It's only fitting that a Sullivan is crying in the background... when I've tried to find time to type this interview out, life or should I say "mothering" takes priority. But truly this is such a unique mom and interview I can't wait to share it. I've known Cheryl Woods through her children and really they speak volumes for the kind of mother she is- her children are all amazing! I think I've mentioned this before but I wanted to pick moms who had children that loved the Lord, loved their siblings and liked being around their parents after growing up. Sounds like a simple enough criteria, right? Well it's been harder then you think to find all three. Without any more rattled from me- here's my latest interview:
1. How would you describe yourself as a mom?
Very practical, but fun. Or at least I try to be fun! I have a super practical side, so sometimes it's a big effort to balance that with fun. I can also be super goofy to the point that... wait a minute... I need to get a little more serious. My goal has been to find balance in the middle.
>>How has your husband balanced you in that?
Charlie is a very steady person. He doesn't get super excited about stuff and very rarely does he get super mad about things either. He is a stability factor that I can gauge my up and down by.
2. When you were first married did you have the same roles or tendencies as you do now?
Yes, actually we used to describe our families like this: visiting my family was like visiting the set of a sit com and visiting Charlies was like visiting the set of a PBS documentary- ha! He has always been steady and responsible. We met while performing around the world in Toy Makers Dream and I say that we never really dated, we just lived on a bus with 30 other people, then got married. We just become really good friends. I was drawn to the fact that he was responsible but fun.
3. How long did you wait before you had kids? Did you always want to have a large family?
We waited about 3 years before having kids and Charlie used to say that he wanted to have 12 kids. I think he was serious, but each time we had a child that number went down by a couple. Then we ended up with 5, I think I knew I always wanted at least 3 or 4.
4. What were your days like when you were first parenting?
Well we lived in Virginia Beach, pretty far away from any family. Charlie was a student in grad school so we didn't have a lot of money. But we lived in student housing with a lot of students who didn't have a lot of money. So I didn't really ever feeling discontent. Because I wasn't comparing myself with people who were in a different situation. Charlie's first teaching job was in Mississippi and we had 4 kids by that time, it was a wonderful little town with a University. He taught there for 2 years and then was offered the Job at Tulsa University. Which was the goal all along, to get back to Tulsa. After a couple of years being back we finished up our family with our 5th child Lydia.
5. What were some things that got your through having 4 little ones close in age?
One of things we did when a new baby was born was to get naps synchronized as quickly as possible. So that there was a little time in the day were everyone was down and I put a sign on the door that said "mom and baby napping" and I think I kept that sign until Lydia was about 6 years old- ha ha. On the weekend, Charlie would take the kids out on Saturdays and since we didn't have any money he would take them to Toy's R Us and they would play. It didn't even occur to them that they could take those toys home and play with them. Charlie was really helpful to make sure I always had a little time each week to have a little space in the house. As far as staying close to the Lord, I had always been a morning quiet time person- but when you are raising little kids it seems like someone is always awake ahead of you or as soon as you sit down. I remember getting frustrated over that but finally coming to the conclusion that well they are just going to have to have quiet time with me!
6. You home schooled your kids when they were young why did you decide to do that?
Well Charlie was still a student when the 3 older boys were starting school and we weren't happy with the public school available to us, we couldn't afford private school. I had known lots of great home- schooling moms and had good examples of that. Susan Newman still to this day is a big influence, they traveled with 4 kids and home schooled on the road. I still find myself saying things Susan would have said or done. She was the opposite of me- steady and even keel.
7. You had 3 boys and then 2 girls, what's some advice for moms out their with both genders?
My girls were never decked out in matching dresses and bows but they weren't tom boys either. I'm pretty sure each girl has worn her brothers hammy downs before. It's just not been a big deal- I'm grateful that my boys have helped their sisters be low drama girls. I would say if you have a house full of girls, make play dates and find friends with boys so they can just play and interact with boys. You don't want them to suddenly become teenagers and not know how to interact with the opposite gender. That's got to be a recipe for drama! The other thing I see with boys is that they get over corrected for just boyish behavior, Dr. James Dobson is great about addressing that. We listened to a great CD series called Preparing for Adolescence, he gave us amazing ideas. One idea he had in that was to differentiate between will defiant behavior and behavior that's just being a kid. Don't over correct because a boy was loud running through the house, a girl on the other hand will not do the physical stuff but in contrast do the attitude. Each one needs correction, the girls attitudes can sometimes be over looked because it's not as obvious.
8. What were some specific characteristics you taught your kids?
We taught them to apologize to each other after offenses. One thing I said a lot to my kids was "Don't let his bad behavior get you in trouble" sometimes they would retaliate or make a bigger deal out of things then it needed to be. Forgiveness was a big deal, when we would spank we would always go to another room privately and then make them go to that sibling and apologize.
...well unfortunately I lost the rest of y interview before I got to type of the rest. Insert tears here :(
I'm going to do a part 2 and summarize the rest of the interview!