Motherhood - keeping it real
Motherhood - keeping it real
12 May 2019
Captain Vanessa Hunt is a Jesus follower, wife, mother, foster mother, corps officer, daughter, sister and friend to many. She and her husband, Lieutenant Anthony Hunt, have three biological children under six, and two teenage foster children. Together they run a busy corps in Brisbane’s west and are active in the local community. As well as juggling all these responsibilities, joys and challenges, part-time study and trying to squeeze in time for herself, Vanessa also has to deal with the effects of a stroke in September 2016, which has affected how she regulates energy, and her vision.
Vanessa recently shared her story with Others magazine, on the condition that she could “keep it real!”
“My mothering journey really began before I was married and had my first biological child,” she says.
“In some of my ministries I worked with kids and young people and just loved their innocence and being in the midst of them, especially when adult life was stressful!
“I have a nurturing heart, and was often called the ‘Pied Piper’ as kids would just follow me around.”
This reputation continued when Vanessa attended the School for Officer training. She was called Mary Poppins and was always volunteering to babysit and hang out with the children of fellow cadets and staff.
At the age of 19, Vanessa knew that she wanted to foster children. It was just a matter of when.
“One of my first conversations with Anthony was around fostering and what he thought of making a home open to other kids and inclusive. He said he had grown up in a home like that and wanted to continue being open. I knew then that our conversations could continue!”
Vanessa and Anthony were married in October 2013, with their first child, Tobias, arriving 11 months later in August 2014.
“I just didn’t realise it was even possible to love a little human being that much,” says Vanessa.
The Hunts’ daughter, Esther, was born in June 2016, while Anthony was a cadet in the School for Officer Training. Their second son, Rupert, came along in July 2018, in their appointment as corps officers at Forest Lake.
“Our children are such a blessing and I don’t take them for granted,” says Vanessa.
“Motherhood is relentless though, and self-sacrificial, and I never fully realised this until I had Tobias. It made me appreciate my mum, who was a single mum, so much more.”
When Esther was only three months old, Vanessa had a stroke – extremely rare for such a young woman. She had to learn quickly that she couldn’t do everything herself and had to accept support.
“I had to rely on others, accept some limitations, learn alternative ways of doing things, and say ‘no’ sometimes. These were really big lessons for me that I also took into my parenting journey.”
Vanessa’s vision returned, almost in full, and she can again drive a car. She does, though, still suffer bouts of fatigue if she “overdoes it”.
The fostering journey
Vanessa and Anthony’s foster children Abbie and Eli (names have been changed), both teenagers, came to the Hunts in 2017.
“Although we hadn’t planned on having foster children when our biological children were so young, I love that they will grow up from their early years, knowing that we care for everyone and are inclusive,” Vanessa says.
“We also love the opportunities fostering gives the big kids but it’s not a walk in the park and we definitely have our good and not-so-good days. On the whole, though, it’s very sweet.
“When Rupert was born, it was our first big life change that we all navigated together and it’s been a unifying force.”
Vanessa explains that she is learning to be mindful and enjoy life’s beautiful moments and opportunities for attachment, rather than getting stuck in the daily grind of life.
“Learning to savour those moments has been a real journey for me.
“Of course, I still fall into the trap of getting caught up in things that need to be done, but I am intentional about looking for those moments as well as doing my ‘mummy jobs’ and endless planning for all our comings and goings!
“Kids don’t say, ‘I’ve had a bad day’, they ask me to play with them, and that’s what I’m learning to see and respond to.
Faith in Jesus
Vanessa’s ongoing faith journey and teaching her children about Jesus is paramount.
“We just try to incorporate faith into our everyday life,” she says.
“The big kids have had some tough experiences in life, but we are teaching them, and ourselves too, that the love of God that can sustain and heal you. A life with Jesus will not be free from challenges, but you have someone with you through those times, always.
“I couldn’t be a parent, particularly a foster parent, without faith in someone bigger and more powerful. I call on Jesus a lot because he can do things that I can’t.
“I want to be real for my kids and others, to provide a safe and loving family and opportunities for a different life. It’s a challenging journey but so incredibly rewarding.”
Anthony says that Vanessa is a mum who is “sacrificial, loving, always putting others first, and always engaged with the kids and their needs”.
“She brings to our children a kind heart and grace. She makes sure they know it’s not about being perfect but giving it a go and being okay with your shortcomings.
“She models what it means to live out faith, and how you do life following Jesus is not an abstract idea for them because they see this in her.”