(Look at that tiny pony tail - Working it, Ramona!)
In this new installment of mom's group, I'm excited to feature Emily of A Denver Home Companion. She and her husband grow their own vegetables, raise a few cute farm animals, and above all - an adorable little lady named Ramona. Her husband also owns and works at some stellar looking restos in Denver. If you are in the area, check them out! And please stop by Emily's blog and say hello. She is lovely and I really appreciate her honest writing. Also, Emily taught me how to clean my house more efficiently! Boom. For that, I am truly grateful. Thanks again friend! Happy to have you here.
emily power, 27
ramona marilyn, 17 months
1. How has being a mother inspired you?
i get a lot more done as a mother. sometimes, i wonder how i do it all. most often i think: what the hell did i DO before i had a baby? i don't say that to mean that i'm a super-mama but rather that i am much more efficient with my time now that i have a little one with which i share my time. before baby, there was lots of free time for hanging around and putting stuff off. now, i have to rely on the quiet moments in between hanging out with the little bean. ramona has inspired me to get a lot more done in my free time (aka nap time) bc if she's awake, we're together and then i don't get much emily-time. so my online business has thrived more (ollie's vintage, an etsy shop for baby clothes), my house is cleaner, and my blogging has been more consistent. i do most of this during nap time or bedtime and these are things i wasn't good about making time for before she came along. i don't suppose this is normal bc i know a lot of mamas talk about struggling w getting things done that don't necessarily include "mothering," but for me, i have only one small child (i've heard it's exponentially harder with more than one!) and it worked this way! to that end, i also have a husband that loves to cook (so i don't have to as much) and a VERY small house (so cleaning isn't a huge task).
additionally, and i think this is huge for me since i haven't met many mamas like this, i didn't have a career before i had a baby. i graduated college with two degrees and have done NOTHING with them. i'm also relatively young. most mamas i've met in play dates, etc. had something going on for them that they had to juggle once they had a baby. they had careers, or commitments, or deadlines, or some sort of livelihoods that they had worked hard for and/or had to get back to. i certainly applaud and, a lot of times, envy that. before i could ever get to that point, circumstances led my husband and i on a journey of lucky happenstance: we met, married, moved from the midwest to avoid winter, took the first jobs offered in denver to pay the bills, and next thing you know, we're pregnant and have a baby and are working to make ends meet. (now, things are a little different). ALL THAT TO SAY, having ramona inspired me to FIND WHAT I LOVED outside of the home. truthfully, i got bored being at home all the time, especially once ramona wasn't nursing as much and wasn't as dependent on me. but i didn't have anything to fall back on bc i was relatively young to have a baby compared to all of my peers and i didn't have a job or goal that would push back the timeline of having a baby or encourage me returning to a career. she inspired me to find a little niche in my world outside of her that could contribute to our family's wellbeing, happiness, quality of life, AND to use my skills outside of the home, while also allowing me to continue being very involved in her upbringing. i found that by supporting my husband in opening two restaurants and then finding a role within these businesses that made sense for myself and our family (i do administrative, hiring, media relations, and accounting for our two businesses and absolutely love it. i get quiet time each morning away from home to work on these things and then get to be back to "be mama" before noon).
2. What is the greatest challenge of having a child?
the greatest challenge of having a child, especially of having a 17 month old, is to try to be on my best behavior. ramona is at a point where she is repeating EVERY. SINGLE. WORD. OR. SOUND. I. SAY. this means arguments--even those silly innocuous ones you have with our lover, probably daily-- need to be tempered or censored or buffered if the wee one is around. she hears our tones and our thrills and our shrills and our responses and our reactions. even when i hurt myself accidentally by stubbing my toe: not only do i need to watch myself saying "DAMNIT!" but also how i react. bc i love to overreact. and i don't want her to see that all the time bc sometimes how i act is SO unnecessary. and it's a good lesson for me to be aware of how strongly i am reacting to silly things. but it's hard too, and i'd love to sometimes not have a little, impressionable child taking in every thing i do and say and respond to and react to, but i don't have a choice. she's there. always. even when she's older than 18. and i'd like to think i'm a perfect role model or at least the best role model for her. but it's a big challenge knowing that most likely i will make decisions or mistakes that may negatively affect her.
3. Is motherhood how you imagined it would be when you were pregnant?
this is going to sound incredibly sappy and some mamas may want to slap me. but ramona is as awesome, and probably more, than i ever imagined a daughter of mine could be. i had no illusions how hard parenthood could and would be (now if only they'd mention the same things about marriage) so i think (though hindsight is 20/20) that nothing so hard lasted too long. sure, she requires round the clock love and attention and didn't sleep through the night until she was a year. and i'm still nursing her and she still requires constant supervision when she's awake and i can't go out whenever i want to bc, hell, who'll watch the baby?! but, honestly? this girl is so great (except for months 10 thru 11 where she was constantly teething and wanted nothing to do with me). she's got sass, and independence, and intelligence. and she's healthy, and gives kisses, and says "mama" and "papa" and hugs me back. she thinks belly buttons are hilarious and likes sticking her finger in my nose. if i dare say the word "shower," she's tromping off to the bathroom trying to take off her clothes and jump in there with me. motherhood is WAY more than i imagined it would be. it's better. it's having this little product of myself and my best friend and who seems, so far at least, to have the best qualities of the both of us. and who walks and talks and giggles and plays and is another member of the powerdriver family. she's a ham. motherhood, for the record, really is better for me than i ever thought it would be.
4. How has your marriage been affected since becoming a parent?
our marriage is more serious now. serious in the way like: if anything were to change drastically, shit, we've got a little one to think about. in some ways, it has brought my husband, JP, and I so much closer together. in other ways, it's put a wedge between us. sex is not the same. we have not quite bounced back yet. i'll leave it at that in case more sensitive eyes are reading. but also, emotionally, i'm not able to put as much attention and care to my husband as i'd like bc there's another one vying for that attention. some mamas seem to know how to balance it. i haven't figured that out yet. but i am blessed and oh-so grateful for a hubby that's understanding and open to conversation about these sorts of things. we fight. every single day. and sometimes the arguments are fruitful and sometimes they are silly and petty and asinine. but we work to figure it out and do our damnedest to give each other the space and time to understand where the other person is coming from. and always to respect each other, our home, and the family we've created. i really couldn't ask for a better partner, which is why, even when things are SO different than before ramona joined our family, i've got a lot of faith in Us.
5. How tidy is your home? (Come on! We all want to know!)
i do not identify with sayings that resemble the following: “Good mothers have sticky floors, filthy ovens and happy kids.” it seems to put down the mother who insists on a clean and tidy home; the mother who cleans up after a day of a house filled with kids.
i believe that matter of a person that prefers things picked-up and tidy is more of a personality thing vs a "better mother" thing. and i'm really sorry to the mothers out there that feel some sort of pressure to keep a spotless house bc they think they will be judged if otherwise. i say, do what feels natural to you! if you're ok w cheerios from breakfast on the ground or toys spilling out this way and that after a productive day of playing. go on with your bad self!
i, however, am of the mama camp that will sweep up the cheerios (or encourage the dog to eat them) and will put the toys away once the kids go down for a nap (bc i cannot sit on the couch or dining roolm table eyeing that mess out of the corner of my eye).
as i mentioned before, our home is small (572 sq feet!) so it's really not that hard to keep it tidy. don't get me wrong: there's a shit ton of dust under the sofa. moving the couch is a painintheassthingtodo and i reserve for days when it gets so bad i have to stop being in denial. and there's always a pile of paperwork and magazines on our credenza. and dirty dishes are constantly in the sink (woes of not having a dishwasher). but honestly (and please don't hate me, mamas), i'm able to make the bed in the morning (or my hubby does. whoever is last out of bed is our family rule), the floors are regularly swept (what else do you do to entertain the kiddos?!), and toys are put away after they're played with (no, i have not trained my toddler to do it and no i don't have a robot that follows her around. it's me on my hands and knees). like i said, we live in a small space and if it wasn't relatively well-kempt, i'd go crazy. i keep it, if not tidy, organized, and that's good enough for me.
*BONUS* One line of your best advice for anyone expecting/new parents:
two, pretty please!
1. do not read the books. read the baby. (i read ina may gaskin's guide to childbirth for ramona's birth and the art of breastfeeding to learn how to get those milk machines working. other than that, i've sworn away childrearing books and have relied on my instinct, my husband and his intimate knowledge of our daughter, other mothers i respect and trust, and time to make it all better).
2. if something is working, do it. until it doesn't. and then find something that does. (for instance, we shared a bed with ramona until she was 11 months old and it was amazing. and then it wasn't. so we put her in a crib. and it went back to being amazing.)
You can find Emily at: