Welcome back! I’m excited to continue the Mama Spotlight series this fall. I will be highlighting more great moms over the coming weeks so I hope you will continue to follow along!
Today, the spotlight is on my college friend Cierra. I met Cierra the summer before freshman year when we were both participants in a summer college prep program at IU. I don’t remember exactly how we met, but we lived in the same dorm, a few rooms away from each other. Cierra was one of my closets friends during college. Now, Cierra is a mom to a baby boy of her own and bonus mom to three other kiddos. I’m sure you’ll enjoy her thoughts on motherhood!
Tell me about yourself. Who are you? What do you do? How many children do you have?
I am Cierra Dirroh (soon to be Golder-been hard to change my name during the pandemic). I am currently a Special Education Teacher for a charter school that serves only students with a primary diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. I am a first time mommy to our baby boy (Caysen) who was born July 18, 2020 at 5:27 am! Additionally, I have 3 bonus babies (Cyrus, 12; Glenndon, 10; & Celajah, 8;) who I gained from marrying their dad.
How do you define motherhood?
To me it means putting the needs of others in front of yours. Embracing the strengths you didn’t know you had. It’s about sacrificing yourself in order for your child’s needs to be met and loving them unconditionally from the first hearing of their heartbeat.
What was it like to be pregnant in the middle of a pandemic?
At times, I felt alone. Though I was not actually alone, I felt this way because for a lot of appointments my husband could not join me. I would often think to myself, this is not how I saw my first pregnancy going. Due to this, I recorded a lot (especially Caysen’s heartbeat) during those appointments. Towards the end, I was able to FaceTime my husband. I was so grateful that the pandemic did not stop him from being in the delivery room with me as I feel I could not have done it without his support.
Describe the stage of motherhood you are currently in.
Currently, I’m a brand new mommy to our one month old. I am a bonus mommy to our growing elementary age children (2 kiddos) & navigating preteen years with our oldest who just started middle school.
What do you enjoy most about this stage?
I enjoy learning at all the different stages how to be the mom that each kid needs individually while also finding my own niche with our littlest guy.
What is most challenging about this stage?
The most challenging thing has been navigating through all the different ages. And remembering to make everyone feel included and special even with a new baby in the mix.
What kind of things do you do to make each child feel special?
With a new baby (and my first baby), I have to consider how this makes the older children feel. Yes, they are over the moon with excitement of Caysen finally being here, but the feelings no one talks about come into play too. Those feelings of envy, not feeling as loved, etc. can stem from all the gifts the baby receives, the visitors that come to see the baby (even though they are excited to see us all, most visitors are coming to meet the newest member of our family) and I hadn’t considered how that would affect the older children.
With that being said, it’s important to remind the older children just how loved they still are. We make them feel special by spending time doing activities they enjoy but doing them as a family. For instance, bike riding (though Caysen can’t ride a bike) we take advantage of all the children loving to be outside and Caysen gets to ride in his stroller while the older ones race on bikes. This is just one example of how we consider what the older babies like while taking advantage of making it family time and creating more memories as a family and not just focused on the baby.
What does self-care look like for you right now?
Self-care currently has been long showers when my husband has the baby or all the kiddos (during our days and weekends with them). Additionally, I will finally have a girls day this coming week to just go relax, get manicures and pedicures. I also take advantage when my husband or one of the older kids have the baby, and I read (the Bible, devotionals, learning about Caysen’s weekly milestones, etc).
What has had the greatest influence on you as a parent or your parenting style?
My faith in God, the Bible and my upbringing (being raised by my mom and Grammy).
I have fond memories of you mom and grandma. Can you share one lesson you learned from them that helps you parent your kids now?
One lesson I learned from my mom has been to have dinner each night as a family. She made sure we did this every night including when I was in high school and home from college. As a Mommy and Bonus Mommy, this is one of my favorite things to do with our family. It is a time to check in with everyone, share stories, tell jokes, and just enjoy a meal with the ones you love.
One lesson I have learned from my Grammy…she encouraged you to embrace your gifts, but she also made sure you had a safe place to share your feelings (no matter the topic). As a Mommy & Bonus Mommy, I hone in on each individual child and help them to embrace the things they enjoy and help them to expand on it. For instance, our oldest (Cyrus) loves drawing and we have discussed graphic design and showed him how he could make a career out of this. Our second oldest son (Glenndon) loves reading the Bible and understanding it in a way that he can apply it to his life. We have recently showed him how to download the Bible app on his phone and how to find devotionals based on what he would like to learn about. Our only daughter (Celajah) has a HUGE imagination. She recently pretended she was on a boat (the boat was a laundry basket and her paddles were parts of our broom). We encouraged her by joining in the fun with comments like “there’s a whale;” “watch out you see the shark ahead;” and making sure she had the necessities in her luggage for travel. Last, but certainly not least, our youngest son & my first born (Caysen) is so alert and loves to attempt to talk and has recently found his tongue. We encourage the baby babble by talking with him and making similar sounds back. Those conversations have lasted about 10-30 minutes (depending how much he has to say lol. It’s the cutest thing). With his tongue, we stick ours out to see if he will mimic what we are doing and he does just that and then gives a huge smile or small chuckle.
Where do you find support as a mom?
I find a lot of support has come from God (prayers and giving it to him daily), my husband, my mom, my family and friends who have children. The outpouring of love and just genuine check-ins on me and Caysen have been greatly appreciated!
Tell me the most important thing(s) you hope to pass on to your children.
Faith in God. I pray that our children are able to seek God for themselves and have a relationship with him outside of our instruction and examples.
What’s one thing you have learned as a mom that you would tell your pre-kid self?
That is perfectly fine to ask for help. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, in fact it makes us better mamas!
What’s one piece of advice you want to share with other moms?
Be patient with yourself and it’s okay to not know everything. As prepared as I thought I was there are still things that I’m learning along the way.