I always wanted to be a mom. From my earliest memories as a young girl, I dreamed of being a mom and having my own family. I would fantasize about my future life, the husband and kids I hoped to have one day. I babysat all through high school and eventually applied to Teach for America and chose education as a career because I love kids and I’m passionate about advocating on behalf of children’s issues.
When I’m having a hard day or a challenging time as a parent, I try to remember how I felt when we first found out we were expecting a baby. It was New Year’s day 2006 and we had just finished watching the movie, Match Point. As we started walking back to our car, we passed a very pregnant woman on the escalator and I told my husband, Chris, that I wanted to stop at the pharmacy before heading home. I remember buying the pregnancy test and thinking to myself, if I’m right and I am indeed pregnant, this will be the last thing I do before finding out I’m going to be someone’s mom. So, of course, the minute we get home, I take the test–actually I take all three tests in the package because I’m totally Type A–and a very faint but visible pink line gives us the news that I had been waiting to hear my whole life.
Being a wife and mom of two girls is fulfilling in ways I hadn’t expected and it’s challenging in ways I could never have anticipated. When you babysit a neighbor’s child or your niece, you know that it’s for a finite period of time and that the real parents will be coming back at some point. The level of responsibility that hits you from the moment you become pregnant can feel overwhelming! I was teaching full-time the year I was pregnant with our eldest daughter and I remember thinking I had to start eating more vegetables, give up coffee and buy nitrate free turkey at Whole Foods for the daily sandwich that I would bring to work. I read What to Expect When You’re Expecting, signed up for Babycenter.com and bought the Dr. Sears Attachment Parenting books. When I was less than 6 months pregnant, my friend Kristi recommended I sign up for Allison LaTona’s Babygroup classes, http://www.allisonlatona.com and that was one of the best early parenting decisions I’ve ever made.
I’ve been a mom for just over 7 years now. On the days that my patience is pushed to my limit by a tantrum or other challenging behavior, I try to remember the sweet feeling I felt on that night we found out our lives would forever be changed. As I clean out lunch boxes, unpack groceries or straighten up our house after a play date, I try to focus on the positive moments of parenting like the huge hugs that await me each day when I pick up our kids from school. When I sense my level of exhaustion is going to set me over the edge, I try to set the girls up with an activity in their room or the playroom that they can handle on their own (like imaginary play, dress up, coloring or a simple puzzle) that doesn’t require much involvement from me. I sit down on my couch with a cup of hot tea and either a book or more often than not, a blank Word screen on my computer so that I can write. I give myself a mommy break for 20 minutes. Undoubtedly, I calm down, feel re-energized (or at least energized enough to make it until bedtime!) and I’m ready to face the girls again.
When we come back to our house after a full day of school and after-school activities for the girls and work for me, the first thing I remind our girls to do is to take off their shoes by the front door and to go wash their hands before they start to play or reach for a snack. This simple image of my running shoes and the girls’ shoes lined up on our stairs really struck me so I took a picture and decided to write a blog post this morning. It’s nothing much, just three pairs of Nike shoes lined up but in so many ways, it’s so much more–it’s the very thing I always hoped for. My own family, my own little people to love and care for, my own adult life with a family, a career and a husband that I love. I’m grateful for all of it–the love, the mess, the drama, the hugs, the stress, the tears and the laughter that having a family brings to my life.