Today I am really excited to beginning "Motherhood Mondays", a fortnightly interview where mums will get to share a little of their stories of motherhood to us. I am delighted that my beautiful friend Jenn Dykstra has agreed to share part of her journey of motherhood with us.
Tell us a little about yourself and your family
I am in my mid forties, married with a 9yr old daughter, Tessa and 3 grown up step children, Tracey, Kevin and Kate. My husband Mitch works 2 part time jobs after leaving the corporate world and I work full time, teaching . Two of my step children have been recently married which was so lovely to see.
Do you have a story about your journey into motherhood?
I was imagining I would never get married as I had hit 30 and no prospects in sight. I met Mitch but he had already been married so I pushed him into the “not my ideal” box. However the more I knew him, the more I realised I loved him. The day after we decided that we would get married, Mitch’s 12 year old daughter moved down to live with him, as things were difficult for her where she was. Before I even said “I do” I was an instant step mum as she needed motherly love and a tender heart. A couple of years later, his son moved down also and our family expanded. In the meantime, I fell pregnant with twins. Unfortunately, I lost one of my babies and had a very difficult pregnancy. My remaining daughter was born at 27 weeks and spent a long time in hospital helping her to ‘grow’ to full term. At the same time I had a child at home doing the HSC and one in Year 10. Life was interesting!!! Did I mention the “no roof on my house renovation???”
What is the best thing about motherhood?
· Loving and being loved
· Knowing that some person is going to impact their world because of what you have poured into them
· Walking hand in hand, knowing you are fully trusted and relied upon
What is the most challenging thing about motherhood?
I struggled initially with motherhood, and having a child born in traumatic circumstances, but motherhood shows you the best and the worst about yourself. It shows you the extent to which you are willing to lay down your life and heart for someone else whilst at the same time, desperately desiring to be selfish and have time on your own. Whilst we often would ‘never change a thing’ we long for things to be different. It is the most amazing joyful, yet at times heartbreaking experience.
Do you have any advice for new mums about starting the motherhood journey?
I think each person’s walk is so different it is hard to give advice. We parent our children either as a result of how we were parented or as a reaction against how we were parented. Probably the best advice I ever had given to me was.. God chose me to raise this child and out of all the women in the world, she is mine. Therefore, I am the one who will do the best job. I have the resources/personality/whatever needed to raise this person. On days when I doubt, feel overwhelmed or am lost to know the best way forward, I just need to trust my instinct as I am her mother. It doesn’t matter what everyone else says I should do, or what some book says, she is my responsibiilty and I need to do what is right for us as a family. This was quite freeing as everyone becomes an expert, especially in times of trouble. If you listen to too many other voices, you will get nowhere. Believe that you can do it… and ENJOY!!!
What do you appreciate more about your mum now you are a mother?
When my teenage daughter was causing normal teenage angst I remember ringing my mum to firstly apologise for anything I had put her through and secondly to ask her if there were days when she didn’t like me very much. She told me that there were lots of days when she didn’t like me (or my actions) but she always loved me and forgave me. This had a huge impact on me. It was okay to be disappointed by my teenager’s choices or actions, it didn’t change how much I loved her.
I appreciate the tough choices she made as I see the benefits and outcomes of her wisdom. Ask me this as a teenager or young adult and I would have told you quite a different story. I always thought mum was so strict, no fun or a kill joy but now I see the wisdom, love and protection she provided me.
How would your children sum you up in 3 words?
I asked my 9 year old and she said I was beautiful, loving and kind and a very special mummy. Hopefully my grown up kids would describe me as loving, available and encouraging.
Can you recall a funny story about being a mum?
I think lots of funny things happen in motherhood but they are often hilarious to us but not to other people. One thing that always makes us laugh is that if, by chance, one of us ‘passes wind’ accidentally, we always blame daddy or the cat. Sometimes we are so convincing my husband truly believes that the cat can make such loud or smelly noises….see….hysterical to us, not funny to others!
What are your favourite activities with your children?
Tess and I love to go shopping together.We balance my boring shops with equal time in SMIGGLE. We like bike riding around the lake. I love cooking together and teaching her how to make pancakes or tacos. We love to watch some TV shows together. I like her H20 and she likes my Gilmore Girls.
How do you celebrate birthdays?
We tie balloons all around the dining room and on the person’s chair. We have the presents on the table to open over breakfast. We usually have special dinner together, sometimes with the grandparents. We let the birthday person make lots of the choices that day.
Any parting wisdom for other mums?
Everyone says enjoy every moment because it goes so fast and boy…it sure does. I still wonder how it is I have a 9 year old and grown up married children. I think we have to learn to enjoy even the boring, mundane moments like grocery shopping or cleaning the house together.
Also, to remember that we are all going to make mistakes and we need to forgive, forget and move on. Disobedience in your children is an opportunity to teach them about the right way to live and to encourage them to make a wiser choice next time.
As a christian I see my role is to raise my child to be independent of me and dependant on God. I need to model to her my daily devotion and dependence on Christ as my Saviour and Lord.
Thanks so much Jenn for these heartfelt answers!
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