Shannan never had that deep, burning, maternal instinct. Growing up, she was not one of those who “always wanted to be a mom”. She didn’t particularly love babysitting, and as the youngest of 5 children, did not have a lot of exposure to children. She knew she would have kids and probably thought she would love it, but she did not have any great expectations.
Her first pregnancy at 24 years old was rough. She had to be on an IV 6 weeks in to keep her hydrated. She did not love the pregnancy, but knew it would be worth it. She would have the baby and go back to work. She did not have any idea just how amazing the new stage of her life would be.
She had an instant connection to her firstborn, Hannah. The second they placed her sweet baby in her arms, she started bawling, and looked at her husband Sean, suddenly forgetting all the woes of pregnancy, and said, “I want 15 more!”
As the time approached for her to go back to work, she started having panic attacks just thinking about it. She soon realized that her place was in the home, with her sweet baby.
“I really didn’t think I would love being a mom as much as I do.”
She finds joy in seeing her children happy and watching them apply the things that she has taught them. One day, she was watching her children in the back yard, playing whatever game Devreux, their second child had invented at the moment. As they were playing, Hannah stopped the game and said, “Wait, we have to say a prayer first!”
At that moment, Shannan felt an overwhelming feeling of love. “Hallelujah! We made it!” Her children were learning from her example and teachings, and were experimenting with applying them in their lives. They were applying the things that really mattered and laying a foundation for the times when they would really need these teaching.
“Motherhood to me, is seeing
my kids happy.”
They struggled to get pregnant with their third child. After God finally blessed them with another child after many many heartfelt prayers, she endured another difficult pregnancy. At her 8 week checkup, after giving birth to Charlotte, she found out that she was pregnant yet again with her 4th child, Teddy.
“Teddy has been a light to our lives.
A calm to the storm.”
The timing was not ideal, since her husband had an important position at church as the Elders Quorum president, which demanded a lot of his time. He was also working full time, and studying for his Masters degree. This left her with a lot of time by herself with four children at home. She decided that she needed to be in control of the situation for this to work.
On a particularly difficult day, she was pouring her heart out in prayer, asking for God to help her find time for herself. Very strongly, she felt the words, “Oh Shannan. This is not your time right now. Focus on your children.” The second that she made that mental switch, with God’s guidance, life was wonderful. She is now that happiest when she is focusing on her children.
“This is not a job. This is 100% a blessing. This is something that God has given me!”
This does not mean that she does not neglect her needs. With 4 children at home, she has to make a special effort to take care of herself. She wakes up every day at 5:30, so she can have two hours to herself. She uses this time to exercise, study her scriptures, clean up the house, and get herself ready for the day. She finds this time invaluable for a great day ahead with the kids. When she has taken care of herself, she is ready to take care of others.
“It really is a circus, but this is my life!”
Her amazing body has grown, birthed and fed 4 beautiful babies. Because of health complications, and the natural process of giving birth, she (like every other woman) has found herself getting down on herself because of her body. She has come to the conclusion that she needs to stop doing this because if she doesn’t her daughters will have body image issues. The thought of that breaks her heart. We are not physically created equal.
“I wish women would be happy with who they are instead of what their bodies look like.”
Even with getting as much done as possible before the kids wake up, she often needs reminders of what is really important. Sometimes it will be a reminder to play with the kids instead of finishing the dishes. Sometimes it will be glancing over and seeing the children giggling together after having a hard time getting along. Those are the moments that bring her back to the profound opportunity that she has been given of raising these children.
“Heavenly Father gives you the tender mercies exactly when you need them.”
Story about Shannan Bowman Photos by Michelle Ashworth Photography