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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Like most moms, Katie plays many roles-- wife, businesswoman and mom to name a few. Rather than trying to balance these roles, she considers it more of a, not-always-so-smooth, transition from one to the next each day.
Here is her interview:
How do you balance the mom, work, and relationship roles?
Balance? What's that?! I'm actually being fairly serious. I see it more as a juggling act, where my attention turns from one place to the next. It's a flow. I flow from attending to work, to attending to the kids and everything else in between. When I hear balance I think of grace, like a ballerina. I navigate through momprenuership with less than grace, but if I allow myself to flow where the attention is needed most each place calling for my attention gets some.
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?
The moments I feel ready to give up are when no one is happy. A client isn't happy, the kids are cranky, and I can't get a shower. Then I think, "What am I doing?!" Specifically, I work in web design and technology doesn't always cooperate. Things get hacked or malfunction from out of no where. It's difficult to fix and understand from my end and the clients, and then I want to give up all together because it creates such a feeling of failing.
What do you do when you feel overwhelmed, overstretched, or less than?
Feeling overwhelmed hits frequently. It's difficult to know what is going to push you to the edge ahead of time. If I feel overwhelmed, I have to take a minute by myself to breathe, maybe cry and allow myself to visualize letting something go, or taking something off my plate. I let my mind wander through what that might be and whether it's worth letting go, or if I can gather some strength and keep going.
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 think the comparisons and judgments are in our minds more than other people. I remind myself that just because a mom says she would never let her child near a McDonald's cheeseburger, doesn't mean she's judging me for my frequent drive throughs. My mind might assume she would, but she probably doesn't care about what I do, and is more interested in what her child is doing. If I do experience direct judgement, I think more about the insecurity and pressure that mom is feeling, rather than whether they are judging me. Sometimes what feels like a judgement after is someone coming from a good place and wanting to help, it's just difficult to hear and receive that in the moment.
What is the great lesson you've learned as a mom?
Perseverance. The exhaustion of a newborn is indescribable. Then to keep going and moving through life on top of that is so hard. You learn to get through, survive and persevere.
What is your favorite quote that inspires you as a mom?
“Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.” —Robert Browning
What is your favorite song that inspires you as a mom?
Carrie Underwood- Smoke Break
What is the one piece of advice you'd like to give to other moms?
Everybody needs to laugh at the crazy or you'll go crazy.
What do you feel is your greatest personal struggle with the experience of motherhood?
My greatest personal struggle is letting go of myself for this short time. My mom always says, "you give up yourself when you become a mom." I believe it's true and it's okay. It's not forever you are serving. I think we feel like we're never going to get ourself back or were going to lose who we are. I think it's a moment in time where you are learning to put others first, and building who you really are. But, even with that arritude, change is uncomfortable.
How has your relationship with your partner changed? How has it stayed the same?
It's been strained, broken and rebuilt. In some ways, after going through the rocky toads of young kids and babies, we've finally found the same jam. We're almost back to the first beat but with a twist and experience that adds a better flow. I don't see a lot that's the same, but almost an ever evolving relationship that's grown and stretched.
How has your relationship with your friends, family or support system changed? How has it stayed the same?
I don't have friends anymore haha! I honestly don't have much time for friends. I spend time with my family, who I'm very close with. Between two toddlers, a couple businesses and life there isn't much room for being social, but I'm okay with it. It's a moment in time, and I've had so much fun and social adventure in my life, I know it will come back.
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)?
I really enjoy playing again. Games, make-believe, coloring. it's all fun again!
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.