I'm celebrating Mother's Day all week by dedicating my blog to some extraordinary moms in the blog world! So far, you have met Tia and her daughter Ellie, and Amanda and her daughter Rosie, Lora and her four children, and Abbey and her two kids.
I am finishing off the week with a mother that truly is an inspiration to not only me, but many, many others throughout the country! Meet Shawni and her five incredible children.
Shawni and her husband, Dave, are the parents of Max (14), Elle (13), Grace (10), Claire (8), and Lucy (5). Their youngest daughter was diagnosed with "Bardet-Biedl," a rare genetic syndrome that has caused many health issues, including and most recently, vision deterioration leading to blindness.
I want to know a little about your background. Tell me how your mother influenced you. What did she teach you that you hope to pass on to Max, Elle, Grace, Claire, and Lucy?
My mother influenced me in every way imaginable. From her love of babies and newborns to her adoration of the arts and music, and how she put motherhood on a pedestal. But the most important thing she taught me is to always dwell on the good parts of people, to always put others first and to love others as God would. She is an amazing role model and I strive to be more like her every day so I can pass on some of her amazing attributes to my own children.
When you think of a beautiful woman, what images come to mind? Have any of your daughters had any issues with self-confidence yet? If so, how did you address them? Do they ever talk about skinny/fat people? Pretty/ugly people? How do you react? What sort of things do you tell them to help give them a positive self image?
Our girls are all pretty confident so far, but they are still young. How I hope I can shelter them from the onslaught of media images and worldly views of how women "should" look/be/act, etc. I want so much for my girls to have confidence in their own uniqueness. We strive really hard to help them figure out their talents and push them to be the best they can in their OWN way. One way we do this while they are young is here: www.71toes.com/2010/04/talents.html.
Since we have a range of "sizes" within our family (I worry so much about the heartache Lucy's weight in conjunction with her syndrome could cause), my husband and I try to concentrate on positive comments about how the kids think, and how compassionate they are rather than dwelling on looks. I think that is so important! It's what's on the inside that counts. And we emphasize that on a daily basis.
As far as Max goes, what sort of thing do you and Dave teach him about the image of women? Being a teenager, do you ever hear him or his friends talk about "cute girls"? He seems like such a respectful young man.
We have had numerous talks with Max about girls because he's so at that age right now where it's easy to give the "cutest" girls the attention. We mostly talk about how every girl should be treated with respect and that the nicest girls are not directly correlated with who is the best looking. I don't know how much of what we say is internalized because as a teenager his brain is wrapped up in a lot of other things right now, but hopefully most of it will sink in. Because Max has so many sisters with different personalities hopefully they will prepare him to treat all women with the utmost respect.
Shawni blogs at 71 Toes. Such an inspiration. Thank you, Shawni!
To learn more about Lucy's story, visit The I Love Lucy Project.