Our Mom Next Door interview today comes from Erin S of Ohio, a mumma to her one year old and a full time working therapist to kids and teenagers. Erin and I have been friends since meeting our freshman year of college at Susquehanna. We spent a lot of time together, as we had so much in common; volleyball players, Spanish majors, and even studying abroad in Costa Rica at the same time.
Erin has always inspired me and she continues to do so by her passion for what she does and her dedication to her son. I am so glad to include her candid voice in our series as she talks about the struggles all Moms experience but don't always admit; like pumping in the work place, worrying about the right time to expand your family, and making time for your spouse.
Who are you? I'm Erin, a 31-year-old working mama living in Northeast Ohio.
Who is in your family? I live with my husband, Justin, our just-turned-1 year old (literally, yesterday!!) son, Owen, and our two dogs, Renny Grace and Hammer Time (middle names only used when in trouble or when M.C. Hammer is stuck in our heads).
What do you do for work? I work full-time as a therapist (soon to be licensed psychologist). I do individual and group therapy with kids and teenagers struggling with PTSD, depression, anxiety, and family issues.
How do you unwind or re-charge? It's officially football season again, so Steelers games are a big way for me to unwind. I'll also have the occasional glass of wine or beer, watching my recorded TV shows, and reading. Two things I'm loving lately: 1) Downton Abbey (no spoilers please!) - just started watching on Amazon Prime, and Justin and I are hooked! 2) Tina Fey's book, Bossypants. I couldn't stop laughing! For a good read on the "To expand your family/To not expand your family debate" read this book! As for re-charging, I try to plan trips back to Central PA (where our families are from) and/or to see friends to reconnect. I always feel recharged when I connect with "my people." In an ideal world, I'd also carve out time for date nights with Justin, exercise (or at least family walks with the dogs), and crafting.
What do you feel like you are really good at as a mom? Honestly, no matter how stressful the day has been at work or how worried I am about a medical procedure or shot Owen has to get, I feel that I'm pretty good at being consistently, unconditionally attuned when I'm interacting with Owen. I'm not perfect at it, but I feel like I don't let my stressors affect how I talk to and play with him.
Who are the moms you look up to? My mom is especially inspiring to me because she worked full time and maintained a strong connection with her kids. She taught me that it's possible to be a dedicated and good mother and still have a career. Her work--life balance was especially impressive when my dad moved out when I was 13, and my mother became a single parent to my brother and I (and put us both through college!!) - all without a partner! I can't imagine parenting without Justin. My mom rocks.
What was the most difficult Mom moment you've had (so far)? Owen was hospitalized once after an ER visit to rule-out possible seizures, which ended up not being seizures (yay!). The process of finding out they weren't seizures was so nerve-wracking. He had multiple procedures that were very difficult to watch in a very short span of time, and only one parent was allowed in the room each time (I wasn't going anywhere; and, luckily, Justin preferred being out of the room). Watching him cry in pain, discomfort, and fear was the most heart-wrenching experience I have had to date as a mother.
What keeps you up at night? Family planning. My husband and I both appreciated (and still appreciate) having siblings growing up, but figuring out the financial, spatial (we live in a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom home), and timing issues is difficult. I also feel like that clock is a-tickin' in terms of my age, so balancing all of those considerations weigh on my overly analytical, anxious mind quite a bit.
What are the small joys of being a Mom that you treasure most right now? Oh, so many things. The feeling of his hand on my cheek. The smile of recognition when I walk into the daycare to pick him up. The times when he really wants his "mama" over anyone else. The nights nursing him to sleep. Watching him learn new things! He's picking up some sign language recently and he uses brushes and combs to "comb" his hair and my hair sometimes. There are just so many little moments to catch and enjoy. I love being his mama.
I also worry about the time I spend away from Owen due to work. I love my job, but wish I could work a 20-30 hour work week to have more time with him, especially now when he's so little. This worry has affected the number of dates Justin and I have gone on since Owen was born (drumroll please....). We have gone out only 2 times in the last 12 months! I just feel so bad not spending every.minute.I.can. with Owen during the hours we're home with him. He'll only be little so long...