Marla has one daughter who is nine years old. Apparently, she has the energy of a few children but that just means she's a truly amazing young woman.
I asked Marla to answer some questions about her daughter and her role as a mom. Here's what she had to say which confirmed the fact that she, too, is a happy, healthy, hip parent.
What makes you happy, as a parent?
This is a difficult question. I love traveling, which is something I have not done much of without my daughter. Exploring new places always leaves me feeling content. That said, I currently enjoy quiet time - time to read, work on projects, or even nap. I enjoy spending time writing or talking with friends about something other than parenting (okay, parenting sometimes too!). Although I help out with my daughter's ballet school, I have found that I do it for me as well as to support her. I enjoy working with the costumes, being around the other parents, and organizing the community outreach that we do.
What's the healthiest thing about your relationship with your daughter?
My daughter and I enjoy a healthy relationship in many ways. We spend time together without distraction which allows us the ability to connect in silence or via communication. We travel together, exercise together, walk to and from school together... neither of us is defined by the other but we are partners in our desire to explore life and learn all that we can.
Kids say the cutest things. What is the funniest story you recall about your child?This has to be one of the funniest stories though it is not one that I enjoyed too much at the time! A family friend arrived at my house one December to take my then three-year-old daughter and myself to the airport for our holiday trip. As I was upstairs gathering the last of our things, my daughter informs this man that "Mamma has big breasts!" He handled it so very well while I blushed brightly. Sure, it is the truth, but..
What was your proudest parenting moment?
I am proud of my daughter each time she takes her position in ballet or each time she steps on stage. She is doing what she loves and investing so much into it. I am proud of her as she jumps for joy when she sees that doing her best in something really makes a difference... and she shares this with friends. I am overwhelmed when she recognizes that her life is different and loves it for that difference over trying to be like everyone else; when she recognizes and appreciates what the difference gives to her. When she takes responsibility for her actions, lives passionately, is kind to others, and accepts that people are different and how wonderful that is.
What is your biggest parenting challenge?
My most significant challenge is two fold. For me it is that I don't see well. When other parents can read to their kids or label objects, I can not. I am watching my daughter grow up, but it is not in the same vivid detail that other parents enjoy. It is a challenge at the worst of times and a gift at other times as I have learned to see her with my heart.
The other challenge comes with being a single parent. It is ensuring the line between child and parent exists. That line can become blurred as the relationship we enjoy sometimes seems more like a friendship. I think it is difficult for my daughter as I am everything from friend to parent to disciplinarian to nurturer.
What's your favorite family-friendly restaurant?
There are places I will not take my daughter but most places... if I go, she goes. We try to go early to avoid the crowds. I don't go to exclusive establishments often, so the idea has been to teach my child to eat in differing environments. It is much easier now that she is older! (Italian places have always been more friendly than most.)
What's your favorite activity you enjoy with your child?
We spend lots of time outside exploring or exercising. Traveling and exploring are things we enjoy doing together. We also enjoy history and the arts - visiting the Kennedy Center as often as possible!
What advice would you give to new or expecting parents?
From the moment they cut the cord, your child is learning to fly. Cherish every moment; the challenges and the joys. Take the time to share your child's life and remember that it is a life that is vastly different than your own. It is a wonderful feeling to watch a child develop into their own person, discover their passions and loves, and spread their wings!!
Who or where do you go to for parenting advice?
I usually don't. I will talk to this and that friend or her father for input or as a sounding board, but I don't really seek advice as much as I seek someone to listen.
How would your daughter describe you?
My daughter describes me as a "good mom," the "best mom," and even her friend. I give "the best cuddles" and she knows that "You support my dreams. That is one of your dreams."
She said that I am tall and have brown hair - which is a physical description.
A few weeks ago I asked her to describe the ad she would write were she seeking a new mom (long story behind that question). She said that she wanted someone to love her and care for her. Someone who would have fun with her and keep her safe... and feed her spaghetti and take her to ballet. She wanted someone just like me.
And maybe that is how she would describe me. I do know that she doesn't want me to change one little bit (though she tells me that I am not as funny as I think I am... but what parent is?)