Totum Mum Crush: Sandra
I am Sandra--I only go by one name now (there's a story behind that as well). I live in Northern New Jersey and am a Chef by trade. Former dance teacher, mother of five incredible humans and grandmother to three amazing grand babies. I believe that part of my purpose here is to encourage, nurture and guide everyone who crosses my path using my life experiences, pulling from my inner faith and strength. I value personal time more than material wealth or "things" but family time and communication are as essential to me as breathing.
My favorite quote is "Your life is what YOU say it is!" I'm a firm believer that you can actually SPEAK things into existence and that no matter what happens in your life, if you stay focused on the good parts of it, you'll be okay! I SURVIVED!!
For you, what has been the biggest surprise about becoming a mother?
Although my children are all grown up now, the biggest surprise about becoming a Mom for me was the discovery that I could survive motherhood and tell my children (particularly my daughters) the story of my experiences to apply to their journey with their own children. I learned patience (sometimes more than I thought I had) innocence, pure joy, kindness and commitment. The ability of the child to teach YOU is amazing because they do it without even being aware YOU'RE the student!
What highs and lows did you experience as you transitioned to motherhood? Were they related to a specific experience like recovery, breastfeeding, sleep, or the question of working outside the home?
As a single Mom, I did not have guidance or instruction from other women to apply to my expectations of what motherhood really entailed. It was literally hands-on learning and baptism by fire. I gave birth to them all naturally (no epidurals!) and breast fed each one, instinctively. Not only did it felt so natural, truthfully I really didn't have the resources to provide food across the board. It made sense to me that if I could at least eat enough to sustain myself, I would be able to feed and provide for all my children. Working outside of the home was only an issue for me because I didn't want to be apart from them --ever! I once gave up a full time, good paying job with benefits for a part-time job outside of my career path so that I could be there for them when they needed me--I felt this was super important since I was the only parent in their lives at the time.
As you faced the enormous changes in your life after giving birth - physically, emotionally, added responsibilities and lifestyle shifts - in what areas did you feel supported? And where/how would you have liked more support?
I really did not have support at all. Everything changed for me! I didn't sleep when they slept because that was my time to bathe or shower, prepare food or do chores. I didn't go out to socialize or hand my children off to someone every weekend. I dug myself into work so they would be taken care of and at least have the basics. I didn't want to rely on the system and it was really, really hard at times. I lived in shelters with them and saved every penny that I could to keep moving toward a better life. I certainly would have loved to have more support from my family and those I thought were friends. I don't have any regrets however, I feel the experience gave me the wisdom to empower other single parents who may feel hopeless and alone.
What has motherhood meant for your relationship with your partner and/or your other significant relationships?
I currently don't have a partner but I feel those who are my friends acknowledge and respect the strength and wisdom I have as a mother of five children. Every now and then they remind me of that strength and so do my children--their relationship is and will always be the one I cherish the most because when I see them, its a reflection of something I've done thats okay with the world.
Did your central values change or shift in some way that you'd like to share?
I've always opened my heart and my home to my children as well as those not my own. The lack of parenting and nurturing that I grew up with, the environment of dysfunction and the abuse was something I never wanted to see in the life of ANY child. I don't believe my central values have changed. I think that any time a person changes their core values, it takes away from the experience and causes regret and guilt. There was however, a definitive shift into becoming a place of peace and safety for any child to come in and be nurtured. Whether it was my heart, my home or the kitchen table, the trials and joys of Motherhood truly outlined my purpose.
Totum Mum Crush
Totum Women is excited to feature some moms who inspire us in a series called "Mum Crush." Listen, though: every woman finds her own path as a mother, so our hope is that these women uplift and inspire. We know that sometimes features like these can lead to some comparison thinking that hurts more than helps, so we choose women who exemplify our brand values of being real and whole in their approach to womanhood and motherhood. Women who make us feel stronger because they're full of love and keep it real.