Our Mom Next Door Interview today comes from Ellie C. from central PA. She is a mom of two boys, one pup and she's incredibly inspiring in the way she approaches happy parenting. As a mom raising mixed race kids, she finds support and an outlet for her own thoughts within the online blogging community. I personally find her posts about raising her sons as always thought-provoking and insightful. Ellie's writing style and topics have become one of my favorites in my blog list and I'm always eager to hear her perspective- I'm so glad to include her voice in this series.
Please take a moment today to read from about Ellie and how she is ever learning, growing, and trying new things as a mom to two boys.
Who are you? I’m Ellie and I blog at Musing Momma, where I share inspiration for happy parenting as well as resources and reflections on raising mixed race kids. I live in central Pennsylvania with my husband, our two boys (“Zippy” is 7 and “Bee” is 4), and our first baby, an arthritic dog that we rescued when he was a puppy.
My background is in clinical psychology, but I gave up working as a child therapist when my youngest was born so that I could focus more time and energy on my family. Currently, I work part-time as a consultant helping mental health agencies and communities that want to implement effective, research-based treatment programs. Earlier this year I also joined the on-line magazine BonBon Break as the Family Room Editor. My job is to find wonderful writers to contribute to our magazine, connect with bloggers, and do some writing myself. I love it!
I work half-time and mostly from home, which means I am home with my preschooler the rest of the week and able to get my older son off of the bus most days. It is a perfect balance for us! My husband is a university professor, so during the summer we get to spend a lot of time together as a family. We are extremely blessed in this respect!
Which chore is your least favorite? Brushing teeth! I try to avoid it by disappearing to do “urgent” tasks like put away laundry or getting the mail.
What has become (at least for now) your parenting mantra or guiding principle? Just “pause.” I chose this as my word for 2014. I was feeling pulled in too many directions and I really wanted to be more deliberate and thoughtful in how I choose to spend my time and how I relate to my family. I keep coming back to this word – “pause.” It has been such a valuable and meaningful reminder for me, in so many ways. Pause and notice the moment. Pause and look my kids in the eye when they are talking to me. Pause and really think about how I want to respond to a situation, rather than reacting impulsively.
What would your pre-mom self be surprised to know about motherhood? That being mom to two biracial boys (African-American/white) would make race a part of my life in a way I never anticipated. I've become much more aware of issues of race, from thinking about how best to raise my boys to have a healthy identity to the lack of diversity in children’s books to the ways that racism
continues to rear its ugly head – these things touch me so personally now. I never would have expected I would be writing publicly about these things or that I would learn so much by connecting on-line with other parents in mixed families.
I also didn't anticipate just how hard motherhood would be at times. I love my boys more than I ever
could have imagined, but day to day parenting can be so exhausting! I especially struggle with not having enough time for myself.
What would your pre-mom self be proud to know about you in motherhood? That I push past my own comfort zone to let my boys pursue what interests them and nurture their own curiosity. My boys have introduced me to so many new things, partly through their own curiosity but also because I’ll do what I can to nurture that curiosity. We've gone fossil hunting, rotted down deer skulls in our backyard (yep, that’s gross!), and figured out geo-caching. Right now there is a stinky dead snake in my garage – I’m not sure what the boys plan to do with that!
My oldest is passionate about nature and although I never considered myself an outdoorsy girl, I’m doing a pretty good job raising outdoorsy kids. I’m really proud of that, especially in today’s age of screen and technology overload.
How do you unwind or re-charge? Time with friends, definitely! When my youngest was born, I met three other moms who ended up becoming some of my best friends. We get together periodically for dinner and drinks, which usually turns into hours of talking and laughing. It is definitely good for my soul! I also find that Saturday morning yoga class – that hour of peace and movement – really helps me rejuvenate at the end of the week.
What was the most difficult Mom moment you've had (so far)? Can I pick a time period? The fours were (are!) tough. My oldest was a really easy toddler and then the fours came along and I was thrown. At four, kids are much more capable of having their own ideas about things, but they still don’t have great control over their emotions or their impulses. For me, that made for a tough combination. In hindsight, I probably had unfair expectations of my son, too. Preschoolers’ ability to converse and their desire to be more independent can trick us into forgetting they are still so young!
Now my youngest is four and we are going through the same thing. Fortunately, this time around I have the benefit of knowing that this is a phase. I remind myself that the things that concern me will pass and instead try to focus on the things that make him an amazing kid!
What do you feel like you are really good at as a mom? I make sure my boys know how much I love them. I tell them that, if I could choose any children in the whole world to be mine, I would pick them, and I never let a day go by without hugs (usually lots of hugs). I think I also do a good job of being playful with my kids. I love making up silly songs or cranking up the radio and dancing in the car when we’re out running errands. I hope that when they are all grown up, that is the way they will remember me as a mom.
What are the small joys of being a Mom that you treasure most right now? Holding hands with my little one. The way he reaches for my hand while we walk and the way his hand fits into mine just right melts my heart. My 7-year-old is much less likely to hold hands with me these days. Knowing these hand-holding days will eventually come to an end (and sooner than I’d like!) makes me cherish them that much more!
What do you miss most from Mom days already gone by? Breastfeeding, especially at bedtime. There was something so special about snuggling close in a dimly lit nursery, and the way my babies would gaze up at me, so content. It meant there was always a little time each day to just be quiet and soak each other in.
It also seems like parenthood is about constantly letting of who our kids were and falling in love with who they are now. I wouldn't trade my boys – just as they are right this moment – for anything, but when I watch old home videos I find my heart aching a bit for those sweet toddlers that they once were.