Updated: Apr 4, 2019
I'm thrilled to feature my friend Vanessa! Vanessa is such a beautiful person inside and out, a fellow undergrad Psychology major, and a long-time friend and sorority sister from college. She did an amazing job answering questions about her experience as a momma and shared some wonderful insight and advice as well. Please enjoy, and thank you again, Vanessa.
Children: Girl-8, Boy-2.5, Boy-1
Occupation: Internal Controls Analyst for a top 10 Fortune 500 company.
What would you like others to know about being a
I’ve been a single mom. I got divorced at 27 and had a 1 year old daughter at the time. As a single mom, I learned right away that people will judge you without knowing a thing about you except the fact that you aren’t married and have a child. Even if they judge, you don’t need to prove anything to them. They will see what a great mom you are by the way you interact with your child. And being a single mom is hard. Don’t be too proud to ask for help. I got through that time with some family support, some coworker support, and tons of support from my friends that have been like family to me. Dating was hard and awkward at first but I lived by two rules- 1. Don’t introduce your kid to anyone unless you’re truly serious about that person. They don’t need to meet someone who won’t be around 3 weeks later. And 2. Find someone who thinks your kid isn’t “baggage” but rather another life they would be honored to be a part of.
Momma of 2 under 2:
When my youngest was born and my middle son was only 14 months old, I realized life was going to be crazy... and crazy for awhile. They are now almost 2.5 and just over 1 and I can confirm that life is organized chaos every single day! My older son is old enough to push the younger one around and he does... hundreds of times a day! And the younger one is too little to do much back so it’s constant teaching replacement behaviors, timeouts, and just shaking my head at the things they do. Two under 2 is hard and you’ll be exhausted by 8pm each night but you’ll get these little glimpses of what will hopefully be what their relationship will be like in the future- the laughs between the two of them when one blows raspberries on the couch cushion and they both think it’s hilarious, when they finally play with the 30 toy cars together instead of fighting over the one red monster truck, when they find the other’s favorite stuffed animal and brings it over because they know their brother wants it. Each day is hard but these moments make it worth it all. Just make sure your significant other is just as much a part of the parenting these two kiddos as you are. I was blessed with an amazingly involved husband and we split the “crazy boy” duties evenly- He feeds one while I feed the other. He gives one a bath and I bathe the other. He gets a fresh diaper and pajamas on one and I do the same for the other. We also started a routine when our first child together was born- my middle son. We rotate who’s “night” it is to take care of the baby/kids in the middle of the night. Every other night, I knew it was my turn to do overnight feedings and diaper changes and easing a crying baby. When it wasn’t my night, I knew I didn’t have to get out out bed when I heard a baby cry. It was the perfect way for us to not play the “if I pretend I’m still sleeping, my spouse will have to get up and take care of it” game. Even though the boys are older, we still rotate nights and the person on duty gets up when the boys do and changes diapers first thing in the morning. Splitting these responsibilities was the only way we got through (and still do) the days and nights and it’s helped us to never be resentful towards each other or feel like one parent is doing all the work. But if you find yourself feeling like you need more help, just ask. Don’t assume your significant other knows you need him/her to step up to the plate! What has surprised you the most about motherhood?
How little sleep you need to still function well the next day. How your priorities change from having a spotless house to not worrying if the toys are picked up at the end of the night (since they’ll all just be back out by 8am the next morning). How few things embarrass me and how no topic seems to be “off limits” to discuss.
How do you practice self-care?
I love to read so I try to do that when I can. I’ve also started listening to podcasts recently. I have about an hour drive one way to/from work so that is my “me time” to listen to podcasts or to just jam to some music. Music with a good beat to dance to or just really good lyrics are good for my soul. We are pretty strict with bed times for the kids and putting them down still awake when they were little made bedtime routines quick and painless. Because of that, once 8pm hits, both boys are in bed and by 9pm so is my daughter. That gives me time to unwind and do some reading or even watch ridiculous reality tv (a guilty pleasure my husband and I share). I’m also trying to have more of a social life again. Hanging out with friends or coworkers even for an hour here and there is a good way to feel like you are a person outside of your role as a mom, wife, occupation, etc.
What is the best advice about motherhood you've received?
One of my old coworkers once told me that motherhood isn’t always like what you see in the movies and people make it out to be this beautiful thing 100% of the time and it’s not. Although this seemed obvious, it didn’t really hit until I experienced the moments she went on to explain I would have at some point have. She said that you may not look at your newborn for the first time and instantly fall in love. Instead, your first thought might be “Holy crap! Now what?!?! I can’t do this! I don’t even know what I’m doing!” And although you’ll be euphoric from the smell of a new baby and the way they can fall asleep in the nook of your neck, she said there will be times when you want to break down and cry and it’s perfectly ok. It’s ok to put your crying baby down in their crib or bassinet or swing or wherever they will be safe and just walk away and cry yourself or scream for a minute. I literally had this moment a few weeks into dealing with a colicky newborn, my very first child. I went into my bathroom and just sobbed because I was exhausted from lack of sleep, my ears were ringing from the constant crying, I couldn’t put my baby down without the crying getting worse, and nothing seemed to help. I felt so alone and overwhelmed and frustrated. But then I remembered that my coworker had described this exact moment and I instantly no longer felt alone. I knew I wasn’t doing the “mom thing” wrong- I was just experiencing a moment in motherhood that wasn’t rainbows and unicorns like everyone likes to pretend that it is. I also knew that because I wasn’t alone, it was ok to talk to other people about the not-so-perfect times because they too are having those moments. You’ll question every decision you make, especially at the beginning. It won’t be perfect. But talking to other people about it and having a mom-tribe, even if the people in your tribe are not moms or even women for that matter- you need to be able to talk about the good, bad, and ugly of raising children because you’ll soon realize everyone is just trying to do the best they can in life.
What do you consider a must-have baby registry product?
Hands down an automatic Rock N’ Play! Invest in a good baby monitor too since you’ll use that for years most likely! A stroller that you can open and fold down easily with one hand is a must too! You’ll always have stuff in your hands and people waiting for you to put the stroller away and get out of a parking spot so being able to do that quickly is great!
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What is your favorite quote about motherhood?
“The days are long but the years are short. Cherish every moment.”