Greenwood’s 2015 Mom of the Year, Shandra Swails
Writer / Frieda Dowler . Photographer / Forrest Mellott
Congratulations to Shandra Swails, the first winner of the 2015 “Greenwood Mom of the Year” contest. The annual contest was open to residents of Greenwood with the nominations made in March and voting online through April 10. Shandra’s sister Robin Close nominated her for the honor. Shandra started to disagree with her about the nomination until she realized there would be prizes. Then she said, “Bring it on!”
Love for Family
What it takes to be a great mom isn’t much different from what it was in the 1950s when June Cleaver was top mom in the “Leave it to Beaver” show. It just looks different today. Moms today don’t wear dresses and heels around the house, cook three meals a day for their families or wear pearls while gardening, but one thing hasn’t changed; a great mom has a love for her family.
Shandra’s love is unquestionable. She says, “If I taught my kids anything, it’s to stay connected to family. Family is everything; they’ve got your back.” That goes for her immediate family as well as her extended family. Spending time together is important to strengthening the bond they have.
Twenty family members recently went on vacation together to Gulf Shores, Alabama, where they made some memories chillin’, grillin’, strummin’ the guitar and singing while kids played Kemps and Uno card games. They even made up a new drink to commemorate the vacation, Mahi-Mahis, a frozen nonalcoholic concoction. Recently they started a new family practice of kickball, tennis and picnic lunch in the park to keep the family connected. Shandra’s advice to herself for making these kinds of events successful is not to set your expectations too high. “Enjoy the moment and go with the flow,” she says. “It keeps things more relaxed.” Shared laughter and good times are the basis for a desire to spend time together.
Shandra and her husband, Steve, have four children: three boys and one girl. They are her greatest accomplishments, and she admires them for the people they have become. Jessey, 24, is married to Jordan; Hunter, 23, is a traveler; Chandler, 20, is a pianist; and Alexandra, 14, is the spoiled one as the youngest and only girl. Shandra admits that she relaxed a little in her parenting as each child came along. Her only regret is that she shouldn’t have been so tough on the kids about the little things, like potty training. “After all, you never see a kid going to school in diapers,” she said. “They eventually get it. Potty training was only a small space of time in our lives, and I took it too seriously at the time.”
A Legacy of Love
Staying close to family is something Shandra learned while growing up. Shandra’s parents both came from large families who stayed connected. Her dad was one of 12 siblings, who all lived close by, and her mother’s family was from Liberty, Kentucky, where they visited regularly. Even now, Shandra, Steve and Alexandra live 17 houses from Shandra’s parents. Her father, Mickey Roy, has been a pastor for 30 years. He currently pastors Mount Pleasant Christian Fellowship, and her mom, Brenda, is the church secretary. “My parents were the example of spiritual leadership for me,” says Shandra. “They have always taken people in and cared for everyone. I guess I learned that from them.” In addition to raising their own children, she and Steve have helped teenagers who have needed a place to stay while figuring things out.
She’s Mom and More
When asked about a typical day, Shandra laughed and said, “Depends on the day. I have a growing catering business, so it depends on what events I am catering.” Two days a week, she caters lunch for Greenwood/Whiteland teachers because there are a limited number of eating establishments close to school. She brings them lunch when they order on her website, mylunchpail.net. Her family refers to her as “Meals on Wheels” because she always shares leftovers and is usually in charge of food at family get-togethers.
Her dream is to grow her catering business, although she was reluctant to start it when her sister-in-law, Kelly Roy, suggested it. Shandra said she designed a website and hit the launch button before she had time to think too hard about it. But she loves it and is looking forward to more events like meetings and weddings. She is seeking a larger facility than the church kitchen to rent during the day because requests for catering beyond lunch keep coming in.
She also runs a shuttle service. She shuttles kids back and forth from school, including her brother’s children. “They kind of feel like my own,” she says. She is very close with her brother, David Roy, and his wife, Kelly. Both are teachers and very involved with kids and sports. Shandra was 9 years old when her baby brother David was born. “I learned how to be a mother with him. I was whatever he needed me to be. I was his pony when he played cowboy and his cheerleader when he played basketball.”
Shandra also volunteers at church as the worship leader. Music has always been a part of her and her family’s lives. Most of them have learned to play musical instruments without formal training. Her volunteer duties involve choosing the music for the services and leading the worship team in practices as well as during the regular services Sunday morning and evening and Wednesday evening.
Besides a catering business, shuttle service and volunteering, Shandra still manages to fix dinner for her family about three times per week. The other nights, everyone fends for themselves. Steve does the laundry and is never slack about it. He’s also a deacon at the church and runs sound for the musicians. He stays busy during the day with his job in distribution at The Indianapolis Star where he and Shandra met years ago. His job took them to Idaho, then Wisconsin, and Shandra was elated when they moved back to Greenwood where she was born and raised.
All You Need is Love
“My mom is my rock,” says Shandra. “She’s the best of the best.” Her mom helps her with everything in her busy life. Brenda and Mickey Roy, Shandra’s parents, were both 17 when they married and had three children by the time they were 21. Shandra’s role model has been her mom’s unfailing love through the years. Even though the family has faced tragic events, they have learned that forgiveness is the key to moving forward as they seek a peaceful existence.
Shandra sees being “Mom of the Year” as hilarious. In her eyes, she’s done nothing to deserve the honor. She says she screams and shouts orders. In fact, the others refer to her as the “Family Boss.” Seems her sister Robin thought otherwise. There is no doubt Shandra is loved as much as she loves.
Shandra says if she could give advice to other moms, she would say, “Enjoy the little moments more, take pictures in your mind of special times and develop a quote book of things the kids say and do as a memory keepsake. You don’t want to forget anything.”