Since knowing this special lady, I’ve always admired her confidence and ease with Mothering and her dynamic partnership with her husband (a former colleague-turned-friend of mine) in raising their beautiful children. Today, Katya transparently shares of her experience with loss and grief, mothering the strong-willed child, and discovering her uniqueness in the midst of pressure to measure up.
How many children do you have? I have 5 children; 3 of them have been raised on this side of eternity, and 2 were born in heaven.
How old are your children? Our first child would have been 15 years old this year; then we had our son, he is 12 now; after him, our daughter was born, she is 10; child number four would have been 7 years old; and finally our youngest entered the world, and now is 5.
Are you a mom of girls, boys, or both? Both.
How do you handle the strong-willed child?
It so happens that we were graced with all 3 strong-willed children. I mean, why wouldn’t we? My husband and I are both very “strong-willed” or fancy for “stubborn”.
In order to teach obedience, I believe when the children are little, a parent must start setting boundaries, and follow through with what they promised in the event of disobedience.
When kids get older it has to be heart to heart. We need to remember two things; 1. We are raising future adults, that when faced with many difficulties, are able to do the right things when no one is watching. 2. Life isn’t always “fair”, but we must take responsibility for our own actions.
As parents, we have to come side by side with them and lead by example, while being honest and vulnerable. Offering our kids sincere apologies for our own shortcomings is a good thing.
Did you ever feel like you lost your identity at any point in your journey? What was that like and how did you regain focus and a sense of purpose?
At one point I found myself very quiet. You see, I am an extrovert and almost equally an introvert, but now I was mostly quiet.
I would just go through the motions of my life, changing my little hats: wife, mommy, teacher, housekeeper, and chef (by the way, I strongly dislike to cook, but we are Ukrainian-Americans and we come from a very rich and healthy food culture so cooking is a given). Also, at this time we were in the leadership of the Children’s Ministry at our church with quite a few responsibilities. I was stuck in this routine and it was slowly suffocating me.
I remember my husband looked at me and said, “I think we need to see a marriage counselor.” That started a very long and very deep conversation. In the process, we discovered that for an artistic person like me, a routine has a very negative effect. In order for me to be “OK”, I need a consistent, one day a week, “Get out my house and go be ME!” day. On that day, I can grab a lawn chair, go to the park to read and talk to God, or go discover some old town nearby. Sometimes, on a cold wintery day, it can simply be me alone in my room painting a picture. I get to do all sorts of things – this time is very special to me and I am jealous for it. It’s my time to be just ME.
In what ways have you compared yourself to other moms or felt pressure to measure up?
I have a short answer to this question:
I stopped going to any playgroups because I found that I would compare myself with other mothers and get overwhelmed thinking, “I am not doing enough.” Then, I discovered that I am unique, and the Lord has blessed me with these children who need me and all that I am. No other mom would have all I have to answer my children’s physical and emotional needs the way I can. I constantly pray for wisdom, and He gives me a lot of grace where I fall short.
How do you deal with fear and worry?
That has been the hardest thing to overcome.
It took me years to combat the spirit of fear (are you surprised it’s just that?! Yep it’s just a spirit that comes against us). I have prayed and the Lord is faithful, he sent me many different resources. Obviously, scripture, but also, I listen to this amazing Dr. Neil T. Anderson “Freedom in Christ” on YouTube. Now I teach my kids how not to be afraid and my 5-year-old will say “Go away fear, Jesus is my Friend!”
For me, worry is more like stress. So, I pray and give it to God and release it to Him. Remember, to fear the Lord because “The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom…”
How have you coped with the loss of a child during pregnancy?
God poured out a lot of grace on both experiences. Each time, the Holy Spirit would speak to my heart, and I felt almost immediately that the baby would not be carried to full term. I am also very thankful for all the love from our closest friends.
Practically speaking, there has to be time to mourn and grieve. In my case, my husband has planned a getaway for just the two of us, about a month after the loss, right before my next expected monthly cycle.
It gave me some room to be what I needed to be in a very private setting, and let me tell you it was a good call, I had my closure, and it was just right.
I am all the more grateful for the women (like Katya) who have chosen to join me on this journey of transparency and support – ESPECIALLY in addition to the life adjustments and loads we are all experiencing in the midst of COVID-19! I can’t thank you enough.
Connection and support are vital to our growth and survival as humans and as Women. I have met many Mothers (myself included at one point) who are going through the trenches and carrying loads solo. This has often led to depression, loneliness, isolation, and such guilt and shame in “not measuring up”.
My prayer is that the women who lay eyes on “Our Lives in Words“, will be encouraged, enlightened, and all the more hopeful.
For the Moms,
This series is for the Moms! In honor of Mothers, this May will be chock-full of real stories of Motherhood from Moms of all ages, in all stages. Join me as I feature different Moms (on a weekly basis) who will so graciously be sharing their life in words.
If you missed yesterday’s feature, catch it here! Stay tuned for more stories of triumph, valleys, and faith.
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3 thoughts on “For the Moms – “Our Life in Words” with Katya Shafagatova”
Powerful words, beautifully written. Thank you for sharing.
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Thank you! I appreciate Katya’s openness!