Motherhood is a journey many women are willing to embark on, but no two journeys are alike.
For RD’s Jenn Ellison and Holly Schilperoort, the journey of motherhood is especially unusual – it means caring for the Corban community as well as their infant daughters.
Ellison cuddles her 2-month-old daughter, LeYanna, on the couch of her office while reflecting on her transition “into full-fledged motherhood” while continuing to work as the RD of Prewitt.
“I’m aware that 150 people are watching you raise your kid,” she says with laugh. “People are interested and want to see her.”
She recalls the chaotic move-in day for freshman being a little easier because LeYanna was a great icebreaker. Many people were excited to see a baby on a college campus.
Schilperoort, mother to 9-month-old Addie and the RD of Baylo, recounts that sometimes the excitement can be a bit much, especially when she has somewhere she needs to be.
“People are like, ‘Baby!’ and it’s like, ‘We have to go!’” Holly says with a grin.
Schilperoort and Ellison both have definite opinions about on what makes raising a family on campus special.
“I get to mix my passion with raising my daughter,” says Schilperoort, looking down at Addie, who’s sitting in her lap playing with a cell phone.
Ellison rocks LeYanna in her arms, explaining, “It takes a lot emotional energy since it’s a 24-hour job,” but she quickly adds that unlike an office job, “I get to see her consistently throughout the day.”
There are more perks to being a mother on campus.
“I never have to make a meal!” Ellison says enthusiastically. And “I have abundant supply of babysitters.”
In fact, Ellison has already found it’s a challenge to decide which students to use because hiring a sitter is more than a one-time event. It means starting a relationship that extends from trust and respect.
Schilperoort and Ellison both beam when describing their baby daughters.
“She’s so determined, stubborn, and independent. She loves learning new things and her routine, Schilperoort says as Addie looks up at her. “She won’t sleep anywhere but her bed. She eats and sleeps so well.”
Of LeYanna, Ellison says proudly, “She doesn’t mind noise. She doesn’t even flinch.”
Ellison discovered that highly desirable trait when some freshmen were popping balloons next door to the sleeping baby.
As far as Corban students go, both mothers are aware that the college girls they oversee are already influencing their daughters.
“These girls could affect (LeYanna) positively as role models or negatively; it all depends,” Ellison says.
Corban’s female residents aren’t the only ones who have met these new babies; guys on campus are witnessing family life firsthand. They get to watch Schilperoort’s husband, Aaron, and Ellison’s husband, Cory, learn fatherhood.
“I think it’s good that guys can see them being dads, since some of them will be dads one day,” Schilperoort says.
As their babies continue to grow, Ellison and Schilperoort will tackle the common challenges of motherhood while taking on the uncommon responsibilities of dorm life leaders.
Says Ellison, “It truly is a balancing act.”