Motherhood comes in a variety of beautiful forms.
In this piece and others, LifeZette is honoring moms of every sort this year — by featuring everyday mothers from many types of families.
They include those with adopted kids, foster kids, biological kids, stepkids, and “children of the heart,” those who defy a category but are considered family.
To start, meet mom Kimberly Laube of Altoona, Iowa.
Her family structure is complex, including a stepchild, an adopted child, and biological children.
But this “structure” doesn’t bar love. To the contrary!
Kimberly Laube and her husband, Brian, are the parents of four children and the grandparents of two more. The Laube family includes Kelsey, 28, who is Kimberly’s stepchild and lives with her own husband, Ryan, and their two young children in Iowa; and three teenagers who are still at home, Laura, 19 (who is adopted), Olivia, 16, and Alex, 14.
In addition to parenting her own four kids, Laube has dedicated her life to ensuring that others have the same opportunity to experience motherhood. She’s been intensely involved in pro-life advocacy and adoption work for 20 years (see her testify before an Iowa Senate subcommittee on the “Heartbeat Bill” in the video right below).
Laube is life ministries director at Lutheran Family Service (LFS), a licensed adoption agency. The night before the 2016 presidential election, the agency and a number of other local pro-life organizations gathered to pray about what they might be able to accomplish if they worked together as a coalition.
Those prayers clearly were heard: Last week, Iowa’s governor Kim Reynolds signed the “Heartbeat Bill,” the toughest pro-life bill in the nation. It bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected (usually around six weeks’ gestation).
Read on for Kimberly Laube’s answers to LifeZette’s mom-focused queries:
Question: What is your Mother’s Day wish?
Answer: I would love to be together as a family to celebrate it! [Her eldest, Kelsey, lives in South Carolina; the rest of the Laube family is in Iowa.]
Q: What is the hardest part of being a mom, to you? And the easiest?
A: Each one of my children is so different. Their needs are different, their minds are different. Learning how to parent each of them is by trial and error. Each has different factors in their lives. What works for one won’t work for the others, so I have to be creative and not rigid.
The easiest part of being a mom? The love I feel for them; there is no effort there. I loved them from our first moments together. Each of them is easy to love.
Q: What makes a good mother?
A: Being there, allowing [kids] to grow and make mistakes, giving advice and encouragement, disciplining when necessary, and training them to make good decisions and treat others well.
Q: In what ways is your family similar to others?
A: There are disagreements in the family, but in the end, each of these kids has the others’ backs.
Q: What would surprise others about families with complex structures (meaning biological, step and adopted children who all might live under the same roof)?
A: Each child has different needs. I don’t worry about treating them all the same, because they simply aren’t all the same. The challenge is knowing what your child needs to be successful — and then making sure you fulfill that need.
“All of a sudden, your youngest child is in high school, in the blink of an eye.”
Q: What surprised you most about parenting?
A: It really does fly by. You hear people say it, but when you are in that first year or two, it seems everything is in slow motion. Then, all of a sudden, your youngest child is in high school, in the blink of an eye.
I had always envisioned being the best grandma ever, but the truth is, I am grandparenting while I am still parenting. It makes it complicated to spoil your grandchildren when you have kids at home watching you!
Q: What is your parenting style?
A: I’ve changed over the years from being pretty strict to becoming more laid back. I guess that is either experience or just exhaustion — not sure which!
Q: What role does spirituality play in your household?
A: A very big role. All four of our children were confirmed in the LCMS [the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod]. They were taught biblical foundations at our home, too. We hope to have modeled for them Christian living, loving others — and that the world does not revolve around them.
We have always hoped for their happiness, but some parents feel their child’s happiness is the only goal. We parent a little differently. Our goal is to make these children good citizens who love the Lord and love their neighbors.
It is not always about their happiness. Happiness will come and go in our lives, but teaching our children how to have joy in their hearts is different.
Q: In what ways has parenting a child with special needs been challenging and rewarding?
A: I never know if I am taking the right path for [Laura, 19, who has a developmental disability], and it is difficult to be the person who is choosing for someone else. It is hard to know when to push and when she has met her limits. She shows us grace every day, thank God, so even when we make mistakes, we know we will be together to try another day.
Q: What is your hope for your kids’ future?
A: My hope is for my children all to know joy and contentment, to love the Lord in all they do, and to serve others always.
Q: What wisdom would you offer to new moms?
A: Love them, teach them, show them — and then let them fly.
Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and regular contributor to LifeZette.