We were so excited when Stefanie wanted to be a part of Momfaming. We have been trying to do an in-person interview for awhile, but it just didn’t work out. Luckily, she was willing to do a write-in interview!
Stefanie has two beautiful, smart and full of personality little girls. If you are friends with her on Facebook or follow her Instagram you will know all of that to be true.
What we admire the most is that it’s so easy to tell that this family has fun. I mean FUN. Stefanie is for sure one of those ‘out of the box’ thinkers (making her daughters awesome Halloween costume). She doesn’t just do whatever is easiest. She is a mom we can all look up to.
Thank you, Stefanie, for sharing your thoughts and experiences. Welcome to the mom of fame!
Tell us about your family.
My husband and I met at Michigan State at the end of my freshman year, and we’ve been together ever since. Next year we’ll be celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary and 15th dating anniversary. I feel very lucky that we had so much time together as a couple before having kids. Shortly after getting married, we rescued our foxy looking dog, Zuzu. She’s now a cranky nine-year-old little lady. Our daughter Stella will be six in March, and our daughter Margot turns two on New Year’s Day. In my mind, I always thought I would become a girl mom one day. I also grew up with brothers and feel like I missed having that sisterly bond as a kid, so I’m thankful our girls have each other.
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?
In general, I remember hearing that it was important to have a support network of other moms. Obviously our moms were sources of support and advice, but it’s slightly different from talking with moms who are in the trenches, too. With my first daughter, a lot of that support came from my cousins who’d had their first babies the year prior, as well as the What to Expect online community boards (when I’d be up nursing or holding her in the middle of the night). I was one of the first of my friends to have a baby, so these other sources of help were crucial. By the time I had Margot, so many other friends had their own kids and I couldn’t be more thankful to have them all as a sounding board. We’re all in this together. I would absolutely tell a mom-to-be that they aren’t alone, even though it can often feel that way.
How is motherhood different than you imagined it would be?
Before having children, I didn’t understand or realize the level of isolation that I would be feeling as a mom at times. In my mind, we would have this human come into our lives and she would be this new, constant presence. But there were times after having Stella that I never felt more alone, especially as a nursing mom. Those hours in the middle of the night spent nursing and rocking and swaying felt like they would be my reality forever. I would excuse myself from events and sit or stand in a bathroom alone, feeding her. I became much more comfortable with the whole nursing process the second time around, thankfully. We often hear about the sacrifices moms make for their kids and families, but I learned that there are many different kinds of sacrifices, big and small. From giving up certain types of clothing that aren’t nursing-friendly to the hours spent awake in the middle of the night, moms do so much.
What are your three strengths when it comes to motherhood?
- My husband often says that I’m very patient, although that patience has been tested now that I have to get Stella ready for the school day in the mornings. The girl who always wore her hair down requests elaborate braids and pigtails now that she’s in kindergarten.
- I’m very enthusiastic about themed events, like birthday parties and Halloween. The last couple of years, I’ve had a blast making Stella’s costumes myself. And Margot’s first birthday was a Jimmy Buffett bash called Margot-ritaville.
- I make a point of capturing moments in photos or videos. We live at a time when it’s so easy, almost too easy. I know that we love looking back at old photos together, and I hope they’ll cherish them as they get older.
Describe a time where you were completely overwhelmed as a mother.
In Spring 2018, we took our first big family trip to Disney World. Margot couldn’t walk yet, but was very active and squirmy. She also wasn’t interested in sitting and watching a video or playing a game quite yet. It made our flights not very fun for ourselves or the surrounding passengers. After a very fun and tiring trip, we had our flight home. As I carried Margot onto the plane, she grabbed the necklace that belonged to my grandma and the chain broke, which got me upset and flustered. Much of the flight was spent trying to keep her busy with snacks and videos on my phone. She pooped in her diaper, and I had to walk to the middle of the plane to change her. Right at that time, the drink service cart started from the back of the plane and by the time I got out, the cart was past our row. Meaning I had to stand holding her behind the first class area while the cart slowly but surely came down the entire aisle. She was cranky and crying and it felt like a nightmare 30,000 feet in the air. To cap it off, she eventually passed out… as we were landing. Thankfully we didn’t fly again for several months.
Is there anything you feel that you have lost about yourself since becoming a mother? What have you gained?
Something I lost that I didn’t realize I had or appreciated was my autonomy. I often marvel at the fact that I used to be able to, gasp, get up and leave the house whenever I pleased and run as many errands as I wanted. If there’s anything I want or need to do by myself, it requires a lot of planning and coordination and thinking. On the flip side, I think I’ve learned the ability to manage and maximize my time. I try to counter the inefficiency of doing errands with kids by being as efficient as possible. Can I go to one store to get everything we need instead of stopping at two or three? And if I’m trying to get writing done, I force myself to do it during nap time when sometimes I’d rather read a magazine or watch a show. Having kids has helped me procrastinate less because there’s only going to be so much time to get things done.
What do you want your child(ren) to learn from you?
I really want them to learn the importance of caring about others, through kindness and forging friendships. I consider myself to be a good friend, and I hope that is something they value. I want them to be a bright spot in someone’s day and not a source of negativity or darkness. It’s something I try to do in my interactions with others, and I believe kindness can be contagious.
You are a writer, you have two little girls and you are married to someone who works in the world of politics. How do you juggle it all? How is election time different?
It can be a balancing act, that is for sure. Having Stella start kindergarten was a game-changer. Before then, I felt bad that much of her day was dictated by her sister’s multiple naps and feedings. I was of course emotional when she started full-day school, but I was also glad that she would be engaged throughout the day and that I would get a break. When she’s at school, it’s so much easier for me to drag Margot around to do errands and to write or conduct phone interviews while she’s napping. I’m thankful that I’ve had a consistent freelancing job for the last several months, and I’ve been writing on my blog for over a year. It was a big adjustment to stay home with my girls, so finding a way to continue writing in the meantime has kept me feeling productive and creative.
Election time is high-intensity and requires adjustments for all involved. My husband has worked on a few campaigns in the time we’ve been together, each at different stages in our family. This time around, I was thankful to be a stay-at-home mom because I could put my focus on our girls’ schedules and have the ability to keep things going at home. I relied on our families and friends for help, and my husband and I often both said that we appreciated everything the other was doing. There were long days for both of us, but thankfully it was all worth it in the end after a big Election Day.