Without further ado, I offer myself as the sacrificial guinea pig in the first Mamma Talks Q & A Tuesday so that you will see that I am by no means your quintessential “expert” mother but merely a woman doing the best I can to raise two healthy & happy children & remember my inner glitter & sanity along the way.
Grit? That, I’ve got covered.
TSPP: What is your current age, location & occupation?
CD: I’m twice the age my mother was when she had me plus some. 42.
I had a moment of insanity last year & agreed to relocating away from my beloved island community of Key West & now live in Pawcatuck, CT, where I am currently trying to get some footing with my freelance work while also being a full time provider for my daughters.
TSPP: How old are your little ones?
CD: My older daughter will be five in September & my littlest just turned three last week.
TSPP: What 3 words would you use to describe your typical day?
CD: Chaotic, creative, passionate.
TSPP: What are the 3 biggest challenges you face as a mom?
CD: Feeling like a single parent as their dad is tied up with full time school, feeling disconnected from a greater sense of community & support, & nearly zero time to self nurture & recharge alone.
TSPP: What solutions do you seek out for them?
CD: I recently started teaching yoga again, which helps me connect to others as well as myself. It’s only one class so far, but it is inspiring me to go deeper into my practice, which I really need more than ever right now.
I also manage to offer my girls creative projects that also interest me, so that we can spend our time connecting & nurturing that creative part of ourselves. I’m all for arts & crafts with little ones, but there’s really only so many pebbles I can paint before I am bored to tears.
Creating this project is an important way for me to create community, since I don’t have easy access to like-minded souls & this while hopefully offer that.
I haven’t quite figured out how to deal with the single parent issue yet, though I must say it has definitely helped me learn how to speak from a place of calmer clarity & less anger & resentment when hitting that breaking point & needing to ask for help.
TSPP: How much time a day, if any, do you spend alone? How often?
CD: Can we skip to the next question? That calm clarity doesn’t last long…
TSPP: Do you have regular childcare or other support? How often do you tap into it?
CD: I recently took a bold plunge into hiring someone I found online via Care.com to help out a few hours a week with my girls. It’s only six hours a week, but it affords me the chance to focus on my own professional creative projects. My vision is to be able to hire her four days a week for five hours at a time. Our finances are very lean since the girl’s dad is in school & not working, & my projects here in this community have yet to fly.
Other than that, we don’t have other support. It’s been a tough transition from what I knew back in Key West. I am pretty disheartened by most of it, but hope to shift things & relocate as soon as possible to a smaller knit community either back in the Keys or out west.
I will say that the gal I found online is phenomenal, though. I feel very lucky to have connected with her. She’s super conscious, creative, & professional. My girls really adore her & I don’t worry a lick about their safety when they are with her.
TSPP: We know that being a mom is a full time job, but are you also working another job? Please describe & include time commitment & location.
CD: I know I’m not alone when I say I work all day, nearly every day. I’m a full time mom & full time housekeeper & a full time cook. I usually squeeze in a few hours a day of freelance work, mostly which consists of my own personal projects at the moment. I’ve got this great desk I found on Craig’s list- it looks like a dresser & the top “drawer” folds down. I’ve situated this desk in the space that joins the dining & living room areas. When I’m working, the girls are either making art projects at the table next to me or doing freestyle gymnastics on the sofa. Or taking every toy, game, puzzle, markers & scraps of paper & trailing them around the house. Like now, in fact.
TSPP: If you do work in addition to being a mom, how do you feel it impacts (positively &/or negatively) your desire to be the parent you’d like to be?
CD: This question is sort of a mixed bag for me. To some extent, I would love to be able to just hang out & be the full-on mom with no other focus than my girls. They’re only going to be little for so long, after all.
But there is the part of me that really thrives on creation, whether it is via making art or generating new business & creative marketing ideas, coaching & consulting. I am usually happiest when I am working on a project.
That said, while I feel a little bad about not doing more to get us out & about more frequently, I know I am a better parent when I’m also working because I feel fulfilled on some level. Not to mention the fact that it’s tied into my sense of prosperity, which always feels better when that force is fired up.
The yoga teaching has been critical in helping me feel renewed, connected & way less crabby. Sitting at my desk is such an irony. A real love/hate relationship.
TSPP: In what ways, if any, do you practice self care, nurturing & creativity?
CD: I know this might sound really lame, but my self care is coming from some really basic things right now, & I’m doing my best to have lots of gratitude around them vs. feeling annoyed that there is so much more I’d like to be able to do.
Getting up earlier than everyone & sipping my tea while reading. My home yoga practice, even if it’s a mini session of a few minutes. Hot showers. Eating organic, whole foods. A nightly facial washing ritual. Letting myself sleep when I’m tired instead of feeling the pressure to stay up late & get more work done while the girls are sleeping.
Aside from never feeling like there’s enough time to attend to all of my ideas, I don’t really have problems with creativity, as I’ve made it a focus to learn how to integrate that into my parenting style & to let my girls know the value of it & my need for it. We recently bought a laser printer which allows me to alter images & print them out as black & whites & do mixed media projects on them without the ink running. The girls really enjoy it as much as I do.
I’m also taking an online self portraiture photography class with weekly prompts throughout the year, which really helps keep things juicy & inspiring & gives me LOADS of perspective & a chance to reflect.
TSPP: In what ways would you like to- but seem to always put off for a “later time?”
CD: I’d like to make more time to get outside to inspire my creativity, but I’m still pretty unfamiliar with the lay of the land & not a big fan of freeway driving after living on an island for 15 years & before that, cities with pretty stellar transit systems. I really miss the ocean, which nearly always makes me feel nurtured no matter what’s going on.
For a while I was pretty clear that I HAD to get away for a few hours every Saturday afternoon- to go walk alone & be quiet with my thoughts, & to work on a novel in progress. I’d go to the library & then this little organic coffee & soup shop when the library closed, have a cup of soup & just sit & think & be. It was LUXURY. But it seems every weekend for the last couple of months other “important” stuff has crept in. I let it slide. I can feel the angst mounting in me even as I write about it. I really need to implement this again this weekend!
TSPP: Do you feel like you get enough sleep? Exercise? How’s that working for you?
CD: I feel very lucky to be past the non-sleeping stage of Mamma-dom. Neither of my girls slept much at all, & would wake every hour or so. I am now making up for the lost time, & I don’t feel one bit guilty about it.
Exercise, well that is an entirely different story. I’ve always been super active, but this winter here in the cold tundra left me in a big state of inertia. I’ve never had to think about fitness before because it was such an intrinsic part of my lifestyle- riding a bike, teaching a bunch of yoga classes, walking everywhere, swimming, sweating. Things have shifted dramatically & it has totally effected my life force & general sense of vitality in a way that’s not working for me at all. I really need to shake the dust with this one.
TSPP: On a scale of 1-10 (1 being not much, 10 being maximum), how much mamma guilt do you tend to carry?
CD: I’d be a liar to say I didn’t have any, but honestly, my current mamma guilt is pretty minimal. I know I’m doing the best I can to get all of our needs met in our current circumstance, & meditate on that often. It doesn’t hurt that I spend nearly every waking moment with them & nurturing their needs & emotions, so what’s left to feel guilty about?
It wasn’t always like this. My oldest daughter was SO intense until about a year ago. There were moments where I would be brought to me knees by her behavior & my not so enlightened responses to it. I felt like such a shitty mom for the feelings I had for her, which weren’t always very loving, nurturing, or unconditional. It feels scary to write this, but I know that it was my truth then, & it would have helped me immensely to read that other people felt that also while I was going through this tough time. I had these really high ideals & wanted to embrace the whole attachment style of parenting, & here I was screaming at my kid & a couple of times I even swatted her heiny. It was mortifying.
I still scream at my kids here & there. I’m half Cuban, it’s part of my genetic makeup to holler. I’m sort of kidding…. but really, my girls definitely know that I love them & I know they know. This knowledge changes everything when it comes to guilt. They KNOW I’m doing the best I can. & so do I.
My biggest mamma guilt isn’t at all about my relationship with them, but with their dad. I call it a “pass the salt” relationship. We’re more like roommates & friends, & I lament that my girls aren’t seeing the model of what a joyful, loving, fun & romantic relationship could be. We respect each other, but there isn’t any passion, or at least no outward expression of it that I experience. It’s a far cry from what I hope for them when they are my age. Maybe I’m being too transparent, but again, I think it’s important for other mothers to see that we all have our “stuff,” & that we learn how to roll with it & do the best we can with what we’ve got & find the gratitude in it where we can.
TSPP: Do you get together with other moms that you genuinely enjoy & feel inspired by? What sorts of topics do you discuss?
CD: I have met a few solid mammas here, but it seems that timing makes it difficult to get together, so strong bonds have yet to form nor have any regular sense of connect. When I was in Key West, I had some amazing relationships with other mothers that became dear, dear friends. Everything shared was raw, honest, real & uplifting.
TSPP: On a scale of 1-10 (1 being difficult, 10 being easy), how would you rate your daily experience of healthy, consistent & simple meal offerings?
CD: We hover somewhere in the 8 range. We? I mean I. I’m the one in charge of making sure we all get our nutritional needs met. Every day I make “linner”… a late lunch, early dinner, since dad-o leaves for school at 4:30. On top of my belief that nutrition is critical in how we feel physically & emotionally, it’s also an important part of our day where we sit together as a family & share a little bit about what’s going on for us.
While I really love food & the experience of making & eating it, it often collides with my desire & time to make other things, which are also of great sustenance to me. Too bad my kids can’t eat a poem or a photograph. I make a lot of soups & crock pot meals, to help simplify. It’s not rare that we’ll have a meal of chopped up raw veggies with some hummus. & not because I’m trying to be all healthy & “raw”- though I love the concept. It’s because it’s easy & sometimes I’m just too lazy or tired to really make the effort of a big meal. That & I’ve made too many meals where my kids take four bites & are done. Why bother?
TSPP: Describe the sort of fun you have with your kids.
CD: Our fun is a cross between improv, opera & vaudeville. Music, movement, language- these things are big triggers for letting it all hang out. Random dance parties, face making challenges, rhyme raps, animal impersonations, living room “stage” presentations- these things arrive spontaneously & tend to end with laughter & chaos.
TSPP: Do you have fun doing things without your kids? Describe.
CD: Let’s skip this one, too, before I get a real chip on my shoulder.
TSPP: In what ways do they inspire you to take action for creativity & fun?
CD: The simple fact that they can take any task & turn it into an opportunity for play is amazing. I learn a lot by watching them & remembering to do more of this in my own life.
TSPP: Do you have any personal parenting mantras that get you by?
CD: “Make it fun.” “Look for the YES.” & if all else fails: “I’m your mother, that’s fucking why!”