Lessons in Motherhood: Being a Badass at Home and at Work
The moms of VF share the parenting lessons we’ve learned, as well as those stark reminders of how worthwhile motherhood is.
By Kelly Pellico and the Moms of VF
Okay, okay, I’ll be the first to admit this title is a bit idealistic. On my best days ─ when I feel accomplished at work and I manage to avoid losing my shit at home ─ I don’t know that I feel like a badass. But because I get to work alongside a lot of badass moms and dads (a.k.a. our VF Parent Posse), I’m constantly provided with support, guidance, and a lot of laughs. We ask each other for parenting advice and share all the details of our mishaps and misadventures.
As we celebrate Mother’s Day, I’ve asked the moms in our VF Parent Posse to share some of the lessons they’ve learned. Those only-funny-after-the-fact reminders that we share the parenting struggle, and the struggle to balance family and career, as well as the moments that bring us glaringly into the present, reminding us how very worthwhile motherhood is.
Three Deep Breaths – Ivey
One of the silver linings of the COVID shut-down to me was getting to spend a lot of quality time with my firstborn (now 5). After the world opened back up and business travel resumed, it was a struggle for her to adjust to me coming and going. We started getting reports of some aggressive behavior at school…and what do you know, these incidents would always align to periods during or surrounding my travel. Enter MAJOR mom guilt.
After some research and soul searching (VF’s Parent Posse was a great support and resource for ideas!), I doubled down on things like special daily 1-1 time, rehearsing scenarios at home and brainstorming ways with her to respond differently, as well as practicing coping skills in kid-friendly ways – like ‘blowing out birthday candles’ as a fun way to visualize taking deep breaths. She wasn’t always receptive to those strategies in-the-moment, so it was hard to tell what was really getting through.
One weekend the tables were turned and it was my husband who was traveling while I held down the fort at home─with two sick kids. I was not my best mom-self that weekend. I was sleep deprived, short-fused, and snapping far more than I’d like. In one chaotic moment where everyone, the dog and cat included, was yelling for something at once, I really lost my cool. My 5 year old put her hand on mine and said calmly, “Three deep breaths, Mommy.”
What a wake up call. I slowed down and told her, my eyes welling up, that that was exactly what I needed. We took three deep breaths together. Then I asked her how she knew to do that.
Her response? “From you, Mommy. You teach me things. You’re a teacher, you know.”
Socks and Mommy Kisses – Kelly
A few weeks ago, I’m in a hurry because I had an 8:30 am meeting. I need to get the kids to school early and ask them to get dressed. After five minutes in her room my two-year-old comes out, still in her pajamas, and holding a sock in each hand. She holds them up and happily shouts, “New socks!” I acknowledge her but she continues “New socks! New socks!” I turn and snap, “I know! GO GET DRESSED.” She looks a bit startled and goes back to her room. Five minutes go by. She comes back out, still in her pajamas, and with a different sock in each hand. “New socks!” she shouts. I don’t snap but this time I go with her to her room and she knows I’m frustrated. We get to her room where I sit, and pull pants from her dresser’s bottom drawer. As I do, she bends down and kisses my knee. Then she says, “Mommy happy?” I look at her and the fact that I’m running late is now completely absent from my mind. “I kiss Mommy,” she says, “Mommy so happy?” Weekday mornings often feel stressful and rushed, but moments like these stop me in my tracks. I’m forever thankful to be mom to two sweet girls. It’s a love like no other. So, yes, little one. Mommy’s so happy.
The Letter – Emily
Growing up, I had a lot of support from both my mom and dad. They were very involved and never missed a school or sporting event. I always thought I’d want to stay home when the time came for me to have kids. As it turns out, I’ve found that I really enjoy working. It gives me variety, a sense of purpose and I take pride in the accomplishments of any given day. So I now work full-time while raising my two kids, ages 4 and 7. It’s hard juggling both but I work at it and try to follow the example set by my parents. Several years ago when my dad retired, I found a framed letter he’d been given by a coworker. She wrote that she’d admired him for having a good work-life balance and for modeling that for others. I now enjoy the same balance my parents modeled. I work hard but I also work flexibly around my kids’ needs. I’ll sign in early to knock out some work, then I’ll head out on a field trip with my son. Or I’ll make sure to wrap up my work before my daughter’s soccer game. I take pride in my work and in being a mom, and when I’m struggling I think of that framed letter to remember that I can do it all.
On Motherhood – Beth
Scary. Exciting. A journey.
Mystery. Instinct. A surprise.
Terrifying. Beautiful. An adventure.
Self-doubt at every turn.
Confidence when it matters most.
A love like I’ve never known.
You’re the Perfect Imperfect Mom – Heather
I’m a mom of teens. My oldest is graduating high school and leaving home for college in just a few short months. When raising both my boys, I strove to be the ‘perfect’ mom. Like my colleagues who have little ones now, I stressed about whether I allowed too much screen time, missed too many sports or music events, fed them the wrong kinds of food, exposed them to too few opportunities. Looking back, no doubt I failed in all those regards as measured by society’s standards. But, as I watch now in awe at my oldest as he prepares to fly on his own, it hits me that I had the wrong perspective. That screen time often gave me the ‘me time’ I needed so I could be the best mom to my boys. The missed events were often due to a job that helped finance my boys’ interests. The quick/easy meals of pizza or fast food were often a means to get the boys here, there and everywhere…a sign they probably had more than enough opportunities. Do I wish I could do it all over again? Then I could breastfeed for longer, I could lose my patience with them less, I could…
No, thank you. My boys are perfect just the way they are, and they got here despite all the mistakes I made as a parent. Cheers to all of the other imperfect parents out there. You’re the perfect, imperfect parent for your little (or not-so-little) ones.
Wishing all the moms out there a wonderful Mother’s Day. It’s the toughest and most rewarding job there is.