Story and Photos by Danielle Debley
“I always wanted to be a mom. I wasn’t sure about anything else, but I always knew I wanted to be a mom,” says Heidi Hanes, local mother of six. “I never knew I would have so many children though!” she joyfully adds.
Before motherhood graced her life, Hanes was a fifth grade science teacher in Middletown.
“I’m a fifth generation teacher in my family. When I was growing up, I knew one thing I didn’t want to be was a teacher. But lo-and-behold, I went to college and started off as a sports medicine major but switched over to education and it ended up being a good fit,” says Hanes.
After three years of teaching, knowing she wanted to be a stay at home mom once the time came, she took maternity leave and began raising a family. “My mom and dad always stressed to me the importance of staying home with my kids when they were young. They made a lot of sacrifices when I was growing up so my mom could stay home, so I always knew I wanted to do that as well,” Hanes states.
Hanes became a full-time stay at home mom and now takes joy in homeschooling her growing family. When discussing motherhood, I wanted to find out some of the joys and struggles that come with. Here is what she had to say:
“There are so many joyful moments when you’re a mom, and there are equally those frustrating and hard moments. But no one knows me like my kids know me. They love you even when they know all your good and bad. You just have those moments when you look into their eyes and…it’s joy. It’s the best.”
“I think letting go of the perfection you expect of yourself and understanding that you can’t do it all perfectly is a big challenge. I remember reading that you set your priorities in what’s important, and then don’t apologize when other things aren’t perfect; see it as a conscious choice of choosing what you feel is most important to you. That was huge to me because in my mind, I wanted the house to be perfect and clean, the bathroom to be perfect, and toys not to be exploding everywhere. But at some point, you have to choose that other things will be more important, and not see that as a shortcoming but as that conscious choice.”
Advice for Moms
“I think it’s important to have time to yourself. I’ve been very blessed with my husband and my parents being on board with this and helping out to make sure I have time off. After, you come back and are refreshed and ready to pour yourself out again,” says Hanes.
“I remember reading the quote ‘the days are long but the years are short.’ Understand that your time with your kids is limited, it’s going to end. The days are long and it can feel like a burden sometimes, but knowing that this is a privilege, ultimately, to have these children in my care, that God has entrusted them to me for this time, really puts things in perspective.”
Mother’s Day Fun
“My kids like to give coupons. My husband, Ryan, will help them with that, and I love it. It’s funny to see how some kids will do a beautiful picture and a few coupons, and then I have other kids who will just have very basic but really good coupons. You know, loads of laundry done, coffee made for me, just really good ones,” Hanes exclaims. “Some are no frills but hard workers and others write very sweet words, which gets me, too.”
Adoption & Foster Care
While the Hanes have five biological children, their sixth and newest addition to the family is nine-year-old Alyssia.
“Adoption was something that had been on both Ryan and my’s hearts for many years. I was pregnant with number three and I remember proclaiming to people that this was going to be my last baby because I felt so strongly we were going to adopt,” Hanes recalls. “I felt that this was what God had for us, but He had different plans. We had two more babies pretty quickly after that and all that time I still felt that adoption was part of our story. Ryan was always open, but he didn’t feel like this was the right time, so I let it go for a while and kept praying, feeling confident that God wouldn’t place this on my heart for no reason.”
“One day, Ryan came to me out of the blue and said, ‘I think we should look into adoption’ and I was just so overjoyed. After that point, we began the process through Diakon. They do foster care and adoption, and we always knew we wanted to do this through foster care,” says Hanes.
From the summer of 2015, it was a year long process until Alyssia came into their home, and another year until she was adopted.
“I see now how God really orchestrated the whole process. She truly has a place in our family. Even the timing of when I said during my third pregnancy that it would be our last, that was around the time that Alyssia was conceived. So looking back on it know, seeing how God weaved our stories together is really amazing,” Hanes says.
What We Love About Mom
The six little ones had a few things to say about their mom.
Abby: “I like that mom lets us do gymnastics and after our special dates get a snack.”
Alyssia: “I like being homeschooled and getting to do more activities with her.”
Asher: “Whenever I have problems, I can go to her because I know she cares.”
Jeremiah: “One of my favorite memories of my mom is when we went to the beach and got to hang out at the amusement park.”
Jonah: “I love that our mom takes us to church every Sunday.”
Levi: “She’s always there if I need help with anything.”