The Journey

Ballad of the Babies
By Chris Caldwell

Everything seems to be in order upon entering Drew Dotson's house. The floors are clean. Family portraits, with smiling faces, hang pleasantly over the fireplace. A couch and a couple of chairs accent a brown room with their green upholstery.

The house is quiet until, "Mommy! Balloon," rings through the hallway and a screaming 2-year-old named Hannah, with static electricity in her hair, runs by like a tiny pink painted fire truck. Just another day of being a mom for Dotson, '06.

"You wanna watch Pooh Bear?" Dotson asks her daughter.

"Pooh Bear, Pooh Bear," Hannah replies.

Hannah's grandmother, Linda "Moggy" Phillips, comes in and takes Hannah away; her mommy has an interview today.

Dotson began attending Whitworth College in 2002 with a goal of receiving her degree in history. She wanted to be a history teacher, she says, because it was a subject taught by all of her most memorable teachers. After prioritizing her own goals, she switched to the communications department instead. And the rest is history.

When Dotson finished college, she wanted to do not-for-profit work. Throughout her years at Whitworth, her internships, service learning and extracurricular activities were focused specifically on helping advance nonprofit organizations in the Spokane area. She volunteered with Youth for Christ and the Spokane Neighborhood Action Programs (SNAP).

"I wanted to open up a home for children and maybe take care of a few at a time," Dotson says. "I only knew that I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom once I got married."

Drew Dotson married her husband, Nick Dotson, in October of her senior year of college. She became pregnant with Hannah a month later. Two years later, her son Daniel was born. Her children would create the lens through which Dotson would perceive the rest of her life.

She was not an A+ college phenomenon, nor was she a B student smarty-pants. Dotson says she was more like a C student who was immature and in love.

"God gave me this hand," she says. "I never had to work hard before having a kid. When you're in college, you can choose to work hard. But once you have a child, if you want them to grow up well, you have to work hard every day."

It's cheesy, Dotson says, but having babies changes everything about day to day life. Babies create different priorities and goals. Dotson used to believe that to be somebody, she needed to do something big. Now she realizes her calling puts her in her home, cooking, cleaning and raising her children.

Dotson believes her highest calling is to honor her husband and her God by working hard to raise a family and keep her home in working order. She says that she is no push over. Dotson is proud to be cherished and prized by her husband. She just wishes that she could have been a stronger student.

"People say, 'I have no regrets,' and I think that's total bull," Dotson says, "I regret that I didn't take more for my schooling."

Dotson has yet to settle into the life of being a mother. With the occasional 11 p.m. nightmare, midnight feeding calls and 3 a.m. diaper changes, her schedule is in constant flux. The children keep her on her toes both day and night.

Midway through the interview, the shrill cry of an 8-month-old baby can be heard echoing around the house. Dotson excuses herself, saying that her son has woken up. She re-enters the room with Daniel, a smiling boy with deep blue eyes and a happy face. This child shows all of the signs of being a teenage heartthrob.

The energy in the house does not slow once Daniel stops screaming. Down the hallway a loud scream of inarticulate words can be heard, followed by a resounding thud.

"No, you're not putting it on," Phillips says.

"She has recently added rolling into her tantrums," Dotson says. She tickles her son's ribs and he lets out a cackle of glee; she picks him up and draws him close while making funny faces.

For Dotson, nothing could be better than hanging around with her kids all day. They are very challenging, but they are also hilarious, she says. Hannah is funny because she can talk. The things that she says and the songs she sings fill the house with joy. Dotson says her daughter is like a preprogrammed singing and dancing robot.

Hannah loves to play with her dolls, Dotson says. She sings them to sleep to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star or one of the other tunes that she has memorized.

Hannah has also recently been put on ball detox, Phillips says. Every time Hannah enters a room with balls she has to pick them all up. Something about their spherical shape or the fact that they bounce compels Hannah to collect them all, despite the shortness of her arms. Whether there is one, two or 10, the balls must be collected.

"She's either a genius or she has Asperger's," Dotson says, "Let's hope that she's a genius."

Hannah and Daniel make every day a new challenge for Dotson. Excluding the fact that her schedule is rarely the same, she tries to keep things moving at a natural pace. At 7:30 or 8 a.m., she wakes up to clean left-over messes around the house and to prepare breakfast for her family.

By 10 a.m. she has put Daniel down for a nap and watches different shows like Winnie the Pooh, or The Wiggles with Hannah. At 11:30 a.m., it's time for lunch; 1 p.m. is naptime and 4:30 or 5 p.m. is dinner. By 8 p.m. the kids are in bed and so too is Dotson, collapsed from an exhausting day of being a mommy.

"My husband and I are trying to figure out how to make our daily lives work effectively," Dotson says.

The pink comet known as Hannah streaks through the halls with a big yellow balloon as mommy's interview concludes. Hannah hugs her younger brother and collapses under his weight as their Grandma Moggy places Daniel into her open arms. They roll around on the floor giggling and wailing; joy, love and energy clearly present on their faces.

"I didn't have all of the things of being a mom on my mind," Dotson says, "I think God just said this is where your life is going."