The Momma Interviews is a new blog series by Catherine O'Brien, LMFT highlighting the thoughts, experiences and wisdom of a unique real-world mom each week, to normalize and validate the struggles and triumphs that are a part of the universally human experience of motherhood for women everywhere.
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If you asked this momma what she wants, she will probably break out in song, just like her own momma used to... R-E-S-P-E-C-T! And, that is exactly what she gives to other mom's too. Meet Christy Jackson, the mom who is finding out more and more everyday how special her role as a mother truly is...
Here is her interview:
How do you balance the mom, work, and relationship roles?
I have definitely learned that in order to be the best Mom and wife, (and business owner) I have to take time for myself. Especially when in pertains to the role of Mom. From morning to night, it's all about the kids and its so easy to forget about you and that you are a person, with specific needs and wants and desires! I found myself just feeling like "a mom," and while that role is an amazing one, it's not 100% who I am. In the beginning, when they are newborns it's so necessary to just give into that time. Realize that the moment is fleeting and embrace it. But once they get older I think you really need to get back to being you more. I plan lunches with friends, date nights, massages, whatever gets me back into my body! Sometimes I find myself feeling a little guilty about it, especially if I have to hire a babysitter. I feel bad that I am spending money on myself, or time with myself when I could be using that time working. But then I remind myself that balance makes me happy. And happiness makes me calmer. And calmer makes me a better, more patient mom.
Most moms I speak to say there are moments when they are ready to throw in the towel. Can you describe a time you felt this way? What got you through it?
My son is a horrible night sleeper. He is 11 months old and is just now not waking up multiple times a night. There were nights that he would wake up EVERY SINGLE HOUR, all night long. Our whole house was sleep deprived, irritable and cranky. I was a walking zombie and sometimes would just cry from pure exhaustion. I mean, sleep deprivation is a tactic and form of torture in some societies! You feel like there is no end in sight and it will go on forever. The only thing that would get me through it is going to bed as early as possible and trying to remember that "this too shall pass." HA! You want to punch people in the face when they tell you it will end soon, but that's not really you. That is the monster that has taken over your shriveled up, slits for eyes and shell of a body.
What do you do when you feel overwhelmed, overstretched, or less than?
I never wanted to be the type of parents that stopped doing things because they had kids. Pre-kids I thought those people were kind of annoying. But after kids I realized that they are just survivalists. I have learned to say no. Not to everything, but to some things that just don't work with the nap schedules of a baby and toddler. Sleep is coveted in our house and I just can't mess with that. There will be a time in the future when this won't be the case. For now, I am just one of those annoying parents.
I've had parents tell me that one of the hardest things about being a parent is the comparisons and judgements from other parents. How do you personally cope with that?
I have learned that everyone and their mother has an opinion on how to raise kids. Even my close friends parent differently from one to another. I try to be respectful to what works for their family, and hope that they give me the same respect. I try to keep my unsolicited comments to myself. But we are human and it's in our nature to be a bit judgy. I admit there are some things that a few of my friends do that drive me nuts as a parent. But I am not them and I am not in their shoes. It's important to remember that. We've all been judged on our parenting and it's a crappy feeling. The key is to be kinder and more accepting of one another. Its a great lesson we can be teaching our kids. These little sponges in our houses are learning from us everyday. Compassion is a big one.
What is the great lesson you've learned as a mom?
To live life to the fullest. Love big, laugh loud, play more and just BE. My daughter has taught me more about life than any class, job or journey I have ever been on.
What is your favorite quote that inspires you as a mom?
"Happiness is not the absence of problems. Its the ability to deal with them."
What is your favorite song that inspires you as a mom?
"Respect" by Aretha Franklin! When we were kids and this song would come on my Mom would turn it up loud and sing to it in her very bad, very off key voice. She would say "I need respect from you guys!" and laugh and sing. I would be like "Mom! You are so embarrassing!" She died 2 months before my daughter was born. Now that song is my connection to her as a mom. Now I get it!
What is the one piece of advice you'd like to give to other moms?
Be kind to yourself. You're doing a great job.
What do you feel is your greatest personal struggle with the experience of motherhood?
Patience. 100%. The struggle is real!
How has your relationship with your partner changed? How has it stayed the same?
We are still in a big transition period and one that I hope ends soon! With the lack of sleep, there comes lack of other things in the bed. Sadly, its the truth. For us anyway. But the key is being aware of what's going on and realizing that at some point things have to get back to normal. I feel like we are in survival mode still. But I am started to feel a shift and am feeling like we are getting back to being husband and wife and not just Mom and Dad. For me I basically was either pregnant or breast feeding for 4 years and that definitely took a toll on my hormones. We definitely need a weekend away!
How has your relationship with your friends, family or support system changed? How has it stayed the same?
For me it has made me closer to most of my friends because they almost all have kids. I am now part of this society. And we have to stick together!
What is something that has surprised you about being a mom (i.e. something you didn't realize you'd enjoy, something you didn't know babies/kids did, something you didn't know could bring so much joy)?
How much I could love a child. I was never really a "kid person". There were ok. But now I get it. I never realized how pure and beautiful and special kids are until I had my own.
How many children do you have? (Include the special make-up of your family steps, adopted, guardianships, halves- or no details at all- up to you!)
Share your relationship status.