Sane Mom Spotlight ... on Erin!

What was your life like before you became a mom?

Before I became a Mom I was a student. I had studied for 3 years at the University of Scranton (YES, Scranton like “The Office”) and LOVED it there. I studied philosophy and fell in love with the Jesuits (not literally…Ok maybe in one case literally, but unrequited) and their ideals. Not being a Catholic girl myself, I found the history and theology of it all really exciting, and I loved going on/running religious retreats. I am religious and loved the interfaith communication that I found on the retreats- designations didn’t matter anymore. We were all just there, figuring out what to do with ourselves. My most secret goal since then has been to find a way to run interfaith retreats. However, I have no idea where to start. So sad. After three years there I went on a service mission to England, spent 19 months moving around London (Brixton mainly), Christchurch and Reading. Then I came home and needed a new school…because I had given up my scholarship during my jaunt abroad. So I finished my degree at the very affordable but not so Jesuity Brigham Young University and promptly went into a job editing a book for a couple of businessmen. Turns out, I really loved editing! I wanted to go into publishing and planned on getting a masters in communications, but the RailRoad (my husband’s nickname for the businessmen) did me wrong and then fired me. I learned BIG lessons, and went on to work in Accounting for about a year. Crazy thing is, I loved accounting, too! About a week into my new job I learned I was pregnant. Just barely pregnant. So I waited a bit and then told them, and they were amazing about it. Which the Railroad would NOT have been. So it was a blessing in disguise. Now I’m a stay at home Mommy, trying to teach some piano lessons and doing some freelance writing for an internet company- not too glamorous, but it gives me a way to contribute to our lacking budget while I stay at home.

Other than that, a lot of my interests have stayed the same. Reading, blogging, movies (although I see less in theaters, now), I probably exercise less now and need it more. A quandary, for sure. I love spending time with my husband. I’m a little obsessed, many married people are surprised that we actually do almost everything together. The luxury of being married for under two years with only one child. We shall see how THAT changes.

Tell us a little bit about becoming a mom … how many kids, when, how you felt about it?

Pregnancy was horrible. Wonderful and horrible. Wonderful because I was growing a baby! Miraculous! But at the same time I was very, very ill. We’re actually still trying to figure out how to fix me so that I can be healthier next time around. Long story short: I couldn’t eat without being sick, the baby got nutrition and the rest of it was wasted, I withered away and had no energy, etc. Now without the baby I’m still having the problems with my health, but I get some nutrition at least. My only solace through pregnancy was that while my body had somehow stopped taking care of me, it took perfect care of my baby. I delivered codename: Camper on September 19, 2008 (due date of the 22nd). He was 8 lbs. 11 oz., and beautiful. He didn’t look anything like me at first. I marveled at his uniqueness. Now I can see glimmers of my self in him, his ears, his bottom lip, but it took awhile. I do want more children, but I will probably only have one more naturally. I can’t imagine never being pregnant again (although I am sporting Mirena until we get my health situation figured out, I HEART Mirena), but I know I’m not equipped for a bunch o babies. My husband and I seriously want to adopt from China. It’s something we both felt drawn to before we met and has only become more important to us as we’ve talked about it and spent time with our little Camper. So we’re thinking four total. Two naturally, two adopted, and that will keep us pretty busy I think.

My transition to SAHM was difficult, I won’t lie. I felt purposeless and trapped for about a month. At the same time I couldn’t imagine leaving my beautiful child with anyone else. I know I am the best person for the job, and in my case it’s important enough that we are dirt poor at the moment. Not working an outside job is crazy to me, still. I’ve worked since I was 12, but all things must change. My new job is teaching me to slow down, let the little things go, live on less, and love someone else more than myself. He’s a good boss, I think. Fair, loving, lots of smiles, but sometimes he throws tantrums. Life goes on.

What’s been the most difficult change for you since having kids?

SLEEP. I GET NO SLEEP. That’s not true, I get more now than when he was new. It’s also just harder doing anything…going to the store takes twice the time. If we want to go on a drive, by the time I gather the diapers and the extra change of clothes and the Thermos for hot water for Camper’s bottles…I’m exhausted and don’t want to go anywhere. I’m amazed by women who just get out anyway. I’m still striving for that, especially because I live in a more rural place now and if I want to do something, we have to drive a ways.

If you work “for money” what do you do? How does it fit? Love it/hate it/have to/want to?

Right now I’m doing freelance web content writing. It’s ok- it works. I make a little money, not enough. All the ins and outs are annoying, lots of “steps” and procedures to follow. But it keeps me home. I’m also doing piano lessons, although I haven’t built up a student base yet. I’m hoping to get that going in the next few months. I would love to write product reviews, on my blog etc., but I think I need more of a readership before that’ll go anywhere.

What’s your morning routine?

Camper usually wakes up somewhere between 5am and 8am. It varies depending on lots of factors…I get up with him (usually around 6:30, that’s the most frequent time) and we play, eat, cuddle, read books until about 7:30 when he goes down for a nap. (It’s so odd to me that he naps an hour after he gets up, every single day.) At that point (you’re gonna hate me for this) my husband gets up and watches him, gets ready for the day, etc. and I sleep again. Camper still loves waking up all night long, and I’m blessed? to have a husband still looking for work that can help me during the day. I mean, honestly, I rather John find a job than provide me with naptime, but in the meantime, naptime it is! Those rare nights when Camper sleeps just fine, we all wake up around the same time and play together. Those are the days that we brave outings with le baby, go for walks, and do other things we otherwise forgo in our exhaustion.

Who do you talk to when you’re at your wits end?

John, my husband. He is a great listener and remember-er, and he never makes me feel bad for losing it. He will listen and comfort for hours. I found a good one. He’s like that with our son, too.

What do you do to keep from reaching your wits end? What’s your favorite indulgence?

I have two- blogging and reading. I will blog/read blogs all the day long if I’m having a rough day. If Camper isn’t sleeping or if I just feel trapped, we cuddle in bed and read about the different mommies and babies and their challenges. I have a strange child who will watch the computer screen for as long as I keep the pictures of babies coming. He loves to listen to me read, too. If he just won’t sleep without being held, that’s when I indulge in chick lit/teen lit. Guilty pleasures like the Stephanie Meyer books and other things that rot my brain. Sometimes it’s just good to read something that doesn’t require brain power.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Hopefully we’ll have all our babies by then, I want to stay at home with them for as long as I can, but I eventually want to work in a university library. I’d love to be in that environment and take classes on the side. I want to be able to travel a bit more, and I want a house. I want a house with a huge tub, a beautiful kitchen, and a deck. Add high speed internet and I’m there.

What’s the last book you read?

I just finished Island of the Lost Girls by Jennifer McMahon. Very disturbing. I didn’t like it that much. But as for one I liked, Neil Gaimen’s Graveyard Book was amazing. Just amazing.

What’s one thing that most people would never guess about you?

I suffer from serious life-induced stage-fright. I get nervous pumping gas if someone is watching me. When Camper was new if he freaked in public I thought the building would come down around us. I have no ability to play the piano if I think someone is listening. It’s really odd, because I’m quite confident on my own most days. If someone’s watching though, it’s all over.

Thanks for sharing your story Erin!