I’ve known Becky for almost a year now. She’s incredibly friendly to everyone, is amazingly invested in her children and was also raised in Pa! Enjoy her few thoughts on Motherhood.
1. How has Motherhood changed you as a woman?
Motherhood has made me much more aware of being female, the differences between men and women, both genetically and culturally. Although I was raised to believe in the concepts of feminism, it wasn’t until after I gave birth that I truly understood the urgent, continued, need for creating a society that treats men and women equitably. And notice I did not say treats men and women the same. Raising small kids just needs more support and so many things about the lives of women – even non-parents – are connected to that. When you have a newborn, probably even if you didn’t give birth to it but especially if you did, you NEED other people to help you. My first child was a terrible sleeper as a baby, and while his birth and the process of nursing went relatively smoothly, I was physically exhausted at all moments. I needed my husband to come home from a long day of work and nonetheless cook dinner; there was just no way I could have done it. I needed a nearby friend to tell me to take my baby to story time at the library so I got us out of the house. Caring for an infant made me feel physically and emotionally vulnerable in a way I had never experienced before. The idea that this very breakable being completely relied on me was pretty jarring. My kids are a older now and that feeling of physical vulnerability hasn’t quite left me, even when I’m not with my kids. Although it is a little frightening to now be so aware the fragility of everything – not only the fragility of my own children, but the fragility of everything – I think it has helped me become a more careful, thoughtful person, with more empathy for people who do not have their acts together.
2. What is your full time occupation? Parent.
3. Tell us about your family…
I am married to a wonderful man and we have two children. Our boy is 5 and our girl is 3. The family I was raised in was similar: mom, dad, 2 kids; my dad worked full-time and my mom stayed at home with us for many years. I’m also older than my sister by two years. I just recently told my sister, parenting young kids is the only job I’ve ever had where I feel like I at least know what I’m supposed to be doing (even if I don’t always succeed) because my mom was (and is) so great.
4. What is one family tradition you have raised your family with?
We always spend holidays with extended family. Other than that, we are pretty play-it-by-ear people.5. What are your “must-haves” as a Mom?
Support. There are lots of physical items that I’ve found useful: I wore both my kids a lot when they were babies, so my Ergo was pretty vital. I even used to nurse my daughter in the Ergo when we were out shopping, but that feels like a million years ago now! Being physically organized in our house has become close to a must-have. But all of that pales in comparison to support from the people around me. My husband is a very involved parent and there are things he routinely does with the kids. He does bedtime for example. But, he has a very demanding job and there are days I’m the lead parent alone from wake up to bedtime (although, for full-disclosure, my kids are both in full-time school now). So, support from my parents who live somewhat close and my sister who also lives in DC helps immensely. And, my core group of friends who are nearby neighbors and also parents has kept me sane. I’m in a babysitting co-op and being able to send a desperate email asking for kid coverage for an hour or two – where my kids get to play with neighbor friends – is wonderful; or being able to ask another parent to watch one of my kids on the school playground while I take the other kid inside the school to pee. And finding that group of neighbor-parents who sometimes just want to walk over to have a drink while our kids gleefully tear my (or their) house apart.
6. What is something you are talented with or passionate about?
I’m passionate about public school. My mother, sister, and a few cousins are all educators and I’ve always been interested in schooling. Now that my kids are old enough to go, I’ve become pretty informed about DC’s complicated public school landscape and a big supporter of our traditional neighborhood school system. I’ll proselytize to anyone who asks about the DC school lottery!7. Any advice for new Mothers?
Take a deep breath. Even in the midst of a seeming disaster, you *almost* always have time to take a beat to calm down and stay in the moment. Kids respond to calmness.8. Where do you call home?
Washington, DC! I’m biased, but I think it is the absolute best place to raise kids. Seriously! I’ll always be a Pennsylvanian at heart, but I hope my kids describe themselves as Washingtonians when they are adults.9. What is a favorite past-time you do with your child/children?
Read. I’ve always read to my kids a lot. When the 5-year-old was a baby, he would let me read Beatrix Potter to him for hours. He just started reading on his own in earnest and it’s magical. The 3-year-old was too busy climbing when she was very little to sit for hours of reading, but I’m hopeful that she was listening to her brother’s stories from across the room 😉10. What has motherhood taught you?
That I don’t know anything. That things are never going to go exactly the way I expect, and that’s ok, but I have to keep trying anyway.11. What is your favorite quote about motherhood?
It’s not a quote specific to motherhood, but it sums up the way I am trying to parent. It’s the quote by Mahatma Gandhi that is shortened to, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” The full quote is:
“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.”
I always tell my kids, “You are in charge of you.” It’s leading my kids by example. By trying to smooth the jagged parts in myself, I’m trying to best support them while they become the people they are supposed to be. By changing myself, and bettering my community, I hope I’m showing them we all should work together to guide our world to something better, both our own internal worlds and the wider world around us.