We inadvertently become researchers of life and motherhood when we study our own as well as other mothers’ experiences and journeys.
This is the concept behind our monthly Faces of Mothers’ Center series featuring interviews with different Mothers’ Center members across the nation.
Today we are excited to introduce you to Jan deQuillfeldt, a longtime Mothers’ Center member who now continues to support the NAMC as a group facilitator and the Coordinator of the NAMC Library Programs (a Mothers’ Center program in partnership with the Family Place Libraries in and around Nassau and Suffolk Counties in New York).
Jan joined the Massapequa Mothers’ Center in 1990 when her daughter was just 6 months old and years later is still a firm believer in the power of a Mothers’ Center and its support. Today we are sitting down with Jan as she shares a little about herself as a person, as a parent and as a friend…
Q: What 3 words do you think best describe you and why?
A: Student. Sensitive. Nurturer. (If I am being honest, I’d probably include overly analytical and insecure… but for now I’ll go with the 1st three.)
To find my place in the world I’ve become a student to the depths of possibility found in books, words of inspiring teachers, and life experiences.
I am sensitive sometimes to a fault… I love feeling things intensely, being creative, and thinking outside the box. On the flip side, I spend a lot of time calming down my reactive nervous system. (I often find myself telling critics “just because I am emotional and expressive, doesn’t mean I lack stamina and grit.”)
As a nurturer I do my best work when I’m helping people communicate better, connect with each other, and see their own possibilities for change and growth.
Q: What are some of your personal passions, hobbies, and interests?
A: When you live on Long Island, you get the best of two worlds—the beach and New York City. I love swimming in the ocean (it’s the right amount of scary and soothing), and I love planning fun trips to NYC. With that said, often some of my best trips into the city have been when things don’t go according to plan, and I find myself in the strangest hotel OR discover a talented dance troupe OR even get scolded at the museum for “touching the works of art.”
I also enjoy being a psychotherapist—there is nothing like walking with a person as she finds her way from pain to hope (and maybe even change). Additionally, church is a blessing which becomes my constant reminder to be humble, to be grateful and to realize I am a part of the bigger picture.
Q: Do you think your views of motherhood were unrealistic before you had children?
A: I had this idea that having children would mean I could no longer be self-centered (which terrified me, so I took quite a while to get ready). I knew I had a lot of love to give. I knew that motherhood would be demanding and time-consuming. What surprised me was that the reality of motherhood was even more than I imagined—more love, more demands and hardly self-centered.
“… the reality of motherhood
was even more than I imagined
— more love, more demands
and hardly self-centered.”
Q: What is one of your favorite memories as a parent?
A: I was sitting in a rocking chair with my daughter (an infant at the time) after one of her early morning feedings. It was a peaceful, starlit night. Her tiny body was snuggled next to mine and I remember thinking, “It doesn’t get better than this.”
Q: What is one of your biggest challenges as a parent?
A: My biggest challenge is my son (currently age 20). He is intelligent, creative, and funny. I want to support him to be the person he is supposed to be, which (right now) happens to be a nonconformist musician with a GED. Of course I want him to go to college and have job security. Letting go of my anxiety about his future and loving him in the present is my constant prayer.
Q: Friendship is a powerful support. How have your friends impacted you as a mother?
A: Even before I was a mom, my friends and I enjoyed talking about our relationships, struggles, successes and dreams. This perhaps became even more crucial after becoming a Mom. These days many of my conversations with friends center on how we are balancing our family lives and our own goals. Friendship is important to me because I feel my friends know me best—not just as a wife and mother, but also as a poet and philosopher.
My friend Colleen has proven to be one of my strongest supports and confidant for years. She is patient with my long discourses and her responses are short, to the point, and keep me smiling. More specifically, I will always be grateful for the hours Colleen has opened her house to my son (her son and my son are good friends). Colleen is one of the few people who genuinely accepts my son. She single-handedly has eased my life with my son by her warmth, energy and love.
Thank you Jan deQuillfeldt, for your honest responses to our questions and for sharing your feelings, family and friendships here with us on Mothers Central.
Leave a Comment: Please help us give a warm welcome to Jan. Do you relate with any of her struggles and successes in motherhood? Let us know in the comments section below!