May 05, 2016 | Cheryl Rischer
A little over two years ago, Olanikki went from a wife of 13-years with a progressive career and laser-like focus to a beyond exhausted mommy of two. We recently connected to talk about her life as a mom of two adopted children.
Since becoming a mother, what has been the most surprising thing for you about Motherhood?
The most surprising thing for me about motherhood has been discovering that there is another level beyond E-X-H-A-U-S-T-I-O-N. What a SURPRISE! My husband and I were married for thirteen years before adopting our two children. Up until then, we maintained a laser-sharp focus on our lofty life goals. We ran really hard! After our family expanded, my life was turned upside down. There were days that I was so exhausted, I literally couldn’t move.
How has your life changed since you adopted your children?
Everything has changed! It’s extremely difficult to express how much [but] every aspect has been touched. I never thought I’d have to educate myself about so many different things. But, why wouldn’t I have to do so? I was always intently focused on life goals and now I’ve become intentional and deliberate about raising my children.
As an adoptive mom, how have you redefined motherhood?
I give myself grace (daily). I am learning to die to the ‘stinky spirit of perfectionism’. It is extremely difficult. However, I can’t take the pressure of pretending to be perfect in all things, especially motherhood. (It’s just not my truth!) Nor do I want perfectionism to be a part of my children’s DNA. My son and daughter’s story didn’t start with me as their mother--and so I walk alongside them and put my feelings aside and “enter in” to their human hearts. This is how I choose to redefine motherhood as an adoptive mother.
How has your parenting approach changed/evolved since first becoming a mother?
I recognize the need for me to increase the level of nurture I bring to parenting. I’ve mastered the structure part, and I’m learning that my affection, compassion and mercy should match (if not exceed) my rules, limits, and boundaries. Each day is filled with opportunities for me to say yes or no and God has given me the responsibility to say “no” when needed, and the privilege to say “yes” as often as I can. The awesome thing about allowing God to speak to my heart is that He is using me to plant seeds that will reap a good harvest for a lifetime.
Other than your mother, who has been your Mommy 'model'?
Other than my mom and grandmother, I don't know that I can name anyone in particular. I can say, there are women and mothers who inspire me daily. Women who have their own issues, dreams, goals, and crosses to bear; yet they are still doing their thing! I glean from these women. I find courage in what I witness from their life story. I then tuck those nuggets away and pull them out when I need that “super-mommy-only-God-can-give-me-power” courage to dig deeper as a mother. I’ve learned to be a student of motherhood.
Since becoming a mom, what has been the most surprising/awkward thing someone has said to you? (What was your response?)
Honestly, I've had several comments that were awkward and extremely insensitive. I’ve even had a family member innocently ask, “Don’t you and Torrey want to have your own children?” The statement that adoption is not the same as having a child of your own is both remarkably accurate and remarkably wrong. The first part—“not the same as”—is quite true. Adoption and giving birth are two very different ways of creating your family. My response: My son and daughter are my OWN children. And I wouldn’t have my family designed any other way. I am honored to have them call ME mom.
Describe your perfect Mother’s Day.
A luxury suite, at Four Seasons, wearing a plush robe, ordering room service, and resting and relaxing in a heavenly King-sized bed. I only get up to go to the ladies room and to the spa for a massage and facial. Hubby and kiddos are on property exploring while I think of nothing, between dozing in and out of REM. Occasionally, they stop in for a hug and kiss and a quick update before returning to their daddy led adventures. That night, we act silly and cuddle while watching movies, until we fall asleep. We also eat gourmet cupcake(s) in bed to celebrate my special day. This would be my perfect Mother's Day.
How do you share your faith with your children?
Faith, “matters of the heart” (compassion, integrity, generosity, courage, empathy) and academia are the things we focus on (in that order) as we pour into our little people. We participate in things that align with our faith belief, such as being active members in the church, tithing, attending bible study, etc. We also try to be extremely intentional in the "everyday life events" that give us opportunities to integrate our faith and put it into action.
It goes without saying that motherhood can be filled with some unexpected rewards and notable differences. Olanikki’s route to motherhood may look quite different than our own. Nonetheless, she is a mother of two—not by birth, but by love.