The Mom Next Door Series: Allison H

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

It is my pleasure today to introduce you to our Mom Next Door, Allison.  I met Al in college and we discovered that we have a common passion for kids and education.  Allison is a teacher for nine months of the year and a stay-at-home-mom for the three summer months; a balance that allows her to feed her passion for education and gives her a few months of full-time sahmhood.

After overcoming learning disabilities herself, Allison now has found herself navigating the world of Early Intervention for her son who has exhibited delayed speech and high activity levels.  She relies on her husband, her own experiences, and her mom to help her find the strength and confidence to give her son opportunities and the create the structure that helps the both of them thrive in day to day life.  Please read on to learn more about my friend and an inspiring momma; Allison.


Who are you? Hi! My name is Allison and I am living in Acton, MA, about 40 min west of Boston. It's an adorable, up and coming suburb, with a GREAT school system (one of the main reasons we moved here). My husband and I lived closer to the city before we bought our house but realized we were definitely more of the quiet suburb type than the bustling city type.

Who is in your family? I am the mom to an adorable and very active 2 year old named Liam and am the wife of my amazing hubby, Keith, who is there when I need him (especially when I'm having an anxious mom moment). We also have a very fluffy 5 year old golden retriever who is basically our second "child"...or should I say "first child"....who's name is Berklee but is referred to as "Ber-Ber" by Liam.

What do you do for work? I am a full-time working mom from September to June; I am a special education teacher where I work with elementary school children who have severe learning disabilities. I recently switched jobs last year due to the fact that my commute was 40 min long going with traffic and I wanted to spend more time with my family instead of spending it in "grid lock" traffic. It was the right decision and it came at the right time...I am now incredibly happy where I work. In the summer, I am a stay-at-home-mom and I have LOVED spending the summer with my little guy so I is hard to go back to work in September when the school year begins.

What has become (at least for now) you're parenting mantra or guiding principle? Don't compare your child to other children! I have really had to keep repeating this to myself. Liam has delayed speech and is a very busy and active child. He has been doing Early Intervention for the past 4 months and it's going really well. I've seen so much progress BUT when we are with other kids his age, and he isn't talking as much as other kids or he is running from one activity to another every 15 seconds; it's hard to not say to myself "Why can't he talk or why can't he play like the other kids." So I have almost had to put "blinders" on and say to myself "every kid is different and every kid develops differently." Which is so true...Liam is who he is and I now embrace how active he is and the fact that he doesn't like t.v. and would rather be running around outside.  And every day he is getting more words and I'm so proud to be his mama.

What was the most difficult Mom moment you've had (so far)? Finding out Liam had some delays. Like I said before, I had speech delays which led to severe learning disabilities and ADHD and I worry so much that since Liam has delays now then he will have learning disabilities later on in life. But we are getting him the help he needs now and he's made unbelievable progress in the past few months.  Another piece of wisdom from my mother has been her confirming that having the challenges I did early on in life, helped me figure out how to work hard to accomplish anything and I know Liam will experience the same thing because he wants to learn and he is interested in working hard.

What would your pre-mom self be surprised to know about motherhood? How fast it goes...when Liam was an infant, people would say to me, cherish every moment because it goes by so fast. I really didn't understand it until I was living it...when Liam turned 2 in June, it was so crazy to me how fast those 2 years went by. How he went from a tiny little baby who was sleeping and eating all the time, to this incredible little boy who has such an engaging personality. As a mom, I have really had to learn to live in the moment (which has always been hard for me to do) because those people were right! Enjoy every moment because before you know it they will be graduating from college (yikes, I don't even want to think about that!) 

What would your pre-mom self be proud to know about you in motherhood? How incredibly patient I've become. I've never been one to have a lot of patience, but toddlerhood has really tested my patience. As I said before, Liam is a very active kid and he is an "envelope pusher," and because he tests the limits, I am having to tell him "no" more often than not. But getting upset won't make the situation better so what's the point? I just use a very calm voice and sometimes the end result is the time-out chair and sometimes it's not. 

How do you unwind or re-charge? Mom's Nights Out, Date Nights, and working out. As a mom, it's so important to make time for myself and for my marriage. Keith is so good at understanding that I need time to be with my friends and how important it is for me to work out. Even on my summer vacation, I get up at 6:15 to workout before Keith goes to work. I know, many people think I'm crazy but working out helps me feel good and helps me be a better mom. Keith and I also try to do a date night once a month, whether it is just the two of us or with other couples. It's nice to go out and have a conversation without having to race through a meal or worry about food being thrown. In February, Keith and I are taking our first long solo trip since becoming parents...maybe to Jamaica...I'm so excited! 

What do you feel like you are really good at as a mom? Structure! I am a very structure-oriented person and Liam is the same way. He thrives on structure. I find that when there isn't structure in his day, that's when he starts misbehaving. During the summer, we try to have things to do every day he's with me (he goes to daycare twice a week during the summer). And he just switched daycares to a toddler program where there are kids his same age and he is just thriving in this environment! One of the reasons I think he is doing so well is because of how structured his day is. Some kids need structure and luckily I'm someone who does too so it's very easy for me to implement it into our daily lives. 

What do you feel like you wish you were better at being a mom? Playing with's really hard for me to constantly be playing with Liam. I've gotten better at it since he has gotten older and can sit down and play with a toy or read lots of books. But I'm someone who always likes to be doing something, so being in the house playing all morning is hard for me. 

Who are the moms you look up to? My mom! As a kid, I had delayed speech as well and was exactly like Liam; very active and busy. My mom likes to tell the story of when she found me on the dining room table with a candle stick in my hand, about ready to smash her china bowl. And now I have a child who is exactly like me (although he's never smashed anything valuable (!) I have found him on the dining room table before!) There have been many times where I have expressed to my mom how difficult it can be to have such an active child and she's always the one who helps me put things in perspective. It's so nice having someone, especially my own mother, who went through the same things I'm going through as a mom. I love her for always being there to help me. 

What is the one "Mom Tip or Trick" that you can share that has made your life easier somehow? My mom also taught me how important consistency is in nap time and bedtime. I usually never have a problem with Liam going down for nap time or to bed because it's the same way every day. It's not realistic to think that we will always be home at the same time every day so if he went down late for either his nap time or he ended up napping in the car, I will make sure he is going down for his regular scheduled nap the next day. Again, structure, structure, structure! 

What are the small joys of being a Mom that you treasure most right now? How much Liam is learning. I LOVE watching Liam make connections in his life like seeing a truck outside and then showing me the truck in one of his favorite books. It amazes me how much kids learn at such an early age, and what they learn is from just living in the environment they live in. I'm so glad that this "learning phase" doesn't end for years so I can truly enjoy it. 

What do you miss most from Mom days already gone by? The baby snuggles! Until Liam was about 8-9 months old, he would wake up around 5:30 but then come in bed with us and snuggle with us and fall back asleep. I loved just watching him sleep and having him snuggle up against me. I rarely get those snuggles these days. When Liam gets hurt he comes running to me for some snuggles and although I hate when he gets hurt I have to admit, I LOVE those snuggles and the fact that I am his comfort :).

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