Mom of Fame – Stefanie

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.

Toys Vs. Activities – What to Get for Christmas?

I’ve done them both and I think I have the answer.

A couple of years ago (when I wasn’t pregnant) I gave my nieces the gift of an activity with me. This was in place of the toy or gift or gift card that they were asking for. 

The activities were based upon what I thought each girl would like. Some of the time it was a broadway show at The Fox Theater. Another time I took one niece to a kids Painting With a Twist. From shows to art classes to aquariums and crocheting – I was willing to try it all. 

It was a day and night (they all slept over as well) of non-stop niece action. It was incredibly valuable to not only them, but also myself. I learned so much more about them as individuals because it was one on one and not with their sisters. 

What I learned:

  1. Although actual presents might be more fun to open, the anticipation of the “Auntie Date” far outweighs it. 
  2. This is not only for the child. It’s for you and the parents of the child, too. Put the phone down and be ‘present’ to the child. They notice everything.
  3. Have a conversation with them during the date. Not just your ‘how’s school’ and such. Ask meaningful questions and you will be surprised at the answers you get back.
  4. Aim for a certain age. I have not done this with my youngest niece or nephew yet. I think it makes a little more sense to wait until they can remember it.
  5. Be a kid during the date. Do things that you might not usually do. Have fun and show that fun to the child (whether your own or not).

These dates have been priceless and I cannot wait to start doing them again when I am not so pregnant. This year birthday and Christmas gifts were just that – gifts. But I am hoping to bring this back again soon.

So when deciding what to get, try and think out of the box. Think of a somewhere – not a wrapped box. They will forever remember the memory of the event instead of what was wrapped inside a little box.

Mom of Fame – Rachel

Rachel had her daughter when she was 38 years old. She thought since she was older and wiser that motherhood would be a breeze. She realized pretty quickly, though, that nothing about it was going to be easy and that age has nothing to do with it!

Along with being a mom to her beautiful one year old, she is also an author of 2 children’s books and a dental hygienist. Even with all of her commitments she was nice enough to answer our questions. She talks about why she didn’t really take much advice from other moms, how motherhood was much different than she imagined, and how her life changed (mostly for the better) when she had her daughter.

Help us welcome Rachel, another deserving mom, into our Mom of Fame and be sure to check out her two wonderful books, Animal Isle and If the Dentist Were an Animal

Please tell us a little about yourself and your family.

Jim and I are first time parents who started our family, each at the age of 38. Prior to having our daughter Maggie, I worked full time as a Dental Hygienist and Children’s Author and Jim was, and still is a tax partner with a large firm. After the birth of our daughter, I made the decision to go back to work part time as Jim’s schedule demands a fair amount of travel. 

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? 

I’d say, the best piece of advice I received was to not get hung up on all the advice mothers were going to throw at me. Ultimately, every child and family are different and those variables are why what is “best” is not always black and white. I found this advice to be very true and valuable and have definitely passed it along.

How is motherhood different than you imagined it would be?

It’s SO MUCH HARDER! I thought having a child at 38 meant I would know more, be more prepared and it would mean the transition into motherhood would be, well, seamless. Feel free to LOL…I am. It was anything but seamless. Between a somewhat rough recovery from labor, sleep deprivation and dreaded colic taking over our new arrival, the beginning was all about surviving. Keeping it real, I thought I’d be the “cute” mom-did I even shower today? I thought staying at home would be amazing-is it time to go to work yet? I thought being with my daughter during the week equaled fun-just going to say it…lonely. But somehow, despite all of the above… I never knew I could feel such happiness, feel so full of love and find so much joy in such tiny feats. It makes no sense! Our daughter has blessed our lives in so many ways and she has made me find a whole new level of appreciation for my own mom.

What are your three strengths when it comes to motherhood?

Growing up the oldest, I’ve always been motherly. My patience and my ability to relate to children have been pretty helpful too.

Describe a time where you were completely overwhelmed as a mother.

I committed to completing my most recent children’s book, If The Dentist Were An Animal while I was on maternity leave. I thought I would have so much time on my hands…LOL, another lesson learned but I got the job done!

Is there anything you feel that you have lost about yourself since becoming a mother? What have you gained?

Physically and emotionally, I at times felt like I lost parts of myself. Whether it was missing writing , working out, being social…a lot changed. But as I got In the groove of my new life, I realized it’s a balancing act and it’s important to make “ME” time; I’m a better mother for it.  As far as what I’ve gained…I could go on and on. Being a mother has been the greatest gift. My family is my priority and gaining a new perspective on life and what matters has taught me to, as they say “not sweat the small stuff”.

What do you want your child(ren) to learn from you?

Kindness, compassion and service are what I hope to teach my daughter. Find ways to use your gifts to give back to others, never judge what you haven’t experienced and no matter what, ALWAYS be kind.

The Bonus Baby – A Guest Blog

Guest Post

Once upon a time, my husband and I were going to be empty nesters in our mid 40’s. We started our family in our mid-twenties and our first-born daughter was due on the date of my husband’s grad school graduation. We had our second daughter when I was 27 and hoped for a third two years later, but after two pregnancy losses on the heels of the second trimester, we decided that we couldn’t withstand another heartbreak.

Fast forward to 2018 and we have made the parental turn onto Easy Street; that sweet spot in parenting that occurs between early childhood and teenagerhood. With an eight-year-old and 11-year-old girl, car seats and diapers are ancient artifacts; temper tantrums and sleepless nights seem like lightyears ago; and car rides are enjoyable now because The Wiggles and Wheels on the Bus requests have been replaced by requests for Bonjovi and Weezer. Easy Street is all downhill with beautiful scenery and no bumpy roads. I’m not saying that we didn’t thoroughly enjoy the earlier years of parenting, but those precious years were hard and spent in the trenches, elbows deep in dirty diapers and running ragged with no sleep.

Back in May of this year, we were on cruise control, coasting down easy street and enjoying a family camping trip when I started to feel my health decline. My energy took a sudden downward turn, I started to lose my appetite, and I was overcome with nausea. Fears of serious illness crossed my mind until a couple of weeks later when I realized that my symptoms were synonymous with pregnancy. Once it was confirmed, I was in complete denial. I feared for another loss and thought for sure that I would miscarry any day. I didn’t even allow myself to feel excitement, hope or joy. I kept my pregnancy secret for 16 weeks–I didn’t allow it to be real.

Here I am now though, at 32 weeks pregnant, and this is all very real.

Pregnancy this time around is a whole lot different than it was with my first two. First  of all, this one is considered a geriatric pregnancy because I’m over 35, so apparently my delivery from the stork will come with a free subscription to AARP magazine and hopefully a hefty discount on Depends since I’ve done exactly three Kegels this pregnancy. I also haven’t spent my days reading “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” because I feel like I could write the book. I haven’t read “Baby Wise” or “Happiest Baby on the Block” because I know that I might get a screaming colicky baby or a chill Koala baby, and sometimes the knowledge in a book doesn’t have the power to change that. Plus, I should be reading about the uncharted waters of the teen years.

At my last appointment, my OB/GYN asked  me for my birth plan, and all I could think of were two words: Surprise me. Because honestly, after having a 24 hour labor, last minute epidural and an emergency C-Section with my first, followed by a 27 hour labor, early epidural and VBAC birth with my second, the words “birth plan” project an image of a unicorn in my mind. I will write a birth plan, but I will also have zero expectations for everything to go as planned, because when you’re a geriatric pregnant woman riding into your third birth, you know that you just have to stay on the saddle and hold on tight. Maybe my husband can freeze some Ensure cubes to feed me during labor. I’ll add that to my elderly birth plan.

The clock keeps ticking louder as I approach the big day; the day we step into that DeLorean and turn the dial back to newborn. I find myself thinking about the projected timeline of my life and how it has changed so drastically in the past eight months. I think about how I’ll be driving my oldest to college, my middle child to high school and my youngest to elementary school in the same year. I wonder when I’ll be able to go on my next girls’ trip. I think about how this baby is going to have to go with the busy flow of our family, traveling to her sisters’ sporting events and practices daily, never knowing the luxury of a nap schedule. I wonder if time, experience and age will change my parenting style for this bonus baby.

I think parenting as a whole this time around is going to be so different. With my first two, I was obsessed with constantly stimulating them, reading to them, talking to them, worrying about development, not to mention being terrified by every single illness. I was the mom who would call the on-call pediatrician at 4am when a fever spiked. But now I feel like a seasoned pro; I’ve handled influenza, strep, ear infections, pneumonia, tubes, Lice (the worst), stomach flu, croup, you name it.

I know that it gets easier and I know that I will sleep again. I know that the rewards of parenting far outweigh the pains. I know that the magic of holidays will live a little longer in our home now. I know that my heart grows bigger with every child. Every day, I get to see my two girls grow into healthy, smart, brave and kind young ladies, who bring immense joy to our lives, and I have no fear that our little bonus baby will bring the same joys to our family. Who knows, if all goes well, maybe we will go for bonus baby #2. For now, we are just gearing up to go back in time. Great Scott!