I had a wakeup call when my kids said ‘work’ was my favorite thing to do

If I would have known then what I know now, I wouldn't have asked.

Scratch that.

If I would have known then what I know now, I probably would have asked sooner.

“Without prompting, ask your children these questions.” I know you've seen this little activity on Facebook before—you’ve probably had at least one or two friends share it. Perhaps you've already challenged your little ones to the test and laughed over the results, or had an aha-moment because of it like me.

A couple of weeks ago, I took the plunge and asked my 3-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son these simple questions about me. I was sleep deprived, and was honestly just hoping for a good laugh.


However, I definitely got more than I bargained for.

1. How old is Mommy?
5-year-old: You are 50 or 60.
3-year-old chimes in: Or maybe you're 4!

2. How tall is mommy?
3-year-old: Big! Like 40 pounds or 20 feet.

3. What is Mommy's favorite thing to eat?
In unison: Salad! Oh my gosh, Mommy, you lovvvvve salad.
Me: eye roll. ?

4. What is something Mommy says a lot?
5-year-old: “Hurry up! We're going to be late!”

5. What is Mom's favorite color?
5-year-old: Green.
3-year-old: My favorite color is pink. Hey mom, when are we having lunch?

6. How much does Mommy love you?
5-year-old: A lot. You love us when you hug me and when we listen.
3-year-old: I want water please. This is exhausting.

7. What is Mommy's favorite thing to do?
3-year-old: Work.
5-year-old: Work.

8. What does Mommy do that annoys you?
3-year-old: When you sing, you really hurt my ears.
5-year-old: It annoys me when you work and don’t play with us.

9. If Mommy could go anywhere, where would she go?
Long pause.
Both kids: You’d probably go to work.

*I'm awake now.*

I’m not going to lie—I had to basically pick my jaw up off the floor and put together the broken pieces of my heart.

Is this really what they see, hear, and feel about me—their mother?

I work from home which means that my kids actually see me working. A lot. This is my choice. I know it's not for everyone, but I love my job and I love my kids.

So I am just trying to make both of them work for me, the best way I know how right now. It's important to me that my children witness me working. I want them to know that it's not just dad that helps support this family. By working at home, I help pay the bills and I hope to promote strong work ethic within my children.

I used to work full time in the news business, which meant I didn't have flexibility. I had to stop breastfeeding early because reporting on a house fire and jumping in a live truck to pump wasn't really feasible. I couldn't leave work early if a child was sick when I was reporting on a homicide on the other side of the state. I know there are a lot of parents in similar situations. We’re all just doing what we can, right?

I wanted to leave my career, and I don't take that for granted. I realize this is a privilege I have. I know there are many mothers who would love to have that option. I also know there are many mothers who thrive on daily adult interaction at their place of employment and they couldn't imagine leaving the workforce to stay home with their kiddos.

Working from home has a different set of challenges. I'm here, but I'm not.

The truth is—working from home, working out of the home, or staying at home with our children all have their own unique challenges and their own unique perks.

For me, with working from home, it's difficult to set my phone down when my daughter wants to show me the same sheet of paper for the 68th time. "Mommy, look! This time I drew a fifth arm on your head."

It's challenging to step away from my laptop when my son needs help finding the smallest Lego piece in existence at the bottom of a toy box mixed in with a pile of broken crayons, rouge puzzle pieces and old stickers.

I get distracted from work by my children and from my children by work.

"Mommy! Please set your phone down and look at me!" I'm embarrassed to admit I hear this a lot. But this is my truth, and the truth of a lot of working parents, I’d imagine.

So, kids, I'm now turning the attention of this article from my work to you.

Here are my answers to the questions I recently asked you.

1. How old is Mommy? I am 35.

2. How tall is Mommy? I am tall enough to hold both of you in my arms at one time.

3. What is Mommy's favorite thing to eat? Any meal with you two and your daddy.

4. What is something Mommy says a lot? I love you.

5. What is Mommy's favorite color? Yellow.

6. How much does Mommy love you? More than you could ever possibly imagine.

7. What is mommy's favorite thing to do? Laugh with you. Cuddle you. Wipe your tears. Pray with you. Kiss you goodnight.

8. What do I do that annoys you? Work, I think. Or how much work I do.

This isn't going to change, but finding a balance will. I'm challenging myself to step away from my work when you need me to. I'm trying not rush to the phone with every alert I get. I'm walking away from my laptop when you frantically need help with your shoe laces.

I'm trying. I'm really, really trying. And I will never stop trying. I'm attempting to find balance in parenting and maintaining a career. It isn't easy, but it's well worth the challenge.

9. If Mommy could go anywhere, where would she go? Anywhere with you. I will probably bring my work as well, but I promise I will always pack a healthy dose of balance, too.

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My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.

And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3


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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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