I am fortunate to have quite a few awesome mothers in my circle so it was quite difficult to choose among them for the first interview. After considerable deliberation, I chose a veteran mom that I believe can be an inspiration to both new and experienced moms in more ways than one. She readily admits she still doesn’t have all the answers but it’s clear that she has found what works for her family and most importantly her sanity.Name: Shanika Henderson Age: 36 years old Occupation: Teacher Love: Married to Justin (13 years!!) Little People: Mia 16; Shane 12; Cori 11; Niko 5 Location: North Carolina by way of New Jersey
Go Big or Go Home
By 2014 standards you have a big family. Was that always the plan? Well we originally wanted at least five or six kids but it gets pretty expensive…especially in New Jersey. We have a lot more room since we relocated to North Carolina so we actually considered trying for another but then we thought about starting over…and the money. Our oldest will be off to college next year and to have one leave the house to bring another one in just didn’t make much sense for us. College?!? How are you feeling about this transition? Yea. She is a year ahead age wise but this is her senior year. I hadn’t been nervous until recently when she started visiting schools. My daughter is the type that texts me constantly when she is away. I have a feeling this may be difficult for her and that makes me more nervous.
Back to School
Speaking of college you recently earned a Master’s degree. What made you go back? Yes. In 2012 I received a Masters in Special Education. It was a two-year program but it took me 2.5years. There was one semester they didn’t offer any of the courses I needed so I had a slight delay. I had a friend who had a child with a disability and I observed how difficult it was for them to fight with the school system. I thought it may be an area that I could make a real difference so I went for it. Being a mom and wife is already tough. How did you manage? I was pretty much on autopilot the entire time. I had a strict study schedule. On Sunday and Wednesdays I would put on my headphones, shut the door and study. My family (especially Justin) were very supportive. Eventually they figured out if the headphones were on I didn’t want to be disturbed unless it was an emergency. Whatever you need, figure it out on your own. What advice do you have for other moms wanting to start or return to school? I would encourage all moms to do it. It can be done. You may not have a social life but it’s all temporary. It’s worth it!
Girls vs. Boys
How is it raising girls as opposed to boys? Let me tell you boys are MUCH easier. They are so laid back. It’s whatever. The girls…the girls have so much sass and attitude. Everything has to be a particular way. At least in my house that’s how it is. When people tell me “oh I’m having a girl” I want to say I feel sorry for them. (laughs). No but seriously I do. Girls are much more work.
New Mom Anxiety
Being a new mom you’re filled with so many worries and fears. Is there anything you look back on and wish you had skipped all the worrying about? It used to be a big deal to compare your kids development with other people’s kids. There is a little competition there. When will my child crawl, walk, talk? Are they reaching milestones like the book said they would. In the end you won’t remember any of it. You don’t even think about that. It’s gonna happen when it happens. It’s just not that big of a deal in the grand scheme.
What have you learned being a mommy? I’ve learned so much as a parent about myself. But I believe the most important thing has been how to love someone else. This became abundantly clear after I had my second child. I would often wonder how I would love another as much as I loved my first. The truth is the way you feel about one person doesn’t and shouldn’t affect the way you love someone else. I try to teach my children that as well. Love has no limits. Your relationship with one person does not have to threaten or impact what you have with another person.
The “ME” in Mommy
How do you manage to find time for yourself? Or are you still figuring that out? *laughing* Well now that my children are older they understand boundaries. They know if my door is closed they should only knock if it’s urgent. I will also admit I am a home body. I don’t go out. A half an hour each evening in my room gives me some time alone. Also my commute to and from work…I usually drive in silence. No music at all. The silence allows me to take a mental vacation from whatever may be going on.
Mommy Knows Best
This is something I’ve been saying more and more lately. What does this phrase mean to you? Well I believe all kids are different. During pregnancy and once you have children you will receive A LOT of advice. But you know more about your child than someone else does. So you can and should consider other input but whatever you decide YOU have to be able to live with the benefits or consequences. Always think about your circumstances and what you are comfortable with doing or not doing. You know your child(ren) best. Speaking of unsolicited advice…where do you stand on the great cereal debate? This seems to always spark great dialogue. Personally, I gave all four of my children cereal when they were old enough. I definitely am pro-cereal!
Totally random but we gotta give the people what they want. Did you have all vaginal births, c-sections or what? All four were vaginal births WITH an epidural every single time! And what about breastfeeding? All four I started off breastfeeding. But we eventually supplemented with the bottle.