The next family I am sharing in my Cherish your Cherubs interview series has a special place in my heart. Through the wonders of the internet we have been able to develop a wonderful friendship. Lisa loves being a Mum, loves photography, going to the gym and recording family memories on her blog. She started her blog a few years ago after her second son Noah was born to record as many memories as possible because he was not going to live very long.
She is so grateful to have those memories recorded as her son Noah and husband Aaron recently passed away within three months of each other. I am delighted that Lisa was willing to share a little about how she now chooses to cherish her family and is moving forward with her life. I hope you enjoy what she has to share...
1. Tell us a little about yourself as a mother.
I have four boys – Jalen is 12, Noah was 10 when he passed away in October last year, Harrison is 7 and Kobe is 4. I always knew I wanted to have kids, but I am not the kind of person to ever get clucky. My dream was to have the perfect family – in my eyes that was two boys and two girls, not necessarily in that order. After our third son Harri was born, we were a little disappointed he wasn’t a girl, and were then very happy to have three boys, and we hoped that our last child would also be a boy. We love having four boys and couldn’t imagine having a girl at all.
Our son Noah had a condition called hydranencephaly which meant he was missing most of his cortex (two sides of the brain) and was severely mentally and physically disabled. He relied on us for everything and was at the stage of a three month old baby, even when he passed away. If I ever imagined being told I would have a child like that I would wonder how I would ever cope, but having Noah was a huge blessing in our lives. It was very hard at times to care for Noah as he had a lot of medical and physical needs, but I feel very blessed that I was able to be his Mum.
When my husband Aaron and I were married we wanted to wait for a little while before having kids, but having a family together was what we were excited about right from the beginning. I knew that once I did have kids, that being a Mum would be my main priority, therefore we made the decision for me to be a SAHM full time once we did have our kids, even though I loved my job as a teacher.
I had my first child when I was 25 years old. Aaron and I had been married for four years before having our first son and we loved that time together, but we then felt it was time to add to our family and loved being parents right from the start. My husband Aaron recently passed away from a suspected heart condition. I’m feel very blessed that I was able to spend so much time with my boys as a SAHM for twelve years, while he supported the family financially, and am so grateful that he supported me and encouraged me in my decision to be a SAHM. I have just gone back to paid work part time this year, and feel like working part time works well with the ages my boys are right now, although I often feel like I never have enough time to do anything.
As a Mum I found having a newborn very hard work. My first two sons were very irritable babies, which I found very stressful. Because I knew no different, I thought that’s just what all babies were like, so when our third son Harri was a lot more settled and slept through the night from three weeks old, I felt like I was in Heaven!
2. What is your favourite part about being a mother?
My favourite part of being a mother is watching my boys grow and develop. I love every stage that they go through. Aaron and I used to have a little joke together because I would always say ‘I love this stage, this is my favourite stage’ at whatever stage the boys were at whether it be three months old, twelve months old, three years old etc. Aaron would always then remind me ‘but you loved it when he was three months old!’ when I would again say ‘this is my favourite stage’ as each boy got older.
It’s exciting to see my boys do different things as they develop. I love Jalen’s age (12) because he is growing up to be a very funny but sensitive young man. I love to just sit and talk to him about life and things that he is experiencing right now. I love that we can talk about things that make us laugh together, like certain TV shows or things we have seen on YouTube.
I love Harri’s age (7) because he’s so enthusiastic about life and everything that it involves. He wants to learn at school and is excited to come home and tell me everything he has done. He also asks hundreds of questions a day (most of the time which I’m not sure of the answers to and tell him to ‘google’ it!) and is so curious about everything.
I love Kobe’s age (4) as he’s just starting to learn things and is really starting to get his own personality. He’s still at that really cute stage where he makes you laugh with things he does and says and is so fun to be around. I always say that I wish I could just stop time right now as I love each stage that my boys are at, but I hope that I can continue saying that as they get older (although I’m starting to wonder if I’ll survive the teenage years!)
3. Who inspires you as a mother?
To be honest there isn’t just one person, who inspires me as a mother but there are a lot of people, and most of them are friends or family. I love watching other mothers with their kids and I notice different things that I think they do well. Observing other Mums, inspires me to change something I think I could improve on, or to continue doing something I think I’m doing well. I wish I could take all the different things that I love about certain mothers and be that person, but I know that’s not possible.
4. Why do you think it is important to cherish your children?
Because everyone should feel loved. It lets them know that they are important as an individual, and hopefully it will help them to develop their self worth. I think being a Mum is a privilege and something that shouldn’t be taken for granted. I made the choice to bring my boys to earth, and therefore I feel like I have a huge responsibility and privilege to not only raise them, but to cherish them always. Having our son Noah taught us that more than anything. We didn’t know how long we would have with him as his condition was life threatening so we cherished every single moment of every day with him. We appreciated the little things and made us cherish our time together as a family, as we knew that we wouldn’t always be together like we were a year ago (we just didn’t realize exactly how different things would be).
5. What do you do to show your children you cherish them?
I try to make time for each of them, even if it’s just a few minutes in the day when I wish I could be doing something else. I often hear myself saying ‘in a minute’ or ‘later on’ or ‘when I’m not busy’ and then regret it later on when I realized that I’ve missed an opportunity to do something with one of my boys that would’ve meant so much to them if I just took some time out to do it. Now if one of my boys says ‘can you come and help me with this’ or ‘come and watch this Mum’ or ‘can you read me a book’ I am trying more to stop what I’m doing and say yes (if possible). Since losing Noah and Aaron it makes me realize even more how precious every moment with our families are, and I don’t want to have any regrets in the future as you never know what may happen. We’ve always been big with our boys in saying ‘I love you’ and showing physical affection. My boys love cuddles and I hope as they get older that doesn’t stop.
6. What do you hope your children feel or learn from you cherishing them?
I just hope my boys know and feel that they are loved as an individual and that they are important. A lot of our time was taken up with caring for our son Noah, but our other boys never complained but I was always aware of how much time they missed out on with us. I always wanted them to know that although we didn’t necessarily get to spend as much time one on one with them as we did with Noah, they were in no way less important or less loved than he was.
7. What is your favourite activity to do with your children and how does it help you to cherish them?
I love doing things with the boys where all of us are able to participate and have fun together, like going to the pool together or playing the Wii together. It’s can sometimes be hard because of the age difference between my boys to do something that everyone loves, but just simple things like mucking around in the pool together or playing a dance game on the Wii is always lots of fun and everyone can get involved. I love just being able to stop everything and just have some fun together. Life is tough, and sometimes I think it’s important to just stop and have fun, just because we can.
8. How do you make time for your children in your schedule?
When our son Noah was still alive we were very aware of how much time we had to spend caring for him, so we made a conscious decision to spend time with the other boys on their own. My husband Aaron and I loved having a ‘date’ with just one of the boys while we arranged a babysitter for the others – even if it was just for an hour.
The dates were nothing special – sometimes they were just going window shopping in the toy aisle at Kmart as they thought about what they wanted for their birthday and grabbing an ice cream on the way home. Other times it was a bit more special and we would go somewhere for dinner, but the boys loved being able to go on a special date with us on their own and talk about it all the time still.
When Noah was alive I felt like most of my time was spent caring for him and now that I’m a single Mum I feel like I have even less time. Because I feel so busy I now try to spend time with them around the activities of the day. For example while Harri is at his swimming lesson, I jump in the pool with Jalen and Kobe and we have a play together in the pool while we are waiting for Harri, and Harri joins us after his lesson is over. It’s a time when we could just be wasting time sitting on the side of the pool, but instead we use it as a time to have some fun together after school (even though half the time I actually wish I was sitting on the side of the pool!) If it’s a busy day the boys may just sit up at the bench while I’m cooking dinner, so we can chat about their day, or I love just chatting to the boys in the car while we are driving as it’s a place we are uninterrupted and I have their whole focus, and they have mine.
9. How does it make you feel as a mother when you know you are cherishing your children?
I know I’m always happier when I’m cherishing my boys. I know that when other things that I love doing, start taking over my life more (like photography or going to the gym) I feel very stressed and unhappy because I’m so torn between things. When I recognize that my life is out of balance and I cut things back so I can focus more on cherishing my boys, then things at home are much happier for everyone. It doesn’t mean that I have to give up the things that I love, but it just means that I have to shift the balance of things for a little while.
10. What advice would you give to other Mums about cherishing children?
Don’t put yourself down and don’t compare yourself to others. It’s so easy to compare yourself to other Mums, and think you could be so much better than you are. Being a Mum is the hardest but best job ever, and no one can be the perfect Mum.
I’m constantly wishing that I was better at things. I wish I baked homemade treats to put in the boys lunch boxes for school, but half the time I’ve ran out of fruit for them to take to school! I always think I should be taking them to more activities after school, and wonder whether I’m letting my boys do enough or too much.
I often look at other Mums (especially on blogs) and wish I was more like them. Instead I try to remind myself that no one is the perfect Mum, even if they seem that way on their blog or in public. I am trying to be the best Mum that I can be for my boys right now and I think that’s what is most important.
There were times in my life when I had more time to do certain with them, but right now all they need is lots of love. As a family we have been through a lot of trauma with Noah and Aaron passing away and all my boys need right now is love, hugs, reassurance and understanding and hopefully I am giving them that, it doesn’t matter if they don’t get homemade treats in their lunchboxes.
I also think it’s important to believe in yourself. You know your children better than anyone else and you should trust your instincts. With my own boys I have had a lot of advice about what I should or shouldn’t be doing since Noah and Aaron passed away. I have learnt to trust myself and to do what I believe is right for my boys and that has been the best thing I could’ve done. I don’t think that cherishing your children is necessarily about spending more time with them (because not everyone is blessed with a lot of time) but more about what you do with the time that you do have.
Thanks so much Lisa! You can also read more about Lisa's journey on her blog: www.lisajking.blogspot.com