Amanda is every mom during the first year of motherhood. She is listening to others’ advice while also doing what works best for her and her family. She is enjoying being back at work while also missing her little man. She is sleep deprived, stressed, and trying to navigate this new life while also enjoying the journey so much more than she even thought she would.
Walking into her house you would never know she is a first time mom. The house is perfectly clean, she has her son’s food laid out for the week to send to daycare, and she is just relaxing on the couch cuddling and playing with her 7 month old. She warns us that he might not be in the mood for pictures because he can be a “handful” but he proved her wrong the entire time. He gave us smiles, gave mom snuggles, and even joined in and “talked” to us for a while.
Even though Amanda is still figuring out this whole motherhood thing, there is one thing for sure; she couldn’t love that little boy any more. She is showing him what love is every day and you can hear it in her answers and see it in these pictures. Her answers were so well said and we think that every mom will be able to relate to them all! Welcome to the Mom of Fame, Amanda, you couldn’t deserve it more!
What is the best piece of advice you were given about motherhood? Did you take it? Would you give that piece of advice to someone else?
You’re going to get too much advice. My boss told me that. I don’t think that you could ever anticipate how much solicited and unsolicited advice you’re going to get. And it’s really hard not to compare yourself to other moms or compare your baby to other babies when all you’re hearing is other people’s experiences. And I know people are trying to help but I think the unsolicited advice is actually unhelpful.
I tried to not share advice with other people. Friends that are pregnant I just tell them you’re going to be great; it’s going to be great. Not getting sleep isn’t that bad (which is a blatant lie). But I try not to give too much advice unless someone asks. Clearly I don’t have it all figured out. So I actually think that was a really good piece of advice because the worst thing you can do is compare yourself and compare your baby.
How is motherhood different than you imagined it would be?
It’s much harder than I thought and it’s also much better than I thought. If that makes sense. I don’t think you can anticipate…you think being pregnant is hard, and then you have the baby, and you go, “okay, this is much harder”. But I think you cannot prepare yourself for the amount of worry, what it’s like to get so little sleep, how much you might question yourself, even if you think you’re prepared. I mean you’ve done all the classes and you’ve read all the books. There still was, for me, a lot of questioning, “am I doing the right thing?”, “should I be doing something different?”.
But on the flip side, you also can’t imagine how much you’re going to love them. And how much happiness is going to be brought into your life. Honestly your extended family and your friends are so happy for you. The amount of joy that you feel even when you first bring them home is just something you could never anticipate.
What are your three strengths when it comes to motherhood?
I’m really organized. Just [with] all his food. We’ve got to plan for his food. What we’re going to introduce at this time. Every 3 days we have a schedule. That stuff I’m good at. There’s not been anything where we’ve had to run out to the store at any point because we didn’t have something. Or it wasn’t washed and ready when we brought him home. That was something I had control over and that I could do. And even as we still go through, 7 months in, that gives me a semblance of control when I feel like I don’t usually have any. So, for me, that’s been the easiest thing. I think it makes my life easier and my husband’s life easier, when everything, at least for him, is prepared and ready to go. Everything else is in a complete state of disarray, but for him things are pretty organized and ready.
I try to be patient. I don’t know how well I’m doing at that.
I love him a lot. I think that’s a strength.
Describe a time where you were completely overwhelmed as a mother.
A lot. When he had RSV and we were going to the doctor. I think we were at the pediatrician 3 times that week and then they said if he gets worse you need to take him to the ER. It was in the height of flu season so we really debated, “is he worse?”, “is he not worse?”. We had been to the pediatrician in the morning and we ended up at the pediatric urgent care that night. They told us, “you know it’s really your decision whether you think you should hospitalize him or not”.
When they said it’s your decision it really hit me. You can go to as many doctors as you want, you can get all the advice you can get, you can seek every professional you want to talk to, but it’s really your responsibility. It’s 100% your choice on what you’re going to do next, to make the best decision for your child. And that, especially in a medical related scenario, just felt like so much pressure. And we really just didn’t know what to do.
It was 10 o’clock at night. He was struggling to breathe. We were measuring retractions, counting breaths. We ended up deciding, sort of talked it through with the doctor, that one of us would stay up with him all night just to make sure that his breathing wasn’t getting worse. That was a time that was just so difficult and challenging. I think that we were just at a loss. And since then, honestly, we have a lot more confidence. He’s gotten sick a lot. He goes to daycare; he’s been going for 2 months and he’s been sick four times. It’s easier to take it in stride. But having that first one get to RSV was awful at the time. Now he’s stronger, we’re stronger as parents and have more confidence in how to handle these situations.
Is there anything you feel that you have lost about yourself since becoming a mother? What have you gained?
Pretty much all my freedom (laughs). The ability to go to Target, quickly. I think even when you go do things by yourself, whether it’s just errands or a night out, you talk about your kids pretty much the whole time. It’s hard to kind of regain your semblance of self. Even if you do, you feel a little guilty. Okay, am I focusing on myself too much? What’s the baby doing?
Even with daycare, I feel like I don’t even run errands on the way home. Even though I know he can stay until 6, I’m constantly like “okay I want to pick him up as soon as I can”; “I feel bad that he’s there”; “okay I’ll go do this myself another time”. So I think the loss of freedom is very difficult. But obviously you gain so much more. I think maybe that’s a balance that I’m still hoping to find.
I think, too, he is the first grand baby on both sides. The amount of love that the extended family has for him has been an incredible experience. My dad kept saying, “you don’t very often get to add to your family”. And when that happens it is just so special. It’s not special just for you. To see your friends and family experience that with you has been really so special and something that I didn’t necessarily anticipate.
What do you want your child(ren) to learn from you?
I think mostly my job is to teach him to be kind. Because I think that will lead to so many other good things. I think kindness breeds happiness. I think it breeds all of the things you want your kids to be good at; resolving conflict, thoughtful to other people, empathetic. I think it’s hard because to have kindness you need to be patient and I think as a parent you’re stretched in a lot of different directions and it’s hard to sometimes slow down and think about things from their perspective.
You feel like you’re thinking about them all the time but sometimes you’re so rushed and hurried with going through those motions it’s hard to really focus on what they might need outside of “is his food packed?”, “are his clothes ready?”. Maybe they just need your attention. Maybe they need a little more time. My husband and I talk about that a lot. How can we impart that upon him? And I don’t think we have that figured out. But it’s what we want to focus on.
How has the transition to being a working mom been?
I think being a working mom you question your choices a lot. Could I be doing something differently? Where should I be? It’s very hard, I think, when you become a mom to still be a good wife, and a good daughter and a good sister, and a good employee, and a good friend. Everything that’s important to you in your life before you want to continue it, and you have much, much, much less time to do so. And I think you have to set some boundaries when you’re a working mom. And if you didn’t have them before that’s very hard to do because you’re changing people’s expectations. And changing your own. If you’re a pleaser and you don’t want to disappoint people, that’s hard. I think some jobs will take as much as you will let them take. That’s okay, but it’s your job, as a mom, to prioritize; understand when I have to focus on work or when I have to focus on my son.
I felt very very guilty on my first day back because I was so happy to be back. I felt very very bad about that. And a lot of people asked me, “are you okay? You’re not crying”, and I’m like, “no, i’m not crying”. But someone gave me a really good tip to start daycare and do drop offs several times before you go back to work. We had done an hour; it didn’t go well. We did 2 hours; it went better. We did a half day; it went better. So when I dropped him off I had a comfort that both him and I were in a good place. That I think helps. Also, I was ready to be, sort of, back in the world of adult conversation.
I think if I could have my choice I would love to work part time and stay home with him more. I feel like I’m missing things which I’m sure probably is a common feeling among working moms. I think those feelings of “I missed it” are really hard to deal with. But I think we also shouldn’t feel guilty if you want to go to work. And maybe that makes you a better mom. To go to work for some of the time and really focus on your kid when you’re home, and that’s okay. I think all these feelings of guilt is sort of what makes motherhood even harder than it needs to be. Which is why it’s so cool that you guys are doing what you’re doing. I think when we can eliminate that and tell other people, “yeah, you know what, I was happy to go back to work; I had a good first day back”. And I shouldn’t feel shameful for saying that, and I wouldn’t want someone else to either. I always think of it this way when I’m feeling bad or guilty; if someone else said this to me I would tell them, “why would you feel bad about that? That’s totally a normal thing.” But when it’s yourself, you’re your own worst critic. So it’s easy to be hard on yourself and say “oh gosh, I’m not being a good mom because I was happy to go back to work after 5 months of being off”. I can’t be that hard on myself. And I wouldn’t be that hard on somebody else.
So, I don’t know, it’s tough. There’s a lot of days I think, “am I doing the right thing?” And a lot of days that I’m very happy to go to work. And a lot of days I really don’t want to go to work and I want to stay home. So I think that’s kind of a constant push and pull.