From pride to poop, local moms talk the surprises and joys of parenthood

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Before she became a mom, Delfina Jose had no idea how busy parenthood would make her. Playtime, story time, bedtime . . . with four kids under 11, it all adds up. Not that she’d have it any other way.

“The kids make me happy,” she said.

Before she became a mom, Amy Desmarais had no idea bathroom privacy would become a thing of the past. Liza Dimitri was stunned by the shear amount of laundry.

Jennifer Radel couldn’t believe the cost of kids. But the rewards, at least, have been free.

“Watching them successfully tackle a new challenge, seeing the kindness they show to others, their sense of humor, it’s all incredible to witness. I am so proud of them,” she said. “I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for them.”

For this Mother’s Day, we asked local moms two questions: What do you wish you’d been told before your bundle of joy arrived and what’s the most rewarding part of being a parent?

Their answers were honest, funny, poignant . . . and most likely jotted down in the 15 seconds of quiet between one small person’s plea for a third bedtime story and another’s shout for a glass of water.

Stacey Henson-Drake with kids, from left to right, Meghan, 7, Andrew, 9, Ruth, 11, Amelia, 10, and Judith, 13. “The most rewarding part about being a mom is watching my children overcome obstacles and frustration, and witnessing the moment where their self-reliance and self-confidence is rewarded with success,” Henson-Drake said. (Photo courtesy Stacey Henson-Drake)

Stacey Henson-Drake

Age: 38

Town: Auburn

Kids: Five children (blended family): two girls (mine) ages 11 and 13 and two girls and one boy (his) ages 7, 9 and 10.

What do you wish people had told you before becoming a parent? I was given a lot of advice before becoming a parent, none of which I paid much attention to before having kids. I remember my mother saying to me (at a particularly rough patch during my teenaged years) that she was giving me the “Mother’s Curse” that I would have a child who was exactly like me someday so that I would know the pain and frustration I was causing her at this particular time in life. Well, she was right, because I have two children who reflect my personality and nature in ways that can be completely endearing and also completely aggravating, providing me with great insight into myself and causing me to be mindful about the example I am setting. It is amazing how much I have learned about myself since having children because my words, thoughts and actions are often reflected by my kids to the world.

What is the most rewarding part of being a mom? The most rewarding part about being a mom is watching my children overcome obstacles and frustration, and witnessing the moment where their self-reliance and self-confidence is rewarded with success.

Name: Amy Desmarais

Age: 38

Town: Litchfield

Kids: Five, ages 7, 11, 13, 15 and 19

What do you wish people had told you before becoming a parent? No one ever told me that using the bathroom alone and uninterrupted would be a luxury!

What is the most rewarding part of being a mom? For me, the best part of being a mom is that it inspires me to try to be the very best version of myself, and in return I get unconditional love!

Jennifer Radel with sons Maddox, 13, and Cade, 11. “The best parts of being a mom are the bond between me and my kids and watching them grow and develop into these incredible human beings,” she said. (Photo courtesy Jennifer Radel)

Jennifer Radel

Age: 48

Town: Sabattus

Kids: Maddox, 13, and Cade, 11.

What do you wish people had told you before becoming a parent? First, how much becoming a parent would change me. I am now responsible for someone other than myself. My world revolves around my boys. I will do anything to protect them and to be a positive role model. So, after becoming a parent I drive slower and more cautiously. I prepare and eat healthier foods. I watch my language. I swapped R rated movies for G. Conversations have changed, too. For a while, the color and consistency of poop was regular dinner table fodder. Most importantly, I think my perspective has changed. I look at things differently as a mom. I think it has made me a more compassionate person.

Secondly, is the cost. I knew kids were expensive, but I wasn’t completely prepared for just how expensive. When they were babies, it was diapers and formula that were a small fortune. Now it’s sports equipment and technology.

What is the most rewarding part of being a mom? The best parts of being a mom are the bond between me and my kids and watching them grow and develop into these incredible human beings. Each stage in their lives brings something new and wonderful (and yes, usually a new challenge, too). Watching them successfully tackle a new challenge, seeing the kindness they show to others, their sense of humor, it’s all incredible to witness. I am so proud of them. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for them.

Liza Dimitri with her three sons. Motherhood helped shape the name of her barbecue sauce business, 3 Spicy Boys. (Photo courtesy Liza Dimitri)

Liza Dimitri

Age: 44

Town: Auburn

Kids: Three boys, ages 13, 11 and 9

What do you wish people had told you before becoming a parent? How much laundry three little human beings can produce on a daily/hourly basis.

What is the most rewarding part of being a mom? Too many to mention here, but a few of my favorites are when they randomly hug me and say “I love you, Mom.” I also love listening to their gigantic belly laughs when they are all getting along and playing games together.

Heidi Sawyer poses with a Wicked Illustrations painting of her new baby’s ultrasound. The mom of an 18-year-old boy, Sawyer will soon welcome a baby girl. (Photo courtesy Heidi Sawyer)

Heidi Sawyer

Age: 39

Town: Lewiston

Kids: I am the mom of an 18-year-old boy who is set to graduate on June 8, and I happen to be pregnant with my second child (a girl) who is due for her grand arrival on June 4.

What do you wish people had told you before becoming a parent? Ha! What little “control” I would really have. Children are definitely their own people, with their own natural inclinations, their own minds and their own spirits. The moment I let go of (most) of my need to control and switch to the mode of understanding, influencing and guiding, we were all much better off.

What is the most rewarding part of being a mom? One-on-one car rides. Seriously, there is something about the privacy of a car ride, the limited distractions and the set destination point that really lets your kids open up about life. I have had the most important conversations, the best conversations and the most enlightening conversations with my son in the car when it was just the two of us. That is where I really got to know who he was.

Dawn Hartill with her three boys, ages 16, 18 and 22. “The ultimate reward of being a mom of boys is always having plenty of material for my stand-up comedy!” she said. (Photo courtesy Dawn Hartill)

Dawn Hartill

Age: 45

Town: Lewiston

Kids: Three boys, ages 22, 18 and 16.

What do you wish people had told you before becoming a parent? Boys can play video games with acute accuracy, hit a target with a BB gun a thousand feet away, but will never, ever, ever master precision in the bathroom. Install a urinal.

What is the most rewarding part of being a mom? The ultimate reward of being a mom of boys is always having plenty of material for my stand-up comedy! But truly, the most rewarding thing for me is that my boys have chosen completely independent paths and are not concerned with following the “norm” or doing something just because that is what is expected. I wish I had their confidence at such a young age.

Victor Almida, 5, hugs his mother, Delfina Jose, outside the Hope House in Lewiston recently. “They make me too busy, but I like it because the kids make me happy,” Jose said. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Delfina Jose

Age: 33

Town: Lewiston

Kids: Four, ages 5, 7, 9 and 11

What do you wish people had told you before becoming a parent? They make me too busy, but I like it because the kids make me happy.

What is the most rewarding part of being a mom? Caring for the kids first thing. We need to listen to the kids. We need to see the kids.

Makia Djibrine, of Lewiston, stands outside the Hope House in Lewiston recently. The mother of a 15-year-old daughter, Djibrine called being a mom “amazing.”(Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Makia Djibrine

Age: 33

Town: Lewiston

Kids: One daughter, 15-year old Khadidja

What do you wish people had told you before becoming a parent? For me, I learned from my mom, who had a lot of kids. I knew a lot of things.

What is the most rewarding part of being a mom? Being a mom is amazing. I love to be a mom. You don’t feel alone. That’s the best thing.

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