funny and good things about the person who has died, and ensure each family member feels free to express the not-so-good things. Our family chose to make quilts from Emily’s clothes. It was a beautiful healing process to have each family member select a favorite dress or blouse and the choose a quilt pattern and color scheme. Friends helped sew for several months. For our first Christmas without her, which was also her birthday, we were able to unwrap each quilt and cry together and rejoice together. God is so merciful and will send people in our paths during times of immense sorrow. Untold little miracles and kindnesses were given to our family over and over. Life will never be the same, but we can now freely talk about Emily as if she were just far, far away…which she is.