5 Questions for Mother’s Day: Area moms talk about the challenges they face

Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash

As we move through year two of the pandemic, the impact it has had on all our lives has been immeasurable. For area parents, it has meant a complete restructuring of how they approach the responsibilities of raising their children. We asked several moms for their perspective on how being a mother has changed, the surprises they’ve learned along the way, and the best advice they’ve ever gotten!

Raven Bender, Holland

How many kids? One child, age 2. 

How has COVID impacted your life as a parent in the past year?
Covid has impacted our family in many ways, the most significant being not being able to have the support of mom groups, or play dates, or even taking my toddler to the grocery store.  However, it has also made me a more patient mother, and made my bond with my daughter so much stronger. We have spent more time at home playing this year, and learning about one another than we would have if Covid never happened. 

What’s something about being a mom that surprises you the most?
How much I’m able to get done in one day has been the biggest surprise for me. Waking up, and taking care of a toddler and a puppy, all while working and keeping up on housework sounds daunting, but it always gets done somehow! 

Parents teach their children about life. What’s something that your child has taught you?
My child has taught me to live life to the fullest, and let go of every expectation I’ve ever had! (In a good way, most of the time.) You can never anticipate things going exactly how they’re planned and having a two year old in a global pandemic has taught me exactly that. 

What’s one thing you wish you could change about your early days as a parent?
I would change how hard I was on myself. I was so caught up in milestones, and comparisons that I almost missed the beauty in my daughter’s growth. I always found things to compare, and was very tough on myself for things that were out of my control. If I had just taken a breath, and allowed myself some grace in the beginning, I could have saved myself from months of stress. 

What is the best advice about being a mom you’ve ever received?
The best advice I’ve ever received is from my family doctor.  When my little one was a year old, the doctor said a phrase that has stuck with me. “The days are long, but the years are so short.” I think about it often, and it reminds me to slow down, and take it all in. The good, the okay, and the bad.

Sierra Fox, Maumee

How many kids? One, 1 year old.

How has COVID impacted your life as a parent in the past year?
COVID has drastically impacted our life as parents in both positive and negative ways. Since our daughter was born 2 weeks before the national lockdown we got to spend many months bonding with our newborn as a family and as first time parents. But it also eliminated our ability to expose our daughter to other family members in her first year of life, and other children.

What’s something about being a mom that surprises you the most?
Something that surprises us most about being a mom is the amount of pride and joy we wake up feeling for our daughter everyday. She brings out the absolute best version of ourselves as parents and individuals.

Parents teach their children about life. What’s something that your child has taught you?
Patience and to slow down and enjoy every second in a day.

What’s one thing you wish you could change about your early days as a parent?
One thing we wish we could change is the amount of pressure we put on ourselves to be perfect moms.   

What is the best advice about being a mom you’ve ever received?
To take all of the pictures, babies are growing and changing everyday and it goes by too fast.

Jodie Hanf, Perrysburg

How many kids? Three daughters, currently ages 9, 7 and 3.

How has COVID impacted your life as a parent in the past year?
Oh man. It would truly be easier to tell you the ways that it has not impacted my life as a parent in the past year. I have Multiple Sclerosis and take a disease-modifying treatment that affects the immune system, which makes us a high-risk family. Our entire world was paused in early 2020, and we are still looking for the remote in the couch cushions. 

We do not go anywhere, do not do anything, do not see anyone. My husband now works from our home office. I now teach our two oldest children at home. This is no small feat, especially with a toddler in tow. I have added “bouncer” and “events coordinator” to my parental wheelhouse as well. When your small children do not get to see their friends in person you have to be prepared to do two things— break up (so many) sibling fights and keep them from getting too bored. A little a bit of bored breeds creativity, but too much just causes the bickering I mentioned. 

The first half of the year 2020, we worked incredibly hard doing “Family Fun Nights.” We built a temporary indoor playground, had a fancy tea party, made an indoor mini-golf course, went camping in the backyard, and did a Jackson Pollock-inspired art session. We have also celebrated six quarantine birthdays in the house without our family or friends.

It is beyond difficult and tiring to parent 24/7 without any breaks for over a year now! It is not for the weak-willed. I did the rough math the other day and I have parented approximately 2,000 additional hours this last year then I normally would. That extra time with my children has been invaluable, though. I know my girls much better and have talked with them in depth about compassion and empathy, something we value in our family. I have dug into my reserves for patience and strength, especially when I was faced with a relapse of my MS at the beginning of 2021. We have done, and still continue to do, what we have to in order to keep our entire family safe and healthy. 

What is something about being a mom that surprises you the most?
That parenting evolves. I read all the books you are supposed to read when I was pregnant and thought that once you started with one parenting style, then that was where you stay, locked in the same with each child. But as time goes by you learn and you change. And you parent each child differently, as each child is unique. 

Parents teach their children about life. What is something that your child has taught you?
Giggles and hugs are the best medicine! And that I need to spend more time just being silly. And if you mess up, children deserve your apologies. They are not just for adults. We often hold children to a lot of adult standards yet fail to give them human courtesies. 

What is one thing you wish you could change about your early days as a parent?
Oh my goodness, SLEEP! Our oldest never slept. We nicknamed her the night watchman since she woke hourly. I suffered from severe sleep deprivation for the first year and a half. I also wish that I had trusted and listened to my own Mama instincts more often. 

What is the best advice about being a mom you have ever received?
Babies don’t keep. It’s true. They just don’t. And my best advice to give to other mamas would be to never, ever compare yourself or your sweet little one(s) to anyone else. You are doing a phenomenal job, Mama! 

Kendra Hipp, Toledo

How many kids? Two boys, ages 6 and 12.

How has COVID impacted your life as a parent in the past year?
Life as a parent during COVID has been stressful at times especially because both my husband and I are essential employees who work full time. Our jobs never shut down. We also didn’t have the option to work from home. In the very beginning it was very difficult because we didn’t want either of our parents watching their grandchildren with the fear of giving them COVID so we had to manage through switching schedules, using vacation/sick time etc. Online learning was also a challenge as well especially in the beginning of the school year but kids are truly resilient. I am so proud of our boys with all they have been through during the pandemic!!!  Entering Kindergarten and 6th grade– major milestones in their life as well as ours but they worked through it and did such an amazing job!!!

What is something about being a mom that surprises you the most?
Something that surprises me about being a mom is just truly how fast time goes! I remember my parents always telling me that the years go by faster and faster as you get older and how true that really is especially being a mom and being busy 24/7.

Parents teach their children about life. What is something that your child has taught you?
As crazy as this sounds, I think my children have taught me to slow down in life especially most recently. It’s still a work in progress lol but I am really trying. There is always the laundry and the constant upkeep of your home but it’s ok to just sit back and relax sometimes. The chores will still be there for you for a later day!

What is one thing you wish you could change about your early days as a parent?
One thing I wish I could change in my early days of parenting is cherishing more of the time and not worrying as much about the small stuff. I also wish I would have taken more time off when my boys were first born. I went back to work after 6 weeks with my first and 8 weeks with my second. If I could go back in time I would have definitely taken the full 12 weeks!!!

What is the best advice about being a mom you have ever received?
The best advice I’ve ever received is to just slow down and enjoy every moment. If they want to play a game with you, play the game. If they want to go to the park, go to the park. One day they will be grown and out of the house— enjoy them and cherish every moment.

Ashley Hunt, Toledo

How many kids? Three kids, ages 14, 12 and 8. 

How has COVID impacted your life as a parent in the past year?
COVID has had a huge impact on our lives. Besides the obvious with schools closed and adapting to that I work full time at Toledo Hospital as a respiratory therapist. We as a profession are up close and personal in the fight against COVID. Work and life balance has taken a toll on us with all of the overtime I have worked this past year. 

What is something about being a mom that surprises you the most?
What surprises me the most about being a mom is no matter how mad or disappointed I am with my life, family or work my children always have a way of taking all of life’s worries away. Just unconditional love (even from my preteens).

Parents teach their children about life. What is something that your child has taught you?
My children have taught me to live life with less worries. As an adult we often absorb so much worry about everything. Kids just want to play, smile and have new exciting experiences. We as adults need to smile more. 

What is one thing you wish you could change about your early days as a parent?
I wish as a new parent I would have taken the time to really take it all in. Having a baby is stressful and you just go through the motions. I honestly wish I remembered more of those firsts. 

What is the best advice about being a mom you have ever received?
The best advice I have gotten was to make a lot of memories with my kids. Kids don’t remember things or toys, they remember going on the trips as special experiences, those are moments that they tell their kids about someday.

Faith Keller, Maumee

How many kids? One child. She turned 2 the end of January (a polar vortex baby!) 

How has COVID impacted your life as a parent in the past year?
How hasn’t it? We lost my grandmother almost two weeks after Christmas due to complications of COVID. I find myself over protective of my child. She has rarely seen the inside of anything but home since COVID started. It’s unfortunate because she is a very social child so we are thankful for our care provider and a group of friends with children. 

What’s something about being a mom that surprises you the most?
How fiercely I love my child! I didn’t realize just how much I would love her. My love for her motivates me in ways that no amount of Pinterest motivational quotes could do.

Parents teach their children about life. What’s something that your child has taught you?
An example of God’s unconditional love! My daughter looks up at me with these eyes of love that I can’t comprehend sometimes! Mamas, your child thinks the world of you! Even in your worst moment. 

What’s one thing you wish you could change about your early days as a parent?
I wish I would have been quicker at finding more parents resources. It’s so great to have multiple diverse communities to glean parenting wisdom from. Especially when we can’t leave our homes as often (covid), it was great to have a community on social media I could turn to. I wish that I would have had that in the first few months of being a mother, especially since my family is 7 hours away in my hometown!

What is the best advice about being a mom you’ve ever received?
Don’t let your mental health suffer because you are too proud. Every mama has something they battle and for some of us, it’s postpartum depression/anxiety. Speak out often, surround yourself with a good support system. Always, always ask for help!