Parenting is as much about the journey as it is about the memories you make along the way. And just in time for Mother’s Day, nearly twenty local mamas tell all, sharing their favorite moments, insights, lessons and laughter.
Like most mothers, from the day my son was born, I knew he was special. So, on a Tuesday afternoon, when he was 18 months old, I wasn’t shocked when I saw him reading Curious George out loud from across the room. I immediately ran to get the video camera.
“He’s a genius!” I exclaimed.
It wasn’t until I got close up that I realized he was reading the book upside-down.
—Lauren Maslin, Founder and Owner of Encore Maternity
Let The Great World Stop
Recently, at the end of a lousy day during what had been my most trying month in my almost-decade as a parent, my daughter asked me, “Mommy, how do you stop the whole world?”
“Nobody can stop the whole world,” I told her. “It keeps spinning no matter what.” Then I turned off the light and shut the door before Maggie could formulate her follow-up.
But her question stayed with me as I slumped onto the couch. I picked up the remote, and stopped. What if I could press a pause button? What if I could live suspended in that moment before returning to the challenges of my life? And if I could do that for myself, could I not show my children how to do the same?
I have found renewed energy for tackling my own motherhood mountain by stopping. By breathing. And by taking all the stuff out of my backpack that was too heavy for the next part of the climb.
Volunteer breakfasts and auctions and making thirty phone calls by tomorrow? No. Sorry, I’m not available.
“Mommy, can you read just one more story? Mommy, can you answer just one more question? Mommy, can you stop the whole world?”
Yes. Yes, I can.
Taking The High Road
Just yesterday my eldest son, who’s ten and a half, came home with a check minus on an assignment. I had helped him with that homework, so WE got a check minus! I went to Vassar, I have a Masters in French and I have a law degree…and I often can’t understand my son’s homework.
The assignment was a map of Europe and he had to fill in three countries. He received a check minus because the instructions said to fill in the countries with a color and we only labeled
So I was up in arms…and I called the school—which is really out of character for me because I usually don’t get involved. But I never had the chance to speak with the teacher.
That day my son came home and said that his teacher knew that I had called the school. I told him that I would call her the very next
My ten-and-a-half-year-old looked at me and said: “Mom, don’t call her. Be the bigger person.”
One night when my youngest son, Arthur, was five, I came into his room to kiss him goodnight and found him crying. Very concerned, and wanting mightily to console him, I asked what was wrong. He told me that he “messed up” the block corner in his kindergarten room and that his teacher had chastised him.
Oh, this is going to be easy, I thought.
“OK, Arthur, here’s what you need to do. Tomorrow when you get to school…”
As I was talking, Arthur was sinking further underneath the covers. I asked him what was the matter—didn’t he think my advice was good?
“Don’t want advice,” he said. “I just want you to say POOR BABY!”
I never made that mistake again, with him and his brother, with my grandchildren and even with my husband. We all just need a POOR BABY from someone who loves us from time to time!
A Life-Changing Birthday
For my 35th birthday, I got served divorce papers while I was changing diapers. I was alone with a one-year-old and a four-year-old, both of whom had special needs. And it was Halloween.
Would I crumble in a heap or would I pick myself up and keep going? I’d always looked forward to my Halloween birthday. But, would I hibernate on my favorite day of the year because it had turned into one of the worst days of my life?
I had a little ballerina and mini monkey counting on me, so my decision was clear. We had friends over for birthday cake. We went to a Halloween party—I was clearly a zombie with my puffy red eyes. The kids had speech and physical therapy appointments. In between, I hid in my room to call my new lawyer. When I emerged, I splashed cold water on my face and forced a smile. In the afternoon, we went trick-or-treating. I tucked them into bed that night, and then burst into tears.
Looking back, my kids probably sensed something was wrong. But I showed them that day (and in the four years since), that life goes on. Each Halloween, there is birthday cake and costumes and
trick-or-treating. And every day of the year there is plenty of hugging, smiling and laughing. I make extra sure of that for my kids, not because I am a single mom or because my kids have special needs, but simply because all kids deserve it. And so do their moms.
Good Girls (Don’t) Wear Underpants
My daughter is a nudist. She is an unrepentant clothes-doffing, underwear-eschewing, bum-baring, breeze-loving, parts-showing nudist. It’s sort of awesome, but also a little disconcerting.
I love that my daughter so exults in her physical being, that she is so unreservedly comfortable with her physical self. And yet I catch myself, sometimes, pestering her about sweaters and socks and underpants. Aren’t you cold? Would you like to put on socks? Let’s put on underpants, shall we?!
I don’t worry about her becoming a lifelong nudist. I worry about her getting cold. I also worry about her peeing on the couch, which hasn’t happened yet, but still: one particularly engrossing episode of “Global Grover” and all the Scotchguard in the world won’t save our off-white sofa…
I love that she is so unabashedly, physically she. So I resolve to not worry about shame or unshame and to just let her be. But if she pees on my couch, those underpants are going on with duct tape.
—Catherine Connors writes at herbadmother.com
A Kiss Is Just A Kiss
My son is seven and a half years old and is consistently recognized for having such a warm demeanor. When he was a toddler, he always licked his friends and family to show his love. Other mothers would say, “What is wrong with your son?” My immediate thought was: He isn’t even two—at least he isn’t hitting or biting!
Fast forward to six years old: I get a call from his kindergarten teacher saying, “Ithan is kissing all the girls.”
I wish every parent could get that call from school. “Your kid is a bit too loving; we need your help to teach him to curb that a little.” Did she want me to punish him? I would never punish him for loving!
Like Mother, Like Daughter
When my daughter Rochelle was two years old, I remember being in a store and she was screaming, throwing a tantrum. I was mortified. As a young mother, I didn’t know what to do.
So I said to her, “You have to be quiet!”
It was the “terrible twos” when she had that moment. But that was the only time it happened!
—June Jacobs, CEO of June Jacobs Spa Collection
Actually, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! We’re all about stubbornness, survival, being strong-willed and never giving up.
When I was young and had really long hair, my mom liked to blow it out. One time, she had dressed me up…and was doing my hair and I just remember the tears falling down my face. I was so angry! But, in the end, I knew she was going to win and I was going to have to have my hair blown out. So I let her do it.
One night, my own son Jake was refusing to go to sleep. He paced the room, going in circles for an hour. Finally, I said to him, “We can sit here all night long. I don’t mind. Because I’m going to win this in the end.”
He paced a little more. But then, finally, he got it.
“Now, I understand, Mommy,” he said to me. He gave me a hug and he went to bed!
—Rochelle Jacobs-Silpe, Co-Creator of June Jacobs Spa Collection. Photo by Heidi Green
If At First You Don’t Succeed
One day when my son was about four, we were heading to the park and the sun was setting. I told him it would likely be closed and he said, “Why don’t you take a piece of cardboard, cut it out in the shape of the moon and cover the moon with it, and then the sun can stay out?”
“Wow. Why didn’t Mommy think of that?” I replied.
When we reached the park and the gate was locked, he was a little frustrated. I told him we had no choice but to go home and play with toys.
“Wait, Mommy. Take out your keys to unlock the gate,” he said.
“I don’t think my keys fit the lock,” I stated, to which he replied, “How do you know, Mommy? You didn’t even try.”
My little guy has taught me a lot about solutions.
—Latham Thomas, Founder of Mama Glow
A Tale Of Two Diapers
Over the past eight years, the funniest (and grossest) moment of mommyhood with twins was when I finally thought (emphasis on thought) I got the hang of having two infants. In a rush, I decided to be
the champion of all mothers of multiples and change both boys’ diapers at the same time. Boy, was I confident!
Onesies unbuttoned? Check! Dirty diapers off? Check! New ones ready? Check! Right before what would have been an extremely triumphant moment for me, I got the gift that only a baby boy could give: the oh-so familiar splash of you-know-what to my chin and neck. But, it wasn’t just one infant who gave me the shower. One aimed for the chin; the other, for the neck.
So, if you’re like me and have experienced the warmth of a double tinkle to your face, admit it: motherhood is awesome.
—Tiffany Casanova is an entertainment lawyer by day and Producer of family web series “Tristin and Tyler’s Tales from the City!” by night, tristinandtyler.com.
Soon after my brother-in-law was deployed to Afghanistan, my sister gave birth to their second child. Fortunately, my parents lived nearby and were able to help out quite a bit with both the baby and her three-year-old brother Jacob. But by about nine months into what was ultimately a year-long deployment, my parents were exhausted.
One cold winter night, my mother got a call from Jacob’s preschool right after closing time. “No one came to pick up your grandson today,” the teacher told her. My parents had gotten their signals crossed about whose night it was for pick-up. My mother felt terrible—as if his father’s departure hadn’t been hard enough on the boy, now he’d been forgotten by Grandma and Grandpa on top of it. She rushed over expecting to find an inconsolable toddler.
Instead, Jacob was bright eyed and beaming. “Grandma!” he exclaimed. “I must be so special—they kept school open just for me!”
—Darcy Lockman is a clinical psychologist who works with New York City parents. Her memoir, Brooklyn Zoo: The Education of a Psychotherapist, will be published by Doubleday in July.
It was the typical day in the life of my three-year-old. The day started with singing and pretending we were Pharaoh and Moses. But her doll (who of course was playing Baby Moses) was not wrapped just right. “Not her eyes covered, Momma!” And faster than a Ferrari we are on the ground hysterical.
By the arrival of the splashing tantrum at bath time, I felt like a failure of a mom. Add on a big heap of shame that I was so looking forward to her being asleep and—let’s be honest—a glass of wine.
When she calmed down after some snuggles and songs, and as I was putting her into the crib she said, “Momma, I love you even when you get frustrated and give me consequences, my love for you is endless.”
Holy crap. I wish I could have bottled that moment to pull out during the next tantrum, the teen years, or heck, just for a day when I feel blue. She heard me. She gets it. I am doing something right.
And Then The Phone Rings…
One evening, I received a phone call at home from one of my daughter’s middle school teachers. My mind went so many places. The teacher began with “I don’t know if you know this but…” which raised my anxiety even further.
She then continued to tell me that my daughter had been writing letters to her. She said they were letters of encouragement while she was undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. She told me how my daughter’s words were inspirational and how touched she was by her insight and spirit. As a family, we had just supported my sister through chemotherapy and so my daughter used that experience to lend a hand and her heart to her teacher. To me, this was far greater than any report card grade.
—Elizabeth DeAngelis, Master Teacher at The New American Academy.
Think about it. For ten months, men get to chill out and wait while women go through an awe-inspiring metamorphosis, resulting in something far more glorious than a butterfly. I knew there was nothing I wouldn’t do to grow a healthy child. Give up wine, easy. Sushi, Splenda, soda and coffee were harder but doable.
Then, after the baby was born, sleeplessness, nursing woes, night terrors, preschool applications, juggling careers and kids are all pars for the course.
My children are now ages five and eight, and I have learned that there are many sacrifices, challenges and fears to face in raising children but the rewards are vast.
In Their Eyes
My oldest daughter was infatuated with my forehead and kept saying, “What are all those wrinkles?”
All I could think was, I don’t have wrinkles!
She was probably five at the time, but wouldn’t leave it alone. So then I looked in the mirror and…oh my gosh, I really do have wrinkles! I must have just gotten these in the past couple of years with all of these kids.
Then my husband said, “Yeaaa…you’ve had those ever since I’ve known you.”
—Mollie Marcoux, Chelsea Piers Field House General Manager
Nana’s Little Secret
My seven-year-old son went to spend quality time with Nana for the night. When he came home he told me that Nana used cream on her eyes to prevent lines and wrinkles. I wondered what she used since I am surrounded by lifestyle services in my industry.
The next day we had my daughter’s birthday party. Cooper must have seen the product on TV shortly beforehand and asked, “Nana, why do you use butt cream on your face?”
My husband and I, embarrassed, had to compose our smiles with the innocent question asked in front of ten other grown-ups.
—Shannon Russo-Pollack, Co-Founder, Lifestyle Director and President of Dasha Wellness Corp.
When Nature Calls The Eco-Minded
One day we ran out of TP at home, but we serendipitously had a large stack of washable, flannel wipes in the bathroom that we were using for baby wipes for Damien at the time. Cotton wipes are
softer, denser and more effective and they all go in the same laundry bin.
From that day forth, the fluffy, cotton wipes have been used to pat ourselves (and our son) dry. Damien has long been out of diapers, but the flannel wipes remain—I’m never going back!
—Adriane Stare, Owner and Founder of Caribou Baby.
To Go Or Not To Go
“Jake is hurt. 911 is here.”
That’s how my daughter, Emma, began a phone call when I was on a business trip in Dallas.
My heart began beating wildly. My face flushed.
Jake had been reaching for an antique glass candy jar, it slipped and shattered in his hand. His right thumb was badly cut and would need stitches. The paramedics would take him to Lenox Hill Hospital.
I faced a working mom’s dilemma: fly home or stay the course? Like any mother, my immediate inclination was to cancel the rest of the trip and race to the airport. I was wracked with guilt.
I quickly tracked down my husband Peter with the news, and he jumped in a cab to meet Jake at the hospital. We spoke a few minutes later and I realized there was nothing I could do at home that Peter and others couldn’t handle. Jake, he said, had begun to brag about how badly he cut his thumb. He was proud of his wound.
I got home, as scheduled, two days later. There was Jake, smiling and thrilled to show me his bandaged hand. “Mom, you should have seen it. There was A LOT of blood.”
Any residual guilt had dissipated. In retrospect I view it as natural, but perhaps wasted, emotion. Seven years later, Jake happily tells the story and shows off his deep scar to anyone who’s interested.
I recently met a woman whose daughter will turn two in July. And she’s pregnant. With twins. They’re coming in May. And I had to cover my mouth with imaginary duct tape to prevent myself from belting out, “You’ll have your hands full!” Because I’ve only heard that myself 1,792 times (not that I’m keeping track or anything).
Since I have twins and two older girls, she had a few questions for me like…“I’ve been reading some books about multiples and they all insist I can easily nurse the twins in public! Is that true?”
“Hell to the no girlfriend. Maybe in the car. With a giant nursing pillow. But do not attempt to sit your postpartum self on a park bench and nurse those twins simultaneously. Because you will either drop one or create a crowd of onlookers that would make Kim Kardashian jealous.”
And then she asked…“Everyone tells me it’s going to be horrible having newborn twins and a young toddler. Is it really that bad?”
The summer after my twins were born, I was so tired, I inadvertently locked my husband in the basement and he was so exhausted, he was introducing our son
as Chad. Our son’s name is Chase. And I’m pretty sure my older girls (ages three and five at the time) were raising themselves. Which would explain the day they almost burned down the kitchen. I sent them downstairs for cheddar goldfish and they decided to put microwave popcorn in the toaster oven. But on the upside, I learned that using a fire extinguisher is very easy.
“Sure, there will be a smidgeon of fatigue. And just a hair of guilt. And maybe just a bit of chaos. But no worries! Children are a wonderful blessing. Having one is just like three. You’ll be fabulous!”
Sometimes it’s just better not to know what’s coming.
All About Balance
Balancing work and family is one of the most challenging things for me as a mother. For so long it was my passion to become a midwife that drove me; I love working with women, caring for people, the fast pace of the labor floor and sharing that intimate experience when a family brings a new baby into their lives. I took it for granted that I would have children myself and assumed that I could do it all. I knew it would be hard, and it is. But what I wasn’t prepared for was the guilt!
For several years, I didn’t get childcare because I didn’t want to lose time with my boys. My boys were great, thriving, but I was starting to crash. I knew I couldn’t sustain it for much longer—and was this really better for my boys?
The answer seems obvious (now). It’s what’s so great about motherhood: we are constantly learning. For me, sleep became a higher priority, working less became more of a priority, and taking better care of myself became a priority. And the guilt, lets face it, will always be there. I just can’t take it too seriously!
—Coralie Macqueen, Certified Nurse-Midwife at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital.
An Adoption Story
Charlie was found wandering the streets at 18 months old because his heroin-addicted mom was too strung out to watch him.
We adopted him when he was five. By then, he’d been in at least four foster homes. He had no past experience of a mom who’d been dependable and there for him. All his fears came out around bedtime. Before he could go to sleep, I’d have to make sure that there were no monsters in his room. I’d look under his bed, stand by his door and shout, “Get out and stay out!” and then slam the door shut. Every night he woke up screaming in terror at being alone. For a time I slept on the floor beside his bed. When he woke up and saw me, he’d sigh in relief and go back to sleep. Like so many moms of much younger children, I was delighted when he slept through the night. I knew that meant he could go to sleep because he was secure that I would still be there the next morning.
—Sandra Hagan, Executive Director of The Child Center of NY.