Debran Faddis: On Finding Yourself In and Out of Motherhood
“I’m a seasoned mother with kids preparing to leave the nest, a divorced woman, a newlywed, and a new mom…all at the same time.”
Mom of five Debran Faddis has experienced a motherhood journey that spans so many life experiences. From hearing she wouldn’t be able to have children, to learning she was pregnant at just 20 years old, to recently having a new baby 17 years after the birth of her first daughter, she shares what she’s learned over the last two decades, the pure joy parenting can bring, and the isolation we can all feel as mamas.
Debran, tell us a little about you:
I’m a wife and a mother of five, from ages 17 to one month old! I love being outside, traveling, exploring mountains, rivers, and waterfalls. I’m happiest spending time with my family, drinking coffee on a porch in the mountains, writing, or listening to music, and dreaming about our next adventure.
What was the most unexpected part of your own motherhood journey?
The extreme spectrum of emotions: The overwhelming realization of how deeply I could love another human. I know that’s silly and kinda cliche, but it’s true. I never knew I could be as crazy about anyone as I am about my kids. The deep hurt I could feel when my teens were unkind toward me. How angry I could feel both at my kids and for them. How heartbroken I could be over their hurt and sadness. And so many more emotions too. Every new emotion left me surprised at how deeply I could feel them.
How does Matrescence’s Mission to “mother the mother” resonate with you as a mom?
I did not learn to mother myself for the first 8 or 9 years of my motherhood journey. It wasn’t until I started to learn about personal development that I realized how much I had neglected taking care of myself. In fact, that lack of caring for myself eventually contributed greatly to my divorce.
I’m not talking about self-care with bubble baths and time alone, although I do think that’s valuable when it comes to self care. For me, what I needed to learn and implement looked like learning about myself, setting boundaries with others, teaching other people how I expected to be treated and not allowing myself to be mistreated, even in the most sacred of my relationships. It looked like gaining confidence and realizing that I was valuable and worthy and had something to offer, even without considering my contributions as a wife and mother. It meant learning how to get myself to a place where I was capable of taking care of myself and where I cared about myself and what happened to me. That wasn’t always the case, so it was quite a journey to get there.
In what ways do you feel your path to motherhood was different or unique?
Hmmm…all of it, actually! Growing up, I knew I wanted nothing more than to be a mother. At 18 years old, my doctor told me I’d likely never be able to have children of my own. At 20 years old, I got the surprise of a lifetime when I found out I was pregnant with my first child. I got married, we had three more children, and eventually that marriage ended in divorce.
Fast forward 17 years and I am remarried and just gave birth to my fifth child (my husband’s first). There’s an 11 year age gap between my two youngest children. I love my blended family and what we’re building together, but I don’t often find another family that looks like ours. I’ve felt the pain of believing I wouldn’t be able to be a mother, in the traditional sense. I’ve also gone on to be a mother at a young age. And now, here I am essentially starting over, experiencing being a mother at a much older age.
What is the best thing you learned about parenting and who did you learn it from?
I’m not sure who I learned it from specifically, but I have learned to adjust my perspective as a mother and remind myself that I’m raising adults, not children. And to prioritize character over all else. Raising adults who are kind, considerate, generous, selfless, compassionate, responsible individuals is my ultimate goal.
What has been the most challenging part of being a mom, and how do you manage it?
Seventeen years ago, with my first daughter, I would have said that the hardest part was managing expectations from everyone else. Keeping up with what I “should” be doing as a mom…documenting my child’s every minute and milestone, being the perfect homemaker, looking the part, keeping my kids looking the part, and on and on and on. It was exhausting. For a while, I tried desperately to compete in that arena. Finally, I had the realization that trying to “keep up” only made me a miserable person and robbed me and my kids of a lot of the joy that we should have been experiencing.
Now, I’d say the hardest part is loneliness. I don’t have a single friend who is also in this strange stage of life that I’m in. I’m sending my oldest child off to her last year of high school, and at the same time, rocking my youngest child to sleep a thousand times a day. I’m a seasoned mother with kids preparing to leave the nest, a divorced woman, a newlywed, and a new mom…all at the same time. It can feel very isolating. I’m still trying to figure out how to navigate that, actually. I journal about it. Maybe I’ll blog about it and see if I can find other moms on a similar path. ;)
When someone looks at you as a mom, what do you hope they'll take away about parenting?
I hope they’ll learn to let go of what they think it’s supposed to look like, and just look for the beauty and joy in their unique journey.
Follow Debran here