When I first met Sandy, I remember being impressed. It seemed like motherhood came naturally to her - I remember seeing her in her stylish (but practical) outfits and her cute haircut with her baby in a sling and a burp cloth tucked neatly in her jean pocket. I remember seeing her warm smile and thinking, "that's the kind of mom I want to be." Calm, gentle, patient, so in love with her little boy.
After my daughter was born (7 months after her son was born), we began to hang out, to swap stories and bits of advice, and to encourage each other. Our friendship continued to blossom and I now consider Sandy one of my closest friends.
Today, I'm introducing Sandy to you because she is an intelligent, funny, compassionate mom. Please give her a warm welcome.
ME: When was your son born and how did motherhood change you?
SANDY: Bobby was born March 8, 2006 at the Birth and Women's Health Center. I think motherhood has taught me that I am way stronger than I ever imagined and that, with God on my side, I can do just about anything. Natural childbirth was long, hard, and intense but worth every effort. And we had a VERY rough beginning with him having severe GERD and not being able to get a diagnosis so we could treat it. I remember waking up to him shrieking in pain every hour on the hour for an entire month and rocking and nursing him back to sleep every time. It strengthened my faith because a human should not be able to do that and still function to take care of a baby by day! (Ok, now I am crying.) But again, worth every minute.
ME: How was motherhood different than you expected?
SANDY: I had no idea how overwhelming my feelings for him would be immediately. From the first moment there was nothing I wouldn't do for him; nothing. He was my precious gift from God and it was up to Rob and I to raise him. But I was never afraid. Whatever it would take, I was up for the challenge. In the act of pushing him out, I went from a pregnant mother who loved her baby to a MAMA, Bobby's mama. The only one he would ever have. And I was determined not to let him down.
ME: What is your bachelors degree in and what year did you graduate?
SANDY: I graduated in May 2004 from the U of A with a B.S. in Family Studies and Human Development.
ME: What career did you pursue after graduation and did you work through your entire pregnancy?
SANDY: I worked as a Developmental Specialist in Early Intervention. It was my job to offer supports and services to the families of children birth to age three with special needs. I was involved in various parts of the program in my 5 years with the company. I worked directly with families, teachers, therapists, doctors, etc. and did things ranging from intial evaluations to see if a developmental delay was present and if the child would qualify for the program to providing in-home support to families to work toward their self-identified goals for their child(ren). I took on the role of Supervisor about a week before I found out I was pregnant with my son. I worked until I was about 5 months pregnant when I was exposed to an illness on the job that my OB felt posed a serious threat to my unborn child. I resigned.
ME: Did you ever debate whether or not you should stay in your career or did you know with certainty that you wanted to be a stay-at-home mom?
SANDY: I always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. I struggled quite a bit with the financial aspects of it because my husband is a student and I was the main financial provider. But he was supportive and in agreement that we could pay back student loans but could never get back our son's infancy and toddlerhood.
ME: I don't mean this question in a derogatory way (motherhood is the toughest job around!), but "what do you do all day?" What does a typical day look like for you? :)
SANDY: Well...these days are not the norm because I am pregnant with my second child and struggling with horrible morning sickness all day long! So these days are a bit more relaxed and we tend to take them one moment at a time! But typically Bobby and I are very active. We try to get moving fairly quickly in the morning and enjoy MOMS club, story time at the local library, and feeding the ducks at the park. We enjoy taking our two dogs for walks and going for hikes in the national forest. He doesn't nap anymore so our schedule is allowing more for spontaneity and adventure. Sometimes we lose half the day in books and make believe. Don't get me wrong, I still have to do the laundry, cooking, and major household cleaning. But who wants to read about chores! I try to balance having a reasonably clean home and fed family with not missing a moment of this exciting time with my son!
ME: What is the best/most rewarding thing about being a SAHM? What is the hardest thing?
SANDY: For me, the most rewarding things about being a SAHM are the close relationship that I have with my son and the peace my husband and I have about the quality of care he is receiving. We know that he is being raised according to our beliefs and that he is responded to with love and enthusiasm 24 hours a day. It melts my heart to hear him say "Bobby loves Daddy, and Mama, and God, and the Beeb (the baby) soooooo much!" Or "Bobby is holding Jesus right now Mama."
The hardest thing is finding balance. Mothering is a 24-hour-a-day job and a SAHM doesn't typically have as much free time as many people think! Far from eating chocolate and watching TV, being a SAHM means finding energy when you have none and putting the needs of your family above your own. It means finding a smile and an encouraging word for your husband or a friend when you have been awake for 23 hours straight with a sick baby and still have to get dinner on the table and sweep the floors. It is the most challenging and rewarding job ever!
ME: What do you do to combat "cabin fever" (or how do you prevent feeling isolated from the adult world)?
SANDY: We get out a lot. I think I answered this in question 6!
ME: In an ideal world - if you could have everything exactly the way you wanted it - would you work part time? work from home? start a company? volunteer? go back to school? none of the above?
SANDY: I wouldn't change a thing right now. I plan to homeschool at least in the beginning. As the needs of my children become less time consuming I would like to go back to school to complete my Ph.D. I don't know if I will ever return to the work force. However, I would like to finish my doctorate as a personal goal.
ME: Do you plan to return to the outside-the-home workforce in the future and, if so, what do you picture yourself doing...and when?
SANDY: I don't necessarily see myself working outside the home again. If I go back to school and complete my doctorate I would like to write books on parenting and child development. I also think it would be fun to write high quality, developmentally appropriate children's books.
ME: What advice would you give to moms-to-be and/or new moms about how to enjoy the baby/toddler years while still finding time for yourself (your hobbies, your mind, your marriage, etc.)?
SANDY: I think my most important peice of advice to new moms is trust yourself. Choose experts you trust and read what they have to say. Discuss your concerns or insecurities with a few close friends that share similar parenting philosophies. Choose before the baby comes how you will deal with unsolicited advice especially when it is hurtful or conflicts with what you believe to be best for your child. But above all trust yourself. If it doesn't feel right it probably isn't. God has entrusted this child to your care. He trusts you so shouldn't you? You will save yourself a lot of time and energy that can be spent on other things if you just remember this.
You've "met" her. Are you amazed?