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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This week's Momma Interview comes from a woman who is no stranger to stress, at home or work, but is able to use the smiles and hugs from her kiddos to pull her through those tough moments.
Meet Vanessa Walker-- the Type A momma, learning to let go.
Here's her interview:
How do you balance the mom, work, and relationship roles?
I truly rely on my husband to help me balance everything. I am a physician and I specialize in Pulmonary and Critical Care medicine. The hours are long and many. My husband is a stay at home dad and has really stepped up and taken a large amount of the domestic burden off my shoulders. I am able to focus on my patients at work because I know my kids are safe and loved with their dad. It also allows me to enjoy being a mom when I get home because dinner is ready and the house is clean (albeit to man standard).
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?
When my 2 and a half year old is having a tantrum or throwing her cereal bowl on the floor and makes my 3 month old start crying while I am trying to have an important phone conversation. Or the melt down in the cookie aisle of the grocery store because I won't let her open the cookies NOW! These moments can be trying but I think about the smiles and the hugs that are just for me and that usually pulls me through.
What do you do when you feel overwhelmed, overstretched, or less than?
As a successful and very busy physician I am made to feel less than on a daily basis. I have missed more milestones than I want to admit or even think about. I have missed bed times and bath times and play times. I remember trying to find a mommy and me class for my 2 year old and they were all at 11 am during the week. I started crying because I am never available at 11 am on a Tuesday! Sometimes it feels like the world is against working moms. I have had to listen to a famous family advice radio host call me and women like me a "surrogate" more than once simply because we choose to go to work instead of stay home to raise our children. I wrestle with feelings of inadequacy at work and at home on a daily basis but I know that my children see how hard I work and how much I love them.
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 completely ignore other parents. My kids may not eat organic everyday and sometimes I hit up the drive thru, but I am doing the best I can and so is my husband. I figure as long as my kids are happy, healthy and genuinely good humans then I am doing my job.
What is the great lesson you've learned as a mom?
Hug and kiss your kids every chance you get. One day they will pull away from you and you never know when that day will come.
What is your favorite quote that inspires you as a mom?
“There really are places in your heart that you do not know exist until you love a child"
What is your favorite song that inspires you as a mom?
Remedy by Adele
What is the one piece of advice you'd like to give to other moms?
Don't be so hard on yourself. Do the best you can. Love your kids but don't forget to love your partner.
What do you feel is your greatest personal struggle with the experience of motherhood?
Accepting the notion that I am not perfect. Doctors are type A control freaks to the extreme and we have tried to be the best at everything from day one. It's a great trait in medicine but in the real world it can be exhausting. I have learned that I have to cut myself some slack and remember to take care of myself as well as my family. If I am not happy and healthy then neither is my family.
How has your relationship with your partner changed? How has it stayed the same?
We have had to focus on carving out time for ourselves because it is easy to get lost in your babies. We may not have the quiet adult dinners where we could unwind and debrief each other but we are able to express ourselves in different and perhaps more efficient ways. We still feel like a team and it's always good to know we have each other's backs.
How has your relationship with your friends, family or support system changed? How has it stayed the same?
We have become closer with my parents. They are helping with childcare and just overall support during a very scary time for us. My newborn got RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) at 30 days old and was in the pediatric ICU for 10 days. Watching him struggle for every breath was heartbreaking and knowing that my mom and dad were taking care of our daughter made it a little less stressful. It has shown us how important it is to have people you trust help to raise your kids. Unfortunately we have had some friendship casualties. Some friends without kids have been a little less available mostly because we can't hang out at the spur of the moment or go away for a weekend like we used to. But we have made some new friends so things are evolving.
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 had no idea that quietly rocking your newborn at 2:30 in the morning is the most exhausting and joyful thing in the world.
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!)
One 2.5 year old daughter named Selma and a 3 month old son named Salem.
Share your relationship status.
Married to a wonderful man named Robert