Stephanie Precourt joins ETST today for a guest interview on motherhood. I “met” Stephanie when we both were a part of writing for Hallmark’s Life is a Special Occasion series and later through a group of bloggers who’ve shared an e-mail loop for the past year. I’ve so enjoyed Stephanie’s reflections and her thoughtful approach to motherhood. Stephanie is a mama of four who lives in Oregon and writes at Adventures in Babywearing. She is also the Online Content Manager for Listen to Your Mother (check it out!) and is a video contributor for the award winning Mommalogues series.
My favorite thing about Stephanie’s writing? There is such calm confidence expressed in her reflections. I love that and learn from that.
I loved all the ways in which I related to Stephanie through her answers and was inspired to think about how I’d answer some of these myself.
Hope you enjoy.
What was your “this is it” mom moment when you first really felt like a mom?
A moment I remember so clearly was sitting in my son’s nursery, rocking and nursing him and an overwhelming wave came over me of every feeling I’ve ever felt in my life. It was like all in a rush I experienced complete understanding, a fierce power and might along with intense fear and love, I was a mom. That was 12 years ago, I can hardly believe it.
Can you name a person who has made a remarkable impact on you as a mother? Why and how has this person impacted the way you parent?
I am kind of a collector of people and things, so I observe and reflect along the way. There are little bits and pieces of so many people that have affected how I parent. Ultimately my oldest son is probably responsible for the core of my parenting style because he had a rare disease early on and it shaped and changed our entire lives and how we approached parenting from then on out even still today. What we went through with him (and the people we met along the way during that time) taught us to follow our hearts and instincts and also that life is so fragile and precious. It just put everything into perspective early on and since then we observe a more natural/holistic and attachment parenting style with confidence.
Has your upbringing affected the way you parent? How/How not?
This is a good question- I think my upbringing affected my personality and who I am, and that is definitely reflected in my parenting. I was encouraged to dream big and be involved in the arts and had pretty easy-going parents. I prefer to be easy going as well and instill that in my kids- they don’t sweat the small stuff and feel safe and are great at self-expression. My husband and I were raised quite differently but have developed quite a good balance of both of our upbringings- not as structured as his but not has un-disciplined as mine!
How do you make time for your marriage while raising kids?
This is a tough one, something I think is always a work in progress especially while the kids are young and so demanding of our time and energy. My husband and I love to have date-nights in at least once or twice a week after the kids go to bed. We have our favorite TV shows we like to watch, or a movie. And as often as we can, we have started hiring babysitters more so that we can actually go out! But even when the kids are around, we are always trying to make time so that they can see that their mom & dad love each other and have a great relationship.
How do you measure your success as a parent?
Honestly, I think every night just before I fall asleep and replay the day in my head- how I feel about interactions with my kids and how they moved about their day- that’s how I gauge how I am doing. Those little days at a time add up and the next morning offers a fresh start to keep up the good work or make a change.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing mamas today?
I think labels and competition among other mothers is the most detrimental issue in motherhood. Worrying about how other moms do things or what they might think of how you parent just eats away at your self-confidence as a mom. It’s so freeing to accept all styles and allow yourself to not conform to a certain mold other than doing exactly what feels best for you.
What advice would you give a brand new mama?
You are the mom, you have the final say. Follow your instincts and do what is best for your child according to what your heart and mind is telling you. Surround yourself with positive influences and don’t be afraid to say “no” or “I don’t know.”
At this point in motherhood, is there anything you would have liked to have done differently?
There are some specific things I would have done differently, yes, but they are mostly things I could never have known until going through it. I do wish I wouldn’t have sleep-trained my oldest son and wouldn’t have been so afraid to get in trouble for co-sleeping with him. (And wouldn’t have been so afraid of disappointing our pediatrician!) I wish I would have been better and more consistent/less lazy with potty training ALL of my kids, and I wish I would have breastfeed my first two boys longer like I had wanted instead of falling into peer pressure to wean them when I did.
You’re shot after a “motherhood is hard” day. You need a break from your kids. What do you do?
Whenever possible, I leave the house and go to Target, the library, or the knitting shop. And Starbucks is usually involved. If I can’t leave, then I announce an early bedtime and – despite wanting to stay up and read or catch up on my favorite show- I’ll hit the hay, too. Makes a ton of difference!
What’s something from your childhood that you cherish and would love to recreate for your children? What’s something from your childhood that you don’t want your children to experience?
I have such fond memories of exploring the outdoors of our home and having independence from my parents while still in a safe environment. I hope that my kids can experience that- we live in a scary /paranoid time and I want my kids to be able to ride their bikes around our neighborhood and play in the woods and make their own grand adventures and memories. One of the most life-changing parts of my childhood was losing my grandmother, and I was never the same after that. I don’t ever want my kids to go through a loss like that at such a young age.
Do you have a favorite mantra/quote that helps you during the hard times of motherhood?
I love the Ruth Hulbert Hamilton poem Babies Don’t Keep “Quiet down cobwebs and dust go to sleep! I’m rocking my babies and babies don’t keep.” Also, “You’ve got this, you’re doing great.” Because it’s true.
What do you hope your kids will say about you when they are grown and looking back at childhood in your home?
I honestly hope they will all argue and truly feel like they were my favorite, each one of them.
Read more from Stephanie Precourt at Adventures in Babywearing.