Meet KathrynI like lovely things. I have spent my career surrounded by art, artists, and words – all of which I adore. I also like lovely people. I am lucky to be surrounded by them too.
Obviously from my posts here and on my blog, I also like books. I really would like to go with the theme and say I like lovely books, but the truth is: I like ALL books. Depressing books, slow books, fast books, short books and fat books – I love them all.
Our little family is complicated to describe. I have lived in two countries and nine states. My husband is originally from Kenya. Most of our friends are from somewhere else. We’re multi-racial, multi-faith, multi-faceted in every way, but oddly my husband thinks more like me than anyone else I’ve ever met. I feel extremely grateful for that, as I realized at some point that this business of building a family really requires a strong union, a lot of communication, and a bit of mind-reading.
When do you feel like you're doing your best job as a mom?
When my daughter and I are really connected and we are both really in the moment, then I’m doing a good job. Sometimes it’s sharing a laugh, sometimes it’s dancing around the house, sometimes it’s discussing a boundary, and sometimes it’s a simple, intertwined nap together on the sofa.
You knew this one was coming... when do you feel like you're doing your worst job?
The time when I struggle the most is when I am tired and frustrated. I’m not a yeller, but I hate when my daughter ends up feeling like she’s disappointed me, especially if I later realize that it’s really me that had the problem.
What surprised you the most about motherhood?
Motherhood was a complete shock to me. I had a massive babysitting empire as a teenager, so I thought I knew what to expect. I had patented ways to calm children, I had theories, I had experience. My husband is from a large family, so he had tons of experience too.
But all that was completely naïve. I had NO idea how all-consuming it would be when it is your own child. We don’t have much family nearby, so it was (and continues to be) a struggle to get the help that we need.
Related, I have learned I was incredibly judgmental about other parents. I have come to realize that there are a million ways to raise wonderful children. I have chosen the path that seems right for our circumstances and my child, but I don’t pretend to know what is right for someone else. (And I had a few apologies to make to friends and family about know-it-all, unsolicited advice that I gave before I knew any better.)
What is your go-to activity when a meltdown is on its way?
Well, when I am feeling a meltdown coming on, I find a nice, cold glass of water can really turn me around. My daughter is fairly even tempered, so if she is entering meltdown territory then I have pushed her patience way too far.
Stopping to listen to what she is saying, removing her from whatever situation she is resisting, and adjusting my expectations are vital. She responds best to positive things, so a song, a snuggle, or a small snack will most often solve the problem.
What have your daughter taught you?
Something magical happened to me in this process. Many of my insecurities fell away. I feel more beautiful, I feel more worthy, probably because I feel more loved. Our children love us with a voracity that I have found impossible to ignore.
What will you miss the most about these years with young children?
I’m going to miss feeling tall! My husband and his family are all quite tall, my daughter takes after him, so I’m afraid the sweet way she turns her head up to me and stares at me with her deep, soulful eyes are short-lived.
I really doubted I would ever have this opportunity, to be the mother to a wonderful, sweet, healthy baby. I just want to savor this time and not worry too much about what is to come. I could not have planned my life to be this rich and interesting, so I am committed to letting it unfold, in all its complexity, as it will.
I really love positive, constructive dialogue, so I hope people will be encouraged to comment on what I write. I have learned so much from other mothers, so I hope readers will have some things to say, some questions, or something to share.
You can follow Kathryn on her blog: http://www.readingbaby.blogspot.com/