Laura was born to be a mom. She started babysitting at a young age, went on to be a nanny and now is a preschool teacher. While we were doing our interview her two girls were playing on the playground with their dad. That is, until they missed their mom too much and just couldn’t be away from her any longer. They compromised so that we could finish up and the girls agreed to stay with their dad as long as their mom was in full-view the entire time.
Laura’s background should have made becoming a mom really easy, right? I mean she knows more about kids than most of us. She realized pretty quickly, though, that nothing really prepares you for becoming a mom and it’s much harder than she thought it would be. Her answers were completely relate-able and it was so refreshing to hear how honest she was. She talked about what it was like to have kiddos only 15 months apart, how she makes sure to make time for herself, and her journey with breastfeeding.
Even though Laura says being a mom is hard, she still makes it look easy. Her girls are best friends and are both totally in love with their mom. Please join us in welcoming her to the Mom of Fame, she definitely belongs there!
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?
Sleep when they sleep and enjoy each moment because it goes fast. I feel like when they were babies I was a lot better at taking this advice; especially sleeping when they slept. It was harder with [my second], I think, because [my first] was still kind of like a baby. She was 15 months when [my youngest] was born so it was like I had two babies and [my first] didn’t really understand. I feel like I still try to enjoy everything and it’s gotten more fun now that they’re older.
Another thing was making time for myself, I guess. I think when they were babies that was hard for me because I was obsessive. I didn’t want to miss anything. I went back to work when they were both 9 weeks, so I didn’t want my mom or mother-in-law to tell me anything that happened. Then with working, I had guilt in doing things for myself. Now I don’t. I’m trying really hard to do that still; making time for myself. I’ve gotten better as they’ve gotten older and I know they’re okay.
I would tell people those same things. I always tell my friends that if they have any questions or anything to ask me. I’m not just going to go, “so…you need to do xyz with your baby and if you don’t you’re a crappy mom.” I’m not going to do that. Everyone makes their own choices. I try to do the same and I can’t stand when people tell me things. I feel like I’ve learned to just nod and smile.
How is motherhood different than you imagined it would be?
This is going to sound weird, but I thought it would be easier. Because I started babysitting when I was 12, I was a nanny for 10 years, and I’m a teacher. So I was like, “I know kids, I’ve got this!” No one prepares you for the lack of sleep, the poop, the puke, all of the stress. Like, you have to keep a person alive. And no one prepares you for that. Nothing prepares you for that.
I feel like the beginning was just survival. I look back on it and I think how did I make it through that first year? Especially with [my second]. I don’t even remember her being an infant because it was such a blur with two little kids. And everyone was like, “how did you do it?” It just happened; I just did it. I feel like now that they’re older, I’m enjoying it more and I have fun with them. It’s kind of more like I expected. We get to go do things and they’re funny and they make me laugh and make me smile.
What are your three strengths when it comes to motherhood?
Showing my kids that I’m a hard worker. This past year has been really awful for a lot of reasons and I’ve had to do everything on my own. So I feel like when they’re older they can see that I was strong and they can be strong in similar ways.
Everyone has always told me I’m a pretty patient person. Even though [my daughters] know how to push every single button I have, I try to be really patient with them. I want them to be independent and I try to encourage them to do things by themselves. Even if it’s going to take 20 minutes to put their own shoes on and it’s probably going to be on the wrong foot. But at the end of the day she did that; and she might make me 10 minutes late to something, but I don’t want her to feel rushed. Or I don’t want her to think she can’t do something just because I am impatient. I don’t want to squelch that, I want them to feel they can do things. I don’t want them to feel frustrated, I don’t want them to feel me being frustrated. I mean I have to be patient all the time with kids. It is harder with my own and hopefully they feel that I’m patient most of the time.
I try to make sure they feel loved, safe and happy every day by making a warm, loving home. I try to make sure home is their safe place. I try to give them extra cuddles, we always read stories and I always tell them how much I love them and that I’m proud of them. We always talk about how they can do whatever they want and I always try to encourage them. [My oldest] just wants to be a mom, she says. [Laughs].
Describe a time where you were completely overwhelmed as a mother.
I feel like I’ve been overwhelmed a lot, just by everything that has gone on in my life. The past few years have been really hard. I don’t ever do anything for myself. So last year I told my husband, “I’m going to get a hotel room for a night”. So that’s what I did. I went up to Birch Run, got a hotel room by myself, went shopping, had wine, took a hot shower, ate hot food, slept in a bed with no one touching me, watched chick flicks. It was amazing. I’ve said ever since then that I need to make it a point to do things like that because I do get overwhelmed. If I’m not taking care of myself then my kids start getting affected and I’m snappy at everyone and no one really deserves that. So after I did that, I felt human again.
Is there anything you feel that you have lost about yourself since becoming a mother? What have you gained?
Sometimes I feel like there are days where I don’t even recognize myself. It’s like, do I have a hobby? Do I have any things that I enjoy doing? What makes me happy? I feel like in a sense I have lost part of myself where I just don’t know anything anymore. But [with everything that’s happening in my life] I’ve started to talk to my friends again. I’ve started to get myself back and find myself again. And be my own person, which I think is good, because I think I’ve been consumed with my kids and that’s not really healthy.
I feel like I’ve gained a lot. I like being a mom. I like seeing things through their eyes. Seeing them learn new things and seeing them grow is fun. Seeing them be best friends is really fun. So I feel like I’ve lost myself, but I’ve gained them. I’ve gained everything. I love them.
What do you want your child(ren) to learn from you?
I want them to learn to be independent, kind, compassionate, strong and loving women who never give up on their dreams. I want them to know that it’s okay to ask for help. I feel like that’s something I have struggled with, especially lately, and I’ve gotten better about being like, “okay, I need a break.” So I want them to know that it’s okay if they’re struggling with something and that they can ask for help. And I’ll always be there for them and love them no matter what.
Tell us about your extended breastfeeding experience.
[My youngest] is still obsessed with my boob and she’s three [laughs]. Which I think people are like, “why are you doing that?” I’ve always said, with both, I would let them self-wean. But with [my oldest] I got pregnant when she was 7 months so I dried up. So she made it to 13 months before we were completely done. With [my youngest] I’ve tried. I have tried. But her face. Like she just gets so sad. It’s really only at night and in the morning. And I time her and give her only 5 minutes. Honestly I’m ready to be done, but she’s not. I feel like people are like, “you’re weird, you’re doing that for you”. No I’m not. Honestly at this point I don’t care if she was done tomorrow. I might be a little bit sad because I like the bond we have but at the same time I get really touched out. I get touched all day by [my students].
I know it’s good for her, but she’s not a baby, she doesn’t need it. I never thought I would be nursing a 3 year old. She can ask for it, she has teeth. But her little face, I can’t tell her no. It’s not hurting anyone. She’s fine overnight at other people’s houses. I was just gone for four nights and deep down I was hoping I would get back and she wouldn’t ask, because I don’t bring it up. But she asked me, and I don’t usually say no. I can say no to a lot but she just gets too upset and it’s not worth it. So here we are, 3 years later, still going at it.