Can a Mom Have it All?

by Melissa Willets

Monday, July 12, 2010

Day One

Today is Day One of my experiment, which I hope will determine whether or not I can have it all.
Other more well known people, both fictional and real, have set out to answer this same question; for example Carrie Bradshaw, and Bethenny Frankel. However, no one in the world could possibly figure out if I, Melissa Willets, can have it all because who else could possibly evaluate this other than me?
The first step in my experiment of course is to define what having all is. I’m assuming this means something different for every person on this earth. Could I be making a critical error in judgment to consider myself so unique as to warrant my very own set of criteria of what having it all means? No, I’ll just operate under the assumption that I am as special as I consider myself to be. Why not? Why start this experiment with the depressing notion that I’m boring and have no qualities whatsoever which might make my life worthy enough to deserve its own individual consideration?
I am simply a product of my environment, right? Hasn’t my generation, and possibly others, been told that we should each seek out our own innate passion in life and truly find fulfillment within? I blame Oprah! She’s been telling me for years my “personal truth” is worth discovering…I’m paraphrasing.
So, having it all. This is what I want and I’m starting this experiment with a thesis, or something like that. It’s been over 10 years since I graduated from High School so my “experiment jargon” may be slightly off. My central belief here is that for a mom like me, having it all is indeed possible.
For this to ever possibly exist as a reality in my life, I must be able to be a mom first above all, before all. My children must always be the priority above career, other relationships and self. For many moms, this is also true although I realize that some may not agree with me. That’s okay. Again, everyone has their own picture or plan of what their life should look like.
I’ve learned during my intensive 2 year career of being a mom to our daughter Dana that not 100% of the total picture for me is about being “just a mom.” Being a mom is about 99% of what I want out of life. The other 1% is where I try to carve out a little, tiny, mini space for myself, or rather, where I attempt to figure out who the Hell I am anymore now that I primarily exist on this earth to fulfill the needs of another person.
My younger brother, who does not have children, and who by the way in a non-direct way has inspired me to chronicle this experiment, was trying to understand what being a parent is like recently while we were talking on the phone. I asked him to think about everything he does in a given day in terms of taking care of his own needs, from clipping his toenails, to going to the bathroom, to making a meal, showering, washing his hands after eating or being in a public place, to getting dressed, undressed, brushing his hair, teeth, drinking, getting into bed, out of bed, cleaning his home, and purchasing the basic products needed in day to day existence such as food, clothing, soap, dental items, etc. Now, I told my brother, multiply that by 2, if you want to know how it feels to have just 1 child. And this list only covers the most basic of human needs, nevermind the minute to minute entertainment a parents must provide to their child. Think puzzles, books, crayons, stickers, as well as an assortment of imagination developing games such as playing “house,” or cooking “food,” or maybe putting dolls to “bed.” There’s play dough, chalk, bubbles, flashcards, singing of songs, watching children’s movies, going to story time, swim lessons, gym time, etc. And don’t forget the emotional support, the kissing of boo-boo’s, the comforting of fears at bedtime, the encouragement to try a new food, put on your own shoes, make a new friend. You are responsible for developing skills in your child such as confidence building, conflict resolution, sharing, caring, patience, fairness, time management, listening, manners…the list goes on and on.
The amazing thing is that I actually was able to peck out the above thoughts on my computer, and my daughter is still napping! I was willing to bet money that she would wake up the second I tried to do something for myself, as usually happens. But getting back to that 1% of me that has other goals and dreams for myself in life beyond the primary goal of being the person to nurture and raise my children, which I am blessed to be. I have decided that by the age of 35, I want to be a published author, and have run an 8k. I also want to have 2 more children, which I am well on my way to since I am about 6 months pregnant with our second child right now.
I did publish a short poem in Teen Magazine when I was 12 years old (I lied and said I was thirteen), but I won’t count that. And I have run many 5k distance races. So, I believe these goals are attainable. I also believe that if you do not have goals or dreams in life, you might as well be dead. The challenge here is that I want to achieve my goals while still being a full time mom. If I had the luxury to focus all of my attention on any one of my goals, I may have given myself an earlier deadline, of perhaps, 32. I’m 31 now, which I guess is a vital piece of information for you, my reader.
I read this book about 8 years ago or so called “The Quarterlife Crisis.” And of course, we have all heard of a mid-life crisis. I am currently experiencing what I like to call the “Mommy Crisis.” Before I was a mom, I had a certain set of criteria that I used to define my life, but that has pretty much all changed since I became a mom. Previously, I was an Advertising Executive, and had been for 8 years. I was a wife, a runner, tended to drink maybe one of two too many glasses of wine most nights. But once I had my daughter, my career seemed like a running shoe I’d worn out, an outfit that had gone out of style, or an ill fitting pair of pants that I’d kept in the back of my closet because I just didn’t want to throw them away. I tried balancing my high stress job with new motherhood, but the mommy in me could never let my baby cry while I wrapped up a phone call with a client. It just wasn’t me. That initial dream of what I thought having it all would look like faded away quickly. I realized that my old career simply didn’t fit into my new life.
Initially I thought that that was it. Having it all just wasn’t possible! I had to choose between being a mom, or dedicating myself to my career. But over time I began to think that that couldn’t possibly be it. There had to be a way for me to gain that professional (not to mention financial) satisfaction in another way, a way that fit into my new mommy world. And that is part of what I plan to explore in this experiment. I am setting out to prove that my goal of contributing to our family’s security, and my children’s future can be realized in my dream of being a published author. Ergo, the documentation here.
Now to the lesser goal of completing an 8k or greater distance. Still important, make no mistake! As I have mentioned, I am six months pregnant right now, so I’ve suspended my running ambitions temporarily. It has been brought to my attention that some women run up until they give birth. I even know a woman who ran the very day she gave birth. Well, kudos to them, or should I say, f@#& them! Come on, seriously? I am exhausted! I am hungry, hormonal, and it is the dead of summer so walking is more my style right now. God, there is always someone who can make you feel like crap about yourself, am I right ladies? No matter how well you think you are doing, another person has to come along and steal your thunder. In fact, a friend of mine recently completed a marathon, so I’m sure she could run an 8k before breakfast without breaking a sweat. Good for her but this is me and my goal so there you have it!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Orzo with zucchini

Great recipe from the Rachel Ray Vegetarian Cookbook. SO EASY and YUMMY!

1/2 lb of orzo
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup chopped mint
1/2 cup chopped parsley
3 tblsp olive oil
1 large zucchini
4 cloves garlic

Dice zucchini and add olive oil with minced garlic to saute pan - soften zucchini over heat about 6 mins Cook orzo Add chopped herbs, cooked zucchini, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste to serving bowl. Great over a green salad or alone cold the next day!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Mommy Trick of the Day!

Today I got my toddler to eat a healthy muffin I had baked with shredded zucchini and pureed butternut squash by "frosting" it with chocolate pudding. She thought it was a cupcake and was none the wiser! Mommy and baby were both satisfied by a little trick!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Stephanie Nielson

I was touched by a woman, a mom Stephanie who appeared on Oprah today. I would like to be her friend. Her story is one that will stay with me in my daily life. Here is a link to her blog:

Stephanie, you are a courageous, lovely woman and I truly admire you.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Day 4 Successful Smoothie!!

I can't believe it - my picky toddler is eating smoothies every morning loaded with fruits and veggies. I am so proud! This morning's version included:

Butternut squash puree
Frozen blueberries
Ground flaxseed
Canned peaches
Orange juice

Ordinarily NONE of these healthy foods would go near my feisty little one's mouth. I feel like I've already packed her belly with nutrients and it isn't even 9:00 AM!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Day 3 Successful Smoothie!

My toddler is super picky so I'm always happy when she eats what I prepare! We made a successful smoothie again this morning:

Frozen blueberries, and strawberries
Vanilla yogurt
Frozen spinach
Sweet potato puree
1/2 Banana
Pomegranate limeade juice
1 canned peach


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sweet potato puree

Three quick uses for sweet potato puree:

1. Add to pancake batter
2. Add to smoothie!
3. Add to muffin mix

These options have been toddler approved!