What would you tell me about being a mom?
I think in a lot of ways it’s unexpected how much you change, and how good the change is. You become a better version of yourself. You end up much softer, kinder, and compassionate - and you’ve never had to sacrifice and love people like you do when you become a mom. There’s a surprising benefit to being a mom that you don’t initially see. In the beginning you think you’re going to have a baby, how is this going to change my life, but it’s not really about the logistics - your whole outlook and trajectory about life changes. I love being a mom. I think everyone, if they have the chance, should experience being a mom.
Did you always want to be a mom?
My mom was the principle of our school. My sister and I are twins, and I have a younger sister who is five years younger. For career day, I dressed up as my mom and I had a balloon tucked up under my outfit. The newspaper came by that day - small town - and took a picture of me in my 80s oxford shirt that my mom had belted, and I knew I wanted to be my mom, and she was pregnant, so that’s what I did. I remember people had a problem with that. They had issues with the young mom thing, or that maybe all you want to be is a mom. It’s not enough to be a mom. It used to be, but I think now you have to justify it. People ask me if I stay at home, and I say yes, but it’s almost like I have to apologize for it. There’s a battle in your heart to feel justified in your position. They can’t call you by a title, and I don’t even know if I’m doing a good job, staying at home - I don’t have the fruit to prove that I’ve done anything, cause they’re so little. People commend moms at graduation ceremonies and weddings, or first baby showers. Until your children are adults and they can tell people that you’ve done a good job, you don’t have any proof. If you kid looks disheveled, that’s your mark for the day. If you’re at the grocery store and your child spills cereal all over the floor, that’s what people see - but on graduation, or at weddings, mothers are highlighted and praised. People say,“My mother would have done anything for me.” But you would have done anything for them at age one.
Is there something that took you completely by surprise in motherhood?
I think I’m still so young in motherhood. Even though I have almost four, because they’re so little, I feel like I'm just starting off. The oldest is not even six. I feel like a second year med student. You know how they say, "poor information is no information at all." I don’t know, what do I know at this point. A friend once said, “Never say never.” You will always do something that you said you would never do. You tell yourself, I’ll never give my kid that, I will never bribe them, never let them wear something. I’m surprised by the empathy that grows in me because of things that I’ve experienced with other people. Airplane rides, delivery, feeling awkward in the store. It was easy for me to relate to other moms, right away.
What is it like living in D.C. with almost four kids?
Having multiple kids in the city is a minority thing to do. Not many people are willing to bite that off and chew it. So you’re easily judged by people who think you don’t have it together, or feel you should do things differently. So it’s funny how you have to overcompensate. Your kids have to look nice, you have to look nice, and you have to keep them in order, and they have to obey. That’s really hard to do all at once, and when all those things happen, people say, “oh, your kids are so cute.” The days you look like a disheveled mess, they look at you funny, and they’re probably thinking I shouldn’t have done this.They always say, You’ve got your hands full. They don’t offer their hands, but they say it. I always wonder how to answer that in a positive way for your kids. My oldest is always listening, and I want her to have a positive view of motherhood. I didn’t just stop my life to have kids for a minute, and then afterwards I’m going to get back to what I was doing before. I want them to feel like they were the priority, and that I’m staying at home because I wanted to. Not necessity, but from desire. When people tell me that I’ve got my hands full, I answer, “Yes, full of very good things.”
What would you tell your daughter if she’s about to have a child?
I love it when people say, “You’re going to love it. You’re going to feel crazy, and sometimes you’re going think you’ve made a mistake, but you haven’t.” It’s so incredible that God has given mothers the ability to do this. And also to be able to see your own child go through the same thing is so wonderful - that’s what my mom told me. I think I would tell her to have perspective. In laying down your life consistently, the joy in this is in the serving - rather than in the receiving and getting praise.