I like to write about myself. I like watching other people, learning from other people, I like interpreting their actions and projecting their emotions. But at the end of the day when I’m alone with the page, it’s me that I always end up putting into words. I made some (horrible, embarrassing, awful, wish I never wrote it) attempts at fiction and criticism during my MFA program, but it was clear as day that a memoirist I was to be.
Hence this blog. It started as a way to warm up my memoir muscles after a too long dry spell, and has turned now into my weekly long run, with quick sprints back into the more experimental (read: unpublishable) realms. But something else has occurred in the meantime – every now and again, I get a little tired of writing about myself. And if I can get tired of writing about me ad infinitum, I think it’s safe to say my readers might get just as tired of reading about me week after week.
So here I present something different. I want to hear what other people have to say – other moms to be precise (this is, after all, a blog about being a mom). Like the special candy you only eat at holidays, I’d like to share other stories, as a treat for me, and for you.
Today we inaugurate the Moms at Work series with Flora, the mom we’d all like to be. She’s stylish, she’s smart, and even with two baby boys making her life crazy, she’s that mom that always has her shit together (and has her nails done, and has that thing you forgot to pack in your own disaster of a diaper bag). She also has a really great accent when she talks.
And just so you don’t worry about me and Koukla going gentle into that good night, here’s the both of us photobombing Flora’s otherwise picture perfect moment.
(Oh, and PS: This is the first in an occasional series. If you’d like to be a part of it, email me at MomAtWork.ASpanos@gmail.com.)
Introduce yourself: What did your life look like before you became a mom, and what does your life look like now?
Oh lord! I barely remember what my life looked like before I became a mom (pregnancy amnesia seems to be a permanent thing for me now). But if I recall correctly, I used to be youthful, beautiful, funny, witty, and energetic. I had so much time on my hands that often I would go to the gym twice in one day, have regular happy hour with my single girlfriends, have regular date nights with my husband, and go on vacation to exotic places like India, Europe, Argentina, etc. Deciding to have children was a 2-3 year process, since letting go of such a fabulous life was not easy. But once I became pregnant we knew that it was the best decision we could have ever made!
I’m a mother of two beautiful boys, two and a half years old and eight months old. My life is busier than it has ever been, and I rarely leave the city of Pasadena or LA county. My schedule is no longer packed with happy hour with friends, instead, I have ‘play dates.’ I rarely have time for myself anymore – I live above a nail and hair salon and the irony is, my roots haven’t been retouched in months and my nails are as long as my eight month old baby’s nails! The thought of going on vacation seems like a lot of work, hence the reason I rarely leave Pasadena, or even my own home with the kids.
In any case, having children not only changed my life, but it completely changed my perception of life itself. While my life before my children was pretty darn fabulous, my life after my children is finally complete and fulfilled. I have more love than I ever knew existed. Everything else is pretty meaningless compared to the happiness we now share with my beautiful family.
How do you define work/life balance? (Or, in other words, how much do you sleep?)
Every day is a juggling act between balancing work, personal life, and at the same time getting enough sleep. Thankfully my boys are very good sleepers and with the help of our full time nanny Letti, we keep them on a very tight schedule. I try to get myself to bed no later than 11:30pm, anticipating that my younger son will be up the next day between 6-7am. As soon as the youngest one is up, the laborious day of bottles, pureed food, work and traffic begins, and does not end again until 11:30 that night. There is no downtime at all, but keeping myself organized and the kids on a schedule seems to make the day easier to manage.
What are the biggest challenges you face and how do you cope with them?
One of the single biggest challenges is having to wear so many hats throughout the day. When I am home I am a mother. When the kids are asleep I am a wife. And when I leave the house for work I am a career woman. Keeping a game face for all three different duties and responsibilities is not easy.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about being a mom?
People, myself included before having children, think that once you have kids your life is over. I suppose in a way, yes, your old self and your old life are over. But a new life and a new chapter start as soon as you meet that sweet little person for the first time. Life seems more real, more fulfilled and truly meaningful.
How did you learn how to be a mom?
I read lots and lots of books on everything from nursing a newborn, establishing good and healthy routines for an infant, sleep solutions, parenting, etc. I asked my mother and other experienced mothers lots and lots of questions, I read and still read articles online. But I think I learned to become a mother by just following my instincts.
What’s the best thing that happened to you in the last twenty-four hours?
I took the kids to visit my aging parents. It is such a blessing to see my parents enjoy their grandchildren and to see the kids naturally gravitate towards them. I loved seeing my parents be so happy with our visit.
Drop some Mom at Work wisdom: What else do you want us to know?
The saying “children are a lot of work, but they are totally worth it” is so cliché, but so true! Take each day as it comes, and as difficult as some days may me, enjoy them. For we are lucky enough to be mothers and lucky to be living life at its fullest.