I DECIDED TO CREATE MOMUMENTAL MOTHERS TO CELEBRATE WOMEN FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE. EACH OF THE WOMEN I WILL FEATURE ARE DIFFERENT, BUT THEY ARE ALL UNITED IN MOTHERHOOD.
Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to my friend Mary.
I have known Mary since kindergarten. We lived across the highway from each other during elementary school. We were in Girl Scouts together for several years and even after Mary moved away after middle school, we still shared a tent at Girl Scout camp together each year. Eventually, we lost touch but then connected again after her husband became one of my coworkers.
It has been so inspirational to me to see Mary parenting and to watch her family of eight children grow. I follow her on Facebook and see her sharing her workouts or family activities and wonder how she manages to do it all, often with kids in tow and baby in a sling. I think she must be a saint (or will be one someday). I really wish I could have her patience and strength.
Mary, can you tell my readers a little about yourself?
I am 37 years-old. I have a bachelor’s degree in Religious Education from the Franciscan University of Steubenville.
How old are your children and what grades are they in school?
Rebekah – 14, freshman in high school; Samuel – 12, 7th grade; Jacob – 11, 5th grade; Paul – 9, 4th grade; Miriam – 7, 1st grade; Zipporah – 5 – preschool; Peter – 3; Benjamin – 4 months
Did you always envision yourself with a big family?
No. But my boyfriend, now husband, always said he wanted a football team. — I honestly thought I was going to be a nun so it didn’t matter. And I broke up with my now-husband several times and tried to run off to the convent, but it just didn’t feel quite right.
What do you feel is your biggest struggle as a parent?
Combination of discipline and feeding everyone. I am not a big fan of cooking. I love to eat, but not cook. And having to do the grocery shopping and cooking is definitely penitential for me, as well!
Do you think it is possible for women to have it all (a family/career/friends/hobbies or passions)?
Yes. I like to do Aikido. I also attend a small group bible study and hang out fairly regularly with some of my mom friends.
What your normal day like?
We are still finding our new normal since moving out to a tiny house about a year ago and then having a baby in January. At home, we get up, exercise, and eat breakfast. Then I try to get the kids to focus hard on schoolwork for a couple hours (during the regular school year — summer is different). The little ones can be done by lunch if they work hard and the baby cooperates. Then recess, lunch, and nap for the baby (and sometimes 3-year-old).
Generally, we go to town two days a week for Aikido in the afternoon from 4:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. We have boy scouts one night and cub scouts another. If it is a town day we head out and usually eat a cold dinner there or on the way home. Otherwise, I start cooking at around 4:00 p.m., hoping to eat around 5:30 p.m. Then clean up: the kids have chores like washing the dishes, etc., put pajamas on, and bedtime is at 7:30 p.m. or so.
What do you think your parents did when you were growing up that helped you be a responsible and successful adult? Or what do you wish your parents would have taught or given you that you didn’t have/they didn’t do?
I don’t know. They let me be independent and figure things out. That was nice. They financially covered costs for many great camps — scout camp, leadership camp, etc. and for a wonderful college; that was incredibly helpful.
Do you ever have time for yourself?
I do Aikido a couple times a week and then small group once a week and meet with my friends a couple times a month. I try to take some time in the morning to pray, but sometimes I get distracted or am simply too overwhelmed to get very far with that.
How do you handle everyday stressors?
I pray. Lots of prayer. Also taking a walk is a great stress reliever, and the kids can come with me, so bonus. We have roads on our 80 acres that go the oil pumps (2 of them). It makes a great walk to go up and down both roads from the house.
You homeschool your children. How did you decide to do that?
My daughter was in first grade at the local Catholic grade school. I went to eat lunch with her and all the angst of school that I had as a child came back to me. I was yelled at in the cafeteria for putting my trash in the wrong trash can. Then I had to stand in line with the kids at recess because I needed the follow the class back into the classroom so I could get my car keys and go home. When one child got in trouble, of course, everyone was punished. Plus my daughter was bringing home papers with drawing all over the backs. She was bored! And there is just so much time wasted at school, so much time spent there during the day, and then the evenings are taken up by extra activities and such. There were a lot of factors.
What are your tips for staying sane each day with homeschooling and evenings and bedtime?
Just keep doing what needs to be done. One small task at a time. And be flexible, ready to do drop this project and pick up that one as needed.
As an experienced mother, what advice would you give to a new mom?
Trust your gut. Find a good La Leche Leader if you want to breastfeed. Her support will be indispensable.
What was the most helpful gift someone has given you or act someone has done for you when you’ve had a baby?
Food!! Bringing me dinner or even just buying me groceries of any sort. It is so helpful and appreciated!
That’s so true. I remember when you and Gordon brought my husband and I a meal after our daughter was born; I was happy to have both the company and to not have to make a meal when we were trying to adjust to life as a family of three. And I appreciate it all the more because I know how busy your life is!
Thank you, Mary, for allowing me to interview you and to share your story!
If you are interested in being featured as one of my Momumental Mothers, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org