This interview is with my best friend of over 25 years. She has been a parent for just over 3 years and has 2 little ones who give her the title of mom. I thought it would be compelling to see the difference in responses between her and my last interviewee who has been a mom for over 30 years.
Kathleen has always been a planner; someone who thinks through all of her decisions, weighing the pros and cons carefully before arriving at a final choice. It was no different when she decided to become a mom. A lot of her fears and apprehensions when it came to parenting became a reality in her first year of motherhood. But, she quickly realized the importance of listening to her own instincts, following her heart, and asking for help when needed. Since then, she has found comfort in her role as a mom, taking on each challenge as they come, enjoying the little victories, and letting go of the failures.
I never questioned if she would be a good mother but I know she did (as most first time moms do). I think she is realizing that she is more than just a good mom - she is the perfect mom for her children and that is all she could ask for. The following interview is not verbatim. I had to do a lot of extra digging and ask more questions to get to the end result.
Tell me a quote that speaks to your heart.
The days are long, but the years are short - Gretchen Rubin
How many kids do you have?
What is your job?
Right now I am on maternity leave and taking care of my 2 kids. First and foremost my job is being a mom. I am currently in a season of life that has the majority of my time dedicated to my kids. I see now how lucky I am to have a husband who’s career allows for this and to live in a country that puts the needs of the family high on its priority list. Beyond that though, I have a degree in Economics and a diploma in Accounting. I’ve worked in customer service, sales, and accounts receivable.
My job before kids was all about juggling the needs of clients which was great preparation for motherhood, considering I am now dealing with 2 of the most demanding and fickle clients ever (but the cutest). I don’t know what the future has in store in terms of a career for me so, for now, I will enjoy the gift that is this time with my kids.
How old are your children and give me a brief description of who they are and what their personalities are like.
Alice is 3. She is independent, smart, and curious. She has the best imagination and is so much fun. She loves puzzles, books, and music.
Robbie is 8 months old. He is our social baby and loves people and faces. He is obsessed with his sister and she makes him smile like no one else can. He is energetic, happy and loves to eat!
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about raising children who are strong, kind, and confident. I am still learning what this means and I am always striving to do better.
I also love travel, adventure, and making memories with my family. Some of my best memories growing up are of our family trips and time spent camping together. I hope to create these same experiences for my children.
What is your biggest fear as a mom?
Everything! Seriously though, I had a lot of anxiety when my first was born. I had no idea what I was doing and I felt overwhelmed by all of the little decisions that have to be made daily. What bassinet to buy? What to dress them in to sleep? What time should they sleep? How often should they eat? Are they getting enough each feed? I think all of this anxiety was magnified under the microscope of modern-day parenting where I was bombarded with “advice” and could, at the push of a button, read about all of the things I was doing wrong and how it could impact the lives of my children forever. Of course, it has taken me until now (and I am still working on it) to really understand that there is no right way. Following my instinct became my best source of advice. It’s really easy to say now and I think part of being a new mom is figuring this out for yourself.
With my second, I am feeling a lot calmer and I have found perspective through experience. Though I still worry about my role as their mom and if I am making all the right decisions to set them up for success, I am more aware that the minute details aren’t going to make or break them.
What is your greatest success as a mom?
Ask me again in 20 years? I am still at the very beginning of my parenthood journey but I hope to look back one day with a definitive answer. On a personal level though, I've always known that I wanted to be a mother, but worried how I would handle all of the ups and downs and questioned if it was possible for me to be enough for my kids. My mom and I are very close and I wondered how I could ever be that person for someone else. I am a very sensitive person and I worry way too much - but I have found comfort in the role of motherhood, especially recently and I can honestly say that I couldn't be happier right now as a mom.
Tell me about your most memorable mom fail.
Ugh! A couple of months ago I bought Alice some new footed pyjamas and they ended up being too big for her. I was too lazy to exchange them and too cheap to buy new ones, so I decided she would wear them anyways. Anyways – one night on her way into bed, her pyjamas were hanging over the end of her feet and she tripped over the excess fabric and landed teeth first on the side of her wooden bed. She cut her lip and knocked one of her teeth back. It was awful and I still feel so guilty! Every time I see her smile I am reminded of my mom fail and a little voice says “should have paid for new PJs you fool.”
Now tell me about your most memorable mom win.
I’m not sure if there’s a single moment that sticks out! These days, at home full time with a toddler and a baby, it can feel overwhelming so I try to focus on all the little wins throughout the day. Such as when I find time to put a load of laundry away, an outing with no potty accidents, a clean plate after a meal, when my kids learn a new skill, when Robbie has a long nap in his crib, or when Alice remembers her manners unprompted – all these little moments through the days are my mom wins right now and they keep me going until my hubby gets home!
What was labour and delivery like for you?
I was induced both times and opted for an epidural both times as well. They were fairly uneventful deliveries – thankfully! When it’s your first and you have no experience with labour, you put your trust in the guidance of your care providers and that is what I did. I was most definitely worried but I had to just do what felt right because you are literally just figuring it out as you go. I had some idea of what to expect the second time, and this really helped. I felt a lot calmer and was able to trust my instincts. With Robbie, I remember telling the nurse that it was time to push, but she didn’t believe me. I kept telling her (begging her) and she finally gave in and got the doctor for me – less than 5 minutes and 2 pushes later, Robbie was born (much to the nurse’s surprise).
What has been your favourite stage/age of parenting thus far?
Whenever our kids do something cute, my husband and I look at each other and say, “this is our favourite age!” Alice is 3 right now and it’s fun to see her speech and language skills develop. She says the most ridiculous things and tells the best stories! I think loving the stage your kids are currently in is a great survival mechanism for moms. It always feels okay while you’re in it but I am sure 10 or 20 years from now we will look back and wonder how we survived some of these stages and phases. Like the age where my daughter would only take naps on me; at the time it wasn’t so bad, I enjoyed the snuggles and feeling close to her whenever I could. Looking back, I can see it for the true burden it was but I did what I had to do to get through the day. I do recall really enjoying 18 months – when they are walking, have a few words, and you start to see their little personalities develop but the full blown tantrums haven’t started yet (in our case at least).
What do you believe is the biggest misconception about motherhood?
I used to think that all the other moms I saw were doing it all on their own. I thought that they were able to take care of their babies, have a spotless home, cook a healthy dinner every night, do their hair and makeup to go to the grocery store, and maintain a social life without needing any help. Thinking that this is what everyone else was doing, I put these expectations on myself and I became overwhelmed, burning out in no time at all. I soon realized that everyone was just doing their best, and those who seemed to do it all probably were fortunate to have help from family and friends. I had to learn that having to ask for help does not make you less of a Mom and that we all have to do it sometimes. In fact, remembering to take care of yourself is probably one of the best things you can do for your family.
If you could change one thing about the way you parent what would it be?
I think I am an overly protective parent. I am too quick to jump in and offer help. Alice is very capable and if she needs help she knows how to ask. I would like to be able to give her more time to problem solve before I intervene. Carly has a great blog post on this exact topic!
Similarly, with Robbie, I should give him more time to settle himself at night and not always run into his room to comfort him right away. I know this would be best for both of us in the long term, but it’s so much easier said than done!
What would you consider to be your approach to parenting?
We follow a pretty gentle parenting approach – this wasn’t necessarily a planned decision or a strategy – but it is a rhythm that my husband and I have naturally fallen into with our kids. We don’t necessarily think that this approach is best and we can see that we may need to make changes in the future but for now it works. Alice is a sensitive child, so being softer has allowed her room to express her own feelings without causing her to feel distressed over her choices.
Share with me your greatest piece of advice that you would give to new moms.
Don’t fall into the comparison trap! This is something I still have to remind myself often. Every kid is different – I’ve always known this, but now that I have a second child I’m realizing just how true this is. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing at your mom group, on social media, or wherever – just focus on your baby, listen to their cues, and follow your own instincts. You know your child best!