It's Working Project

“I realized a mother’s love isn’t split amongst her children; new love is born along with each new baby.”

Now that you have two beautiful babies, what is one piece of pregnancy advice you wish you could give your former pregnant self prior to becoming a first-time mom?

Only one piece? Ha! I’m not sure there’s any way to narrow that down …

I would instruct myself to try and leave the neuroses at home, and to feel more empowered by my own instincts. I would also refrain from convincing myself that everything pertaining to parenting has to be learned before a baby is born. Motherhood will forever be a work-in-progress. The education continues and changes as it goes, and memorizing every page of What To Expect When You’re Expecting doesn’t necessarily equate to practical application! Leading with love rather than the notion of “perfection” is what it’s all about. Everything else eventually falls into place.

During your first pregnancy, what concerns did you have about the changes to your work and family life? How were those concerns different with your second pregnancy?

I didn’t have a terribly demanding work schedule during my first pregnancy, so I was able to truly indulge my new mommy anxieties, my need for rest and relaxation, and my excitement over how a baby might affect life as I’d come to know it. I was also able to take the time to appreciate all of the memorable nuances that accompany pregnancy and first-time motherhood. Of course, that lack of a demanding work schedule also made nine months of maternity feel like an eternity! Nonetheless, any potential work or family concerns took a back seat to the fact that my husband and I were finally being blessed with a baby. My biological clock had been ticking for far too long to think of anything else!

During my second pregnancy with Marlowe, my biggest concern was a change in dynamics between my first daughter, Gray, and I. We’d spent over two years being inseparable, which we both immensely cherished, and I worried that the introduction of a new baby would somehow alter our reality in a negative and irreversible way. On the one hand, my husband and I couldn’t imagine depriving Gray of siblings because our own brothers and sisters mean the world to us. That aspect of having more kids was an easy decision. On the other hand, I couldn’t fathom the thought of dividing my affections. Ultimately, I realized a mother’s love isn’t split amongst her children; new love is born along with each new baby. My husband and I have made every effort to ensure Gray understands that too.

My workload more than doubled while I was pregnant with Marlowe (Among other things, I filmed an episode of Celebrity Wife Swap and secured my publishing deal for Situation Momedy: A First-Time Mom’s Guide to Laughing Your Way Through Pregnancy & Year One, due to be released this November), so my biggest hurdle became maintaining my energy levels. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that taking good care of one’s baby means taking good care of one’s self too! I’m notorious for pushing myself too hard and ignoring my own limitations. I tried to make a point to sit down for meals and put my feet up every now and then … even when trying to write a book chapter while simultaneously picking up after a 2-year-old seemed like the more pressing thing to do!

What would you say is the hardest thing about being a working mother of two?

Hands down, the most difficult aspect of being a working mother has been accepting that someone else has to take care of my kids here and there. I had gotten used to being a stay-at-home mom while Gray was a baby, so it was a bit of a wake-up call when I had to readjust to a busier work schedule. It took a while to figure out how to appropriately balance everything. Fortunately, Gray wound up being a huge help for me. She is my little “wing man.” I’m so thankful for her beautiful and generous spirit!

I eventually had to come to a place where I could appreciate and accept that in my heart I am both a passionate mother and a passionate career woman. Quite simply, there’s no way to avoid a conflict between the two from time to time. There will continue to be instances during the course of my career when I have to leave my girls in the care of their dad, a grandparent, or a trusted sitter so I can fulfill my job obligations. It’s never my choice to be away from my children, but I acknowledge that’s the by-product of choosing to keep pursuing the career I’ve loved since I was a little girl. I hope Gray and Marlowe never question how immeasurable and profound my love is for them; I also hope my career serves as an indisputable example of perseverance and strong work ethic.

I won’t lie—the reality is that sometimes guilt tries to push its way in. But thankfully, my heart knows where it stands, and so do my kids. My children are always my top priority. As long as they are happy and healthy, we are headed in the right direction! Being a working mom sometimes requires creative, out-of-the-box thinking so that everyone and everything receives the attention they deserve. And even when I’m at work, my children are never far from my thoughts! Having my girls definitely made me more selective … I carefully weigh the pros and cons before accepting work projects these days.

As a working mom, what are your steadfast rules for maintaining your sanity and keeping your family happy?

Breathing and getting sleep. I’m kidding. No, I’m not.

I definitely think a good night of sleep makes everything easier to handle, though that’s not always feasible with babies! And as simple as it sounds, pausing to take a deep breath in the midst of chaos can have an amazing and immediate affect on one’s ability to get through the more challenging moments. That said, at the end of the day, love is the cure-all. I can’t swear there’s anything out there that can keep me sane (that might be a tall order), but I can tell you that the more my husband and the girls and I hug each other and reserve time for cuddling, the happier the atmosphere seems to be at our house!

As you juggle an upcoming book launch, a new movie, and a bustling household, what is the one bit of insider information you wish to share with expectant and new mothers?

Let yourself off the hook. Sometimes you’ll convince yourself you should be able to handle everything life throws at you, and that’s not always feasible or fair. There will be moments that make you feel like your head will explode, moments that make you wonder if you know what you’re getting yourself into, and moments that make you question everything you thought you knew about motherhood. That’s a normal part of the mommy learning curve, and you aren’t alone in feeling that way. But there will also be instances where you surprise yourself by possessing more inner strength than you gave yourself credit for. Trust your instincts, be gentle on yourself, and let the love shine through!

As a working parent…

I never expected finding time to simply read and memorize a script for work would be so hard, and that sitting quietly while in the hair and makeup chair would be so much easier. I used to be the absolute worst at keeping still! Now that tends to be the only “relaxing” time I get, so I try to take advantage of it … not that I’m complaining!