What Does It Take to Be a Mother of 10?
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Even for the superhard stuff, easy does it.
Andrea Williams DeKroon
I’m a Realtor, and I started teaching Pilates, the early-bird classes, right before the pandemic hit. With the studio closed, I work out at home, but it’s harder when no one is holding you accountable. My work in real estate hasn’t changed dramatically. Before the lockdown, I spent my days running around Atlanta, showing houses and meeting with clients. Now when I’m out, I’m by myself, shooting video of empty houses or conducting virtual walk-throughs with potential buyers over FaceTime or Zoom.
It has actually been crazy busy since the pandemic hit and a bit of a roller-coaster ride. Interest rates are still historically low, so people with unaffected incomes are motivated to buy. At first, sellers were scared and giving a lot of concessions to attract buyers. But gradually over the past few weeks, because of low inventory, multiple people are submitting bids as soon as a home goes on the market, and sellers are realizing they have a lot of bargaining power.
Buying or selling a home is emotional anyway, but these days there is also nervousness and fear. People are hoping to make good decisions. Now that everybody is sheltering in place, you realize how important that is. You want a home you enjoy being in, because what if you’re stuck there for weeks?
I didn’t reenter the workforce full time until I was 46.
I’ve really felt that myself. For a full month, four of our five adult children were sheltering in place with us, so I had nine of my 10 babies living at home for the first time in years. On top of that, a lot of the younger kids are now being home-schooled. They’re all very independent, thank goodness. So despite the craziness, it has felt like a gift to have everyone from the fifth grader to the 26-year-old back home.
I don’t want to minimize what other people are going through, because many are going through hell. Nobody is free from worry or uncertainty. But I can’t help but enjoy the silver lining: that unexpected family time. I knew what brought my kids back home was so random and we’ll likely never all be together again like this, except for the holidays, so I try to soak it all in.
It reminds me of the early days raising kids when life seemed simpler. I have a master’s degree in linguistics, and I thought I would travel the world and teach English as a second language. But I started having kids pretty young and ended up raising all 10 as a stay-at-home mom for two decades.
I didn’t reenter the workforce full time until I was 46. I had been raising all these children and I wondered whether people would take me seriously in a “real” workplace. I was scared. Still, money was tight with such a large family, and once my youngest started school, I figured it was time. I was dragging my feet a little trying to find something suitable and feeling intimidated, when my husband said, “Well, you haven’t proved you can get a job yet,” which got my adrenaline going.
I’m never one to back down from a challenge. So, almost out of spite, I drove to the McDonald’s down the street and applied for a job. The manager looked at my résumé, saw the master’s degree, my computer skills, aptitude in several languages and was just like: “Don’t you think you are a little overqualified for this position?” We mutually came to the decision that it probably wouldn’t be a good fit.
I ended up working for my neighbor as a paralegal at first and then became an admin for a commercial real estate startup. I worked my butt off and went from making $40,000 annually to twice that in a year, from entry level to managing multiple big retail centers.
After a little more than two years, I found myself managing One Atlantic Center, this iconic 50-story high-rise in midtown Atlanta. It was hard work, taking risks, diving in and not being afraid to find out what I didn’t already know.
Before I started working, I had a health scare that made me start treating my body better. After all, I had been pregnant for more than 90 months of my life and that takes a toll. So I picked up running, and a month after my 50th birthday, I ran my first marathon, the 2016 Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C.
I’ve since run three more marathons, culminating in the Athens Authentic Marathon in Greece this past November. My oldest son ran it with me; it was his first marathon.
As I crossed the finish line at the Olympic stadium, my five adult children were there cheering me on, fists pumping in the air, chanting, “the momma!” My greatest joy in life has been encouraging their dreams and celebrating their successes, but I’ll never forget how great it felt to make them so proud of me, too.