My next interview is with Sarah (mommingishard.) Sarah lives with her family in Minneapolis, America, and has an Instagram full of unfiltered snapshots of her life as a working-at-home mum to her two children, born fifteen months apart. I was first drawn to Sarah’s Instagram when she wrote a Flashback Friday post about depression through pregnancy. It was so beautifully written that I couldn’t help but investigate a little further. After reading her blog, which is painfully honest at times about the duality of stay at home motherhood, I decided to ask if she would be interested in taking part in my interview. It also became apparent that Sarah and her family are Christians and that their faith is something that is integral to their day to day lives. As someone who would say they were spiritual but not religious, but have often felt the need to believe in something, I am fascinated, and perhaps a little jealous, that they are so confident in their beliefs, which is why I included a question about it here.
1) Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your family?
I’ve been married to my husband for 7 years and we are parents to a 3 year old boy and 2 year old girl. My husband works for an advertising agency and I work as a fundraising auctioneer which also allows me to stay home full time with my littles.
2) If you could give one piece of advice for an expectant mother, what would it be?
Don’t get cocky. You will read so many books, blogs, articles, advice columns, etc and you will know exactly how to handle every hypothetical situation before your baby even arrives. Then your baby will arrive and will be uniquely yours with it’s own personality and needs. The moment you realize there is no “one way” to do things, the easier it will be to handle any thing that comes your way. It could be how you sleep train or feed your child. Every child responds differently, so keep an open mind and stay humble in your parenting, because if you don’t humble yourself, your child most certainly will do it for you.
3) All of us parent differently and have different values. What is your most important parenting value?
For our family, if our kids know to Love God and Love others, we will be happy. All the other things (making their bed, eating organic, speaking Mandarin, sitting still, etc) don’t matter. We still try to do what’s best for our kids in all the areas, but our primary concern is Love. Do they know we love them? Do they know God loves them? Do their hearts and actions show that they Love God and people? That’s what matters to us.
4) what motto do you try and live by?
One day at a time. It’s not just for alcoholics. It’s for us people who worry and plan and fret over the future, when we can really only control what we do today. How will I be present with my kids today? How will I love them today? Again, this is “try to live by” because I’m usually never perfect, but I’m taking it one day at a time.
5) What are your hopes for your children?
I hope they know they are loved and that they learn to use their God-given gifts. I want them to know and focus on what they are naturally gifted in and feel the freedom and confidence to use those gifts to the fullest. In hobby, career, ministry, etc. I don’t know what that will look like for them 15-20 years down the road, but I want to help them figure it out.
6) You are a practising Christian and are proud of your faith. What does this mean for your day to day parenting and how do you feel it helps? How important is it to you that your children believe in the same way that you do?
Aside from constantly praying for help to not screw these kids up, it means that I don’t compare myself to the expectations of our culture. Instead I compare my parenting to Christ.
“Don’t copy the behaviors and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is” Romans 12:2 (it gives me chills every time I think of this verse in the context of parenting…so freeing)
7) Your son and daughter were born fifteen months apart. How did you manage the transition from being the only child to an older brother when your son was still very young himself?
This was hard. A 15 month old cannot understand the concept of having a little brother or sister. He really struggled and was confused which was heartbreaking for everyone. I took everyone up on the help they offered. I would take a couple hours here and there and leave the baby with one of the grandmas and take him out on dates to be very intentional about nurturing our relationship. The first 3 months were the hardest, but it took an entire year to show any interest in his sister and now they are best friends. Mommy/son dates are so important during this time.
8) You suffered with postnatal depression after the birth of your second child. How did you manage to cope with this and parent two children under two?
What helped me the most was sharing my story with people. In sharing my struggles and my story about anxiety and depression made me feel less alone because it offered an opportunity for other people to open up about it as well. I found that my story because a source of encouragement for other people as well and that gave a sense of purpose for the darkness I experienced.
9) In one of your posts you say you believe ‘parenting has been made much harder than it has to be.’ What do you mean by that and why do you think this is? Do you think we can rectify the situation?
I think it is made harder by all of the new standards and “requirements” for parenting. Things our parents didn’t have to put up with. Kids have to eat organic, well rounded meals. We are expected to entertain our children every second of every day with pinterest-worthy crafts and activities. We as mothers should love our postpartum bodies, but we should also have 12% body fat. We are lead to believe that we don’t do these things, our children will suffer. NEWS FLASH! Our children will not suffer. Actually, we as mothers may suffer if we try to live up to these things. I don’t know if there is anything we can do about the cultural expectations as a whole, but individually we can chase the slow and present life. Take it all in and know that being present is enough.
10) Parenting is tough and beautiful all at the same time. Can you tell us about a tough time and a shining moment that you’ve had as a parent?
There are a lot of tough times in parenting, the one that sticks out the most is when my daughter choked, stopped breathing and went unconscious. I am so grateful I was in the room with her when it happened because I was able to clear the passage and get her breathing again. I just remember the feeling of her limp body in my hands as I smacked her back and tried clearing out her throat praying to God and thinking, “if this doesn’t work, I will never see her again.” That moment still haunts me.
For every tough moment, there are 100 wonderful moments. Some of my favorite moments are when I witness my kids playing together, being best friends. I love when they express love to each other through sharing or helping one another. It’s little glimpses of hope that I’m doing an okay job.
I hope you enjoyed learning more about Sarah!
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