Mothergood Feature: Danielle Nunez
1. Tell us about your background and a little bit about who you are?
Hi! I’m Danielle Nunez, wife to Daniel. Yes, we are Daniel and Danielle—a corny match made in heaven. I’m probably most well known in my circle as the mom to Eli (10), Desi (9), Noelle (7), Delilah (6), Navah (4), and Kai (2). I love to have fun! I dressed up like the Elf on the Shelf and scared people throughout my city and have been known to break out into a flash mob dance while shopping without an actual mob, although 6 kids are usually staring at me like “Mom, not again.” What can I say, I love life!
Just over 10 years ago, I was barely warming up to the idea of motherhood and the sacrifices it would mean for me personally—and now I have 6 kids!
I’ve always been the type of person to just run hard, so I guess it isn’t surprising that we had those kids in almost exactly 8 years. I’m married to the love of my life and he works as a Physician Assistant, but also pastors our church as an elder, which means we are a very busy family!
My life looks perfect from the outside, especially when you see photos of my gorgeous husband and all these sweet kids, but I really struggled with the idea of being a mom. My own childhood home was extremely abusive and eventually my father went to prison and is now on the Megan’s Law website, so there were some deep issues to deal with. I think the biggest struggle for me was my point of view. Growing up, I always felt like I was a huge burden. My mother would blame us (children) for trapping her in the abusive marriage, so I didn't want my own little ball and chains. Its ironic because I loved kids and was always involved in scouting and helping children, but my childhood made me deeply fear being “stuck.”
So what changed? Eventually I moved in with a Christian family that modeled true love. I saw how they viewed their children as blessings and realized that much of the tumult in the home was my parent’s fault and not because they had children. That realization affects my own life today. When I’m tempted to be frustrated that someone isn’t cooperating and I’m in a hurry, I quickly remind myself that the child isn’t a distraction from my purpose. My calling is to raise this child and a meltdown provides the opportunity to do that! So I embrace the moment and try to calm my heart.
2. What do you find most fulfilling about motherhood? The most challenging?
Fulfilling, where do I start? I love motherhood. This is my calling. I can’t believe there was a time when I didn’t even want to have children of my own. My favorite time of the day is bedtime, when I lay in each child’s bed and ask them to tell me one highlight and one lowlight from their day. I sing to them, then pray for them and move onto the next bed. Although I have 6 children, its important to me that my children don’t get grouped together and can feel special and loved as individuals.
I remember a few years ago when I had 4 children under 5, and I would just scurry them along and try to get things done. I catered to the interests of my oldest because he was the most vocal, then it hit me that I was just dragging the younger ones along and not focusing on them and their own desires. There was an immediate shift if my perspective and I am constantly being challenged and stretched as I try to develop these distinct relationships.
3. What does motherhood look like for you right now? What do you love about where you are? What would you change?
I am almost scared to say it, but I think I found my groove. I’m extremely busy, but there is a balance since we homeschool and are together so much. Currently I coach soccer for 2 of my girls and have another daughter on a different soccer team, my son is in baseball, the older 4 kids take piano lessons, I have one daughter in horse back riding lessons, and 3 of my children are in an aeronautics program…. so I spend a ton of time in the car!
I’m big on redeeming time in the Van. We listen to audiobooks and make it through 1-2 novels a month (little spurts of 10 minutes add up), we work on Bible verses, and sometimes just rock out. I don’t allow my children to play with technology because I want them to fight and argue in their seats and figure out a way to love one another. I try to be purposeful with where the kids sit. I don’t move children to prevent arguments (unless other adults are riding with us), but instead embrace that time as an opportunity to train them to love one another.
If I could change one thing, it would be my perspective. I have to be purposeful to remind myself that they are children and if I can’t behave perfectly, how can I expect that from them? I want to be more compassionate and sacrificial in my love for them.
4. How have you incorporated motherhood into your identity without losing your own individuality?
That’s a tough one. Going on dates with my husband and yearly getaways really helps me to step back and say, “oh yeah… I am my own person.” My life is so consumed with their needs right now, that its easy for me to only see myself as their mom. We ended up buying a gym membership, because the childcare there is cheap, and we go on a date to the gym twice a week.
My mind is a lot like a Polluck painting, there’s just thoughts and energy flying around constantly, so I really needed to find a creative outlet for myself. I used to write regularly for a blog, but that was difficult to manage with my schedule. Then I was a professional photographer for a few years, also very difficult with my schedule. I knew I needed an outlet, so I just kept trying things to see what would work. This summer I jumped on board to help direct Children’s Ministry and its been an incredible fit. I’m able to encourage others, organize children’s choirs, plan crafts and activities, share Christ with others… its literally everything that I love to do. So I would encourage mothers to think about what makes them feel most like themselves, then keep trying til you find something that works.
5. What advice would you give women who are considering/desiring motherhood?
Motherhood is the most sacrificial calling that exists in this world. You give of your body, your mind, and your soul. You pour everything into your child, but thats only possible if you have something in you to give. Invest your time into your faith and ask God to give you enough passion to lavish love on the little ones he gives you.