No one is able to tell you where you will be tomorrow or a year from now. We can all envision our lives and journeys, but there will no doubt be obstacles we need to overcome. Recognizing we are in these challenging moments, and actively working to change our realities, is truly one of the most inspiring and life changing moments for us. It is easy to give up. It is hard to not accept each challenge as a permanent situation, and fight to make a change.
Danielle’s journey is a story about building yourself from the very ground up. She found love and lost love. She made difficult sacrifices for her son. She had nothing, and pushed herself to accomplish so much, and buy her first home. She is on bed rest with her high risk pregnancy, yet started her own business. With every challenge, she pushed herself to improve and accomplish more. She refuses to give up with her goals, and is a constant role model to her family.
Please meet Danielle, a mother with incredible perseverance and passion for her family and life.
1- Tell us a little bit about yourself? Where are you from, how many children do you have, and how old are they?
I currently live in a little hole in the road called Minturn, AR. My roots go back to Dexter, MO. I have lived ALL OVER the place! MI, TN, multiple places in MO & AR.
I was a single mom for 13 years and met my current husband on the internet almost 4 years ago. We had a rough road getting there, but we will be married a year in July. I have an almost 15 year old son, a 10 1/2 year old son, and a 5 1/2 year old bonus boy(stepson). I am also 20 weeks pregnant with our baby girl, due in September.
2- What was your journey like as a single mother?
It was very scary at first, I was 21 with a 14 month old baby, no job, no college degree. I got married at 19 and devoted myself to being a wife and then a mommy. When my marriage fell apart, I felt like I had lost everything. I was blessed to have an amazing support system. I put myself through the Education program at SEMO with the help of that support system. I worked my tail off to be the best I could for my son. I was a year out from graduation when I reunited with my first love, the one before my ex husband. I was stupid and believed he would love me. I got pregnant and in December of 2009 I was blessed with son number 2. It was hard work, but again, I was so lucky to have that support system.
I graduated with a B.S. in Elementary Ed & Early Childhood Ed. I worked at a BBQ place, and then as a companion aide in SPED for a year before I landed my first teaching job. Being a single mom, means a lot of sacrifice and hard work. I had dreamed of being a wife and mommy my entire life. My journey was not easy, but my kids and my support system got me through. God got me through. I spent several years on food stamps, that was hard, that required a lot of overcoming pride!
I NEVER thought I would be one to accept government assistance. WIC, Food Stamps, Medicaid, Childcare Assistance…those things are all there to help single moms like I was to get back on our feet. It took me a while to believe that and not be ashamed. We lived in government housing, we accepted “handouts”. Not because I was not working hard, but because I was busting my tail to get to a point where I could be the one helping others. I got there, I spent 7 years in a classroom, earning a salary. Bought my own home, supported my boys. Stood on my own two feet. It was worth all the tears, and sleepless nights!
3- Tell us about your oldest son.
He was diagnosed with ADHD in 1st Grade. He was always very smart, smarter than his years. Very grown up, big vocabulary, and athletic. His birthday is July 29, and the Kindergarten cut off was August 2. I chose to start him in Kindergarten AGAINST my families advice. Academically he did fine until 3rd Grade. Everything became a struggle then. He was always less mature than his peers and it only worsened as he entered Middle School. He was later diagnosed with severe anxiety and failure to cope. He was eventually treated for Depression and OCD. He spiraled out of control 2 years ago.
He struggled and he needed help that I could not give him, so I made one of the most difficult decisions as a mom I had ever made, and I sent him to live elsewhere so he could get help and go on to live a successful life. Everything is a struggle for my son! He does his best, but easily gets discouraged and gives up. However, he is growing into a fine young man. I am so proud of the growth he has shown in the past 2 years and especially during this pandemic. He is a freshman in High School. He is as big as me. He loves so deeply, even though he struggles to show affection. He feels all of his feelings to the fullest. When he is angry, we all know it. He is getting better every single day though, and I believe in him and I believe he will be a successful young man.
4- How are you coping with him being away during this pandemic? Where do you find your strength?
Up until COVID-19, I saw my son twice a month, most months. Once for an family event on a Saturday, and once for a day or weekend visit. I have not seen him since the first weekend of March. Not even for our baby gender reveal celebration. Honestly, I am not coping very well. I am hurt and sad, and I miss my boy. I will celebrate Mother’s Day without him for the first time ever this year. I guess the only reason I am making it is because I get to talk to him for a whopping 10 minutes every Tuesday. That 10 minutes gets me through to the next week. I hang on to every single word he says, and he is a man of few words when it comes to our phone calls. I am doing my best to draw strength from God, and from my family. I just need to wrap my arms around him, smell him, laugh with him, and just be near him.
5- How is your pregnancy going? Tell us about your high risk journey?
I went to the doctor January 13 because I thought I was sick. I found out I was pregnant. We had been trying since August with no luck, we were shocked! Excited, but shocked. The day before my first prenatal appointment I wound up in the ER with bleeding and cramping. After several weeks of this I found out I have SEVERAL measurable fibroids and a cyst, putting me at high risk of losing the baby or preterm labor, or other complications.
My doctor put me on bed rest. This was hard because I was just subbing at the school, so I lost my income completely. Two days later schools shut down, so it would have happened anyway. I was scared, as my doctor said even putting me on bed rest he could not guarantee a good outcome. This is our last baby, we are too old for this and we already have 3. We want this baby, she is already a part of our family. I already had risk factors playing against me: advanced maternal age ( I am only 35), history of preeclampsia, high blood pressure, and overweight. I was a scheduled c-section with both of my boys, the oldest because of preeclampsia, and the second was just a repeat c-section. He had other plans, and my water broke a month early.
I have battled high blood pressure for the past 3 years. I started having heart palpitations in the first trimester and was referred to a cardiologist. At my last visit I was referred to a High Risk Specialist. I have made it to 20 weeks and the bleeding has stopped. The cramping, pains, and swelling have not. I am having terrible braxton hicks contractions already. The babies heart rate has been great at all appointments though. So we praise God for that.
6- What’s it like being married to a farmer!? What was your life like before? Has it changed much?
I sold my home and moved to a place where the only people around me are strangers and his family. It has been a HUGE change. The term Farm Widow rings true to me now, as there are certain times of the year that I see my husband maybe 30 minutes in the morning, and long enough to make sure he eats at night before we fall asleep. I spend a lot of time going to the farm to take the boys to see him. It is messy! Oh so messy & stinky! Mud, grease, and rice in my house is just normal now. If someone has tips on how to handle the smell in my mud room I would gladly take it. It means my honey-do list takes back burner most of the time. It means sometimes our yard looks like a jungle because no one is around to mow it. It means sometimes I am cooking supper at 9 or 10 at night.
I was a single mom to 2 very active boys, so the messy floors and big appetites, and late nights aren’t a lot different. I mean, during baseball or basketball season we would often eat concession stand food for supper, and fall into bed after 10 pm just to get up and do it all over again the next day. It was just us though, I didn’t have to coordinate schedules or worry about certain things.
I also didn’t have anyone to help on the off season. There is NO one here in the winter to clean the house while I work. NO one to stay with the kids while I run errands. No one in the house to help when I was too tired or didn’t feel good. I mowed the yard, so if it didn’t get mowed it was because I was falling down on the job. I took care of it all before, I have a helper, sometimes, now.
In some ways things have changed, in others they have not. We just take it as it comes.
7- Can you share more details about Dani’s Delight and your blog Mama Dani’s Daily Chaos? What was your motivation to start these businesses?
Dani’s Delights came about when my husband tried my homemade cookies and said “you should sell these, you could get rich!”. At first I just thought he was being nice, but my middle boy said the same thing. I have always wanted to open a little country cafe or diner, but that is not financially feasible at this point and never has been. I decided when we have our baby, I want to be a work from home mom, I just didn’t know what to do or where to start.
I have tried different things, but my passion is baking & cooking and serving other people. Dani’s Delights was born from that passion. It is just getting started and being on bedrest slows things down, a lot. I get what I can done when I feel like it. Dani’s Delights is mostly about my cookies and baking, but I hope to grow it into so much more and eventually open a cute little diner! Right now, I have several cookie flavors to choose from and a super great Garden Hose Spring Door Hanger that I am in love with.
Mama Dani’s Daily Chaos came about when I got put on bedrest, so it is very new! I have ALWAYS wanted to write. I am terrible at Grammar and not wonderful at spelling, and yes, I was a Kindergarten Teacher. I just love to write, I have a lot to say and tell the world. I am still learning the blog world. The struggle bus is real! But I am determined to touch lives and help people with my words. I live in a lonely world and my blog is my way to say what I need to say and share my world with others. Some days I feel like I am failing miserably at the blog, then I have small victories. I am no quitter, I know when I have been defeated, but I fight until the bitter end. I have faith that my blog will succeed.
My passions are to grow my blog and my business. I may not do it as quick as others, but reality is our finances INSIST that I start making money sooner rather than later or go back to work. I will eventually tie my love for photography into both. I am planning some ceramic tile coasters to be ready soon involving my photography.
8- How do you find the time to operate your businesses, homeschool, and manage a high risk pregnancy? Where do you find your strength?
The question of the day! I have no idea what I am doing! I am still working on the time management part of it all and schedules on the business end. The High Risk Pregnancy take priority. It is hard for me, because I am a worker, but when my body says REST, I have to rest. Some days I just don’t feel like doing anything at all. I have a lot of extra appointments. My MIL and SIL have been great to step in and help when I ask them to.
PBS AMI has helped, it cuts out the planning and we get our schooling done before lunch. I usually try to get some work in while my one son watched his shows, then we sit at the table & get his assignments done. My 10 year old is pretty self regulated, he just has the occasional question, or I need to record him for an assignment or something small. We are usually finished with school every day by 11 or 12. I prepare, serve, and clean up lunch between 11-12. My stepson has a rest time so the house is quiet from 12-1:30. On nice days my afternoon/evening schedule includes a lot more supervising outside time than any actual work.
Even though I am on bedrest, I am still the one in charge of groceries, cleaning, laundry, meals, etc…it is planting season, the time off only comes when it is too wet to plant, or if they don’t have other things that need done. Honestly, him being home slows me down on the blog front and business front because I have someone here to help with other projects or distract me. It is a catch 22. I love having him home to help, but I also need to get things done!
It boils down to, I have a lot to learn! I don’t have all the answers. I am struggling, but managing. I draw my strength from the Jeremy Camp song Keep me in the Moment & Prayer.
9- What was the biggest life lesson you learned from your experience?
That you can’t take anything for granted. Just when you think you have it all figured out, something will change. I have learned that I can’t settle for less than what I am passionate about. As adults we often have to do things, just because they have to be done.
We get to choose what we are passionate about, and choose how hard we work for it. We are not promised tomorrow, so we have to cherish today and live in the moment. We are human, we are going to make mistakes and fail, it is what we do from that moment of realization that matters the most.
Never be afraid to love or be loved. It may not be easy, but it is worth it. Listen to your body, when it tells you it is time to slow down or rest, DO IT!! Let people help you! It does not make you any less of a person.
It is so important to be educated on the issues going on in your life. Having a son with issues has really opened my eyes. So has becoming a step parent. I learn something new every single day.
10- What advice would you give to other women encountering challenges?
Live in the moment. Follow your dreams. Be grateful for what you have and work for what you want.
Never be ashamed to ask for help, everyone needs it every now & then. Find your people and cherish them. Never take a single moment for granted, life changes in the blink of an eye.
Pray, A LOT!
Keep Fighting. You will overcome.
Danielle’s journey has been a tough one. However, her world looks very different than it did when she was putting herself through school. From the moment she got her degree, to when she bought her own home, she began to rebuild everything in her life that she could. She was able to recognize what she could and couldn’t control, and reach out for help when she knew she needed it with her son.
The decisions and actions she made for her family, put her in a new reality where she is able to offer so much to her kids, and opened her up to loving again.
She is not afraid of a challenge, and knows there will always be challenges in the future. Danielle will never be a quitter. She is made stronger by all of her experiences, and has truly been the rock for her family.
I have learned that no matter how difficult, or how many challenges we face at once, we have to ALWAYS fight. In this life as a Mama, we fight for our family and those we love. We are the rocks and foundation, and we must do everything we can to continue building the best lives for our families.
Thank you Danielle for sharing your story. I am truly inspired to be better every day.