By Debra Minor Wilson
Times West Virginian
Are you up to a job that’s challenging and interesting at the same time?
You could be a parent. It’s the hardest job you’ll ever love.
Mikaelah Cianfrocca Seifrit agrees.
She and her husband Brian were high school sweethearts, she said. They dated a little while at East Fairmont High School.
“Then we went our separate ways. But we got back together about 11 years ago,” she said.
They married in April 2004.
“Oh, gosh, he’s very handsome and passionate and loving,” she said. “He’s sweet and attentive. I could keep on going.”
He also knew when family was more important. He’d been in the restaurant industry for about 10 years.
“But it was taking way too much of his time away from his family and children,” she said. “So he transitioned into real estate.”
That family includes sons Boston, 8, and Joel, 4 1/2.
They’re being home-schooled “for several reasons,” she said.
“I feel like they get the best quality education, which is individualized and focused on their needs and pace. Without being negative, I think there are advantages of having a child removed from social and peer pressure without parental supervision.
“It’s a different world we’re in. It’s a choice we made.”
Every choice they make is for family, she said.
“Our tightness and unity and commitment to family. Our strong faith is the central focus of our family. We’re focused on God first. There’s that old saying, ‘The family that prays together, stays together.’
“Well, it’s not just the prayer. When God is in the midst of your life, that holds the family together.
“It’s a constant choice that we make over and over. No matter what you go through, you go through it together and come out on the other side together.
“We’re raising our children to be productive and to give to society, to have manners, to not want to take but to give. To be loving, intelligent and obedient, to focus on each other, family and who we are in society.
“Legacy is a big thing. You can choose to have a positive impact, or leave a bad impression of your family and who you are.”
She always wanted to have children, but for a while, wasn’t sure this could happen. She was so sure that she told Brian at the outset of their relationship.
“He had faith and said we would. I even thought we could adopt. But we now have two healthy, wonderful children. We feel blessed.”
Back to that hardest-job thing.
“Being a mom is challenging and interesting. It’s never what you think it’s gonna be. Everybody has this rosy picture painted and it’s not what parenting is at all.
“There are moments of unspeakable joy throughout the day ... and moments of horror, when you want to throw in the towel.”
This is what gets her through the tough times.
“There is this sense of what I’m doing is bigger than myself,” she said. “I’m impacting and affecting another human being’s life, and how they will live their life. Not every choice you make has that big an impact.
“I always knew Brian would be a great father, and he is. He’s an awesome dad. I think he’s a better dad than I am a mom. He’s strong and authoritative, yet silent and soft when they need that.”
All moms know you can have a slew of kids and they’d all be different.
“It’s interesting how they all have different personalities,” she said. “Ours are total opposites. God uses that to cause me to grow and my husband to grow as people. Our kids are not ‘one size fits all.’ One may need more discipline and the other may need a softer glove.
“But that’s a blueprint you can use to deal with people in any situation in life. You can’t treat everybody the same. And it’s a good training ground for life, being a mom and dad.”
Finding a balance of “mom” and “me” time is also a challenge, she said.
“I encounter this in the day-to-day things when I’m pulled in different directions. I work part time, two long days a week. I love my job and I’m good at it.
“Working part time is the perfect balance. I get out of the house and do something I love, but I’m also with the kids most of the time.
“Still, there’s that pull. The hardest thing is time for self. I’ll want to sit down, put my feet up and have some coffee, but then I have to stop and care for them. I want a career but I have to stop for my family. And I’m grateful for that.
“Making family my priority without sacrificing myself ... walking that line is hard.”
She and Brian are also lay pastors at their church.
“So we have a nice balance, a nice variety and we’re very happy,” she said.
When times get tough, and they will, she has some advice.
“Every time you think about quitting or giving up, simply don’t. When something looks more attractive outside your marriage, turn to your partner.
“Invest time in yourself and your family for your family to stay strong. You have to put in the time and focus on where it needs to be.”
Schedule a weekly date night with your spouse, she said, or have a “text-free family night,” when it’s just board games, reading, talking, baking cookies — no movies or videos allowed.
“Investing in your family is important,” she said.
Email Debra Minor Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.