1. What are the challenges that you have had to personally face as a caregiver?
My greatest challenge as a caregiver is having faith and confidence in my ability to provide and nurture my loved ones. I often struggle with feelings of inadequacy and guilt: two emotions that I think most mothers experience at one time or another. As a working mother, I often find myself struggling to balance family life with my career. As much as I love my job and value my ability to support my family financially, I leave my house with a heavy heart every morning as I kiss my little ones goodbye. Do they know how much I love them? Am I doing everything I can to prepare them for their futures? Am I taking full advantage of the time I DO have with them? Learning to just breathe, have faith in God's plan for our family, and enjoy the moment for what it is: I work on those concepts daily.
2. When do you think is a good time for someone to have a baby?
For Shawn and I, we just knew. We were 24 years old and had been married for four years. We had traveled the world, spent countless hours getting to know each other and strengthening our bond, explored who we were and what we wanted out of life. One night, in a tiny bar in downtown New Orleans, we looked at each other and said, "It's time". We were ready to be more, to share our love with someone else, to give of ourselves and put something out into the world that was bigger than our own selfish wants and needs. To me, that's the best time to have a baby: the time in your life when you are evolved enough to say, "There's so much more to life than just ME".
3. What kind of parent are you? Laid back? Paranoid?
I fall somewhere in the middle with my parenting style. I worry but not too much, I relax but I also like structure and routine. I don't believe in hovering over my children and curating their every move. I also don't just sit back and let them have free reign. Much of my parenting style follows the attachment parenting school of thought: extended breast feeding, baby wearing, cosleeping. But I also don't believe in letting kids take complete control: there has to be consistency and routine in our house. Rules and discipline are necessary. We try to keep things simple and emphasize the importance of respect, love, and consideration for others in all things.
4. What is something that your child does to make you angry?
Deliberately breaking the rules, lying, cheating, and/or being disrespectful to others are all behaviors that are not tolerated in our home. These behaviors upset me and my children know that. There are clear lines drawn in our family regarding these behaviors and our children know that these things will lead to consequences.
5. How has having a child affected your life?
Becoming a mother has made me a better person in every way. I have grown so much since I had Isabelle 9 years ago: I am stronger, more determined, and more patient. I am more forgiving of myself and others. I am more fearless and willing to try new things. I now live with the outlook that everything I do affects another person. My children are looking to me as an example of what a woman should be, they are shaping their own ideals, morals, and values around the things that I teach them. This concept carries a very heavy sense of personal responsibility and I don't take it lightly.
6. Do you every miss the way life used to be before kids? How so?
There are two things I miss about life before kids: being able to sit and enjoy an entire meal with both hands while it's still hot and being able to talk to my husband without getting interrupted. The only time those luxuries happen anymore are on the rare occasion we have a date night.
7. How do you desire your kids to think of you?
I pray that my kids think of me as a loving, compassionate, kind hearted person who gave of myself to others more than I thought of myself. I pray that they see God's love in me. I pray that I inspire them to believe, love, and respect themselves, to have confidence and self respect. To be the kind of people that other people can depend on.
8. Did you think everything through before you had a child (financially, physically, etc.)?
Honestly, no. I have so many friends who waited until they finished college, bought their first homes, paid off their student loans, etc. before having children. We didn't do that, we just went for it. Of course, our timing made things more difficult for us at times as we often had to worry about money, bills, etc. But our love for each other and for our family has always been so much stronger than our bank account. We made things work, even when the numbers were stacked against us. And I think that made us who were are today.
9. Do you think that having children strengthens or weakens a marriage?
I think it depends on the marriage. When we had our first child, we were still quite young and immature. We had a lot to learn about the true sacrifices that are required of a successful marriage. We fought about silly and insignificant things: who changed the most diapers, who got more sleep. My husband sometimes felt alone and abandoned since I was now sharing my attention with the baby. It was a big adjustment. As the years have gone by, however, things have gotten better. We've learned to enjoy the role as Mom and Dad as much as we enjoy Husband and Wife. We've learned to treasure those moments with a bed full of kids rather than lament the way things used to be. We've become each other's greatest cheerleaders, supporting each other in any way that we can so as to make the other person's day a little bit easier. After 13 years of marriage and 3 kids, I can honestly say that our marriage is stronger than ever.
10. What is an activity that you have had to give up since becoming a parent?
After the birth of my second child, I stopped going to dance class. I have been a dancer since I was three years old and going to class each week and performing on the big stage has always been one of my greatest joys. I took a step back after Brees was born, however, because I felt like I needed to focus that extra time at home. I hope to get back to the ballet barre eventually, when my little ones are older and not in such great need of my undivided attention.
11. What pressures do you think society places on parents?
I feel like today's mothers are expected to do it all: work away from home, earn a decent living, and then come home and be Martha Stewart. Not only do I have to work a full day earning a paycheck, I then have to come home and cook a nutritious, organic meal, carpool to piano lessons and ballet class, help with homework, keep a clean and organized home, bake and craft and love my family to pieces. It can be exhausting: trying to do it all.
12. How much alone time do you have in one day?
Honestly, not much. My kids follow me everywhere: they talk to me when I'm in the shower, using the restroom, trying to talk on the phone, etc. There's always at least one kid in our bed, one in my lap, one needing my attention. The only alone time I have is in my car on my way to work.
13. What is the funniest thing that has happened so far?
Oh, there are so many funny moments! Shawn and I often laugh at the overall chaos that is sometimes our life: the girls sneaking out of their beds and into each other's rooms at night, the baby smiling and cooing at us, wide awake at 3 am, all 3 of them crying and throwing temper tantrums at the same time, finding evidence of their mischief all over the house. We often find ourselves shaking our heads and laughing at the craziness, thinking, "Is this our life?!!!". Yes, yes it is. And boy are we lucky!!