Moms in Ministry: An Inside Look Into Motherhood, Part One
We know the numbers. We know the symptoms. What we don’t know are the endless stories tied to the pandemic common thread. Where do our stories intersect? How are they similar? How are we coping?
In honor of Women’s History, we asked four moms from the Columbia Theological Seminary Community, Felicia Thimas (FT), Amy Remaklus (AR) Candace Rowell (CR) and Gina Brown (GB), to reflect on their lives and shed light on the inner workings of motherhood over the last year. This interview is divided into two parts. Read Felicia and Amy’s stories or below.
What does parenting in a pandemic feel like? What’s changed/stayed the same?
Felicia Thimas: It’s a challenge being limited on where my children can go. Before the pandemic, you could say, ‘yea or nay’ to going somewhere based on location, cost and if you had the time. You had the freedom to decide if you wanted to go to a certain place or not.
But now, since there’s a pandemic, there are places that aren’t options at all. You don’t realize how much of a blessing the small things are. Like when you say, ‘let’s go to the movies’ but you cannot because you don’t want to be in a closed-in place, in close quarters with others during a pandemic. I also limit my kids on which friends’ homes they can visit. Some of their friends parents are business owners. They are busy, they travel frequently and are in contact with a lot of people. Some of the other parents work from home and don’t go out often. I have to consider those facts when I allow them to go for visits.
Amy Remaklus: Parenting has been challenging. The kids and I are used to spending a lot of time together (we have been homeschooling for seven years), but we used to take a lot more field trips to interact with others. This year has been consumed by education for the kids and me, grocery relief efforts, and doing “new routines” every couple of weeks to keep it fresh. The “new routines” have been the best thing, though, as they have given us opportunities to try new things – hiking the mountain daily, going for daily walks and runs in the afternoon, starting a twice-weekly online Zumba exercise group for kids, and writing to our friends and grandparents on a weekly basis.
Use 6 words to describe your world (household, profession, virtual school, feelings etc.) over the last 12 months.
FT: Noisy, busy, happy, stressful, challenging and blessed.
AR: Student, mother, wife, minister, grocery and drop-off.
Have you experienced any grief over the last year? If so, how are you dealing with it? On a scale of 1-5, 1 being the least and 5 being the greatest, what would you rate your level of grief?
FT: I actually have not experienced any grief during this pandemic.
AR: I’m dealing with grief by praying a lot, reading my Bible, journaling, crying randomly, hugging my children a lot, talking with my husband, watching movies with my husband, writing letters to my mom, and keeping in touch with others via Zoom. I would rate my level of grief at 3. I mostly grieve the normal routines of going places, worshipping in community, and spending time with the children at my work place.
What advice would you give other women about maintaining their mental, spiritual and physical health right now?
FT: Do not neglect God’s Word. God’s Word never changes, human beings’ thoughts and ideas do. If you cannot physically go to church, watch a service online. Listen to uplifting music. When you need a human for a shoulder to lean on, have a friend or family member outside of your household who you can talk to. One who listens and doesn’t just give unsolicited advice.
Find a television show that you and your family members like and choose one night of the week as family night where you watch together. Try your best to follow a nutritional eating plan, especially if you are working from home.
When the weather got colder and I stopped walking outside. I was in the house eating and sitting a lot. I gained weight and was feeling physically heavy, which resulted in me feeling bad mentally because I didn’t like the way I looked. That’s when I started doing exercise videos and watching what I ate for snacks and mealtimes.
AR: I would advise spending time with God – prayer, Bible reading, journaling, whatever it looks like for you. This time is huge in supporting our spirituality and mental health. God reminds me daily that I’m supported, loved, and in the right place. I need to be reminded of these things regularly. I would also advise moms to get up and move – dance, walk, run, exercise, whatever it is for you. Even if we can’t get in a full workout or a full walk or a full run or whatever, even the “partial” will help our emotional and physical well-being.
I have finally learned this for myself – 10 minutes or 7 minutes or even 5 minutes of exercise is better than nothing, even if that is all I can get in a day. Additionally, I would advise that you wear comfy clothes and tennis shoes on a regular basis, so that you can be ready for anything at any moment. I love having the freedom to run with my kids whenever the opportunity presents itself; help someone with the heavy boxes they are carrying; clean up a messy situation – and not be restricted by my attire. One final piece of advise right now – Hug yourself. You are doing a great job; you are enough; you are loved.
What was the funniest or most embarrassing virtual experience that involved your kids?
FT: I was on a Zoom call and I wasn’t muted. I screamed at my 12-year-old son to, “stop getting in my camera!”
AR: The most embarrassing virtual experience that involved my kids was when my youngest daughter showed up naked for a recording that we wanted to submit for chapel. Needless to say, that recording was rejected.
What do you do for YOU?
FT: Until the weather gets better, I do workout videos at home. Once I can get back outside regularly, and feel comfortable, I’ll hike. I love hiking in the woods.
AR: I read my Bible in the morning and journal. I exercise at home.
What would you say to another woman, mom to mom, seeking parenting advice or assurance?
FT: There’s not one perfect mother in the world! Even Mary went a day without realizing she had left Jesus behind, and didn’t find him until three days later!
We all make mistakes. Do not let another parent judge you because your child was injured on your watch, or you made what others would consider a ‘bad choice’. It’s happened to all of us. Many of us (moms) raise our children based on what we learned growing up (good or bad). If you don’t have another mom friends you can talk to, to share ideas with, try a mom’s group at your church, in your community, or maybe even a Facebook group where you can ask questions or throw around ideas.
AR: Mom to mom, I love my kids, but they drive me crazy some days! I don’t always have it together, and I let my kids know it. Moms, please be honest with yourself, your spouse, and your kids about your good days and bad days, your highs and lows. By opening up about our own emotions, we are teaching our families how to open up about their emotions. We are teaching emotional health and wellness.
Anything else you’d like to add?
FT: Dedicate your children to God. As moms, we are not perfect. We can only do the best we can and be sincere in our hearts about it. We cannot be around our children 24/7.
How would you answer these questions? What responses resonated with you the most? To view more articles like this one, visit the Along the Journey blog here.
Felicia Thimas was born and raised in Los Angeles and has been in Georgia for almost 16 years. She lives in Douglasville with her husband, 14 year old daughter and 12 year old son. She is the Office Coordinator for CTS Enrollment & Student Affairs.
Amy Remaklus is a wife of 12 years; mother of four sweet daughters; a homeschooler for the past seven years; a registered nurse; and children’s ministry coordinator. She’s a third-year dual degree student at Columbia Theological Seminary and is on track for ordination as a PCUSA Minister of Word and Sacrament.